Melissa Anelli, “webmistress” of Harry Potter fan site “The Leaky Cauldron” and CEO of Mischief Management, joined Bold Business to discuss her career and tell us about working with J.K. Rowling. Watch here or on our Facebook page.
Fan conventions such as AnimeCon or ComicCon can be absolutely thrilling for fans lucky enough to snag a ticket. Cons bring the excitement of meeting heroes of the industry, access to cool, exclusive merch and sneak-peeks at new material before its public release. Unfortunately, anybody who frequents conventions knows all about the downsides of the current con culture.
Regrettably, a lot of big cons end up cultivating a climate of rampant discrimination and misogyny. Add that to the impersonal nature of long, expensive, assembly-line style autograph lines and the ludicrous wait times and conditions to get into major panels, and a person’s con experience can break bad pretty fast. But one young entrepreneur has seen this problem as an opportunity to usher in a new and improved type of fan convention.
Melissa Anelli is the co-owner and founder of Mischief Management, an up-and-coming event-planning group behind several new and popular fan conventions. The former journalist knows all about the fan perspective at the Cons she has started because she is one.
Through hard work and creativity, Anneli has managed to segue her love of nerdy media such as Harry Potter and Game of Thrones into a career. That career has created positive and inclusive spaces in a male-dominated field that incorporate Anelli’s personal intersectional feminist principles, and encouraged fandom as a shared experience between content creators and fans.
Anelli got her start in the world of fandom in 2001 as writer and reporter for the Harry Potter fansite The Leaky Cauldron, named after the tavern and meeting space featured in the books. Nine years later, the buzz over the books and films reached cultural phenomenon status, and the site launched its first Harry Potter fan convention, LeakyCon, at a Boston hotel.
After the success of the first LeakyCon, Anneli co-founded the company Mischief Management to hold and supervise the group’s future fan conventions, which so far have included six progressively larger LeakyCons, GeekyCon — think Leakycon, but expanded to cater to other pop culture fandoms such as Star Wars and Sherlock — and its newest endeavor, Con of Thrones, a Game of Thrones convention.
These cons set themselves apart from the more established, industrialized Cons such as ComicCon, PAX or the E3 Expo, because instead of putting a focus on fans gathering to see the latest offerings from the industry or franchise, Mischief Management’s cons place a focus on fan-generated content, commentary and parody works, with some special guests and extras from the industry.
One Con of Thrones attendee commented on the atmosphere.
“I’m a sucker for that stuff,” the attendee said. “Watching friends and strangers have a great time and relax into each other without fear of being labeled a weirdo or ‘too much’ is kind of a huge relief. Particularly when other popular conventions have become so bloated and corporatized that they’re openly hostile to this kind of intimate, valuable experience.”
While the old standbys are going bigger, adding more days and more guests and packing more and more attendees into the same, crowded convention halls, Mischief Management’s cons are going small, with a carefully curated, intimate atmosphere. Through creative problem-solving, Mischief Management is disrupting the growing con industry, creating new experiences for fans to enjoy.
This article was originally published on GenFKD.org.