FanWorks Con 2021: Better Living Through Fan Works


FanWorks Con 2021

FanWorks Con, created to celebrate fan works of all kinds, held its second virtual convention during the weekend of October 1-3, 2021.

Despite the return of some conventions, such as AwesomeCon, to in-person events, many conventions have chosen to remain virtual amidst the ongoing pandemic. FanWorks Con, a smaller convention created to discuss and celebrate fan works of all mediums, held its second virtual convention this past weekend. The small, intimate con is more of a discussion of fan works than it is a discussion of fandom itself, but it remains an enjoyable experience for anyone who loves fandom.

FanWorks held its first in-person event in 2019 at a hotel in Detroit. While the convention had planned to move to a hotel in Chicago for 2020, the pandemic pushed the 2020 and 2021 conventions to virtual-only. The event is more intimate than the typical fan convention. It averages a hundred attendees a year and has formed a small close-knit community of fans who write, vid, create art, record podfic, and produce fan works of other mediums for their favorite fandoms.

The in-person event held programming on five different, simultaneous tracks: vidding, writing, art & crafting, audio, and general fan works community. The programming also featured curated vid shows throughout the weekend and the highlights included a show of vid premieres and a dance party with more vids providing the music and visuals.

The virtual form of the event has two tracks, a selection of panels hosted on Zoom and constant curated vid shows streaming simultaneously on the convention’s website. The highlight of the weekend is still the show of vid premieres, which ran for two and a half hours and featured over thirty brand new vids. A Discord channel allowed attendees to connect throughout the weekend, while adding commentary on vids and providing more perspectives on panels.

Panels included four in-depth discussions of different aspects that make fanvids and showcase of fanvids successful. Outside of vidding, one panel introduced a guide to basic elements of watercolor painting while another demonstrated the techniques for editing audio for podfics. Another panel discussed the concept of food as fan work, which ranges from official Star Wars-themed food at Disney Parks to fandom-oriented fan works to fans creating their own recipes based on the media they consume. Each panel was interesting and informative, and the panelists were eager to share their expertise with attendees.

Two of the panels brought the ongoing pandemic to the forefront, as they were discussions about the nature of both fan work and media consumption and fan work creation during the pandemic. While some attendees embraced the concept of dystopian media, many returned to old, familiar media and fan works as comfort, and even more tried and subsequently became fans of new media and fan works. Many of the attendees also stated that the pandemic has allowed them to produce more fan works and even explore new facets of fan works.

Despite the presence of the panels, the fanvids were the star of the show. In addition to the big show of premieres, specially curated vid shows throughout the weekend highlighted the year in vids, showcased vidder-submitted vids, and featured creatively selected themes. Themes included a spotlight on sidekicks, latinx characters in sci-fi, and comforting vids. A wide variety of fandoms were featured in all of the vid shows, but The Untamed had the biggest presence throughout the weekend.

The weekend ended with the promise of continued connection via Discord and other social media. The team in charge of the convention was upfront about the uncertainty of the convention’s in-person future. While the convention is scheduled to be held in-person at a hotel in Chicago in August 2022, the fact that things might change drastically from now until then was acknowledged.

Regardless of FanWorks Con’s future, the virtual experience was successful and showed how fan works and media have brought people together during a global pandemic.

Author: Jessica Wolff

Jessica Wolff is a graduate of Drexel University with a BS in Film/Video. She has a passion for entertainment and representation in entertainment. She currently resides outside of Washington, DC.


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