A zombie flash mob dances to Michael Jackson’s Thriller during kick-off ceremonies for the Roswell Cosmic-Con and Film Fest at the Roswell Civic Center, Saturday morning. Mark Wilson Photo
Participants of the Roswell Cosmic-Con and Film Fest paved a path through the preternatural Saturday, enjoying a hodgepodge of films, TV shows, documentaries, informative panel discussions and the charismatic company of costumed cohorts.
Actresses Iris Braydon and Tasha Tacosa attended the festival dressed as flight attendants to outer space, on hand to perform background dancing for the Los Angeles musical group UFOetry. Braydon, who has appeared on such television shows as “Community” and “Good Luck Charlie,” said the trip represented her first to Roswell, an experience she won’t soon forget.
“It’s nice to be in a small town and see a culture that really does revolve around the existence or non-existence of UFOs and aliens,” Braydon said. “Roswell has always intrigued me; I’ve always been curious! There’s such an intrigue to what the local experience is, having spent most of their lives where there’s such an association with otherworldly events.”
Bill Mumy, best known for his role on the television series “Lost in Space,” also made his first trip to Roswell for the festival, and said he has always been intrigued with that famous day in 1947. “I sure wish I could go into a time machine and delve deeper into that subject that has put you guys on the map because I’m fascinated by it. I’ve studied a lot about the incident here; I’ve always been interested in Sci-Fi in general, and where human beings come from and our connections to the universe. I don’t think the truth has been shared.
“… So I’d love to talk to some old-timers who are willing to share some of their stories with Will Robinson from ‘Lost in Space’!”
Jason Martell from “Ancient Aliens” offered his expertise on UFO research in a panel discussion with ancient astronaut expert Giorgio Tsoukalos and executive producer Kevin Burns, and said many cultures from around the world speak of beings that came down from the heavens. “Today we call it mythology. So my goal is to prove that we are not alone. I would be very interested in meeting other beings that are intelligent, and also share the similar qualities of compassion and love, and an interest to move humanity in a good direction with knowledge. … The most common question I get would probably be, ‘Do you really think aliens exist?’ And I say, ‘I sure hope so!’”
The panel discussion “Marvel and Famous Monsters,” led by Ryan Penagos, executive editorial director for Marvel Digital Media Group, brought up-and-coming comic artists to the Roswell Museum and Art Center for tips about the comic book industry.
“There’s a great quote, constantly morphing and being attributed to different people: Breaking into comics is like breaking out of jail,”
Penagos said. “Once someone does it one way, that way is closed off forever for everyone else. So you have to find a new way to do it.”
Penagos, who landed his job through freelance writing and editorial work with Wizard Magazine, said entry into the industry is different for everyone. “The way I got in will never happen again for a number of reasons. Someone else who wants to work at Marvel needs to find a new way.
And it’s difficult.
“If you’re a writer, the thing that we always tell people is you have to write. You can’t just want to write at Marvel — you have to write no matter who you’re writing about, what you’re writing about — write comics, write movies, write blogs, write for a newspaper, write for a magazine, just write.
“… For an artist, it’s a little bit easier in the sense that you can be seen easier, but you’re also battling so many people, and there’s only so much work that can be given to an artist. So it’s tough. It’s very hard.”
World-renowned body painter Mark Reid provided demonstrations of his craft Friday and Saturday, sharing examples of the talent that has led him to work with artists like The Black Eyed Peas, Diddy and Usher. Reid, who was born in Roswell and raised in Dexter, said the event as a whole provides significant value to the region.
“I think it’s great. It opens a lot of doors, opens a lot of eyes,” Reid said. “People get to see stuff they normally wouldn’t get to see. … Comics are a great thing, with a lot of creativity, a lot of imagination and just a lot of fun.
Other panels Saturday included discussions on “ROBOTECH,” “The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” independent filmmaking, space rocks with Geoff Notkin from “Meteorite Men,” paranormal ghost hunting, and the Roswell UFO Crash.
Saturday was capped with the Roswell International Sci-Fi Film Festival and Digital Shoot-Out Gala and Awards Ceremony, which brought hundreds of people to New Mexico Military Institute’s Pearson Auditorium to view the five films selected from the screenplay writing competition. The films, each shot in Roswell, were Zipper, Subject 413, Civilitea, Alien Fairy Tale and Wormhole Over Roswell.
Zipper was Saturday’s big winner at the gala, capturing best picture, best editing and best cinematography, as well as best director for Fantina Carvajal and best actor for Israel Hall. Best actress went to Amber Kent from Civilitea, best visual effects to Wormhole Over Roswell and best art direction to Alien Fairy Tale. The Susana Martinez Award for Outstanding Media Arts went to Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell film student Barney Martin, and the winner of the Roswell Daily Record Screenplay Award was Chris Ryill, a writer from Los Angeles.
ENMU-R media arts instructor Alan Trever, who oversaw the competition, commented, “The films were unbelievable this year, they set a new standard. They were done so well — the special effects, the acting; it’s just such a great level of quality this year.
“The professionalism of the films was bar-none. They really showed off Roswell in a unique way. The students who worked on these were all from New Mexico, and mostly from Roswell, so it really shows the level of quality of the students that we have in our film program.”
Today’s events include even more films, panels and celebrity guests, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at RMAC and the Civic Center. A detailed schedule of events can be picked up from the Famous Monsters information booth at the Civic Center.