Interview: Clare Kramer Oz Comic Con Melbourne’s Emcee and Buffy The Vampire Slayer‘s Icon Status

Clare Kramer, might be best known for her work as Glory on Buffy The Vampire Slayer but for the past several years she has taken her skills as an actor and begun to move behind the scenes working in production and now as a director. Soon she will be making her way to Melbourne for Oz Comic Con and not only will she be attending as a guest, but also as an emcee for the pop culture convention. We had a chat with her in the lead up to the convention to talk about her double duties at the event, her stint on Buffy and now getting to work more behind the camera.

Generally pop culture conventions brings actors from film and television as guests to meet and greet fans, sign autographs, get professional photos taken and conduct in question and answer panels. They also tend to be the major drawcard for attendees too at these events. It’s also an opportunity for the actors to get that face-to-face or in person response that they don’t normally get working in front of a camera. As opposed to in theatre where there’s immediate feedback. Kramer explains that getting to meet the fans is definitely the highlight of coming out for conventions

“I love being able to travel and interact with fans. Nowadays with social media, you have the chance online to really connect with your fan base and people who are passionate about projects you’ve been a part of. But there’s a whole different feel when you’re actually sitting face to face with someone and you get to interact on that level, and it’s just a really unique and special experience for the fan, and also as the artist, it’s a chance for us to see the broader effect of some of our work, if that makes sense.”

For those who may not have attended a convention before, the Q&A panels are a great way for the fans to get to learn about their favourite actors. As well as an opportunity to ask them a burning question they may have about their work. Generally there will be an emcee, usually somebody from the convention, playing as mediator and host. As mentioned before though, Kramer will not just be coming as a guest but also performing emcee duties. It’s a bit of a spin on the usual format, and Kramer gives us a run down of how it might play out.

“If you’re there as a guest you get to see a lot of output of energy because you are constantly on the floor, interacting on a one-on-one level. But with the hosting it’s a whole different ballgame. It’s basically like running a two-day TV show or production, what the audience will see is a setup similar to a talk show stage with a couple couches, tables, chairs, things like that. I’ll be interacting with the person being interviewed, and talking not just about their most famous work, but personal things, things in their past, how they got into the business, what they enjoy most, what do they want in the future. And then the audience themselves have a chance to ask questions and I’ll sort of facilitate a conversation between the guests and the celebrity. Kind of acting more as a liaison than a traditional moderator, if you will.”

What you also may not know is that to be an emcee it’s not just a case of getting to kick back and just lazily chat with the guests. Sometimes you may need to jump in and prompt a conversation or ask your own questions to fill in the gaps in time whilst audience questions are sought. It’s almost like being an interviewer and Kramer readily admits that it adds to her workload but that researching the guests is a necessity when you’re in the same room as a bunch of hardcore fans.

“I would never give up acting. I love acting, but I so love interviewing and facilitating that conversation, and I love bringing people’s personality out, and bringing them, bringing out their true selves in front of an audience. A lot of times with a celebrity or an artist, they’ll come on stage and they’ll be very reserved and then, it takes five or ten minutes of them to realize, “Oh. This is totally different. This is like a conversation where I can be free and open, and I feel like I’m in a safe environment, and I’m protected without a ton of awkward, long pauses waiting for someone to bite, to say something, or a weird question, can I give you a hug, can I marry you? And it’s just a totally different feel. It’s a tremendous amount of work, especially when I do one of these events like Oz Comic Con where it’s three days in a row, it is so fulfilling and I absolutely love it.”

Most people would know Kramer from her stint on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, a show which last year celebrated its 20th anniversary. And even now the show still resonates strongly with its fanbase and has developed its own iconic, cult status. Kramer attributes much of that creator Joss Whedon and the fact that the show was unique for its time.

“Well, I think it was the first of a kind. It was the first time there was a young, cool female heroine on TV who wasn’t weak, but was so vulnerable. Who wasn’t scared but was still genuine and open with her relations. What Joss used to say, was the vampires on the show were a metaphor for each and every problem someone going through high school had. So she had to slay these problems one by one. I think that they just found this niche because of the material, because of the way the story was being told, and most importantly because Joss Whedon had such a unique voice, there’s a certain cadence to his writing, to his language. There’s a certain element to his storytelling which was very humane, and that was really what kept occurring coming into his own as a writer and director.”

More recently though Kramer has stepped away from being in front of the camera to working behind the camera instead. Focusing on online content creation for web series like Tweet Out with Greg Grunberg and Film Pigs. Obviously the size and scale of working on a feature film or on a tv series will differ but how much does the production side of things differ working on small scale online content versus the larger productions?

“It’s kind of the same. Actually, it’s like if you do short form content for the internet, it’s really like commercial work with a film. It’s just a smaller, quicker piece of content, and it’s less pressure because there’s less money involved. It’s a great training ground. It’s like being in school, creating content for the internet. You know what I mean? Not that anyone is capable of doing that, but it’s great because it does move you up in the industry, it’s a great place to start because the stakes are a little bit lower, and there’s a little more freedom, and you can get to see that, and learn actually what you’re doing on a smaller scale.”

Besides producing Kramer has also taken her hand to directing. Opting to produce and direct a documentary called Joyrider about Andre Kajlich. It was an opportunity to take her work behind the scenes to a whole new level, working on a fascinating and inspiring story.

“Joyrider is the story of Andre Kajlich, who is a wheelchair athlete who lost both his legs in a train accident in 2003, He then became this crazy endurance athlete who walks on prosthetic legs, but when he races, he uses a hand cycle and he does double Ironman’s and crazy 400 mile in a day races. He spent three years trying to qualify for this race called Race Across America, which leaves Oceanside, California and ends up in Annapolis, Maryland and the athletes have to complete it in 12 days. He finally qualified, so we followed him from Oceanside to Maryland with a crew in a RV, and had about eight cameras rolling, basically 24 hours a day. That is the story of Joyrider, and it’s in the editing process right now and we’re hoping for it to be released theatrically.”

For those wanting to see Clare Kramer in emcee action whilst at the convention, be sure to follow her social media, on Twitter @ClareKramer and Instagram @ClareKramerOfficial as she will also be posting some behind the scenes photos and footage.

Oz Comic Con Melbourne will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th June. For more information and to purchase tickets go to the official Oz Comic Con website, and follow their social media channels.