In January of 2019, three superfans met – first on social media, then in person – with one ambitious goal: To create the first-ever SopranosCon. The trio pooled their resources, securing cast members, costumes, contests, games, and replicas of famous sets, in less than ten months. “It was epic,” Michael Mota remembers, citing the 15,000 fans worldwide that came for cannoli, themed tattoos, and autographs. “We knew after this that we had something. There was an appetite for more events like this for this group of fans, so we kept going.”
“Kept going” meant officially forming 3fams Productions, which includes Mota, Joseph Fama, and Daniel Trader (with a little help from Federico Castelluccio, aka Furio Giunta from The Sopranos). Since their first fan con was so successful, they decided to expand on that audience with MobMovieCon, which was slated to debut April 2020 in Atlantic City. “We had dozens of familiar faces from all the big gangster movies, from The Godfather and Goodfellas to The Irishman and Analyze This,” Mota explains. “Then, of course, COVID-19 hit.”
But, as Corrado “Junior” Soprano said in the show, “You steer the ship the best way you know how. Sometimes it’s smooth. Sometimes you hit the rocks. In the meantime, you find your pleasure where you can.” For 3fams Productions, that meant taking a leap with another ambitious project: The VirtualCons app.
This free, downloadable app first launched its beta version back in September, in honor of James Gandolfini’s birthday, and featured Sopranos-specific content. On November 23, in honor of the first SopranosCon, the full version will be released. “What I love about the app is that there are the traditional convention opportunities, but also really cool and unique one-on-one experiences that you just don’t get in a crowded convention hall, and they’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year from anywhere in the world,” says Mota. “Oh, and no lines,” he jokes.
Fans will have access to favorite celebrities through individual meet-and-greets, personal shout-outs, and classes; never-before-seen footage; chatrooms; forums; and, when restrictions are once more lifted, the app will serve as a mobile passport for in-person conventions, like the MobMovieCon and BoxingCon (featuring world-class fighters) Mota and team hope to host.
“Fan conventions are cool because they bring together a group of people from all walks of life, who share a passion,” Mota reflects. “They’re also an opportunity to escape and be transported to a place in our imaginations that was really meaningful. While nothing can replace these in-person events, the virtual
versions can still provide that element of escapism, especially during a time when it’s probably needed the most.” Visit VirtualCons.com or 3fams.com to learn more and download the app for Apple or Android.