What happens when two fans get together and start a podcast? Who could have believed that it would all lead to a weekend blow out convention with almost the entire cast of the number one show on television, including Guest of Honor Greg Nicotero, Executive Producer, Director and Special Effects Designer, of The Walking Dead in attendance? Even Eric and James, the Walker Stalkers, are still trying to get their heads around it. Find out how the whole thing came together and how you could win a pair of tickets and attend!I recently sat down with The Walker Stalkers – Eric and James, to find out how a fan-centric podcast morphed into a fantastic weekend of Walking Dead Zombie goodness. Check out the interview, then find out how you can win a pair of passes for the entire weekend!
Tell us how the whole thing started:
It’s something that around this time, November 16th, I remember the date we went down to Atlanta. A couple of days before that, James called me and said, Hey there’s probably the last day of shooting for the Walking Dead do you want to go check it out? See if we can see some celebrities, some locations and stuff. We had been watching it together, in his basement, he’s got a huge movie theater room and so I said, sure.
We had an amazing day down in Senoia Ga. It was really a dream day. We got to meet seven or eight of the main cast. we got to check out tons of locations at that time. Woodbury was really in full force. It was the end of season three, and it was all decorated out, the walls were still up, and it was just a great scene to be a part of. We spent about 20 hours down there from the early morning hours until we got home. A couple of weeks later, over Thanksgiving, we were talking and James said, you know what? Let’s start a Podcast. We both were podcast listeners. James listened during the Lost years. when Lost was on air, he would listen to Jay and Jack. Who had a podcast. So we kinda just modeled
after that, not purposely, it was just kinda our style. It became a regular podcast and it really, in the beginning we were awful, in terms of quality of the podcast, and what we were talking about, technically, I’d say we’re a little bit better now. At least on the technology side.
Were you Zombie fans before The Walking Dead or was this something new for you?
You know, I think we enjoyed the films, but not to the level that we are now. The Walking Dead has made not everybody, but most people a zombie fanatic. Everybody now is trying to read everything zombie, see if there is a new movie coming out, and of course the Walking Dead numbers reflect that with their growth just this year. But I was aware of the comic book, before the show came out but really hadn’t paid much attention even to the comic book. Eric’s just gotten into the comic book this year. Really the answer is no, The Walking Dead is what turned us on to all this.
On your first podcast, you said that all your pets had character names from Lost, any new pets and do they have Walking Dead character names?
Actually, no, because I got all my pets during lost, a Sawyer, a Juliette, we had a Charlie, Charlie died unfortunately. The next pet will be a Walking Dead pet name.
But what Walking Dead character name will it be?
I actually have , a baby that we adopted a year and a half ago, his name is Lincoln, but that’s not because of Andrew Lincoln. I don’t know, That’s actually a good question, T-Dog would be too easy. I can’t name a dog that. I have given this a little bit of thought and if it’s a female I think I’ll name her Michonne, just becuase she’s my favorite female character, if it’s a male, I would probably go with Daryl. Or Dixon, Dixon wouldn’t be a bad name. Actually that would work, play off of it but not blatant.
How did you go from the podcast to holding a convention?
Oh, man. James’s crazy idea.
I helped Daniel Thomas May, who played Alan, with a convention in Orlando back in May. Norman Reedus was supposed to be there, and he ended up having to cancel because it was one of the last weeks of filming and wasn’t able to make it. I’m sitting there with Daniel and I just said to him, “We could do this.” Referring to Eric and I, and really just talked with him about it.
I went down and talked with some of the other managers, and some of the actors, they weren’t all Walking Dead actors, but I really just tried to get a feel for what it takes to put a convention on. I came back and I told Eric that this is something we should really look at doing because we had done the Finale party back on Easter Sunday, March 31st. We had a handful of the actors there, Melissa McBride was there, Daniel Thomas May was there, a couple of others, and it was just a really great vibe. I thought we could recreate that on a bigger scale, and do that where it’s more fan intimate and connected even more than a regular con is.
If that’s possible?
That’s what we’re trying to do, trying to create these real fan unique experiences, so the fans that leave our convention feel like they actually got to know, maybe a couple, of the cast members, not such a rushed opportunity. I mean that’s gonna happen with some of them, just the personalities, but create some unique VIP experiences, meet and greets. Really, that’s the focus of our podcasts, in that what we like to do on our shows is connect the fans with the actors. Emily Kinny is on our podcast this Thursday, we’re already taking questions for her and we’ll actually have three or four fans speak with her about the show, and nobody really does that unless you get on The Talking Dead and get lucky to be that one person. That’s something we want to do on a convention level too.
How are you paying for everything?
This whole thing has been fan funded. we’ve been real blessed, starting with the (Walker Stalker) Kickstarter, to now with just ticket sales, we still have bills to pay, but we hope by at some point next week, to have everything paid off in advance. The real goal is to set aside enough to do this again next time.
*(Here’s their Kickstarter Video)
What kind of crowds are you expecting?
We’re thinking that it’s a good possibility that it could be 10K or more at this con. The way ticket sales are going now. We’ve been lucky enough to get some great articles
this last couple of days, in some major media, and we’ve seen how that has affected sales and awareness.
Let’s talk about The Walking Dead Cast members who are appearing at the Walker Stalker Convention:
When we envisioned this thing we never even imagined we’d have as many of the cast as we do. First of all, we never expected Andrew Lincoln. We hoped for Norman, and maybe we figured we’d get three of four main cast members tops. To have 14 main cast members coming to the show, whether current or previous, it’s nuts, it really is. There’s not a word to describe it, because it really is just amazing. The whole thing.
Steven Yeun (Glen) & Chad Coleman (Tyreese)
just added to the Guest line up today! ! !
Can you tell us about the new line system you’re using for meeting the celebrity guests:
One of the things I think we all hate as convention attendees are lines. It just kills our day, not only that, it saps the energy out of you having to sit there all day. What could we do to change that? We really wanted to make our lines friendly. We consulted with a couple of people and we had some ideas, but we were really looking for some kind of paging system, and we found a really great company, that had a great idea to create virtual lines. You approach a kiosk, provide your cell phone number, and then you tell them what actors you want to get in line for. You will at some point during the day, receive a text message, telling you to come get in line for that particular actor.
So you can set up all the actors you want to see at one time . . .
You can set your entire day up. Now here’s the really cool thing. Let’s say you get paged to go to Norman Reedus and you go get in line and while you’re in Norman Reedus line, you get a page for Andrew Lincoln. You obviously can’t jump out of line to go to the other so you text back “T” to that number, which means I need more time, and then they will slide you down in the Que, 30 to 50 people and hopefully that gives you enough time to finish the first line.
If you still need more time when they text you again, you can get more time, you can cancel it, of course at some point in the day the actor will be done for the day.
It’s designed for you to go and enjoy the convention, to enjoy the other parts of it, the panels, the vendors, even some of the other actors who don’t have the larger lines while you still get to see those actors you came to see. This should help you see all the cast members you came to see.
When can we expect to see the panels schedule?
Panels schedule will be up (on the web site) Friday (Oct 25th). That will be a week before the panels actually begin, we also are going to have them the whole schedule on an App. That you can download onto your phone, and we’ll release the App as well on Friday. Friday’s kind of a big day for us.
What panels are both of you most excited about?
There’s a lot of panels, probably some of our favorite panels are going to be, the Emory University Panel. it’s going to be the Zombie Ethics Panel with Emory University professors.That’s going to be really, really cool. The Greg Nicotero KNB Effects panel is going to be awesome, Saturday. That’s the only panel that the Walker Stalker’s will be moderating. The rest of the moderating is going to be done by the number one podcast for Walking Dead, hosts Jason and Karen from The Walking DeadCast. They are going to be moderating all the others.
In setting up the convention and all the behind the scenes work, what part of that process has surprised you the most?
I’ll probably have a different answer after the Con, but the thing that surprised me the most, and I wasn’t handling this as much as James, was how open the actors and how great the celebrities were to schedule, book, and to work with. That’s been impressive to me. I just really loved seeing how that came together. That’s been surprisingly easier than I thought it would be.
I think the thing that has been most surprising to me is, there is so much more behind the scenes going into a convention. Then I really ever imagined. From Security, to Catering to Audiovisual, banners and signs, and tables and curtains, and just all sorts of . . . I guess that when you show up at a convention, you just think that all that stuff is just there. There are so many people behind the scenes, and a lot of people on our team we have about 15 key people who volunteer all their time that helped us put this together. I would say that even with the subcontractors that we’re using for everything, there has to be 50 people working on this thing right now. I can just imagine on the scale of Dragon Con or San Diego how many people have to be involved, we’re just maybe 20% their size. It’s not one particular thing it’s all the little things you just really don’t think of until you actually have to do it.
What are your plans going forward, Will there be a Walker Stalker Con next year? As long as the show is on the air?
Well, we both really feel that The Walking Dead is kinda the next Star Wars / Star Trek. It’s across so many media platforms, and then also the merchandising, it’s so huge, and the (TV) spin-off coming, rumors of movies, it has some much potential for longevity, even if the show were to end in three or four years which now with the new spin-off, unless it’s just a flop, I don’t see how it’s gone in four years.
So, there’s real life to this. Just look what at our convention, it’s a community almost now, and I really think it will go long, are we going to keep doing conventions for that long? I don;t know, we’re just now debating do we do number two and where do we do it? There is the potential there, but we’ll just have to see how this one goes and then make the call on the next one.
Which of the Convention events are you looking forward to?
Outside of the VIP meet and greets it’s always fun to just hang out and network with people and talk to the celebrities, our two big events are the Emily Kinny concert, which happens right after the VIP Meet and Greet on Saturday night and then the Zombie Bash Party which happens after the Emily Kinny concert . So it’s like back to back to back Saturday night. I’m just forward to seeing how those go. I’m a big fan of Emily, we’re really excited to have her there. It’s just going to give fans another side of her that they don’t get to see on the show, so that will be really great.
The Zombie Bash Party is going to be fun, we have an amazing DJ we’re flying down from Boston, and SecretRooms.net is putting on an amazing show with contests, and costumes, dancers, that’s one you don;t want to miss. Especially if you want to party. That is the only one that is 18+ only.
We talked a bit more about conventions, convention policies regarding Unwelcome Harassment and Cosplay-is-not-Consent, which I am happy to report they have included in their convention policies and take very seriously. They wrapped up the interview by saying:
At the end of the day We’re fans who are putting on a convention.
I’m really looking forward to attending and covering this convention. I enjoyed talking with Eric and James, and I’ve already had the chance to interview Zach Galligan (Gremlins) and IronE Singleton (The Walking Dead, The Blindside) and will be posting those interviews in the next few days.
If you’re a Walking Dead fan, the place for you to be is at The Walker Stalker Con in Atlanta Ga. November 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Read and follow the rules below and you can win a pair of three-day passes:
THREE DAY PASS – GENERAL ADMISSION – $95 online – $115 @ door if available.
Admission to Walker Stalker Con for Friday, Saturday and Sunday during regular convention hours.
Access to convention floor, autograph area and Q&A panels.
What exactly do I need to do to win? Simple!
2. Retweet the following message “RT @NerdBastards @4 Ur Chance to Win a Pair of Passes to The Walker Stalker Con #NBGiveaway”
Contest is applicable to fans who already follow us on Twitter (you just need to RT message). Multiple tweets are allowed (No limit, but don’t flood the feed. Play nice.). 1 lucky winner will be randomly chosen (Don’t go trying to bribe us with money or affections. They are certainly welcomed, but they just won’t increase your chances). on Sunday 10/27/2013 .
The passes can be picked up at the convention will call booth that Friday.
*We do ask that only those that will be able to attend enter the contest.