Interview: Taking a Bite out of The Bite Convention

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Do you love Teen Wolf? Do you love conventions? Do you love it when fans work together to create something amazing?

If you’re answer to any or all of the above is ‘yes’, then you will love The Bite Convention, a fan operated convention scheduled for April 18-20, 2014 in Los Angeles. So far the guests include Tyler Posey, Keahu Kahuanui, Seth Gillian, Eaddy Mays, Brian Patrick Wade, and the man himself – Jeff Davis.

But beyond the awesome guest list, there is just something about Bite Con that makes it stand out from the rest. I’ve followed this convention since they announced the idea, and since then I’ve had a great feeling about the people who are running it. Not only are they huge Teen Wolf fans, but their love for the show comes across in everything they do. Their convention may be all about fan involvement, but they also want to make it a pleasant experience for the guests.

An entire weekend for people to celebrate Teen Wolf together, run by people who just really love Teen Wolf? Sign me up! (In fact, I did sign up – I’ll be attending Bite Con  in April!)

But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what two members of the convention team, Karen Bury and Marisah Garcia, had to say about the event:

 

Undie: Obviously you guys are Teen Wolf fans, so I have to start by asking about your fandom origin story. How did you first get into the show?

Karen: It was April 2013, during The Great Tumblr Savior Outage (a term I just made up). I hadn’t realized how many of my friends at the time already loved Teen Wolf, but with my blacklist down I couldn’t avoid the posts on my dash, so it quickly became clear to me that it was a lot of them. This coincided with a period of inactivity in my other fandom, Suits, which had several weeks earlier finished airing its second season. I was bored, and Teen Wolf was the subject of every third or fourth post on my dash. I found the show available to stream on Netflix, so I decided, what the heck, I’ll check it out. My friends told me to watch four or five episodes before passing final judgment. I ended up blitzing through seasons one and two over the course of one weekend and a weekday evening. And that’s how I tripped and fell into Teen Wolf (maybe more like I took an ungraceful flying leap off the high dive and belly-flopped into the deep end).

Marisah: The first time I saw anything about Teen Wolf was when my roommate started watching it on Netflix. Like so many before me, I was quick to judge it based on the title and really questioned why he was watching it but decided to not investigate any further. Later, and coincidentally, when I met Lizz (our BiteCon chair) one of the first things she did was make me watch a few episodes of Teen Wolf. I was skeptical at first, but five minutes into the first episode I knew this was a show I needed to watch immediately. Within a few weeks I was caught up with the show and I’ve never looked back!

 

Undie: I think we all have similar stories. What about Bite Con? Where do its origins lie? How did this whole thing get started?

Karen: I am actually really fuzzy on the details of this answer because I came along in September, long after the brainchild for this operation was conceived. I do know it happened at Wondercon 2013, when Adriana (our director of vendors and programming assistant) had an opportunity to pose a question to Jeff Davis, and she asked him if a group of fans put on a convention specifically for the show Teen Wolf, would he be interested in being a guest. He said yes so emphatically, I think, that they didn’t see any reason why it couldn’t actually happen. So they made it happen.

Marisah: Our group of friends are all regular convention goers and we wanted an opportunity to go to a convention for Teen Wolf. Unfortunately, the only one out there was Wolfs Bane in the UK. Given the massive and active fan base Teen Wolf has in the United States, we figured there was no reason a convention for Teen Wolf wouldn’t succeed here. Ultimately it was Lizz who had the idea that we should just run our own convention. Lizz and Adriana (co-programming and vending) went to Wondercon last year and Adriana asked Jeff Davis if he would attend an LA Teen Wolf convention. He said yes and ever since then we’ve all been working hard to make this dream a reality. The support from all the fans has been incredibly wonderful and personally is a huge motivator to work even harder at making this convention spectacular!

Undie: It seems Jeff will be keeping his promise as he’s scheduled to attend Bite Con. That’s pretty big. How do you feel about being the first Teen Wolf specific convention with Jeff Davis on the guest list?

Karen: It feels pretty awesome! A bunch of us had a chance to speak with Jeff at the fan panel party in November. He’s such a nice guy, and he’s extremely supportive of us and eager to see us succeed. We’re receiving a lot of cheering support and encouragement from the network in general, actually. We also got to chat with some of the cast at Days of the Wolf this month and several of them expressed their excitement over our convention. It’s affirming, in a sense, knowing that the people involved with the show like what we’re trying to do. It’s also very surreal. If I let myself think about the actual scope of what it is we’re doing, I get overwhelmed and anxious, so I’ve got tunnel-vision. I’m in what I call “con mode,” where I just focus on getting the job done and doing it well. I don’t think I’m really going to process everything until the convention is over.

Marisah: I’m so thrilled! I’m incredibly excited that Jeff is going to BiteCon and we have a few events planned for him that I personally am looking forward to. Unfortunately as we are still finalizing details, I can’t give away too much, but if all goes according to plan fans will be treated to a pretty unique panel with Jeff Davis.

Undie: Marisah, you mentioned fan support. Bite Con ran a successful Indiegogo campaign late last year. Were you guys surprised by the amount of support you received from fandom?

Karen: We were astounded at the immediate success of the IndieGoGo campaign. If I recall correctly, it went live at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon, and by 3:40, we’d reached our goal. But even beyond the campaign, we’ve received such incredible support from members of the fandom. For me, knowing that people have bought tickets and are planning to attend, and hearing people say how excited they are about the convention, is a great feeling. I’ve been involved with running conventions for many years, now, and it’s never a simple endeavor, but seeing people get pumped up about what we’re trying to do makes the long hours and hard work worth it.

Marisah: I was floored by the support we received. When I found out we met our initial goal of $10,000 in the first ten minutes of launching our fundraiser, I could barely believe it. The fact that we nearly doubled our goal by the end of the campaign is unreal and I cannot give enough thanks to everyone who donated or even just spread the word about us. It truly is thanks to the fans that this is at all possible!

Undie: Speaking of fan support, Bite Con is currently looking for volunteers for the convention weekend. What would you say to fans that might be considering volunteering?

Karen: I would say – and this goes for any convention you want to volunteer for – don’t offer to volunteer unless you are 100% committed to the success of the convention, even if that means you don’t get to experience it for yourself.

That’s misleading, though. I’ve gotten to experience every convention I’ve ever worked, but my experience is from another perspective. It’s extremely rewarding for me to volunteer my time to a convention, to see the attendees enjoying themselves, to see the different divisions working together to pull off such a huge undertaking. I start each convention with a wicked case of nerves, and I finish with a huge sense of satisfaction that we made it happen. It’s so satisfying to be on the other end of the closing ceremonies and see the attendees filing out of the venue, smiling, laughing, exhausted, but so happy and hopefully taking lots of amazing memories with them.

Volunteering isn’t for everyone, but I encourage anyone who thinks it sounds like fun to try it at least once, if not for BiteCon, then for another convention they already attend. Most conventions have “pass-on” privileges, where if you volunteer a certain number of hours over the course of the weekend, your badge for the next year is free. It’s worth investigating the volunteer perks at various conventions to see if there’s one that offers anything that would make it worth your time.

Bottom line: if you’re volunteering your time to a convention, people are counting on you to be present and do the job you’ve been given; you can’t abandon your post just to sit in that one panel you really want to see. You’re there as a volunteer first and a fan second. It’s a sacrifice, in a sense, but it really is worth it in the end.

Marisah: Please volunteer! We have a variety of volunteer opportunities available and we’ve recently amended our application to allow for volunteers 18 and older. We really want this convention to run smoothly and in order to do so we need more volunteers! If you have any questions about the job you can email them to general@thebiteconventions.com.

Undie: We’re heading towards April very quickly. You’ve already teased a Tea Party, Beer Tasting and Karaoke Prom Night; are there any other hints you can give us about the weekend’s events?

Karen: It’s all still very nebulous, unfortunately, but we recently spoke with some folks who’ve hinted that we’d be able to include some programming that we’d always wanted to include but we hasn’t known how to ask the people who can help us make it happen. If it comes together the way we hope, it’ll be really cool and I think the audience will really enjoy it!

Marisah: We recently announced that we are showing an episode of Teen Wolf with live commentary from members of the show! There’s a link on thebiteconvention.tumblr.com where you can vote for which episode you’d like to see. Also, because we are all about the fans here at BiteCon, you can expect several opportunities for fans to show off their talent, knowledge, and love of Teen Wolf. There may be an opportunity to show off your Kanima outfit or your drawings of Scott wearing a flower crown!

Undie: There are some really cool guests (Tyler Posey – swoon) and some awesome sounding events. What do you think guests should be looking forward to the most?

Karen: I’m biased, but I’m really excited about the whole convention! We’re just a few days away from being able to announce our official charity partner, and when we do, we’ll be able to talk about a really exciting way we’re working them into our programming. I’m most excited about the things I can’t talk about, yet!

Marisah: Karaoke Prom Night! Where else do you get the chance to bond over one-hit wonders and dance the night away with Teen Wolf fans?! The days will be filled with fabulous fan events and magical moments with the stars of the show but your time at BiteCon just wouldn’t be complete without a little singing and dancing with your new friends!

Undie: There are a lot of conventions around and it’s hard for fans to decide which ones to attend. Why do you think fans should choose Bite Con?

Karen: I think we’re in a unique position since we’re in Los Angeles where the show is filmed. Aside from Days of the Wolf, the other conventions are on the east coast or in Europe. We have perhaps an unfair advantage because pretty much everyone we want to bring to the convention is already here in LA. Season 4 will still be filming, so even those who travel to work on the set from another state are likely to be in the area.

We’re fans first, and a business second, so a lot of the programming we’re trying to bring to the stage is based on what we, as fans, would hope to see at a Teen Wolf convention. It’s that consideration, we think, which sets us apart from the other conventions. We’re eager to be different so we don’t over-saturate what appears to be a really sudden Teen Wolf con environment, and we really hope that the things we’re doing will sort of put us in a different category from the rest. Ideally, this won’t be our only convention, so hopefully we’re successful with this programming model and we can do it again, maybe in a different city!

Marisah: This is a question that all of us at BiteCon ask ourselves when we make decision involving the convention. We have all been convention attendees and we’ve talked about what can be improved upon and what made the convention experience resonate within us. Our primary goal here is to create an event that has something for every fan to enjoy. So if anyone is wondering why BiteCon, my answer is that no where else will you find a convention team more passionate about Teen Wolf, conventions, and our fellow fan. It also doesn’t hurt that we are donating a portion of our proceeds to the National Wildlife Federation and any remaining profit will be put right back into planning for our next convention!

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Bite Convention will take place at the Four Points by Sheraton from April 18, 2014 through April 20, 2014. Ticket packages are currently available via the Bite Convention website. Keep up to date on all things Bite Con by following their Twitter and Tumblr. And for those of you that can’t make it to LA, don’t worry – I’ll be detailing all the fun right here on The Geekiary!

Author: Undie Girl

Undie Girl (aka Von) has a BA (Hons) Major in Cultural Studies. The title of her honours thesis was “It’s just gay and porn”: Power, Identity and the Fangirl’s Gaze. She’s currently pursuing a Masters of Media Practice at University of Sydney. Von’s a former contributor The Backlot’s column The Shipping News and a current co-host of The Geekiary’s monthly webcast FEELINGS… with The Geekiary.

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