Interview: Creators of Days of the Dead Convention

Jason McDonald

Days of the Dead

I’m sure most of us would agree that Horror Conventions are AWESOME.  You get to mingle with fellow horror nerds, get autographs, see kick ass costumes and spend lots and lots of money on wicked merchandise.

But how many of us stop to think about the man behind the curtain?  Who is running this show and how do they bring an entire convention together?  I’ve always been pretty curious about the behind-the-scene details of horror conventions, so when I got the chance to pick the brains of the creators of Days of the Dead, I jumped at it.

Days of the Dead is a horror convention that got it’s start in 2011 out in Indianapolis and has grown to become quite a popular fan destination with several locations across the U.S. including: Indianapolis, Chicago and Atlanta.  This year it’s opening it’s doors for the first time in Los Angeles on April 5th and it is promising to be a pretty big event.  Among some of the things you’ll be able to see at this year’s convention are: an award show honoring the best and brightest of horror, a TON of special guests from a wide range of horror films, a House of a 1000 Corpses reunion, a panel featuring the cast of Holliston and much more.

You can view the entire event and grab your tickets for it at their official site located here.

Can you give us an idea of how Days of the Dead came to be?

Originally, DAYS OF THE DEAD was going to be the mid west expansion show for one of the long established horror conventions on the east coast (which I am not at liberty to name) and early on they approached From Dusk Till Con about sponsoring a costume contest or film festival for that show. A few months later, the original promoter who owned the branding for the east coast convention changed his mind and dropped out, though the hotel and location were already secured and contracts were signed.

Rick and I were offered the opportunity to take a partnership role and I was asked to become the face of what went on to become DAYS OF THE DEAD. We though about it for a few weeks, but as huge horror fans who go to about 4-7 horror conventions a year, it was an offer we simply couldn’t refuse. And thus our first show in Indianapolis was born, July 2011. Since then we have expanded to Atlanta, Chicago, and now Los Angeles.

The goal from the beginning was to make a show that was not only fan friendly, but also had a distinct flavor in comparison to all of the other shows out there – if we could do it without losing our shirts all the better. One of my personal goals for DAYS OF THE DEAD, was to prove that it was possible to put together a purely homegrown convention that could not only stand up to the more mainstream shows, but do so while providing great value for the fans’ money.

Days of the Dead features an award show, that’s a pretty novel idea for a convention.  What sort of award show is it?

We’ll be giving out a few lifetime achievement and superlative type awards to some folks we feel deserve the honor and recognition. Unfortunately, the horror genre often gets overlooked when it comes to critical accolades, and we want to highlight a few people we’ve been inspired by as horror fans throughout our lifetimes.

We’re hoping to develop the concept in the future into a full blown awards show akin to the kind you see on television catering to the mainstream. This first one will serve as a pilot of sorts.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff going down during DOTD: LA, but what’s the one thing that you’re most proud of this year?

I think the fact that we were able to hold on our promise of making it the biggest collection of horror talent ever organized for a convention is what I would most likely hang my hat on.

Quantity certainly doesnt always equal quality, but I think this first LA show is a veritable who’s who of the best faces in the horror industry – past, present, and future. It’s exciting to have it all coming under one roof at one time.

I know this convention is nearly upon us, but at what point do you start thinking about 2014’s show?

Usually you’re already planning the next one a few weeks before the current one hits. We’ve been working on the current LA show since about April of 2012.

So while the rest of us are having a good time and enjoying ourselves, what are you up too during the show?  Do you ever get to sit back and enjoy it as a fan?

Usually you’ll see me running up and down the halls, putting out fires, making sure everything is going off without a hitch, and all sorts of other fun stuff. Ive been told many times that our shows are some of the smoothest running events people have been to, and if that’s the impression we make then it’s because of all the stuff going on behind the scenes that most fans are never privy to.

I seriously lose about 4-5 lbs over the course of the weekend each time we do a show from all the running around and lack of having time to eat. We have a fantastic staff that also helps tremendously each show, but Im a very hands on kind of guy and like to insure that every patron has the best possible experience they can have. I try to enjoy it here and there when I can, but often times that doesnt come until Saturday evening at  one of the after parties or on Sunday near closing.

Let’s say there’s someone out there who’s still undecided on whether or not they want to attend DOTD.  What’s the one thing you would say to them to convince them to come?

At the risk of sounding cocky, Id say anyone who calls themselves a horror fan would be crazy to be on the fence at this point. Id direct them to our website to have a look at the nearly 100 celebrity guests, 40+ vendors, and 30 hours of panels and film screenings being offered throughout the weekend.

As a fan, this is the show Ive waited for my whole life and I have no doubts that anyone who isnt there will have missed out on something truly special.

Thanks to the Days of the Dead team for taking the time to chat with us.  Remember, if this sounds like your kind of event you can visit their site right here to learn more.


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