After a whirlwind of activity on Day 1 of Walker Stalker Atlanta, and attempting to recover by writing furiously until 3am...it's safe to say that I was NOT ready for my early start for Day 2 of Walker Stalker Con. However, conventions are NOT the time to sleep in or bemoan a hangover when there's work to be done, and I had work to do!
First things first, at 10am, Greg Nicotero's KNB FX panel began, as a convention veteran, I know that you need to arrive EARLY to get a good seat, and if you're going to ask a question of the person on stage, make it a good one. Thankfully I had asked Nicotero all of the questions I needed to in my pre-convention interview (and I wasn't about to ask any in front of 300+ strangers...) so my only worry, was nabbing a good seat.
If you've read my pre-convention interview, you'll know that Nicotero is a personal hero, and the reason that I became a makeup and FX artist, so getting his perspective on [The Walking Dead](series:201193) not only as a director and producer and also as a makeup FX artist was utterly amazing, and I don't know how many people actually appreciate the full extent to which the show occupies his life.
Nicotero dropped a few behind the scenes hints, some F-bombs with apologies to the parents who had brought small children to the panel (why do parents DO that??), and some details about the premiere episode. The first episode of Season 5 took 9 days to shoot, and while it was originally shot with 6 cameras, the editing process took the explosion back from a "Michael Bay style" explosion to a more restrained payoff, keeping it within Carol's POV and bringing the focus of the story back to her.
If you ever wondered what Rick was biting when he ripped out Joe (Jeff Kober)'s throat? It was steak...raw steak. According to Nicotero, star Andrew Lincoln kept requesting more and more meat be added to the wound so he could get a good grip on it and really 'commit to the bite.' RAWR
Another Easter Egg to look for? Remember the disgustingly awesome 'Well Zombie' from the farm in Season 2? In Episode 12, keep an eye out for some more waterlogged zombies!
After Nicotero's panel, I packed myself back downstairs to the main convention floor to the secondary panel space (where the panels I had hosted were held the previous day) to await a panel interview with the costume designer for The Walking Dead, Eulyn Womble, a bubbly firecracker with a South African accent and a LOT of passion for her job.
After my initial frustration of watching a couple of guys (including one of the convention organizers) stumble through an interview about clothing design and its importance to the look and feel of the entire show (which it honestly seemed that they cared very little about), I got some great tidbits about the show and a better understanding of the characters that Womble cares so much about.
When I got a chance to do a quick interview with Eulyn after her panel, we commiserated about the importance of the clothing to the show, and her overwhelming passion for what she does.
Every character has their 'thing' - Maggie has her boots, yes Carl has his hat, but he also has mismatched shoes, Rick is always with his belt buckle from Season 1 and his boots...it's the little details that make the character real.
We also quickly discussed Carol's evolution as a character and how you can see it reflected in her costuming, and how shoes truly do make the woman, and in the world of The Waking Dead, shoes are survival not fashion.
In Season 1, Carol is a battered woman, she was in sandals and Melissa (McBride) was always getting hurt because rocks and things would get stuck in her sandals all the time on set, and to see her now wearing her ass-kicking boots...there's a hashtag on twitter now that is 'TeamCarolBoots,' it's extremely important and empowering.
You'll be able to see a full recap of Eulyn's panel and my interview with her soon!
The rest of the day was spent trying to meet with fellow MP writer Reid Jones who helped take care of double duty by sitting in on the most popular panel of the convention, 'The Bromance' panel with Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus as well as panels with Melissa McBride discussing the heartbreaking episode from Season 4 "The Grove" and Jason Momoa who talked a LOT about Aquaman! Follow Reid for his convention update!
One of the last 2 panels of the day for me were a writers panel with companion series author Jay Bonansinga who works with Robert Kirkman and Scott Gimple to help fill in the blanks created by the series and the comics. If you aren't familiar with the book series, it's a great way to get caught up on some NON fan-fiction accounts of what happened in Woodbury after the fall of the Governor, and some extra backstory that the series is missing. A must for any TWD Fanatic.
The last panel of the day was a little bit sloppy, which was a shame as we attempted to get to know Abraham's Army a little better. Michael Cudlitz (Abraham), Josh McDermitt (Eugene), and Christian Serratos (Rosita) tried REALLY hard to talk about their connection with each other both on and off the show, but the conversation got a little out of hand as the moderators handed everything over to the audience without guiding the conversation after doing so. Thankfully, Serratos took a leadership role and turned otherwise bland audience questions into meaningful discussion while trying to keep the quippy McDermitt under some kind of control (comedians are loose cannons at the best of times) until the questions had been answered.
Overall, Day 2 was a little exhausting... mainly for the sheer fact that the number of people attending had swollen considerably...which is awesome, but also overwhelming. I love seeing so many people in cosplay coming out to pay homage to their favorite TV show. It's obvious that all of the talent attending the convention are aware of how amazing the TWD fandom is, and their gratitude towards the attending crowds is truly wonderful.
I also can't say enough about the volunteers at Walker Stalker Con, especially the ones who sought me out and got me into some great seats and hooked up some great moments. It pays to stand out sometimes. ;)
Day 3 will be similar to today except with a little more running around to be done and some more interviews with some actors that I won't reveal until tomorrow! Stay tuned!