For the past couple of years Amy and I have lived vicariously through those who attended a Teen Wolf convention. The cons were either too far away – usually out of the country – or simply out of our budget, especially if we were already attending a different con closer to us. We knew one day it would happen. It was just a matter of time.
Last year when Howler Con announced their final Teen Wolf con for June 2017, we knew we had to go. Regardless how much it would cost us. It was the only company that did Teen Wolf conventions in the United States. Not going wasn’t an option. After a year of saving money, planning, booking, purchasing photo ops and autographs, we were able to attend Howler Con’s fourth and final Teen Wolf Convention, One Last Howler.
We have attended several conventions together and separately. With this con, we decided to share our experience. Not necessarily our experience meeting the cast or how the panels went, but more how Howler Con ran their conventions.
Amy: I’ve attended several cons and none of them have run on schedule. Most of them run extremely behind schedule, and sometimes very few of them are only a few minutes late, but none of them actually stuck to the schedule. Except for Howler Con. Despite having multiple things going on at the same time, Howler Con was on schedule with just about everything from panels, photo ops, autographs, to meet and greets. At the same time, they made sure everyone would get to do everything they paid for without missing a photo op or a meet and greet. I don’t know how they did it, but it worked. As someone who likes things to start when they’re supposed to, this was definitely something I liked. At any convention, I understand things come up or take longer than they should, depending on the amount of people attending the con, but whatever Amy and Besty did was superb!
Miranda: I sort of have to disagree. Yes, everything ran on time for the most part, but I wouldn’t say their organization skills were superb. I’ve actually been calling it organized chaos. For one, and this goes with the seating a bit, they just let everyone line up at once for everything. Paying for special badges/seating in first or second row, you’d expect to be able to be at the front of the line instead of jumbled in with everyone else. Maybe I’m just used to row by row, badge by badge line ups, but I really think they would have benefitted from that as well. Also, literally nothing that was happening was announced. For example, if you had a photo op at a certain time, no one was up on stage telling you that it was time to line up. The only thing you could rely on was the schedule in our souvenir books or the schedule on Howler Con’s Twitter, but neither of those were updated with Holland’s, Crystal’s, Ian’s or JR’s schedule changes. We heard those by word of mouth. Then there was the utter chaos of the autograph room, but I’ll talk about that in the later section.
Amy: When I bought tickets to be seated in the second row, I thought it would come with some perks other than sitting second row. It totally defeats the purpose if you bought a higher badge level thinking you’d be at the beginning of lines for everything. Wrong-o! It doesn’t matter what level your badge is when it comes to getting in line for photo ops and autographs; more about this in the photo op section.
What really annoyed me was we couldn’t save seats. For example, if I got amazing aisle seats on the left side of the room to get great photos from the center of the stage from an angle and I left after a panel for whatever reason, I couldn’t have my neighbor hold my seat. In other words, if I left for a photo op or a meet and greet (not that I had one), go to the bathroom or get food and my seat was taken by someone else who had the same badge level as me, they had every right to get my seat. Like, seriously?! What the truck?!
The first day the staff members weren’t so strict about it. The second day, it was like a sudden priority to make sure people who got up would lose their seats. Our friend Corina got up for a photo op and left her stuff under her chair. When she came back, someone took her seat even though she had her stuff there. Yet, she couldn’t do anything about it because according to the staff, “there’s no saving seats.” *insert Peter Hale annoyed-eye rolling gif*
Miranda: I completely agree on this, and I touched on it a bit in the first section. This no saving seats rule was ridiculous. Like, we paid for first or second row, we got there early so we could get a good seat in those rows, we shouldn’t be penalized for having to pee or going to get one of our ticketed items or to get food to keep us from starving. This is why I believe they (fans included) would have benefited from assigned seats for your appropriate badge. Fans already have enough to worry about with keeping up with the schedule and not starving to death or holding your bladder, why add more stress of having to worry about losing your seat?
As for the line ups, I also mentioned this in the first section. If you paid the good money for first or second row, you deserve to have priority in lines. That’s common sense.
Amy: Again, things ran smoothly time wise. All panels were an hour long and ran on time. Everyone had a great time. You’d think I would have no problem with the panels… Wrong-o again!
There was an exclusive panel for Wolf and Full Moon badge holders. When I looked at the schedule, I noticed Melissa’s photo op was at the same time. I had a photo op with her. Naturally, this had me concerned, as it didn’t make any sense. If they made the schedule for everyone to attend everything, how was I supposed to do both at the same time and without missing a minute of the panel? I asked about it and found out the panel was only 30 minutes long, and those who had Melissa photo ops would be able to take their pictures after the panel ended. I had mixed feelings about this.
The exclusive panel – Oh, Hale! – was with Ian Bohen, Shelley Hennig, and Tyler Hoechlin. We didn’t get a lot of them together on the show and it totally bummed me out that we only got a 30-minute panel. Even they were surprised it was that short and not an hour long. I don’t understand why they couldn’t make it a full hour.
Also, the staff didn’t even check for badges for this panel. They just announced the panel was for Wolf and Full Moon badges only, and kindly asked for those who didn’t have the appropriate badge level to leave the room. I’m sorry, but you’re going to trust an entire audience who would do anything to sneak into that panel if they didn’t have the proper badge? Howler Con had enough staff members and volunteers to have them check and make sure the people who actually paid to see this exclusive panel weren’t ripped off by those who didn’t buy the higher badge levels.
Miranda: I agree. The length of the exclusive panel was really disappointing to even the actors. As for staff not checking badges, I didn’t notice it, but I’m not surprised. They didn’t check badges for anything as far as seating went. People could have been sitting in the wrong section the entire time and no one would have noticed. Especially since they said the auction was open seating… like what??
Overall though, the panels were HILARIOUS. I mean, tear-inducing giggle fits hilarious. Even though I was confused by the naming of some of them – i.e. “We have anger issues” for the younger cast in attendance – I did like the way they paired everyone up – i.e. adults/parents, younger generation, the guys, the women, and then everyone together. That being said, I can’t really choose which one I enjoyed the most because they all had their specialties. Like for the parents, it was nice to hear advice and such from them because they have more experience with life. Then with younger people (Holland, Crystal, Shelley, Tyler and Ryan), I found them more relatable because I’m closer to their age. The guys’ panel was straight up hilarious – they came with a warning and all – but they did have their more serious questions and answers. Linden brought tears to many people’s eyes (including his own) as he talked about the power of kindness and a story he heard on a TedTalk session. The girls’ panel was a bit more serious (albeit they had some funny moments as well). I would describe it as a girl-talk conversation, really, even though there were guys in the audience. My favorite part of that one was the topic of sexism in the business and how some of them shared their own stories. Melissa closed that discussion by saying, “Remember that ‘No.’ is a complete sentence.” Finally, with the last panel, it was just really nice to have them all up on stage answering questions together. I’ve never been to a convention that really did that, and I enjoyed seeing the camaraderie between all of them even though not everyone worked together on the show, or at least not much.
Amy: What I loved about the photo ops is we were allowed to do poses as long as it was okay with the actor. A lot of people did poses and it did not hold up the line or push back the schedule. It was quick and organized. However, Howler Con didn’t announce what photo ops were being taken at the time. This didn’t necessarily bother me since I’ve attended several cons that have done this procedure. I honestly didn’t mind it. Plus, the pictures only took a few minutes to print out after taking the photo.
My only complaint is that anyone could get in line in any order. They would not go by row or badge level. Instead, they went with whoever had conflicting photo ops or meet and greets. Those people would go at the beginning of the line before everyone else. I understand why they had to do that, but it just annoyed me. Maybe because I’m used to attending cons where they did go by row numbers or badge levels. I didn’t like it one bit, especially if I was towards the end of the line and I was worried about my seat being taken.
Miranda: I really enjoyed the way photo ops were set up as well. At least concerning everything being in the same room, photos being printed minutes after being taken, and poses being allowed. Crystal was the only one who didn’t allow for poses, which was disappointing. Again, I didn’t like how lines were done either. It caused a lot of confusion and yelling. Also, when you have multiple actors doing photo ops, you should have designated signs OUTSIDE the room so people know where to go. They had plenty of staff that could have been designating lines. It would have been way less confusing and stressful.
Amy: This was by far the most chaotic part of the con. I don’t even now how to describe it. What started as a regular line, turned into: “anyone with so-so autographs, go to the front.” I understand some actors only doing autographs for one day, or had to leave early, but it was crazy. I think it would have been faster if they had all the actors aligned and then have fans go down the line. It would have saved so much trouble for everyone. As much as I wanted autographs, I hated this process the most out of the whole convention.
One thing I did like, though, was that fans could talk to and give presents to the actors. Granted, they were limited to time, but it was enough time to interact with your favorite Teen Wolf actors.
Miranda: Yes, to everything Amy said. I’ve never experienced an autograph session as chaotic and unorganized as this one. Were all the actors lined up at tables in the room? Yes, but that’s about the only organization they had going for them during the session on both days. And if you think maybe Sunday was less chaotic than Saturday – EHH WRONG. Actually, it was more chaotic because many were unable to get autographs on Saturday because they had a cut off time and JR only signed Sunday. So, Sunday everyone needed his, but he also had a time limit because he had to catch his flight.
The thing is, once you get in the room, you could stay in there until you got everyone you needed… unless you got confused or the lines were still ridiculous even inside the room. Also, once you were inside the room, the yelling didn’t stop. Yelling the same thing repeatedly in a small room full of at least 70+ people is obnoxious and unnecessary. What would have made things run a lot smoother, I’m sure, is back to the line-up situation. Call by row or badges in the panel room if they have an actor’s autograph. Then have a volunteer lead them to the room and wait until that group is done. Don’t let so many people in at once. It’s too messy.
However, I did enjoy how the cast took time to ask your name and have a small conversation to show that they appreciate you. That’s more on the cast, though, and not really the convention people. I only wish it wasn’t so chaotic and loud, making each experience less intimate.
Even though we agreed and disagreed on how Howler Con ran their convention, we still had a blast. The beauty about conventions is they bring friends together who love the same show. This was the perfect way for us to reunite, as we hadn’t seen each other in over a year. We got to meet our favorite actors, took great photos, made new friends, and made memories we’ll remember forever.
All photo credit to Miranda Friel