Anime USA Con Chair – Convention Planning Interview

ausaSo there I was, desperately trying to gain an interview with Anime USA’s Evil Overlord in a vain attempt to ask him about the next nefarious plot he was planning, and all of a sudden I see a notification that I had just received a new e-mail.

I hesitated momentarily, and for the life of me I still don’t know why.  Perhaps I knew that something was about to go terribly wrong and my sixth sense was pleading with me not to continue.  I opened the e-mail, and I simply can not tell you of all the horrors that I witnessed within it.  Suffice to say, AUSA’s Evil Overlord had done his homework on me, and was threatening the very lives of all those who I held dear.  He agreed to leave me alone and give back my wife and kitten, but I had to follow his demands.

I followed them … but it is something that will haunt me for the rest of my life …

Ok still with me here?  How’d you like that little dramatic opening?  Grab your attention pretty well?  Good!

What we have below is our interview with the Con Chairmen of Anime USA which is going to be taking place this upcoming November 20-22, 2009 in Crystal City, VA.  He was kind enough to give up some of his free time to tell you the viewers, about what it’s like to organize a convention of the magnitude.  From the answers we got, and his own personal flair for dramatic storytelling, I can tell you that I’m very excited to be there for AUSA!

If you have any further questions or comments that you would like to ask the AUSA Evil Overlord, please feel free to leave a comment here and we’ll be sure to send our staff into his secret lair to try and pry out the answers.  Until then, enjoy!

There are obviously a lot of steps needed to plan an event like Anime USA, but which ones are the most time sensitive ones?

The first thing to do is find the BEST damn staff you can get. Bribe them, beg them, blackmail them, whatever it takes.  Get them on board as fast as possible.

After that nail down your Official Start Time, which is dependent on the contract time and load-in, and blah, blah, blah.

This is your first year in charge of Anime USA.  How did you get into this position, and how have you enjoyed it thus far?

I got to be Con-chair by Right of Combat.  In individual combat, I narrowly defeated my predecessor with a key blade, absorbing his power like a quickening.

The truth is, I stepped up.  At AnimeUSA 2008, people were getting burned out, staffers were tired, and we all needed to try something different.  So I spoke with Mark Pope, then Con-Chair, and said that I’d be willing to be con-chair.  But as part of the plan to change things, I added a second Vice-Chair to AnimeUSA, and refused a position on the Board of Directors, thus providing more support to the Con-chair and theoretically more oversight.

So far, it’s been an amazing opportunity to be chair.  I’ve learned a lot, and made some incredible friends.

What are you doing different that some of your predecessors did not?

The biggest difference is that I’ve inherited some of the best staffers, and filled in the gaps with even more awesome people.  In addition to that, I’ve added my second Vice-Chair to share the load, and un-like either of the last two Con-Chairs, I’m married and my wife has been a staffer with AUSA with me for several years and is very organized and keeps me on track.  Another thing I did was declare myself Evil Overlord of AnimeUSA, with the intent to change the way I could do my job by changing how people saw the head of the convention.

How long does it take from start to finish to plan the event?  Does it take the entire year, or do you get a break after the event is finally over?

We actually started working on AnimeUSA 2009 in Oct 08, even before our 2008 event was up and running, much less done with.  In the month following each con, we’ll do a Post-Mortem meeting, to discuss the entire event, what went well, and what didn’t.  After that, we usually take a month off, only the most insane of us continuing to work slowly on the convention for “next year”.  After the month off, it’s back to monthly meetings, and loads of emails.

Steampunk is something that has gained a lot of wide spread popularity as of late.  Why did you decide to go with that for a convention theme?  Is there anything in particular you are looking forward to about the theme?

We chose Steampunk because that’s what most of our attendees were talking about during 2008.  Plus, I think the outfits are cool 😉

Finally, how are you going to measure how successful this upcoming convention is going to be?  Will you be strictly looking at numbers, or will it be successful in your eyes no matter what?

I define a successful convention as an event that is the best it can be each year.  Numbers help determine how well you got the word out, and things like that, but the real test is talking to the staff and the attendees and finding out they felt about it.

Joseph Valenti

Founder of g33kWatch, Joe is the guy who makes sure nobody hurts themselves. Connect with me on Google+

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