Beth Crookham is careful to call her upcoming two-day “One Tree Hill” event a fan experience, not a fan convention.
It’s a subtle but important difference to the longtime TV producer, who believes her deep ties to the now cult-classic CW teen drama—and to the Wilmington film community—will give devoted viewers a more up-close-and-personal connection to cast and crew.
Crookham’s “Inside OTH” is set for Saturday, July 23 and Sunday, July 24 at Cape Fear Community College’s Wilson Center. Badge pickup will be held from 2-6 p.m. Friday, July 22, and doors will open at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. While the “platinum” package has sold out, tickets are still available online for a variety of offerings throughout the weekend.
“Inside OTH” is not a new concept, Crookham admits. It’s not unlike EyeCon’s “Return to Tree Hill,” which brought in massive crowds at its first convention last year. The Florida-based company touted it as the first of its kind in the country. It sold out so fast, in fact, that EyeCon scheduled a second event in August before the initial convention had even been staged. And a third was held back in March.
While both offer opportunities for autographs, meet-and-greets with cast and celebrity Q&A sessions, among others, Crookham has a perspective befitting the name of her event. The independent film and major network producer was on the locally shot show’s production team for eight of its nine seasons.
Inspired by chats with former “One Tree Hill” crew members about staging their own convention, Crookham got to work to make it happen, utilizing her relationships with actors and behind-the-scenes pros to put it all together.
The result is an impressive line-up of celebrities – 12 in all – that includes stars Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton. Each of the actors has put together a video for the “Inside OTH” website.
And there will be some memorabilia on hand that fans may be seeing for the first time.
“We’ve got a couple of set pieces. One is a re-creation, but it was done by the original makers, so it’s a pretty good re-creation. And another is an actual piece from one of the sets. We’ve got some scripts from the script supervisor with his notes in them…,” Crookham noted. “So, we’ll have these odds and ends of things around the convention that will be directly around the fans that are only there because of it’s us putting it together.”
Beyond those props and personal pieces, “Inside OTH” will employ crew from the show, as well as other local film professionals. Since the History channel’s “Six” and TNT’s “Good Behavior” will be wrapping just before the convention, Crookham said many working on those shows will stick around to work the venue.
“It may not be much, but at least I am able to offer a few more days of work for some of the folks who are not sure what’s coming next,” she said.
Crookham has also extended invitations to those who visited “Tree Hill” through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. During the show’s nine-season run, 13 children and teens with life-threatening illnesses asked for a day on set with cast and crew. Four of those 13 have confirmed they will come as Crookham’s guests, free of charge.
“I’m really, really excited to see them, and the crew and cast are, too,” she said. “They’re part of our family, too.”
Crookham is also giving a 20 percent discount to residents of New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender and Onslow counties and she’ll donate some proceeds from “Inside OTH” to students enrolled in CFCC’s video and film tech program.
Giving back to those who have given their support to film, Crookham said, is crucial.
“The community has been incredibly supportive,” she said of orgazining “Inside OTH.” “Wilmington loves film. That’s a good thing to be reminded of…For me, this is a way to say thank you to folks for always being so supportive to the film community.”
With that community in mind, Crookham is having thousands of cards printed up that read “I spent money in your business because of NC film.” They’ll be handed out to fans, who will be encouraged to leave them around town and throughout the state—should their travel to “Inside OTH” require—to send the message that the industry has a far-reaching impact.
Like EyeCon’s “Return to Tree Hill,” Crookham’s convention offers a variety of event passes and fees for individual events, such as a trolley tour of notable “OTH” film locations—with a cast member as the guide—and red carpet photo ops. A full schedule and tickets are available on the “Inside OTH” website.
Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.