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turkeycreaux
07-23-2012, 12:43 PM
Hi, I'm Patrick and I'm a first time haunter.

I've long been fascinated with haunts and scaring people. Back when I was a lad, I used to put on a Freddy Krueger mask and run around a bible camp I used to attend, hiding in bushes and grabbing people's ankles as they passed. Oh what fun those heady days of youth were. I've wanted to do a haunt for a long time. I've volunteered for a few, attended many, but never ran one.

Then I got my dream job at the local radio stations. I thought perhaps I could convince my bosses to sponsor one. I sat on the idea for a couple years (as management had changed a few times since I was hired), until I had the opportunity last year to present my idea during a company meeting where they were looking for event ideas. I was prepared: I had locations in mind, I had a theme in mind, how we would get sponsors for it, how the money made would go to charity, I felt I was prepared for any question they were bound to ask.

The conversation went like this:

BOSS: Anyone else have any ideas for events we could do?
ME: I think we should do a haunted house.
BOSS: Okay, make it happen.

Shocked that it was that easy, I set to work. I gave the sales staff my list of choices for locations and asked them to set up meetings with the owners (as most of the owners were already clients). At the time, only one location got back to us, a farm that would be great for a haunted hayride, (but with Autumns in Wisconsin, that can be a dicey proposition). We passed on that location, and that seemed to be the end of it. Until about 3 weeks ago. While working a remote with the head of sales, I asked if there was any process in looking for a haunt location. "Oh, yeah, we can do it in the mall."

Um...when did you find this out and why wasn't I notified sooner? And of course, I 'm expected to have everything done and raring to go for October.

So I have a haunt to put together in a very short period of time. Fortunately, I was planning on starting small and building over the years (hopefully). I'm not going to be able to do everything I wanted, but I think it will be a good experience.

I found this forum a couple weeks ago, lurking at first, and thought it would be a good place to put down my experiences and get advice from those who have come before.


More to come soon!
TC

turkeycreaux
07-23-2012, 12:51 PM
To give you an idea where I'm headed with this, here's a brief outline of what I've got so far:


LOCATION: A vacant storefront in the local mall. I'll have just over 13,500 square ft to work with, but I don't plan on using all that. We'll see on the plans come up. It is actually my first choice of locations, so I'm pretty happy about that. Plenty of parking space, in a controlled environment, centrally located and easily accessible for teens who are limited in their transportations.

TIMES: Starting off small, the last two weekends in October and Halloween night. One Saturday for a lights on walkthru Trick or Treat event for the kiddies.

THEME: Archeologist digs up an idol for a forgotten god. Brings to mall for storage until it can be displayed in a museum. Cultists arrive and "activate" the idol, causing death, mayhem, and all good things like that. Going to try to keep it light on the gore, more on the psychological scares, we'll see.


I get to tour the space and meet the Fire Marshall on Wednesday. Hopefully will get in full swing with construction next week.


TC

Trail of Terror
07-23-2012, 01:51 PM
Good luck... I did one in the mall 2 years ago and went very well.. I would still be there but they got offered more money for the spot than what I wanted to pay for... I think you will do good... You shouldn't have a problem with the fire marshal.. the building should already be to code... at least it was for me...

Alabama Asylum

Geoff

Frightener
07-23-2012, 05:03 PM
I think Geoff meant "Shouldn't have a problem..."

Being a mall, that sumbish better be sprinkled! If not, the mall's got problems!

Being an archaeological dig stored in the mall, your wall panels can be plain arse jane! That's good. Think of crates and loose static creatures to help set the feel.

I would definitely spring for some GREAT costumes if you can, if budget allows.

Mall is great, forget what Pickle said. He disagrees with the mall spots and everyone I've talked to that's done one (that actually marketed their haunt) did very well. However, you will eventually get pushed out. When your sales get up and the mall knows it, they're gonna dig deeper. Plain and simple. I've learned the mall industry is VERY greedy! I learned by airbrushing and putting in kiosks and almost a store. F#%K the mall imo! But for getting started, if you have it, that's awesome, just be prepared for that hike so it's not such a big blow to you. In other words, don't get too comfortable and ONLY make modifications that isn't permanent so you're not giving them free work and stuff, like cabinets that cant' be moved and so on.

If you're JUST NOW starting, by god do NOT waste any time! We all think we have plenty of time and I"ve been starting my first year this year since November last year. FINALLY got my spot 3 months ago and I've been remodeling the house that's building 1 since then to make it safe for hopefully thousands of patrons. Get to studying and make sure you have a good solid plan.


That much space, IMO, I'd build a nice break room and make up room first, in a great spot w/ emergency exits on their own. Like, if the spot is long, build it along one wall so each one is close to the rear and one to the front door. PLAN on having a fire / emergency, so you can build around it. Always keep it in mind and don't let the sprinklers make you too comfortable.
You have plenty of space to start.

With that, good luck and ask ask ask (after searching :P ) any questions.

Dewayne

Trail of Terror
07-24-2012, 04:20 AM
I think Geoff meant "Shouldn't have a problem..."

Being a mall, that sumbish better be sprinkled! If not, the mall's got problems!

Being an archaeological dig stored in the mall, your wall panels can be plain arse jane! That's good. Think of crates and loose static creatures to help set the feel.

I would definitely spring for some GREAT costumes if you can, if budget allows.

Mall is great, forget what Pickle said. He disagrees with the mall spots and everyone I've talked to that's done one (that actually marketed their haunt) did very well. However, you will eventually get pushed out. When your sales get up and the mall knows it, they're gonna dig deeper. Plain and simple. I've learned the mall industry is VERY greedy! I learned by airbrushing and putting in kiosks and almost a store. F#%K the mall imo! But for getting started, if you have it, that's awesome, just be prepared for that hike so it's not such a big blow to you. In other words, don't get too comfortable and ONLY make modifications that isn't permanent so you're not giving them free work and stuff, like cabinets that cant' be moved and so on.

If you're JUST NOW starting, by god do NOT waste any time! We all think we have plenty of time and I"ve been starting my first year this year since November last year. FINALLY got my spot 3 months ago and I've been remodeling the house that's building 1 since then to make it safe for hopefully thousands of patrons. Get to studying and make sure you have a good solid plan.


That much space, IMO, I'd build a nice break room and make up room first, in a great spot w/ emergency exits on their own. Like, if the spot is long, build it along one wall so each one is close to the rear and one to the front door. PLAN on having a fire / emergency, so you can build around it. Always keep it in mind and don't let the sprinklers make you too comfortable.
You have plenty of space to start.

With that, good luck and ask ask ask (after searching :P ) any questions.

Dewayne

You are correct... I meant Shouldn't and I corrected it... I you are hitting the nail on the head about the mall going up on price and pushing you out... That is what happen to me but it was for the best... Now I got a permanent spot and did very well last year..

pickle
07-24-2012, 07:03 AM
Just to clarify what Frightener said...I never said anything bad about being in a mall! I'm assuming he is talking about the other"Pickel" (my "e" comes after the "l") LMAO As a matter of fact I just signed a 5 year lease with a cap to extend for an additional 5 years! I'm actually directly behind the mall in their Power Convenience Center (basically a glorified additional strip center not attached directly to the mall). I am stoked we got the deal & extension we got & the mall is one of the busiest within 60 miles of here & they just started a new addition of another 250,000' sq. ft. with two new major anchors & pubs coming in! I personally think the mall scenario can be awesome if it's done right (detailed facades, etc.) Good luck with your new haunt!:)





P.

(as in "Pickle")

BrotherMysterio
07-24-2012, 07:05 AM
forget what Pickle said.

Which Pickle?

C.

turkeycreaux
07-24-2012, 08:47 AM
Thanks everyone! I'm really excited to get things going, and there's a lot of interest from volunteers, not only for the scares but for construction as well (which I thought I would have to blackmail people for help there).



Being an archaeological dig stored in the mall, your wall panels can be plain arse jane! That's good. Think of crates and loose static creatures to help set the feel.

I would definitely spring for some GREAT costumes if you can, if budget allows.


Yeah, that was one of the pluses for me for the theme. Works with the location, and depending what kind of financing my sales department can scare up, the sparseness of the set will work with it. A lot of the planned costumes (for now) are going to be featureless masks and robes, for the acolytes of the cult. I'm planning small and will work bigger if time/budget allows.



Mall is great, forget what Pickle said. He disagrees with the mall spots and everyone I've talked to that's done one (that actually marketed their haunt) did very well. However, you will eventually get pushed out. When your sales get up and the mall knows it, they're gonna dig deeper. Plain and simple. I've learned the mall industry is VERY greedy! I learned by airbrushing and putting in kiosks and almost a store. F#%K the mall imo! But for getting started, if you have it, that's awesome, just be prepared for that hike so it's not such a big blow to you. In other words, don't get too comfortable and ONLY make modifications that isn't permanent so you're not giving them free work and stuff, like cabinets that cant' be moved and so on.


Oh, I'm aware of that. This particular mall charges an outrageous amount for rent, and is practically a ghost town because of it. (leading to many jokes when I announced to my friends I was doing a haunt there). Fortunately, our radio stations have there sales office there in the mall and we have worked out a barter agreement with them. Basically, rent won't be an issue at all for us. Unfortunately, there is a new store going in that spot this December, so if the haunt continues to next year, it will have to be at a new location.


TC

turkeycreaux
07-25-2012, 04:07 PM
Well, I went and visited my space today (without the FM, as he had something come up, will be meeting with him tomorrow hopefully).

It's a great space, roughly 72' x 128'. That doesn't include the storeroom in the back, which will be perfect for a break room/costume & make-up area (with bathrooms!) Ceiling is about 12-14' high, and there are pillars going down the middle of the space, 5 of them at a pacing of about 12 feet apart.

Down side, I only spotted 3 outlets in the whole space, one each on two pillars and another at the front of the store. The mall contact said that she believed there was outlets in the ceiling, as evidenced by an extention cord hanging down. She could not tell me where they might be located though. I'll probably have to run some cords from the back too.

Also, because it is an interior store, we have to go with Mall Hours (until 9pm on Friday night, which isn't bad, but they're only open until 6pm on Saturday - sucky), or we have to pay their security to stay on longer. At the moment, I do not know how much more that's going to cost us, but I know it's going to cost more than hiring an off duty cop, and probably be less effective.

I put a call out to the Radio Stations' clients for cardboard boxes, pallets, and mannequins, as that's going to make for a majority of the sets. The Mall's going to help with that too. They're even going to supply the candy for the Lights on Walk through for the kids!

It really hit me that this is a thing that's happening and I need to get a move on. I've got about half of my rooms plotted out, going to put together a "Scare Cabal" to finish up the rest. So much support on this right now. I hope I don't let them down.

You really want to scare someone? Tell them they have 2 and a half months to put together a haunt. ( O_o" )



TC

BrotherMysterio
07-25-2012, 10:12 PM
You really want to scare someone? Tell them they have 2 and a half months to put together a haunt.

Or six months to do three different haunts at three different locations. LOL! (Right there with ya!)

Btw, do you have your floor plan worked out yet? Also, did you say "full season" or did you say "special three night event"? I didn't quite catch that.

C.

turkeycreaux
07-26-2012, 11:01 AM
Or six months to do three different haunts at three different locations. LOL! (Right there with ya!)

Btw, do you have your floor plan worked out yet? Also, did you say "full season" or did you say "special three night event"? I didn't quite catch that.

C.

We've planned it for the last two weekends in October and on Halloween night. Again the idea is to start small and build from there.

I did have most of the floor plan worked out...and then I got a surprise this morning when I got to work. Instead of the 13500+ sq ft space they told us we were getting, we may end up getting a 3200 sq ft space. Needless to say, I'm still fuming about it. And then I got a call from the FM saying he won't be able to meet with me (again) until next week.

I'm seeing this thing slip through my fingers. It might be best to just cut my losses and start planning for next year. :(


TC

scottylmt
07-26-2012, 11:11 AM
It wont slip through, you're too determined to let it go man.

3200 ft is awesome. You can do alot with that amount of space with the triangular grid system. And for it being a first year haunt, better to make it smaller and awesome, than possibly too large and not as detailed. Plus weren't you worried about it being "late" to start?

I've read from numerous places that a first year haunt can be awesome even with only 2400 ft. If it comes to it, starting small may end up being a great thing you were forced into. A committed mind can use the positives of any situation to make something good happen!

turkeycreaux
07-26-2012, 11:42 AM
It wont slip through, you're too determined to let it go man.

3200 ft is awesome. You can do alot with that amount of space with the triangular grid system. And for it being a first year haunt, better to make it smaller and awesome, than possibly too large and not as detailed. Plus weren't you worried about it being "late" to start?

I've read from numerous places that a first year haunt can be awesome even with only 2400 ft. If it comes to it, starting small may end up being a great thing you were forced into. A committed mind can use the positives of any situation to make something good happen!

Well I'm going to head over to the mall in a few minutes to check out the space. I guess I'm mostly disappointed that the other spot was so perfect for my needs, and that I'm going to have to redo my layout.

How does the Triangular grid system work? I've seen it mentioned elsewhere, but I can't quite picture it....


TC

turkeycreaux
07-26-2012, 12:54 PM
After visiting the new space, I'm feeling a bit better about it, but it's still going to be a challenge. It's a reverse "L" shaped space, roughly 60' by 68' on the long edges. There are odd bits of achitecture sticking out from the wall in places that could provide for some scare spaces, and two pair of old dressing rooms that certainly can be used for something. The back room is smaller, but still provides a private bathroom for the volunteers, as well as a loft, that, with the removal of certain ceiling panels, could give me a vantage view of the entire space. Also left behind by the old tenants are those little surveilance bubbles in the ceiling. I don't think they left the cameras, but it's a start.

All in all, I'm sure I can work with it, but it might take a new theme and a total revamp of my plans to do so. We're hoping to get the keys on Wednesday. The mall owners guarantee they won't switch spaces on us again....


TC

scottylmt
07-26-2012, 01:32 PM
TC, I've also heard it referred to as 60 something or another. Basically the wall panels are not set up in traditional hallway and room fashion. So in a hallway, a right turn doesn't go 90 right, it angles back more. Then the next left turn angles back. The possibilities are endless.

Look for the big maze picture in this link...
http://www.universalworkshop.com/GlassMaze/description.htm

That will explain it much better...

turkeycreaux
07-26-2012, 02:30 PM
Ah, okay, so it's kind of based on a hex grid then...interesting....


TC

BrotherMysterio
07-27-2012, 01:41 AM
Ah, okay, so it's kind of based on a hex grid then . . . interesting . . . .

First thing, check your pm. I just sent you a link to two of haunt legend JB Corn's books on haunt building. He get's deep into triangular grid, panel building, theme development, you name it. Also, the books are in the public domain, so you are welcome to use whatever you find for your own haunt. Just don't go calling it "Castle Dragon".

Second, before you do anything else (as in major decision making), get Allen's Dynamic Haunt Design DVD (http://www.stiltbeaststudios.com/Haunt_Design.php), and watch it a few times. It will cover a lot of ground in detail that will answer a lot of your questions, and in addition to Allen being a haunt master, and a pro-haunter for some 25 years, it also includes informative interviews with several other pro-haunters who make a good part of their living, if not their entire living, from pro-haunts, and have for many years. You might say they know a thing or two about running a successful pro-haunt. I've already watched it three times, and will be watching it several more times, especially as I design this year's show.

(While you are waiting for the DVD, read JB's books cover to cover several times, and also get Allen's "Hopps on Haunts" (http://www.stiltbeaststudios.com/About.html). $10 and 150 solid pages of useful material.)

Third, if you need a basic floorplan to get you started, JB has one in his second book that you can use, tho I can send you a copy of it. It's in triangular grid format, and works well. Of course, that said, it's 3200 sq ft, and that's right where your space rings in at, so something smaller might be in order. You need to have space for all your other elements, such as a backstage area (which you touched on), a Central Corridor, and outer Emergency Egress, wardrobe room, make-up room, utilities, special equipment, and so on. You also need a ticket booth and room for the queue line, plus I assume that your station will want to do live feeds or onsite broadcasts, so you need to factor that in as well.

Fourth, yes, you'll definitely need to change your theme and start from scratch. To convincingly do a "Night at the Museum" theme with a "Cursed Artifact" macguffin, or even as a subplot, will take a great deal of time, energy, and resources - things you don't have with the rapidly diminishing lead time you're dealing with - to cost effectively source everything you will need. You also don't have the luxury of sourcing an effective backstory, since that can take a while to develop a good one, with that backstory in turn informing all of your other creative decisions. I mean, sure, you can scratch something together, but when you start creating your characters and writing parts for said characters, and then start designing the world in which they will inhabit and need to live and breathe in, suddenly your backstory will face demands you never imagined or considered as you try to design a cohesive haunt concept that your customers will find entertaining.

Fifth, while I would normally advocate pressing on and being a haunt trooper, this does involve your job, and it's success or failure will reflect on you, and you will have to live with the consequences, both professionally and personally, that the final results produce. Holding off for now and planning for next year might be a good idea. Or perhaps instead of a haunted attraction, you could lead with a zombie walk for charity, which can then proceed a zombie stomp or halloween ball. The "walk-thru" (your haunt in it's infant stages) can be an adjunct to the ball. Of course, the problem there is that someone would have to provide the music . . . if only you guys were sponsored by a, eh, I don't know . . . radio station or something . . . hey, wait a minute!!

*********

Now, all that said, if you've completely thrown your hat over the fence on this one, and are committed (or should be, ;)), then there is a very viable solution here that can get you going, or at least work for now, tho if you do have success this season you can build on it for next year.

In a word: do a Big Top theme.

A Big Top theme (Circus, Carnival, Freakshow, Funhouse) offers you many advantages, and would be perfect for a first time haunt.

To wit:


It doesn't require a backstory, so you don't have to spend any time on that. Now, it's great to have one, and I'm all about backstories, but as opposed to other scenarios, you don't have to do a lot of explaining or exposition for your patrons to get it. Basically, the Circus is cursed, and off you go. Next season you can develop the story further.
It has plenty of built in fears and phobias to it, so you start on solid footing. (Pardon me, did someone say "clowns!"?)
Because it's eclectic, it's flexible, and you can add all sorts of otherwise traditionally non-circus elements, and still make it work. (Pardon me, did someone say "clowns with chainsaws!"?)
It's easy to produce, since circuses work with lots of flat surfaces and temporary construction, such as flat show posters on flat walls, and little need for carving foam brick work.
It's cheap to produce. Big Top themes lend themselves to many cheap and free, but effective, scares. Essentially, no walls = no haunt, so you have a base price of the walls, paint, and basic lighting, so essentially anything just using paint and lighting counts as a free scare in practical terms. Things like Dot Rooms, for instance. Very effective. Also, you can make stencils for detail work on your wall panels which is quick and easy, and can look great. You could even paint alternating wall panels solid circus colors like red, blue, green, and yellow, if you were in a pinch.
It's familiar. Everyone knows what to basically expect, so half of your work is done for you. Clowns? Check. Evil Ringmaster? Check. Were-beast versions of your typical circus animals? Check. Bizarre side-show freaks? Check. People juggling shiny sharp objects? Check. After covering that basic roll-call, everything else is just gravy.
It's timeless and all inclusive. You aren't bound by conventions that other themes are, like not having chainsaws in a medieval castle, or a Chevy showing up in an 1800's cow-town.


Those are just a few things to get started with. More in a bit.

And also, whatever you do, don't forget The $4 Fix. That, more than anything else, is what is going to save the day here and have your haunt be a success.

C.

Frightener
07-27-2012, 08:52 AM
Which Pickle?

C.

OHH SHNAPPLE~!

Yeah, i should've been more clear, I wasn't thinking. Sorry about that. There's another Pickel in the haunt industry that has been / is an advisor and such. He's intelligent but I disagree with his mall statement 100%. He said don't do a haunt in a mall, a mall is for shopping. Man I took so many dates tot he mall.. ok well a few girls but still. EVERYONE in the day it was Mall > Dinner > Movie / Hang> Park. That was it! And kids today STILL want to go to the mall a lot. So that's all I was merely getting at. Sorry for not being clear. Although you can't tell it by the pics, I've been working hard every day for the last week or so. I've been tired.



Dewayne

Frightener
07-27-2012, 09:10 AM
Brothermysterio and I have spoken a LOT about doing this very theme. I however, already had lots of stuff to do the theme I chose. What's cool is, my theme is Night Terrors are from a real place. Who's never had a nightmare jump from one scenario to another? lol. I can blast any room in any area if I just show it converse like the foam brick walls fading / mixing into the wood in the warehouse lol. Which is what I'm doing.

This theme is awesome! It's very VERY easy to do, comparatively, and budget wise even. Like he said, walls, paint, screws and lights. Throw some MP3's with new batteries and powered speakers hooked up to a motion detector and you have automated sound at a particular spot you want.

Let me give a beginner with a budget tip: You do NOT have to have the fancy tools! I had an OLD miter saw my dad gave me, but I still bought all new fancy tools. Well, we got broken into and sh.t stolen! So I had to go buy tools again.

You know what though? My $20 corded black and decker drill has been a blessing to me, and? IT GET'S THE DAM JOB DONE! I don't have to have a $120 drill with torque stop and such. Nah.

The differences in the low amp, low cost circular saw is? SPEED! Just cut your 2x's slower. Or better yet, I only use it to cut the plywood, which I go slow anyways! Use your cheap miter saw to do that.


Since I've started, I've been hit with cost after cost expectantly. So I've been going back over my plans and figuring out where I could be more frugal at, figuring costs that could be cut. instead of a few hallways that I wanted (a moving wall hallway) I cut that out and another hallway and connected 3 rooms by their walls. I saved $100's by doing this!

In other words, I think it's filet minion for thought to read the books and listen to C.

Ok, I'm done. I gotta go buy some lumber :P

Good Luck.

Dewayne

turkeycreaux
07-27-2012, 12:37 PM
Wow, what a day! Finally able to sit for a moments and read though your comments.

It's so funny that you brought up the Big Top theme, Brother M, as I was thinking about the same thing last night. There's a section of the space that would lend itself wonderfully to a hall of mirrors. Plus I have a clown character that I used in the last haunt I volunteered for that I was thinking of including in the old theme and would obviously work well with a circus theme.

I've put together a group of like minded individuals to brainstorm ideas, I call them my "Hauntelligencia". I dropped the idea on them and they are excited about it, already coming up with great ideas.... We're hopefully be meeting at the space next friday for a planning session. I'm going to try to take some pix of the unique features of the space to share with you all.

Also, another bit of good news, I've got a lead from one of my volunteers that one of the local hardware stores might be willing to donate building materials (including Halloween stuff) for the haunt!

Thanks again for those books, Brother M! Printing them off now to read between acts tonight at the theatre (I'm in the local production of "Into the Woods", last weekend, thank goodness!) I've been eyeing those videos of Allen's for a while. Trying to convince the bosses to buy them for me. "I need them for work!" LOL!


TC

turkeycreaux
07-27-2012, 01:20 PM
13341


Here's the basic layout of the space (not to scale) so you all have an idea of what I will be working with. Sizes are approximate. The back door leads to storeroom area that includes a loft and a bathroom. The jagged green lines are 8 ft tall protusions from the wall. They cannot be removed, so I will have to work with them. They are very sturdy though. It is a drop ceiling that is about 12 ft high, the actual ceiling is at least another 6 ft above that, but that's basically unusable space. The entrance leads into the mall itself.


Still haven't met with the FM yet, hoping to finally do so on Tuesday.

TC

turkeycreaux
07-27-2012, 01:44 PM
And also, whatever you do, don't forget The $4 Fix. That, more than anything else, is what is going to save the day here and have your haunt be a success.

C.


Okay, you got me, what's "The $4 Fix"?


TC

BrotherMysterio
07-28-2012, 10:29 PM
Okay, you got me, what's "The $4 Fix"?

The The $4 Fix is a concept I've been working on for some time.

I got the idea from screenwriting expert and top-flight spec screenwriter, the late, great Blake Snyder. He talked about the concept in his interestingly (and curiously) titled book on screenwriting, Save the Cat! He explains the The $4 Fix, and his interesting choice of book title, in the Introduction to his book.

The following is taken from the middle of the Introduction after he had just been commenting on (and lamenting) the common Hollywood practice of rushing a movie thru production and then over-hyping it so that it makes it's budget back in the opening weekend, with no concern for the fact that it might drop some 70% to 80% in revenues the following weekend, and may not have legs after that.

Incidentally, Blake doesn't blame the money-men for this mentality, and understands the motivation behind it, but astutely points out that if you just follow the rules of good scriptwriting, then this approach is just not necessary.

He writes . . .


What bugs me about this trend is that for all the money they're spending on star salaries, special effects, advertising, and marketing - and don't forget all those film prints - it would be better spent, and the movies would be better too, if the filmmakers just paid $4 for some pencils and paper and followed the rules of how to write a good movie!

Take a hip, slick movie like Lara Croft 2 for example. They spent a fortune on that film. And everyone is still wondering what happened. They can't figure out why they didn't bring in the audience of targeted men. It's not surprising to me. What's wrong with this picture? Where did the filmmakers go awry? To me it's really very simple: I don't like the Lara Croft character. Why would I? She's cold and humorless. And while that's fine in the solitary world of video games and comics, it doesn't make me want to leave my home to go see the movie. The people who produced this film think they can get you to like her by making her "cool." This is what amounts to "character development" in au currant movies: "She drives a cool car." That's someone's idea of how to create a winning hero.

Well, folks, I don't care about how "cool" it is, this isn't going to work.

Why?

Because liking the person we go on a journey with is the single most important element in drawing us into the story.

Which brings us to the title of this book: Save the Cat!

Save the what?

I call it the "Save the Cat" scene. They don't put it into movies anymore. And it's basic. It's the scene where we meet the hero and the hero does something - like saving a cat - that defines who he is and makes us, the audience, like him.

In the thriller Sea of Love, Al Pacino is a cop. Scene One finds him in the middle of a sting operation. Parole violators have been lured by the promise of meeting the N.Y. Yankees, but when they arrive it's Al and his cop buddies waiting to bust them. So Al's "cool." (He's got a cool idea for a sting anyway.) But on his way out he also does something nice. Al spots another lawbreaker, who's brought his son, coming late to the sting. Seeing the Dad with his kid, Al flashes his badge at the man who nods in understanding and exits quick. Al lets this guy off the hook because he has his young son with him. And just so you know Al hasn't gone totally soft, he also gets to say a cool line to the crook: "Catch you later . . ." Well, I don't know about you, but I like Al. I'll go anywhere he takes me now and you know what else? I'll be rooting to see him win. All based on a two second interaction between Al and a Dad with his baseball-fan kid.

Can you imagine if the makers of Lara Croft 2 spent $4 on a good Save the Cat scene instead of the $2.5 million they spent developing that new latex body suit for Angeline Jolie? They might've done a whole lot better.


So, think about that. Just $4 worth of pencils and paper, and a bit of ingenuity, creativity, and scriptwriting know-how, and so many movies could be fixed that were meant to be major money makers that just ended up being major money pits.

For our purposes, that last line could be re-written or reconceptualized as follows: "Can you imagine if the makers of The Haunting of Hell House (or whatever) spent $4 on backstory development, character development, effective icon character development, incorporating pacing and anticipation in their scene layout, scene design and development with actor-focused integration in mind with regard to customer experience, and so on, instead of the $150K they spent on fancy animatronics? They might've done a whole lot better."

I see the same thing happening with Haunts all the time.

All these newbies who want to be "pro-haunters" run around like "home-haunters" with a bigger budget, a bigger space, and a bigger shopping list. They write "business plans" while not even knowing what they are talking about. They've never run a business before, or worse, they have, but no business in the world runs anything like a haunt, so having been a plumber or a restauranteur doesn't really get you much insight into running a haunt.

It's like this difference between home-haunters wanting to go pro, and "dream-haunters", who want to open "the haunt of their dreams!" These are like the yuppie retirees who think that owning their own cafe or B'n'B would be a wonderful, life-affirming endeavor . . . the same people who have never set foot in the kitchen of a professional restaurant, or have done any major amount of entertaining, or even cook much, or really have any passion or concern for the hospitality industry . . . but, they do have a lovely little place picked out and a "well written business plan!"

"Boy, we'll really impress the bank manager with our swell, well written business plan!"

And it's made all the worse by all of these commercials for financial services showing retirees leaving the rat-race behind to "chase the dream" by opening their own business, doing something frightfully rustic and romantic.

And then you have, as Greg put it, all of these kids who are, for whatever reason, unemployable, so they think that opening a pro-haunt will be their salvation. And, besides, "just how hard can it be?"

Yet, the common denominator between all these different newbie-dream-haunter factions, conspicuous by its absence, its silence almost deafening, is the fact that absolutely none of them have ever actually worked in a professional haunted attraction!! None of them!

They're all busy, feverishly working on their business plans, but none of them have ever made an animatronic, or a pop-up, or a latex mask, or airbrushed any makeup, or designed a full electrical system for a full haunt, or a sound system, or wired a controller, or any of the other stuff in Allen's videos, or even acted. And as far as the home-haunters go, many of them don't even have "actors." They have their sons and their sons' friends in dorky masks jumping around and spazzing out. That's fine and loads of fun for a home-haunt, but with a pro-haunt you are supposed to take it to the next level.

(The notable exceptions to this dynamic are those like Pickle, who has actually managed a haunt, and has spent 25 years as a General Contractor.)

Mind you, I love home-haunters, and I'm very impressed with what a lot of them do, and I've seen many of them give pro-haunters a run for their money as far as production value goes, but, seriously, there is just so much that home-haunters don't know about; stuff that they would never imagine putting into a business plan, or would know to.

And as Greg asks, "a business plan? Well, who would you show it to?"

That's why you see all the veterans on the boards laugh when someone says "oh, you need to work on your business plan" or "you need to have a good business plan", or some newbie says "I have never worked at a haunt and never done it and don't know the first thing about it, but I am really coming along on my business plan!"

WTF!?!

So, this is all where The $4 Fix comes in. What it means in practical English is to make sure you work out every single aspect of your haunt on paper before you spend a single dime. And that doesn't mean do a "business plan". Quite the polar opposite, it means learn everything you can, get as much hands on experience as possible. Like Allen suggests, actually work in a pro haunt to learn the ropes first if you can manage. Or volunteer in one. Or help a friend with their home-haunt, making it more like a proper walk-thru, if you have to. Don't worry about knowing everything - cuz you won't - but definitely learn every question you need to know how to ask, and try to avoid going from "zero to haunt" within one season, if you can. That's usually where a lot of bad thinking crops up and comes into the picture. (Many guys here are the exception, as evidenced by their insightful posts. They don't know everything, and are definitely newbies, but they know how to ask the right questions.)

And then once you've done all that, once you know what questions to ask, get as many guys who know what they are doing to help you come up with practical and cost effective solutions on paper to the problems you have.

Iow, The $4 Fix means solve all of your design and business model issues early in the design stage - on paper, on purpose - before you start blowing big bucks. Then you know you're good.

Then after that, use another cost-effective Hollywood Secret, used by all the modern masters such as Spielberg and Lucas when it comes to epic productions: pre-viz everything for less than 0.1% of the total film's cost, and save yourself a ton of time and money. Make all of your key design decisions before you spend the big bucks.

Allen also talks about that concept as well on his Design DVD, demonstrating excellent tools and resources that allow you to do this cost-effectively. Completely design your haunt (after having sketched it out on paper), before you buy a single sheet of plywood or bucket of latex or jug of fog juice.

More in a bit, but that should give you the basic idea. Btw, I have some thoughts on your space layout.

C.

turkeycreaux
07-30-2012, 02:02 PM
Thanks Brother M, that makes perfect sense!

Now that my show is over, (made it Into the Woods and out again safely), I can fully concentrate on the haunt. I should have the contract all set by Wednesday and the keys to the space by Friday. *fingers crossed* Still not been able to meet up with the FM (who knew they'd be so busy in such a small town!), hopefully Wednesday on that too.

My Hauntelligencia is raring to go. One of them is a great artist, and I'm going to have him work on some Circus/Freak Show Posters.

I worked out a rough draft of a layout today, certain to change still (as I still need to meet with the FM, and I don't have exact measurements of those protusions yet). But as it stands now, I will have 8 rooms to fill, plus some hallways to scare in. I don't have a central corridor, but I do have some exterior ones and interconnecting rooms. The big challenge is those darn pointed projections. Hard to make an outer corridor with them taking up so much space, plus I kind of want to use them for the mirror gag.

One of the thoughts I had was to combine two of the rooms into a sort of black light, half wall mini maze. What do you folks think of that? Like an 18' by 20' area that's like a Pac-Man stage, only the ghosts are clowns and there's no power pellets to scare them away.



TC

scottylmt
07-30-2012, 03:41 PM
Though I am one of the newbies brother is referring to... common sense and reading archives tells me to be careful of mazes because they can affect your throughput, and cause bottleneck points. My fm also has restrictions on dead ends; in Nebraska's case, no more than 8' . Two things to think about :)

turkeycreaux
07-30-2012, 03:51 PM
Though I am one of the newbies brother is referring to... common sense and reading archives tells me to be careful of mazes because they can affect your throughput, and cause bottleneck points. My fm also has restrictions on dead ends; in Nebraska's case, no more than 8' . Two things to think about :)


I guess maze isn't quite the word I was looking for, as it's not quite that. It's more of a more winding queue line. The walls would only come up about 4 ft, so most can even see across the layout, adding black lights and appropriate paints to cause disorientation. Just working on ways to break up the layout (and maybe save on material costs). Only one way to go with no real dead ends, except maybe for one that leads to one of the Dressing Rooms left from when it was a clothing store, trying to come up with an occupied "stall" gag to break tension....


TC

Frightener
07-30-2012, 03:57 PM
My maze is going to be at the end. Probably about 800 sq ft. Not too huge. Building #3 of my haunt (24'x40') will have a 24 by 10 room or something like that. It'll be the Angel of Death scene giving a speech and telling them to choose a door.

I'll have dead ends, but won't be huge, I got a small area to work with, but I decided to put an actor in there with the group with NV. If there's a problem (only 12v lighting in the whole building with only speakers inside of it) we'll have a trained personal there. Plus, at least in Arkansas, anything 1,000ft or smaller, the codes are less strict. I talked to my FM and he said "Well, the codes are guildlines, you're not going around them and they're there for a reason. If you have a fire or a problem, a 1,000 sq ft building isn't going to be THAT difficult to get out of." So he believes we'll be safe with what I have.

The best about me doing my maze at the end is, if it does bottle neck, it's at the end of the haunt. And the actor can push them through if there's a blockage. Maze is a good way to add time to your event, imo, but it has to be thoroughly thought of.

Your 18'x 20', it will be small, imo, for a pacman maze anyways. I think it'd be fine if it was a dark maze, they go MUUUCH slower in the dark :P. Almost everyone is 5'+, make the walls right at 4' 8" or something, just under eye level of the average height person.
Something else you can do, if budget allows, is I've seen small footage mazes made with chainlink fencing. They're not hard to paint / coat for smoothness and would be different most likely from what folks have seen. I haven't been to many haunts in the league of The Darkness, but all the smaller haunts (average haunts in average towns) I've only seen that once, and the haunt was no more after that year. You can buy premade gate sections at Lowe's. They're not really cheap, but if you have the budget it'd be great! Plus, you can add an actor on top if you can build a structure that's safe enough and let him terrorize the people in the maze with a nice saw or something.

Dewayne

Greg Chrise
07-30-2012, 05:40 PM
Old chain link fencing has no scrap value because of galvanized coatings. So there are all kinds of things being done with fences that are removed and replaced with better. You can get it from fencing people as they would rather give it away than pay to take it into the land fill.

Jim Warfield
07-30-2012, 08:20 PM
Use boxes instead, a whole roomfull of them. (Returned items unable to be delivered from outer Space)
Some of the boxes have real people in them (who need no costumes) they just move their box around.
Some boxes are filled with deadly creatures from long lost galaxys, or maybe Impalas? (Buick specials?)
Some boxes are empty but come to life with the yank of a long piece of fishline from another box. Sliding across the floor.)
Two fishlines shared by two boxes could make the middle , empty box move left and right, or just reset itself to it's starting position.
Peak holes get hidden in the boxes via black paint numerals or designs.
A few cardboard boxes have inner liners of plywood so once a monster jumps out from his box, he can stand quickly on the reinforced box to gain a height advantage over mere mortals.(To more effectively threaten them.)
The Delux model box could be entirely plywood with real hinges, numerous vision ports, internal creature comforts and ball-bearing wheels to allow for quiet pursuits and speed. This plywood box would be covered with cardboard to make it hide with the rest.
Of co
If all the boxes were just painted blackurse the numbering system on the boxes would be numerically similair and confusing to also help hide which box just did "what"?
All of these possibilites run around in my head and sound like a lot of fun to do and to have fun with the patrons, but then immitating what has gone before , Evil Clowns, Hollywood Monsters, ex cetra is pretty well ingrained within many people's concepts of what certain things should "BE"!?

BrotherMysterio
07-30-2012, 11:26 PM
TC, response forthcoming, but try to post a layout as soon as possible. There's no reason not to have a central corridor and several reasons to have one. They're easier to implement than you might think, and they make everything so much easier.

For instance, JB could run Castle Dragon on 3 actors on slow nights if he needed. They would just leap-frog thru the central corridor, not from one scene to the next, but one scene to the next one three scenes away, with the other two actors doing the same thing. Throw in a few different masks along the way, and the patrons would swear that they saw a cast of 10 or more actors.

Not only is this principle handy on slow night, but what happens if only half of your cast shows up. That kind of thing happens. Last year I had that very thing happen to me. I designed the haunt to work with a bare minimum of characters, but more if we could manage, and figured it wasn't really too crucial since we were about to have 10 additional actors show up (a drama teacher and 9 of her students). Well, they never showed, so we only had half of a cast on what was a really crucial gig. Well, fortunately, using the minimalist approach, and actors being able to cover longer stretches of haunt and also being able to switch places, that helped around that issue of a skeleton crew (pun slightly intended).

If all of your characters are stuck in their respective rooms, and you only have half of your cast show up, then that means there will be rooms without actors in them. That's not entirely a bad thing if that's been worked into your show, but if those rooms depend on an actor being in their, then you basically only have half a haunt . . . but your patrons aren't paying half price. If there's something missing - like half of your cast - your audience will know it, and it will overall feel lacking.

More later, but you want to afford yourself and your cast and crew maximum flexibility in how you can use your resources, and you always want to make it easier on your cast and crew, and more challenging for your patrons.

C.

turkeycreaux
07-31-2012, 12:59 PM
Use boxes instead, a whole roomfull of them. (Returned items unable to be delivered from outer Space)
Some of the boxes have real people in them (who need no costumes) they just move their box around.
Some boxes are filled with deadly creatures from long lost galaxys, or maybe Impalas? (Buick specials?)


Jim, scarily enough, I was on that same wavelength with my ideas for the cursed warehouse, the majority of my sets were going to be boxes and pallets. I'll be putting that one away for a rainy day.


As per Brother M's request, here's my first draft layout of the haunt. I know this will change as I need to get exact measurements of the changing rooms and those pointed walls, plus what the FM will have to say, plus plus, it's only a first draft. Details to follow:

13385

The Yellow areas are my exit corridors.
The Green Areas are possible hidey hole locations.
The Blue spaces are the unused dressing rooms. You'll note that one is not colored blue and has what looks to be a toilet in it. That's where I was thinking of having a little joke, patrons walking in on a clown "using the facilities". A tension breaker before the next scare.
The Reddish dots are doors to the corridors and between scenes.
The Orange is the back door that leads to the warehouse, where the break area/make up/wardrobe will be.
The Purple Dots are areas where I was thinking of putting curtains/streamers/etc, to help separate areas.
The Grey areas are those pointed walls, unusable space. I was thinking of lining the ones on the right side of the space with mirrors.

Areas 5 & 6 are the ones I was contemplating joining for the large open Pac-Maze/queue. I don't have any real thoughts yet what to do in each scene quite yet, just some random ideas to bounce off my Hauntelligencia when we meet on Friday.


Again, this is my first attempt at a layout, so feedback is appreciated. Thoughts/questions?

TC

turkeycreaux
07-31-2012, 04:31 PM
Here's take two on a layout, this time trying to incorporate the central corridor and reversing the direction, going clockwise through the haunt. I was able to add two more rooms, but I don't think I'm crazy about the space usage. I'm definitely going to have to work on it more.

13386


Some new additions.

Blue area - display window. I want to use it some way without giving away scares. in the previous layout, I thought about using it to highlight the "Chicken Exit". Now I might just use it to build anticipation.
Yellow area - those are my corridors.
Red area - thought of using a pepper's ghost effect there, possibly with an ape.

This will not be the final layout, obviously, I'm not even sure how close it will be to this. Just playing with space at this point.


TC

Greg Chrise
07-31-2012, 05:48 PM
If this is a Ballad, no one has mentioned which song we are supposed to be humming as the narrator reads the posts.

Greg Chrise
07-31-2012, 05:53 PM
Oh, and watch writing that word Pee to the Eye to the Cee to the Kay to the EEE to the Ell over and over or he will pop up! I hate it when that happens.

turkeycreaux
07-31-2012, 06:22 PM
If this is a Ballad, no one has mentioned which song we are supposed to be humming as the narrator reads the posts.

"Karn Evil #9" by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.

"Come inside, the show's about to start,
guaranteed to blow your head apart...."


TC

BrotherMysterio
07-31-2012, 08:34 PM
"come inside, the show's about to start,
guaranteed to blow your head apart...."

see the show!!! . . .

UeQsZOQqO6I

shawnc
07-31-2012, 08:56 PM
This might give you some ideas. He has a bunch of similar videos.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EHkhjZTMyI&feature=channel&list=UL

turkeycreaux
08-01-2012, 08:46 AM
GAH! :mad: Trying to arrange a time to meet with the Fire Inspector is going to make me go insane(r)!

I've been trying to meet with him for the last two weeks to go look at the space and see what I need to do on my end. He keeps rescheduling the appointments. Then, last Thursday, he tells me that I need to speak with another person. So I call the other person, "Oh, he's off duty for the day." So I call back on Monday, "Oh, he's not scheduled for duty until Wednesday." So I call today, finally speak with him, "Oh, you really want the guy you were first talking with, he won't be in til Friday." I could have spoken with him YESTERDAY, had I known. But no, I have to wait til Friday now, the one day I'll be unable to meet with him unless he can meet me after 6:30pm.

On top of that, we're still waiting for the mall owners to give us our contract so I can get keys to the place.


"Let's put a haunted house together, it'll be FUN!" - Famous last words.


TC

rfsystems
08-01-2012, 06:34 PM
There is going to be a lot of things that dont go as planed, in my experience... this is only the begining. I hate to say that, but it take patients. Focus on the things you can control, but stay after that FM, you'll get there.

BrotherMysterio
08-02-2012, 12:40 AM
"Let's put a haunted house together, it'll be FUN!" - Famous last words.

Whose famous last words, and is the radio station backing you up, and do they have any clout?

(Also, second floor-plan . . . good use of a Central Corridor, and I like that you have a whole back area, freeing up the front floor space for a proper haunt.)

C.

turkeycreaux
08-02-2012, 08:30 AM
Whose famous last words, and is the radio station backing you up, and do they have any clout?

Oh that was just me venting my spleen. I didn't expect to be hit with that walking into work yesterday morning. I have the full support of the radio station, but I wouldn't want them to try to pull any power plays over something like this. I just got to keep going with my mantra, "All will be well."



(Also, second floor-plan . . . good use of a Central Corridor, and I like that you have a whole back area, freeing up the front floor space for a proper haunt.)

C.

Thanks, I just want to make sure I get the most bang for my buck in terms of floor space....


TC

turkeycreaux
08-02-2012, 08:34 AM
There is going to be a lot of things that dont go as planed, in my experience... this is only the begining. I hate to say that, but it take patients. Focus on the things you can control, but stay after that FM, you'll get there.

Thanks. I know it's not going to be a walk on the beach, and most of the blame rests on my own shoulders for not keeping after the sales staff to get this going sooner, I was just really thinking I'd be able to get things going by now....

Oh well, soldiering on!

TC

turkeycreaux
08-03-2012, 07:49 PM
Well, finally met with the Fire Inspector tonight. Long story short, there's a ton of exposed wiring and outlets above the drop ceiling that needs to be taken care of before I should even consider building there. From what I understand, that sort of thing is usually taken care of by the tenants, at least at this mall, and there's no way my bosses would pay to fix the wiring in a space we'd be giving up in 3 months time (basically fixing it for the next tenant). So it comes down to whether or not the mall will fix it and can get it fixed in the next 2-3 months, or I find a new space in the next week or so.


I guess I start looking ahead to next year.


TC

Frightener
08-03-2012, 11:11 PM
That sux TC.

Keep your head up. I had to wait a year... sorta. I know it stinks. But think, it could be a blessing in disguise.

Here's a thought, ask exactly "WHO" can fix the wires? Does it have to be someone they tell you, or can you hire someone yourself to get it done. I mean, if they're just loose wires or wires that need moving, any electrician can usually take care of it properly. Since it's a haunt, I'd ask "What if it's ugly?" Like, well, i'm not an electrician, but I guess I'm just saying, observe all possibilities before you give up. Make sure you can't just hire someone yourself to get rid of the hazard, and who knows, maybe work out a deal with the electrician to advertise his business for a better deal and see if he can wait till season for some of his pay.


I'm very VERY tired, I'm just talking out my wazooo right now, I guess I'm just trying to say, look at everything and keep your head up.


Good luck.

Dewayne

BrotherMysterio
08-04-2012, 05:36 AM
Here's a thought, ask exactly "WHO" can fix the wires? Does it have to be someone they tell you, or can you hire someone yourself to get it done. I mean, if they're just loose wires or wires that need moving, any electrician can usually take care of it properly. Since it's a haunt, I'd ask "What if it's ugly?" Like, well, i'm not an electrician, but I guess I'm just saying, observe all possibilities before you give up. Make sure you can't just hire someone yourself to get rid of the hazard, and who knows, maybe work out a deal with the electrician to advertise his business for a better deal and see if he can wait till season for some of his pay.

If I was an electrician, I would gladly spend an afternoon tidying up some wires in exchange for lots of free advertising spots. Just sayin'. :D


Well, finally met with the Fire Inspector tonight. Long story short, there's a ton of exposed wiring and outlets above the drop ceiling that needs to be taken care of before I should even consider building there. From what I understand, that sort of thing is usually taken care of by the tenants, at least at this mall, and there's no way my bosses would pay to fix the wiring in a space we'd be giving up in 3 months time (basically fixing it for the next tenant). So it comes down to whether or not the mall will fix it and can get it fixed in the next 2-3 months, or I find a new space in the next week or so.

Not surprising if it turns out that the FM is a haunt virgin. He doesn't want to get dinged for anything on his watch that he doesn't quite understand. That tends to make things difficult when he has to explain to his higher-ups why the whole affair went to hell in a hand-basket on his watch, and he doesn't have any solid, reasonable answers. Pickle is going thru a similar thing.


I guess I start looking ahead to next year.

Honestly, that may not be a bad idea. If you were just idly considering this haunt as just a fun thing and thought about throwing it together at the last minute, I wouldn't comment on it one way or the other. But you and your team are serious about doing this, and I know you'd seriously invest time and energy making it happen for next year, and doing it right.

Besides, you guys could find another location, only to have the same thing happen. And if you spend the next two months with these same kinds of shenanigans, with no haunt or promotion to show for it, then your higher-ups will start to question the soundness of this idea, and more particularly, your thinking.

Right now, you haven't spent any significant money on this, you've handled yourself with great aplomb and diplomacy, and shown you can be a real leader. I'm sure your bosses are liking that. They would probably like it even more if you came up with a solution that still makes a promotion happen and side steps all of this pointless and expensive silliness, and here is such a solution.

In a word: do a Halloween Masquerade Ball. Have a simple walk-thru (your haunt in it's infancy) as an adjunct to the ball, off in a corner of the venue, so you get to test design ideas and whatnot in a rather forgiving environment (tipsy socialites tend to have fun anywhere doing anything), but at the same time you are making use of the opportunity, and testing the soundless of your promotional idea. A pro-haunter I know used to do stuff like this all the time at Country Clubs and whatnot, and believe me, you save yourself a lot of hassle that way.

Just something to think about for this year, and it sets you up beautifully for next year.

C.

turkeycreaux
08-06-2012, 03:49 PM
Not surprising if it turns out that the FM is a haunt virgin. He doesn't want to get dinged for anything on his watch that he doesn't quite understand. That tends to make things difficult when he has to explain to his higher-ups why the whole affair went to hell in a hand-basket on his watch, and he doesn't have any solid, reasonable answers. Pickle is going thru a similar thing.

Yeah, he is. In fact, he had to call a another fire station to find out where to find the specific information for Haunts.




Honestly, that may not be a bad idea. If you were just idly considering this haunt as just a fun thing and thought about throwing it together at the last minute, I wouldn't comment on it one way or the other. But you and your team are serious about doing this, and I know you'd seriously invest time and energy making it happen for next year, and doing it right.

Besides, you guys could find another location, only to have the same thing happen. And if you spend the next two months with these same kinds of shenanigans, with no haunt or promotion to show for it, then your higher-ups will start to question the soundness of this idea, and more particularly, your thinking.

Right now, you haven't spent any significant money on this, you've handled yourself with great aplomb and diplomacy, and shown you can be a real leader. I'm sure your bosses are liking that. They would probably like it even more if you came up with a solution that still makes a promotion happen and side steps all of this pointless and expensive silliness, and here is such a solution.

In a word: do a Halloween Masquerade Ball. Have a simple walk-thru (your haunt in it's infancy) as an adjunct to the ball, off in a corner of the venue, so you get to test design ideas and whatnot in a rather forgiving environment (tipsy socialites tend to have fun anywhere doing anything), but at the same time you are making use of the opportunity, and testing the soundless of your promotional idea. A pro-haunter I know used to do stuff like this all the time at Country Clubs and whatnot, and believe me, you save yourself a lot of hassle that way.

Just something to think about for this year, and it sets you up beautifully for next year.

C.


Thanks! And I appreciate everyone's help and support over the last couple of week. This is a great community, and I plan on sticking around, getting ideas for next year and offering suggestions when I can.

Unless something miraculous happens, (my contact at the mall said she would look into the problem and "get back to me") this is indeed the end of the haunt for the year. I let the bosses know what was going on and I suggested holding off until next year. They agreed with my position, so we'll be focusing on making that happen. I like the idea of a masquerade, but I don't know if we'd find an available venue in time. I'll bring it up with the bosses at the staff meeting tomorrow.

I really lucked out though, because we were waiting on getting the contract for the space, none of the salespeople made any sales on it yet, so we're not letting down any sponsors or charities by cancelling the haunt. I do feel bad for my "Hauntelligencia", as they had come up with some excellent ideas, and were really excited about getting to work. Hopefully I can keep them as enthused until next year.


TC



TC

turkeycreaux
08-06-2012, 03:57 PM
That sux TC.

Keep your head up. I had to wait a year... sorta. I know it stinks. But think, it could be a blessing in disguise.

Here's a thought, ask exactly "WHO" can fix the wires? Does it have to be someone they tell you, or can you hire someone yourself to get it done. I mean, if they're just loose wires or wires that need moving, any electrician can usually take care of it properly. Since it's a haunt, I'd ask "What if it's ugly?" Like, well, i'm not an electrician, but I guess I'm just saying, observe all possibilities before you give up. Make sure you can't just hire someone yourself to get rid of the hazard, and who knows, maybe work out a deal with the electrician to advertise his business for a better deal and see if he can wait till season for some of his pay.


I'm very VERY tired, I'm just talking out my wazooo right now, I guess I'm just trying to say, look at everything and keep your head up.


Good luck.

Dewayne

Thanks, I'm feeling it's better off this way. It was very ambitious for me to get a haunt completed in the amount of time I had. I'll get on the sales people's backs to find me a location sooner for next year, so if this sort of thing happens again, we can find out about it sooner. It also allows me to focus more time on the project my mother-in-law wants me to work on for my father-in-law, which she wants done by the end of September.

We could use any electrician we liked, the big sticking point is that basically, even if we did it as an ad trade with a local electrician, we're doing the mall a favor by fixing this problem for their next tennents. A favor for a mall that's unwilling to give the radio station any more than a year's contract for our sales office, even though we're willing to sign up for a much longer period. That's what's sticking in the craw of my superiors, and I don't blame them in the least.


TC

BrotherMysterio
08-06-2012, 11:36 PM
Longer response forthcoming, but so far you've made a very wise decision. You just saved yourself a lot of hassle and aggravation (not to mention possibly your job).

Hold a pizza party for your Hauntelligencia (I like that word!) as a way of thanks, possibly continue brainstorming, and capturing there ideas so you can use them for next year.

Also, important, fight the temptation to jump on any opportunities that look like "something miraculous happening". Fight that temptation hard. Just think how great the mall location looked at the time, and how reasonable the second location looked after that. Once you secure a location, you are only a quarter of the way there, and the FM can still close you down on opening night for any BS reason. If you want something miraculous to happen, it already did! You got away clean from a messy situation and are now in a better place, especially for next year.

More in a bit.

C.

pickle
08-07-2012, 06:58 AM
Hey TC,

Just wanted to say...I feel your pain! I was shot down by the zoning board two seasons ago after I was told by "insiders" it was a "done deal". That was after I poured nearly $18,000. into architects, engineers, attorneys, etc. Than our other deal fell apart at another location because the local volunteer fire dept. haunt "higher ups" had people on the zoning board which rallied the troops to shoot us down because of total bullshit reasons (they absolutely just didn't want the competition, even though I reached out to them to ask them to work together & I'd DONATE $1. from every ticket!) & of course this was AFTER a large investment of time & money. So guess what... we put them on notice of possible litigation against them and shut THEIR ass down. Now that was two years shot! Now to this season...we finally find a great place....but postponed by planning dept. 3 times until we finally we our approval on June 21st! Since than its been off to the races but like you I have come up against one thing after another! Now remember this isn't my first rodeo...been a general contractor for more than 22 yrs. but i have NEVER seen fear like I saw in the eyes of this building dept. when I rolled out my prints! If I could only get scares like that in the haunt! lol I've wanted to pull the plug a few times now in frustration but I have a great team with great organization and things are just rolling now (although we've been building/prepping for over a year in my shop) We are going to attempt to get this up & running this year (even if we open late) because of the huge investment already spent, the advertising already paid for & a team that is practically working around the clock! But I've let them know if its not ready "ITS NOT OPENING! I guess than I'll sit back, chill for a year, grow my own real cobwebs & wait for next year! lol But for now we are full throttle...we have a 30,000' sq. ft fit out in front of us and it starts NOW!

PS: TC , hang in there...I know its frustrating...but start planning NOW for next year! In the end I think you'll see ALL things happen for a reason!

PSS: I am going to attempt to post pics & maybe vids of the build but I am on a time crunch & theres not going to be a lot of time to dilly dally! Gonna do what I can though!
P.

Frightener
08-07-2012, 03:53 PM
pickle, I'd love to see some pics / video! I'll keep an eye out for it.


Dewayne

pickle
08-07-2012, 06:24 PM
You got that! I have a big problem of slowing down & taking pics when I'm on a roll...but I am gonna do my best. Hopefully starting next week!:D


P.

turkeycreaux
08-08-2012, 10:58 AM
You got that! I have a big problem of slowing down & taking pics when I'm on a roll...but I am gonna do my best. Hopefully starting next week!:D


P.

"We'll be watching your build with great interest." </palpatine>


So I get an email back from my contact at the mall today, "Hey we've got two other spaces you could use that 'APPEAR' to be in better shape, could you use one of those?" This was followed up quickly by one of the Mall's corporate guys (who was CCed in on the email to me) to our Sales Dept Manager basically stating you must choose one of those two places to do your Haunt or come up with another event per the license agreement (which, if he meant the contract for the haunt space, we STILL hadn't received).

Fortunately, the Sales Manager and my bosses have my back (in fact, the SM is as cheesed off as I am...yes, I did say "cheesed off", that's what we get in WI instead of "pissed off") and we're going to throw together a trick or treat event, probably toss out some easy plywood house standees and place them through out the mall for the kiddies to visit and get treats from, instead of going through with the haunt at this point.

I can see why stores are leaving that mall in droves.



TC

Frightener
08-08-2012, 11:59 AM
Man, that sounds FUN! To do a ToTing thing like that. You could build little rooms, haunt the rooms, drape over the entrance and exits, deco' the crap out of it and give candy out in the rooms!
You could do miniature sewer rooms with pvc piping all rusted out with green lights and a zombie giving candy for example... that'd be soooo awesome :P ... far from a haunt but hey.

Dewayne

Haunter
08-10-2012, 07:17 AM
Just a side note, I usually start working on the next season's haunt no later than February to ensure things are completed and run smoothely. So maybe something to consider for next season. :cool:

Ryan

BrotherMysterio
08-10-2012, 12:06 PM
We're going to throw together a trick or treat event, probably toss out some easy plywood house standees and place them through out the mall for the kiddies to visit and get treats from, instead of going through with the haunt at this point.


Man, that sounds FUN! To do a ToTing thing like that. You could build little rooms, haunt the rooms, drape over the entrance and exits, deco' the crap out of it and give candy out in the rooms!

You could do miniature sewer rooms with pvc piping all rusted out with green lights and a zombie giving candy for example... that'd be soooo awesome :P ... far from a haunt but hey.

That was pretty much the idea I had. Use whatever space they eventually throw your way to do some sort of Halloweeny promotion, with a Masquerade Ball or Zombie Stomp being good choices. If the FM has a problem with kids trick-or-treating in a mall space, he can take it up with mall management.

Let this event be the foundation of another promotion next year, with a possible Zombie Walk somewhere mid-season (August or September, perhaps) as way of promoting the Halloween event, and then gradually the haunt can grow out of that. You could also do a Zombie Walk if another zombie move comes out in the Summer, like another 28 Days Later type thing.

Also, either this year or next year (preferably next), do a 20' x 40' mini-haunt for the kids (or perhaps 10' x 20' - you get the idea). Allen has two excellent floor-plans on his Haunt Design DVD in the square vs. triangular section, which should give you an idea. Fill it with all sorts of cutesy, kiddie haunt stuff, with everything being battery-operated, and self-contained (like using these for lighting (http://www.save-on-crafts.com/aquabrites.html)). You don't even need any actors or anything; just spooky settings like a home haunt.

That will give you plenty of real world experience with building wall panels, setting up scenes, decorating, and so on. You get to stretch your haunt designing muscles a bit, you get real world experience doing this stuff, you get to test some basic ideas out, your higher-ups get to see what you had in mind (in infant, beta-test form), the kids and parents love it, you keep your Hauntelligencia haunt-happy, you set a precedent and track record for success, and everything serves as a template for successive years.

Just something to consider.


I can see why stores are leaving that mall in droves.

Indeed. An all too common occurrence these days.

C.