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Thread: New member, new haunt...

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  1. Default New member, new haunt... 
    #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    12
    Hi all, and thanks for all the great information in previous posts!

    I teach theatre technology and design at a university and will be running a haunt for the first time this Fall. The theatre department was recently were given a gymnasium and I plan on using 1220 sq. ft. of it for a small maze-style haunt. It will be produced as part of a theatre class (TA 407: Haunt) so that there should be a dedicated core of students involved in the project. I hope to use proceeds to endow a scholarship fund within three years or so. The first year I kinda hope to break even.

    I have a small budget (less than 10k) but I also have access to a lot of good stuff; actors, a scene shop, costume shop, skilled workers, high-end projection equipment, large DMX controlled strobe lights, fog/haze machines, dimmers and controllers, and the like. I also have full access to State Surplus - the stuff that is available only to government agencies rather than the auctions that are open to the public - a true treasure-trove.

    I've been reading the various forums, buying books, subscribing to magazines, and just came back from TransWorld. What I don't yet know about haunts I'm trying to smooth over with theatre skills....

    I have two questions at this point.

    1) With a small, approx. 6 room haunt, can I charge $5 per person without offending too many people? This should end up being a well-dressed, actor-heavy haunt that advertises itself as a scholarship fundraiser. It will be held on-campus in a small town that is (I believe) at least 1.5 hours away from the nearest large, pro haunt.

    2) Can I cover the maze with some sort of ceiling, at least in part? We have a good relationship with the fire marshal, but I want to be better educated before I present the plan. The gym has sprinklers and I know that this is an issue, as well as smoke venting. I've looked at flame-retardant muslin as one option. It is affordable and comes in a variety of pre-dyed colors. I also looked at a product called SmokeOut, a flame-resistant fabric designed for expo booth ceilings, that has seams that open up to let smoke out when they get hot. It is very expensive however, about $60 a yard. I see that 13th Gate has solid ceilings with openings that could allow smoke to exit - might this work with fabric?

    Thanks,
    Scott
     

  2. Default  
    #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    At The End Of A Long Forgotten Trail in Melrose, Fl.
    Posts
    1,687
    Hi, I don't think anyone will be mad about $5.00, with the things you already have to work with without spending a dime yet I think you could even go higher. It all is about how good a show it is. Six rooms, how about $6.00 as for putting on a cover, I'm not sure about this. I have seen some covered haunts but the cover was here and there with holes in it, not a roof. Someone here should be able to answer this one for you. Good Luck!
    Giving People The Chills Since 2005

    http://www.warehouse31.com
     

  3. Default  
    #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Dallas, Georgia
    Posts
    623
    Most fire marshalls will not let you create a ceiling with anything solid. I'm permitted to use camo netting and wood lattice. Anything that will block the water flow from the sprinklers is not allowed.

    You'll need to check with your local fire authority.
    Last edited by MindWerxKMG; 03-31-2008 at 01:40 PM.
    Kevin
    Sleepy Hollow Productions, LLC / Folklore Haunted House
     

  4. Default Sounds like a great start 
    #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    1,019
    Every state and municipality is different in regards to what the fire marshal will allow. The best thing to do would be to ask for him to come by so you can explain what you want to do. If he objects, be ready with alternatives and see what he says about them. Lots of actors will probably help you in many ways. Animatronics are great but have limits on what they can do so having lots of actors should really help your haunt. I think $10,000 should be more than enough. Be sure to save some of it for promotion (never to be underestimated). With lots of people to help, something you might try is something I haven't seen discussed much but would probably be called semi-animatronic. A big expense in these types of props is the sensors and rest mechanisms. You could build some that are activated by someone hidden behind the scene, saving a lot of time and money on some nice props your first year. Hope this helps.

    Shawn
     

  5. Default  
    #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    texas
    Posts
    31
    Kudos to you! It sounds like you definitely have your work cut out for you, but that you have a lot of rich resources! I think you could probably charge a little more than $5.00 and people would understand. We're an outdoor haunt (in a cornfield in the middle of nowhere) so I don't know about the roof, your fire safety inspector should come out and see what you have in mind and be able to advise you what your limits are. On the otherhand, a haunted gymnasium sounds like a lot of fun -- I'm thinking of the way sound will travel in there! Very cool. I work at a private university in Texas, but if our Theatre dept. offered a "Haunt 101" I'd sign up in a heart beat. You say the closest pro haunt is 1.5 hrs away, but what is the population base of your area? If marketed correctly, with a good show, I think you'll be surprised at how quickly you can draw a crowd! Sounds like fun! Good luck!
    "Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson~
     

  6. Default  
    #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    12
    Thanks for the info - you folks are speedy! As for the local market; first off, we're on a state university campus with about 5000 students. Other than that, we're a very small town surrounded by other very small towns and a lot of livestock. Salem, the state capital, is 25 minutes away, but we generally don't consider it a source for audience - Salem folks can drive to Portland (where the big haunts and theatres are) in little more time that it takes to get to us. On the other hand, with no other cost than a few posters, we can get 1600 people into the theatre to see a stage play over the course of a few performances. If I could get 2000 people through the door my first year over 5 nights, I'd be pretty happy. It would be manageable enough that we could learn something about the arts of crowd control and throughput, and would allow the haunt to break even the first year. Anything above that would be gravy!

    Scott
     

  7. Default  
    #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    At The End Of A Long Forgotten Trail in Melrose, Fl.
    Posts
    1,687
    You may find that you will get a lot of people from those small towns. With nothing to do they might just come out of the wood work to go to your haunt. I live in Melrose Florida and am 12 miles down a two line road going through the woods. We had over 1000 people show up over two nights.
    Giving People The Chills Since 2005

    http://www.warehouse31.com
     

  8. Default Don't dismiss small towns 
    #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    1,019
    Most of the time there isn't a lot to do and the residents will jump at the opportunity to be entertained, or just have the yell scared out of them. That's an important distinction right there, and entertainment is something you might want to consider since you will have so many actors. There are some haunts where the whole thing is set up more as a show than a walk-through event. In the meantime, do a search on here using the term actor and look at what some of the people who work in haunts have come up with. There are lots of people who can easily outscare a $20,000 animatronic and be more entertaining while they are doing it.

    P.S.: That was supposed to say "sensors and reset mechanisms" in my first post.
     

  9. Default  
    #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Brooklyn
    Posts
    10
    Just throwing this out here: I went to a small haunted house at a state college a couple of years back--like you, less than ten rooms, and they only charged $5-6.

    Despite its small scale, it was one of the better haunts I went to that year because it was clear they put a lot of time and effort into making all the little details count. The sets were rich in amusement park-quality design and detailing. Everything was totally thought out, and there was so much to see that it still took a good 10-15 minutes to stroll leisurely through and take everything in. (In their case, what I believe they had going for them was the fact that their haunt was built more around illusions and atmosphere than adrenaline-pumping scares that would have had people rushing through the whole thing in a minute and a half.)

    The bottom line is, people will be satisfied if they feel they got their money's worth, and the only way to ensure that is by sincerely doing your best to put on a good show.
     

  10. Default Cost of Attraction 
    #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Gainesville, Texas
    Posts
    87
    The general rule is you charge $1 for every minute they are inside your attraction. If your haunt takes 10 minutes to go through charge $10. After you build your haunt - have someone unrelated to the project walk through with actors scaring until you can know the normal customer pace. To help off set a charge to high for our poor college kids give them a student ID discount or distribute coupons.

    With a theater department you could also do some neat outside attraction for a 5 minute horror skit every 1/2 hour to give the customers more time at your event and more money in your pocket.
    Dr. Haunt's Chamber of Fear
    email: drhauntschamberoffear@yahoo.com
     

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