Let me first start out by introducing myself for those that do not know. My name is Kevin Butler. I have been doing a large scale haunted maze from my garage for the last few years. Plans are to continue to grow an rent out a place to do what we all love. The idea of this multi-part series is to give you a in depth look at me, my philosophies, and possibly even gear you up to create your own fantastic haunt.
Some guys have been doing this for years, some have had a mentor, and some maybe even worked in the industry. I haven’t had any of this. I have only been doing it by myself for myself for a few years now and I have learned a lot.
I am obsessed with research, learning techniques, figuring out different ways of doing the things that I want. When it comes to haunted houses this is no different. All these years I have had to wear many, many different hats. Carpenter one day, electrician the next, hell even sometimes a plumber. You need to have a good amount of knowledge or at least the will to learn it.
Every year the entire team is forced to do at least one thing out of their comfort zone, and you either do it or you risk losing it all. In this industry, as well as any other, its all about the customer. Our patrons don’t usually get to see what happens behind the scenes or exactly how crazy each of us go to get ready for opening night but it surely is a sight to behold. I have a lot of respect for those that help me every year, we are all in this together for one ultimate goal, to scare the living hell out of everyone that comes through our maze.
Everything starts with an idea. Some of which have been done countless times so there are fantastic tutorials online on how to do them, such as an air cannon, you can find so many different ways to make one its mind boggling. Other things there isn’t very much knowledge out there on and you have to become creative.
What draws me in every year is the technology. I love motion sensors, pic-a-boo/Boo-Box controllers, Raspberry Pi’s, DMX lighting, the list goes on. Every year I write programs which my controllers will run to do various things within my haunt. Just like every other program ever written its always if than. Mostly if this motion sensor gets tripped, then run this program.
Every year I have a vision, something I want to do. Is it out of the realm of possibility? Nah never! Is it too expensive for me to do? Yeah most likely, but I find a way to do something similar. Last year I had this vision for one of my rooms. The security room. You walk in, you’re faced with a wall of monitors, on each one of them a different room, the lower right, it’s your room! As you start to wave your hand to see if its a recording or live, someone sneaks out behind you scaring you to all hell.
Did it work as intended? Yes and no. I had a very old security system (Coax cable) it didn’t allow for me to have any more than 1 monitor… are you kidding me? Ok, let’s figure this out because I have 6 old monitors from a previous job. I got a splitter, great but the splitter only allowed for 4 monitors.. well that’s going to have to do. Guess what? All the monitors play the same video, and there was no way to split it up.. well shit. I had to put them all on a 5-second loop. Just long enough for people to stop in and watch and eventually get to the camera that is them, it had to be a sweet spot of time. Not to short because the scare wouldn’t work, no too long because they would get bored and walk by it. The ultimate question is did it work? Yes, we had some fantastic scares in that room. It was a unique idea that I haven’t seen elsewhere, although I have to be sure someone did something similar at some point.
The idea is we try to be original, we strive for the uniqueness that sets us apart from other haunts. We enjoy the detail that we are able to put into each and every project. Even if the patron isn’t going to see it. We understand its dark, some things go unnoticed. Some would call that wasted work, I don’t believe in that because even if one person goes through and see it, that’s worth it to us. Stay scared my friends.
Author: Kevin Butler
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