When I said I had a lot to learn, I wasn’t kidding. Even though I had been doing it for a few years, there is a right way and a wrong way. Do you want to get a scare? Or do you want to get a laugh? Most homeowners buy the store bought animatronics and call it a day. I wasn’t any different.
Let’s walk into any generic Halloween outlet and buy that cool animatronic that’s for sale for 300$. I’m going to stop you right there, any real haunter is going to laugh you out of the park. Let me tell you how I use stores like this now. I walk in with an idea, these stores are more like a home depot or a lowes to me, I look at what they have and what I can make it into.
Sometimes buying the animatronic, stripping it down, adding your own flair to it is more cost-effective than creating your own. I mean if that’s what you are going for that is. Some of the limited motion these devices have isn’t exactly the best. We are intuitive though, so you need to have an open mind and use it how you see fit.
One year I used an old animatronic to be triggered by a motion sensor that would pull a string and move a rocking chair. From where the patron was standing the rocking chair was moving by itself, but in fact, I just used the motor from an old animatronic. Which brings me to my next point, NEVER THROW ANYTHING AWAY.
I have this great philosophy, the worse it looks the better it is. One of the key components to having successful set design is the uneasy feeling that you get from a room. The use of reverse feng shui is something I am constantly going on about. I will go over this in more detail in another blog post but just know that when it comes to Horror design, I rely on this an absolute ton.
Getting back to my main point is, I feel everything can be used more than once, for more than one purpose. Most of the time your sets aren’t going for a super clean *new* look, so what does it matter if something is beaten an battered? It doesn’t. Most of the time we take time to stress a set to make it look old anyway.
Old paint, old props, old costumes, old blankets. All of this is something to be aware of when creating your sets. You must be creative, think outside the box. Find new ways to use old props. Every year I use the sign from previous years somewhere within my haunt. I try to make it so that if you look closely enough you can see it, as a throwback to the previous years. Can you find last years sign when you come this year?
As always stay scared my friends.
Author: Kevin Butler
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