View Full Version : Just starting out - in need of some direction please

08-08-2013, 12:10 PM
I hope im posting in the right area,

I live in an area of Maine that doesn't have any haunted houses. Does anyone have any ideas or information on how to propose it to the town or any good volunteer places to call up to see if they would be able to contribute on possibly starting one. Has anyone been in this situation before?


08-08-2013, 01:51 PM
I have seen quite a few run by the the local fire departments. Maybe call a few and see if any are interested.

08-08-2013, 01:57 PM
I was thinking about that but there have been a lot of fires recently and im planing on letting them rest (next year ill try them ) the only plan tho that im going in so far with is for the town hall and "Please can you make a haunted house" and im afraid that's not enough

plus for future reference whats the difference between a professional haunt and amateur haunt?

08-08-2013, 02:57 PM
IMO- "Pro" refers to how you, the owner, hold yourself.

There are plenty of businesses out there with huge overhead that are most certainly NOT PRO.

So forget the titles think about what you want to do. Do you want to express you inner haunt freak to the world or do you want to start and build a business?

Getting your head around the challenges that face you on either path you choose is EXTREMELY important to coming out the other side in as good or better shape than when you entered...

08-08-2013, 03:00 PM
A really good eye opener would be to go to the Fire Marshal and City Inspections Dept with your ideas and see what the requirements will be. You will know a LOT more after those conversations.

08-08-2013, 03:19 PM
Well put. No matter how you participate in the industry the key is to act professionally while doing it.
Be it an actor, parking, ticket booth, owner, or anything else. A well organized and effectively operated attraction that works hard to make sure it's guests are entertained should be the goal whatever your role may be.
Maybe you could start a home haunt to find out how the Maine residents respond.
Search the forum - there are many threads on 'pro' haunts and things to be considered when opening an attraction to the public. Good luck!

08-08-2013, 03:54 PM
I live in a one bedroom apartment, its nice and cozy with an office that i can put these crazy ideas together (more of a animation / audio studio) , but not much more, I'm stuck at the part of making a choice, to be honest I would love to make my own business, but I'm too far from it and I think that there needs (or should) be something in the area first. Kinda test the waters and then jump in when my feet are at the right temperature. I figure on getting people into it first. Compared to where I live there are a lot more people on a "fixed income" and I personally don't have the money to start anything up at the moment besides getting other people interested and involved. I would love to be a ground breaker , but I doubt that's feasible right now. So I'm going the approach of starting to sit in on town hall meetings , asking the fire department for next year, and the police athletic league. That's about as far as Ive gotten. I'm not that really good around authority people. That's why I'm asking for help because I know I need my act together going in the game. not be "umming and uhhhhing" kinda deal.

Thank you for your ideas and your help

08-08-2013, 03:58 PM
Maybe check with some area churches and see if they are interested in a fund raising haunted house?

08-08-2013, 04:24 PM
Most of the people on this forum, myself included, would recommend Kelly Allen's book. Here is the link: http://www.hauntbook.com/entrepreneur.html

Also, you might want to check out Allen Hopps' website for educational offerings. Here is the link: http://stiltbeaststudios.com/

Front Yard Fright
08-08-2013, 05:17 PM
Most of the people on this forum, myself included, would recommend Kelly Allen's book. Here is the link: http://www.hauntbook.com/entrepreneur.html

Also, you might want to check out Allen Hopps' website for educational offerings. Here is the link: http://stiltbeaststudios.com/

^ What he said. Both wonderful resources for information! Also check out Allen's YouTube Channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/StiltbeastStudios) for tons of helping how-to's for props, costumes, and everything in between.

Allen H
08-08-2013, 06:46 PM
find a place to do a haunted trail- this year only one weekend or two. maybe a public park or someone who owns a patch of wooded land. start small and work your way up- I would not go to the city and tell them they should start a haunt- If they had the passion and drive for it, then they would be doing it.
find a park and propose a plan to haunt it for a few weekends.
Allen H

08-08-2013, 07:27 PM
Ok, so everyone has given great advice BUT here's some important stuff to note as well.

1) business plan. How much money can you put into it and how much do you need to do it right? Where will the funds come from and where specifically would you like to house your attraction.

2) ZONING. This is FIRST. Make sure the space you choose is or can be zoned appropriately, keep in mind parking and the surrounding community. Once you get zoning approved you can move on to building and fire.

3) this will go back to step one, are you a charity or a business? An if you are a charity, do not forget it is still a business, it takes money to make money and you must make money to be able to donate money, don't overspend and make sure your market is right for a haunt (maybe thats why there's none near you?) Your market has to be able to support the business. Yes some haunts are OUT there, but they do everything else right and know how to get people to show up.

I wish you the best of luck and please keep us all posted so we can help and pay you on the back when it's all said and done! Good luck pal!

Jim Warfield
08-08-2013, 08:30 PM
The hours and days and weeks will zip passed you at an alarming rate as too little happens or gets done with that clock ticking off the hours and days..
If you can't do it all, if you can't partner up with someone who also has the passion and the talents needed,talents that maybe you do not have... well THEN how will it ever happen?
The absolutely simplest way to do this would be to have a piece of ground you could just use, have a haunted grave yard, dig up some dirt here and there make some headstones, this could be made to work, as long as the weather is agreeable, of course.
Nature would be providing most of the "set" and the real hazards,like tree limbs rotted , about to fall, tree roots to trip over,slippery muddy paths and wild critters on-patrol, all things need to be considered and delt with, even in such a simple setting.
This smalltown here finally sent the City crew to cut down some very tall, rotted trees that boarder the parking lot infront of my house. The one tree had a live Poison Ivy vine that had curled around and up half of the tree!

08-09-2013, 04:39 PM
I live in a one bedroom apartment, its nice and cozy with an office that i can put these crazy ideas together...

Thank you for your ideas and your help

Very much parallel to my experience, only I have a business to fund my madness. The point is- it is VERY easy to become romantically involved with crazy ideas and fantasies spawned from the seat of comfort. The reality is that once you pass that line of borrowing money or sinking life savings into a haunt the "honeymoon" ENDS and the shit gets real. Extremely stressful if you are not experienced or a quick and nimble learner.

As long as you can spare the funds, for whatever size venture, out of your income without incurring debt- you can continue the wild indulgence. Not to say that many a business was not started and grew to fantastic heights from this path- but it is the MUCH longer journey- often a much less stressful one at that.

As I did and you will likely find- the true friends found here will usually say- start small. If 5 years from now are still small and loving haunting- you have found happiness. If in 5 years you have lost interest and moved on- you have found happiness. If you max out your borrowing on your first attempt- you might find happiness, but you will know sorrow too.

Good luck!

08-10-2013, 06:26 AM
Personally? I'd consider a charity haunt to get up and rolling. Just my opinion. Charity haunts don't mean you can't have a stipend that you use to survive, and if you want to partner with public figures and make an impact on a town, that's the way to really drive it home.

Not saying a profit haunt won't work, but you'd have less support from public figures, etc. in my opinion.

Glad you're being smart about this and starting now. I might do as Allen suggested: start a small one or two day trail, maybe even tie it in with the area's trick-or-treat times and days. Start a Facebook page, a website, advertise with local businesses, maybe if your area has a Halloween parade work with someone who is building a float and hang banners and a location up in exchange for a little cash? Who knows. As many have said already, professionalism lies on the person who is pursuing the dream. I may not always be liked, but I try my hardest to be professional with all of the haunts that I have worked with/for. And you should do the same.

You need to inspire the locals, or at least entertain them. Have them bring two canned goods and 5 bucks for a 10-15 minute trail. Give it all to the local foodbank, etc? Just an idea. Many people are easier to part with a donation when they know its going to a good cause and they get something out of it. In this case the "something" may be them peeing themselves. Who knows? ;)

Some may disagree with me, but I really do know that if I can ever find the TIME after my degrees to start a haunt, I have been heavily considering not for profit. Would love to better the industry and the community....

Just my two cents.

Good luck!

Dark Tiki Studios
08-13-2013, 11:38 AM
As many times as the "How do I get started?" question has been asked, maybe one of the moderators could add a sticky thread to the top of the forum?? Then we could refer new people to that thread, and keep it going with everyone's great ideas?

Mr. Haunt
09-02-2013, 10:57 AM
So here we go, I am a home haunter and have been for over 10 years now. I haunt on Halloween and only Halloween, but like most I have dreams of haunting at a little bit bigger level.

I once tried approaching the local city officials to see if they would allow me to use some of their wooded trail to start haunting. I sat down with the parks director and told him what I wanted to do and I was basically laughed at. So they have left a bitter taste in my mouth.

I have also managed to haunt as a commercial haunt with a local farm business who knew nothing about haunting and then got stomped on, so they too have left a bitter taste in my mouth.

And I have been looking for a charity or non profit to work with, but so far I have not been able to locate one that was willing to help or get their fingers dirty.

BUT I DO KNOW IT'S POSSIBLE so like me don't give up!!!

Mr. Haunt

hacksaw the clown
09-11-2013, 03:05 PM
i find urban areas much friendlier to haunters then rural or suburban areas

09-11-2013, 10:04 PM
you have to be smart about it a charity can stomp on you just as hard on you unless you get all the terms out there in writing in the first place. been there. think of everything including damage to your equipment and props. been there not fun the made a lot of money and I lost a lot.