View Full Version : This Is Bugging Me...

08-15-2008, 01:44 PM
I rarely go on these forums but I just wanted to vent some frustrations regarding my experiences in the Haunt business..
I work in Pittsburgh, so add up the rest as I won't name names...
Ok So I'm a special effects artist and designer for an amusement park out here. I'm now in my fourth season. This year was my first year designing an entire Haunt and it's been an extremely fun experience..
That being said, I'm a professional who absolutely LOVES what he does. I have a trade, a skill, a job. This is what I make my living doing.
Earlier in the year I got a phone call from the owner of a local well known haunt asking me if I'd be interested in helping his crew out with some designs/props etc for their upcoming season, and asked me to email some of my prices.. I then responded with an extremely enthusiastic YES!! This was my favorite Haunt in the whole Pittsburgh area, hell yeah I'd help out.
After sending the email I waited, and waited... and waited some more to hear back. Finally I made the call cause I was honestly really excited about being able to help them out.
During our phone conversation I was basically told 2 things, the first; "I can't afford you, why would I spend that much for a prop when I can go to Unit 70 and get one for cheaper" and secondly; "if you're working for them (Amusement Park) and you were working for me, you'd kind of have your hand in the cookie jar and would be able to reveal our secrets"....
First off, when I'm making a "one-of-a-kind" prop, it's a lot different than buying something from a company who has half the work already done (meaning the sculptures and the molds already made). Almost 80% of the cost comes from the initial sculptures. Then there's costuming, painting etc.
So then I tried to bargain, I basically told him I wanted to help out so much that I'd work for practically nothing. I mean, I REALLY wanted to help out, just because I genuinely did, NOT because I wanted to reveal his secrets. Then I was given the old "I'll call you"... and NEVER heard back, go figure.
I pretty much realized that this guy just wants to find talented people who haven't quite made it into the business yet, and just vacuum work out of them for nothing. It's great they get "exposure", but I now know it's not just that, it's who you know and how you are as a person that gets you work as a professional. I get where he's coming from on a business level, but even after the offer to work for free for him, I still was turned down.

As a person who loves what he does and really loves haunting, I've kinda lost some respect for these smaller Haunts... Top 5 haunted house or not, that's some pretty uncool shit. I'm the artist, not the business man, but I do know my boundaries. I've gotta pay bills and make a living just as much as the owner of a small business does...
I just can't believe some of the things I've witnessed in this industry, it's really
I think I just want the guy to say, "hey, it's nothing personal", but I guess that'll never happen....
Oh well, that's not exactly gonna stop me from loving this business, as "dog-eat-dog" as it is.

08-15-2008, 02:51 PM
obviosuly this guy has forgotten that we are a family and the competetion is the last thing that a haunter should ever think of and concentrate on helping a fellow haunter instead of ridiculing and being some what abrasive although i did not here the conversation i would like to say look at larry do you think he cres what other haunts find out about what hes doing in his haunt no he dosnt i mean if he did not want all of us to learn from his expertise and dedication of his crew he would not have posted althoughs pictures of his new attraction on this fourum so in closing i would like to say although i am a small haunt i put every thing mind soul and financial into my event and am willing to help who ever asks just as you are i just hope one day to be an example for young haunters coming into the business i am only 35 and have barely tapped the keg of the haunt business going into my 4th yr and hope to one day be remembered for my generosity and not my arrogance or ignorance or unwillingness to help a fellow haunter

Jim Warfield
08-15-2008, 05:03 PM
During a last minute appeal for help and ideas , against my better judgement and feelings on the mattter I donated many precious October hours telling, suggesting what a local JC haunt could do, should do, shouldn't do as far as it all was concerned.
Then around the end of October some people were telling me that when someone asked them about my house their reply was:"Oh, that's just a walk-through for little old ladies!"
(But it might be the best dam little old lady walk through EVER?)
They didn't say that.
For some strange reason I was upset over this coment coming from their president, was I just too sensitive?
Like the old saying:"All things come to he who waits." (Except for Tom Waits)
Eventually this JC president showed up here for my tour with another couple and revenge is So Sweet!
I scared him so badly!!!!
"Little old Ladies Walk-Through, huh?")
In real life we usually never get such a chance to prove yourself as you might in this field of endevour.

Haunting Copy
08-15-2008, 05:22 PM
Scaryfunhouse, it may give you an ulcer, but try to
remember that businesses that practice protectionism
invariably *never* become the greats of their industry.

You have an opportunity here. You can position yourself
as a professional by the way you handle yourself. Others
*do* notice.

Always *always* try to see adversity as an opportunity
and you will go far.

<stepping off soapbox>

With haunted love,

Greg Chrise
08-15-2008, 07:41 PM
All I'm seeing is several times saying no my divulging that he has no money. You know what his secrets are? He has no money and probably won't get any.

Meanwhile the amusement park you work for could just as easily be catalog shopping but, they want something different. They still do get quite a bit from a catalog and there is nothing wrong with that but, fitting exact pieces into exact themes is not always a match.

If it is competition he also fears he might be right. An article I just read said of many towns that have gone down the tubes the two most catastrophic exodusses by population in the US were Pittsburgh and New Orleans.

I'm thinking you should find the inspiration to make your current employer a force to be reconned with even more support. I know you were thinking this turd would be great to add to your resume but, believe me, no one has really respected him for 50 years. It might actually work against you.

Anyone can self promote and you can too. I never found that haunt run by any big name that had any money to spend so I had to create my own no money making haunted house.

Build it one glob at a time. Squirt a little silicone in your pocket every day and smear it on something being built in the trunk of your car. 400 sticky pairs of pants later you will have something.

Jim Warfield
08-15-2008, 09:25 PM
As Mae West would say:"Is that a glob of silicone in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?"
Or as the Brits might say:"Sticky Wicket old Chap!"
What is silicone made from? Isn't it a waste /by-product of something else? Like old handkerchief residue?

Haunting Copy
08-16-2008, 05:58 AM
Jim! Yuck!!

Jim Warfield
08-17-2008, 08:14 AM
"Waist Not!"
Down the road from me about 20 miles is a place where they boil roadkill and prematurely deceased farm animals (died before they could be butchered), it's BIG business!
They also make a big, incredible stink most of the time too!
The stink doesn't usually find it's way upstream to get here though.
(I wonder if they make stink bombs there? They sure could!)

08-17-2008, 10:34 PM
Stay strong, bro.
not all of pittsburgh is like that.

I work with and help out as many other local haunts as I can. I build stuff for kennywood, ( not for free) I've been a volunteer actor for scarehouse when they were short handed years ago, and you'll see our props and costumes everywhere locally.

and I have been helped out by almost all of them in return.

especially scarehouse, in years they didn't open.

don't let what might be mis communications, make you too jaded.

there's too many other rough spots in this industry that will do that.

08-18-2008, 12:08 AM
In case anyone hasn't figured it out, this young man is talking about his conversations with me. I feel the need to respond to his first-ever post on Hauntworld ... but I'm not gonna get pulled into a flame war on the boards (especially 5 weeks before I friggin' open)

Does it sometimes take me a few days, or even weeks, to return phone calls? Yes - especially this year. The amount of work and business obligations tied to both the haunt, outside projects, and my video production company has soared this year, and I'll be the first to admit that keeping up with it has been a real challenge... so yes, sometimes callls take a long time to return.

The 2nd part of his recollection of our conversation(s) is only partially accurate.

Yes, I asked for a quote - and based on my previous dealing with outside vendors and our own in-house staff, I felt the quoted prices were much too high. Believe me, I am well aware (and appreciative of) the amount of time and $$ spent turning pounds of silicone, plaster, and clay into frightening creatures.

And yes, we have made the decision that we can not "share" any of core crew or cast members with other local attractions. That just doesn't make good business sense in our opinion. We welcome and regularly pursue opportunities to work with the owners of other local attractions to cross-promote and support each other -- but that doesn't mean that we want one of their managers having free reign to our attraction all summer.

If you were running a succesful family-owned Italian restaurant, and the head cook from the corporate offices of Olive Garden said he wanted to work in your kitchen for a few months "just to help out" ... would you let him?

So to review, I asked for a quote - you provided it - and I felt it was too high. You are a manager and designer at one of our primary competetors ... and you feel that holding that position while having full access to our attraction does not offer any kind of conflict of interest. I disagree.

So, based on a roughly 3 phone calls, a couple e-mails, a rejected quote, and a difference in opinion -- you have now determined that I - quote - 'just want to find talented people who haven't quite made it in this business yet and just vaccum work out of them for nothing." ... and felt quite comfortable posting this information on the Hauntworld forum in your first-ever post.

You're kind of making a big leap there, don't you think? Not quite a big a leap as Greg made by calling me a turd with no money - but still...

08-20-2008, 07:39 PM
Ouch!!! Ease up on the kid a little... If you really read into what he's saying ,
he just seems disappointed cause he really wanted to help out. Maybe his dreams were to eventually work up to a position at a better haunt (scarehouse?)
but was ultimately rejected. Sometimes just ONE simple phone call could change someones life for the better! I think we have all been in that position. If the poor kid works at Kennywood, do you honestly believe that he will steal secrets to use for them? not talking trash on Kennywood but if you take the rides away, what do you have? a crappy haunt! It's not too revealing that Kennywood puts the bare minimum into the "fright night". Why should they, the attendance is just crazy at the place in October (we'll never go back!!!) The point I'm making is maybe he just wants to do greater things (which you should feel honored for) and all he wanted was a simple call back. Sometimes the answer "no" is better than no answer at all! We have all had our hopes up at one time or another and have been let down but, scaryfunhouse, a forum like this is where you "don't" make your personal gripes public it's just not good business. Can't we all just get along? By the way, Scarehouse rocks!!!!

Greg Chrise
08-20-2008, 08:38 PM
I had someone else in mind. Sorry, only as few miles away.