View Full Version : Help.help.help.

07-22-2009, 10:07 AM
My mom and dad said if i do good at my home haunt this year they will let me rent a small place like 3 to 5000sq feet next year and let me go pro.(i will be 16) i have a buddy that does a sweet haunt and he said he will help to. he has a ton of sweet props.
?'s what do I all need to do to go pro. I need to know everything. and what is the cheapest way to build walls because i will have to build them all next year.
All feedback will be greatly helpfull.

Allen H
07-22-2009, 10:30 AM
these are really broad questions. Search the forums and find most of the answers you are looking for. there is tons of posts on wall panels. Also lots of start up questions.
Perhaps one day Larry (or the other powers that be) will post a frequently asked posts and you can find what you need there, The forums are a great resource if you are willing to do a little digging.
Simply stated what you need to do to go pro is
#1 pay taxes -this means registering your business with the state and collecting sales tax.
#2 begin a dialog with the firemarshall- of the area your show is in, the sooner you talk to them and the more involved they are the easier it will be down the road.
best of luck in your new endeavors,
Allen H

07-22-2009, 12:01 PM
thanks. yeah i have a lot to do in a little over a year.
will 5000 be big or shoud i find a bigger space.

Allen H
07-22-2009, 01:15 PM
the smaller the space, the less work you have to do....in theory.

07-22-2009, 03:25 PM
yeah good point but also less walk time for the guest to. and then you cant charge as much can you?

Kelly Anderson
07-22-2009, 05:07 PM
Being its very early yet for you, you may want to consider finding a sponcer or two. Starting a haunt from the beging will take alot of materials to build therefore may take a pretty good chunk of $$$$ depending what your trying to build. Plan every room out so you know what your investment will have to be.

I agree with Allen. Check past threads about starting haunts. The short time I've been involved on this forum, Ive learned quite a bit more about all aspects of pro haunting; you will too if you dig.

Good luck!!

Kelly Anderson

07-22-2009, 05:14 PM
if i do good at my home haunt this year

Don't forget about this year. That's one of the conditions, remember.

5,000 square feet is plenty big for a first-time haunt.

07-22-2009, 05:58 PM
Here's a good way of looking at it! A haunted attraction is like an iceberg! You see the top and how big it is above the water. But you don't see the HUGE AMOUNT under it that makes it float! just to list a couple things, this is what you'll need to look into:

-possible architect blue prints
-fire inspectors
-building inspectors
-state inspectors

theirs more but like said previously in the forum, start talking to people now to see what you need to start making something like this happen and GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING! Good luck, we'll help ya as much as we can, but you need to learn more business skills then haunt skills from here on out. Running this as a business and a hobby are two complete different things. GOOD LUCK THIS YEAR THOU!

Allen H
07-22-2009, 08:25 PM
Why dont you work for a pro haunt to get a feel for the industry first. Im afraid that you see this list everyday (mostly owners) and that your looking past the tens of thousands of super talented and energetic people who make the industry what it is without owning their own show.
I worked for years as a Scare actor before I started making costumes, detailing sets, managing actors, managing shows, then owning my own show. I am who I am and the haunter I am because of what I learned paying my dues at other peoples show (its also cheaper).
I am not knocking you or anyone else's drive but my goal when I was your age was to be as good as possible at Acting, then each facet of haunting, that way I knew my show (when I got it) would be the best I could make it.
Imagine how good your show will be if you had five or six years experience before you built it?
Just a thought from a crusty veteran haunter,
Allen H

07-22-2009, 08:44 PM
yeah i worked at one the past few years and i loved it i help set the whole thing up and the owner let me build my own room and stuff cuz he thought i was good at this stuff.

freak 'n' stein
07-22-2009, 09:38 PM
Hoffie, I too want to own my own attraction one day, but like Allen is saying, you should really get a feel for the industry first. I'm 19 and I started in '99 haunting my house.

In middle school I helped out at the haunt put on by the drama kids, in high school I volunteered my time at a local community center haunt for two years. Both years they allowed me to put in a majority of the design work because they also recognized my talent. Here I am now in college and last year I worked at my first MAJOR haunted venue which was SCarowinds...(same company that does Knott's Scary Farms - www.scarowinds.com) This year, I am doing a local haunt, Hall of Horrors. We've been putting in MAJOR hours this summer just to prepare for this coming season, and it's sneaking up on us quickly!!

Over the course of years I've purchased DVD's, Books, Magazines and crawled every site on the net in an attempt to learn all I can about EVERY aspect of putting on a show.

Before the start of the season this year we are going to Halloween Horror Nights and Netherworld...One of my co-chairs has gotten us a bts tour. THANKS NETHERWORLD!!

I've had the great fortune of living in many places, and California being one of them, I've got to meet some great people in the industry. I had a neighbor who built props for local haunts and Six Flags and got to shadow him. Since moving here to SC, I've met people here and have had the awesome opportunity to have a chat with Leonard Pickel and pick his brain for info. I've also been to Universal Studios and met the "caretaker" of HHN and he gave me some tips and valuable info about schools I could go to for make-up and the like.

...I even started a business when I was 17 >> http://ravenreaperstudios.com , but because of college I had to take a temporary leave. It'll be back and 100% one day, offering more...but it's a start.

....so after all being said, I too one day will have a haunt but not before I've invested PLENTY of time and effort in planning and research!! It's a lot more than having a building and a few props. You have your WHOLE life ahead of you. Start with the concept and show details now, then take the next steps. Best of luck to you!!

- O'Shawn

07-22-2009, 09:54 PM
you need to learn more business skills then haunt skills from here on out. Running this as a business and a hobby are two complete different things. GOOD LUCK THIS YEAR THOU!

That's te best advice you will receive. Everything else can be pretty much ignored for the time being. Forget about how many walls should be black and how many should be dark grey.

QUOTE: "you need to learn more business skills then haunt skills from here on out"

Excellent advice. Anyone who tells you any different isn't helping.

There is someone on here who has a tag or signature along the lines of "If you make it scary enough they will come." With all due respect, that isn't good enough. You have to make it scary but you also have to promote it and keep it open or it doesn't matter. How would you feel if you built the best 5,000 square foot haunt the world has ever seen and the fire inspector closed you down because you didn't want to be bothered with the little details he brought up, or you couldn't pay your actors on opening night, or your electricity was turned off the first day because you ran out of money?

QUOTE: "you need to learn more business skills then haunt skills from here on out"

Ignore that advice at your own peril.

07-23-2009, 07:20 AM
yeah i guess you guys are right maybe im going to fast at my dream of owning my own haunt. I guess after all i am only 15.

07-23-2009, 08:55 AM
Just slow down a little. Take it one year at a time, one month at a time, one week at a time, and then one day at a time. Work on making this year's the best you can this year and worry about next year beginning in November. A whole year is plenty of time to get things going for it, but you only have three months for this year's. I'm sure your parents wouldn't be too impressed if you got so busy working on next year's big event that the 2009 haunt amounted to a big nothing.

Focus all your energy on this Halloween.

Since you don't have much money, it's time to hit the dumpsters, yard sales and thrift stores. I think it was Larry himself who said it best when he said if he was starting with nothing he'd do that and age everything and adapt it for use in a haunt. No big animatronics when you're starting out. Work with what you've got or you can realistically get.

07-23-2009, 08:57 AM
Don't get discouraged though, it's a very good dream!! If you are passionate about haunting, it will happen. There's some VERY good advice here. To go 'pro' and charge an entrance fee- most importantly is the advice to study business. Even though you'd start out with a part-time seasonal haunt, you still need to know a LOT of things you might not have considered. Study basic business principles- accounting and money handling. Learn all you can about starting businesses in your area. Permits etc. Study basic and theatrical construction and lighting. Study electrical applications. Learn all you can about pneumatics. Study your local fire laws and take safety courses. There's so much to learn! One of the hardest things to do is people management. :) (sure there's lots here that would agree with that!) You'll have to be a master communicator and compromiser!
Don't be afraid to ask all the hard questions. You'll find that most haunt owners are very generous with good advice. Take it & learn from it!
Best of luck to you!

07-23-2009, 09:03 AM
one thing in mind too is that the money you will be putting out. Also is your mom and dad are going to put out the money?? how are you going to get money???

for your age it's going to be hard and i have not even opened my haunt yet...

you seen what i mean...

07-23-2009, 11:34 AM
yeah i see i see. but i have people that all ready said they will donate $$$$ to me and help me with this.
My dad knows people that will do the lights for little to no $.
i have friends that love haunts to and they have spare props they said they can give me.
yeah my mom and dad said they will dish out $$$$ because then what ever profit we make %50 will go to a charity. %25 to the next year and %25 into helping me go to collage.
so thanks for the help keep it coming.

07-24-2009, 12:33 AM
yeah i see i see. but i have people that all ready said they will donate $$$$ to me and help me with this.
My dad knows people that will do the lights for little to no $.
i have friends that love haunts to and they have spare props they said they can give me.
yeah my mom and dad said they will dish out $$$$ because then what ever profit we make %50 will go to a charity. %25 to the next year and %25 into helping me go to collage.
so thanks for the help keep it coming.

All the information you can provide helps. One thing I would like to caution you on is depending too much on what people promise when you are starting out. The friends who have promised you props may decide they need them to decorate their houses again this year. The lighting guy may be busy when you need him. The monetary donations may come through after the economy improves. Lots of things that can happen. Don't depend on these things until they actually start to happen. That's why it helps to get as much of a jump on it as you can. It is not too early to start on this year's haunt. Where are you putting it on? Can you start now?

The other thing is that I would honestly recommend a part-time job if you are hoping to use profits to help pay for college. Assuming you even make a profit within the first couple of years, 25 percent probably won't be much. Yes, haunting will be more fun but picking up aluminum cans alongside the road will likely be more profitable.

If you are planning to make a profit off this venture, then go back and reread all the advice about treating it as a business. I am a photographer and it is so much like haunting that you wouldn't believe it. So many of the people in this business consider themselves artists and are insulted and bothered that they have to deal with that whole thing of charging money to their customers, or dealing with the fact that not every customer sees the high value they have placed on their "art." They just want to take great photos and think the money should just flow their way. It doesn't. You have to work to promote your business. Then there are the photographers who aren't very good who market themselves well and make a lot of money.

Haunting is the same way. Many people want to do it because it seems like so much fun. It is whan you're decorating your house. But when you go pro then you have to deal with real estate leases, the owner of the building not wanting to let you change the facade, taxes (local, state, federal, sales, property, unemployment, disability and Social Security taxes, just to name a few), employees who either consider themselves artists/actors or think they should get paid more since you are raking in the dough, inspectors, props that don't work, advertisng and marketing, insurance, and many other things that you haven't even thought of yet.

That makes it a business and not a fun artistic project.

07-24-2009, 08:37 AM
all the stuff i posted before like people saying they can help is for when i go pro if i do next year 2010.
my haunt this year i have been working on for a month so far i got a lot of my planning done before x-mas.

07-26-2009, 05:21 PM
Good luck with your endeavors. It's a big decision to go pro and a lot involved.

We just do a home haunt, I've expaned this year to the barn. More room, more stuff, more expenses.

I would love to go pro some day. I just think I'm not ready for all that it will involve.

Follow your dreams. Your dreams are what will take you places.:grin:

07-26-2009, 06:15 PM
thanks man that is the best words so far by far. i just dont know i would love to go pro but i might stay with home haunting and go pro after im done with school.
or i might rent a 2000 sq ft building and transfer my home haunt into that and not go pro but have a bigger space to haunt prople.
but by far thanks for all the help and kind words

07-27-2009, 05:46 AM
"Follow your dreams" is the best advice by far? Looks like junior college it is!

07-29-2009, 08:28 AM
yeah that is. and idk yet my haunt this year is going good. i started building like 2 weeks ago.
right now im working on a michel myers room that i saw in the halloween movie. that room is going to be one of the most detailed by far.
thanks for all the help again!!

09-23-2009, 05:26 AM
hey guys my haunt is coming together very good this year it is looking better each day.
thanks for all the help.

09-23-2009, 07:23 AM
Beware of movie rooms. For a smaller home haunt this may be ok, but you're playing with legal issues and rights here which can be detrimental.

Also if you're using a licenced character people will expect you to be as good as what they saw in the movie, when you're not they'll complain and say your haunt is 3rd rate and that its not scary, whereas if you had used a different character in a similar enviroment perhaps you would have had a better reaction.

Once you begin to move up in the world of haunting ween yourself off of movie inspired characters and settings. Let the creative juices flow and im sure you can come up with a character just as frightining.

Rotting Flesh Radio Haunt Hottie

09-23-2009, 11:40 AM
This is the exact kind of thread that would fit into the "Aspiring Pros" category I'm trying to get the Haunt World forums to add.

09-23-2009, 04:30 PM
thanks and yeah i was kinda thinking the same thing about could you get in trouble for doing that. thanks for the advice