Got them post mortem blues .....
Ahhhh yes, the post-season blues. I start getting them on the last night. However, I have learned to channel them into something constructive. As I take that final walk through the haunts, I begin making notes of what worked and what failed for next year. I begin designs and plans for improvements and new things we are going to do next year, and of course that means construction starts next week!!!
When I look at the finances, well that is always a little depressing, but after looking at the fact that our revenues actually increased 650% from last year - we are on teh right track! It keeps me motivated and helps me to understand there are several phases to this business. First, the design/build phase which is where my creative side goes crazy and we have so much fun for months.
Then the trial phase where we test our new stuff in the haunt to make sure it works, and will generate the scares we hope for. And then the season which is fast and furious and ends with a bang!
As far as masks go, I use cheap masks for many actors. Our expensive masks go to those who are proven actors and know how to treat their stuff. First year actors get a cheap mask (yet they are still effective and the masks still work in scaring people without looking too cheesey). If they work out and if they can show emotion and demonstrate acting ability, I will put them in makeup the next year. The well seasoned actors get a choice of high-end mask or makeup.
Our props always take a beating, but we take that into account when buying props. I always consider how it will be used and abused, and in areas where there is going to be a lot of abuse we use either cheaper props or more heavy duty props. Still, you will lose props year after year so factor that into your budget!
Much Very Good Advice Here.(From everyone)
I found calm after my first season in the fact that even at only $2.00 a head, I was now looking at a sum of money I would not have had otherwise, and that money WAS enough to see me through that Winter so I could quit my "real" job and devote myself to my new business, which did work out.
Customers had stolen things I had built, created which sure didn't feel "good", but I had to see it as part of the price you pay when dealing with a Halloween crowd.
My house is open year-round and that crowd is not like the October ones.
My house is a a house, mostly indoors and yet still masks got stolen, under bulky coats, thrown out an open window to the street below.. there were some masks taken can never be replaced, ever.
Need a cheap, scary strange mask? buy the cheapest crappy , silly mask, turn it inside-out paint it,cut it apart, re-glue it glue some strands of hair on it='s a whole new product.
I had to make my house work, because I had no other options. I took a lot of crap from customers (drunks mostly)
Hang in there if you have ever felt the passion to do this, like others here said:"I will get better, there is a learning curve for the more subtle, yet important things involved with all of this.