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Thread: 1st Year Blues

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  1. Default 1st Year Blues 
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    My first year as a professional haunter is officially over and all that remains is days of clean up and packaging. We had a good attendance, front page articles in both local papers, nothing but awesome reviews, and a staff that was almost crying to see their first year as haunters end. As I begin walking the trail and packing things up I feel really really depressed. Sad that it's over. Sad that we didn't break even. Sad that almost all my purchased prop masks were stolen in the last hour of operation. Sad that I have to spend the next two weeks cleaning up by myself. Sad that I will have to go get a temp contract job in corporate America just to get our finances back to what they were before the event. Sad that so many of the props were broken during the event by wildly enthusiastic actors.

    Is this haunt postpartum depression normal? Is it a sign that this haunt thing isn't for me?
    Last edited by mrfoos; 12-02-2013 at 08:31 PM.

  2. Default  
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Athens, Texas, United States
    I hear ya and feel your pain. I wish i could say it will get better but in fact it gets harder. You will learn to deal with it and become hardened so it bothers you less. Its not all bad there are good times ahead but there's a lot of bs to wade thru to get there . hang in there and dont let it get you so down
    I'm only doing this to impress 2 people ... The fire marshal and the customer that's it !!!

  3. Default  
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Hartford CT
    If you had insurance which I hope you did the mask thefts maybe something you can claim on? How will you better secure them next year?

  4. Default  
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Unless they were top of the line masks and props, don't bother claiming anything with your insurance, why let your insurance go up over something so minuscule?

    Now I COMPLETELY hear you on the post-haunt blues! lol but it's all part of the business, you just have to keep on trucking! Giving up now is the worst thing you can do. Will it get harder?? YES! But will it get better?? YOU BET YOUR ASS!

    Keep your chin up! Word of mouth is your best friend and if everyone loved ya, than they'll be back with friends next year!!

    Oh, and the enthusiastic actors?!? Do you have ANY idea how much stainless steel crutches, walkers, canes, wheel chairs, and an operating table were destroyed by my insane crew this year?!?! A LOT! But hell, it's producing INCREDIBLE feedback! Each night one of the ER scenes in my hospital has an actor seizing on a stretcher, getting CPR, then vomiting everywhere after being shooken out of the seizure, then the actor who was seizing starts screaming at the people in the room and flips over his stretcher and starts smashing crap against the wall. Sure the stuff took one hell of a beating, but we won't be a hospital next year, we have to keep changing and evolving in order to be better and keep those awesome reviews, so take the prop damage as a sign of great actors and train them to look just as violent but slightly less destructive for next year! (Perception is everything!)

    You're gonna be alright buddy, don't give up, it's only your first year! Those haunts that inspired you to do this were not that incredible their first year, you got a good start, don't let go!

  5. Default Got them post mortem blues ..... 
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Raleigh, NC
    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!
    Travis "Big T" Russell
    Big T Productions Inc

    Owner and Operator of "The Plague" and "Camp Nightmare"

    Customer Quote of the year: "Damn, I pissed myself"

  6. Default  
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Tallahassee, FL
    We had the same problem with masks, so we appointed a prop master/ costume lady/ make-up artist person to check them in and out. She locks up the room after outfitting & making up everyone, then fills in spots as people take breaks. We pay her a small bonus, which is much less than the cost of losing most of our 50+ masks. Now we rarely lose any of them. It's well worth the effort. Your other problems are typical for one person trying to do it all (since one person cannot). You will need to delegate responsibility in a similar manner so others can patrol the mob (aka staff) and remind people they are not really madmen and maniacs, but are, in fact, actors, and the asylum they are tearing down is really a stage that needs to be taken care of.

  7. Default Much Very Good Advice Here.(From everyone) 
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Ravens Grin Inn, 411 carroll st.mount carroll ill.
    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.

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