Baton Rouge has a haunted kind of feel to it, and I couldn’t imagine a more chilling setting for Hauntcon 2015.
Months ago my wife Erica and I were trying to think of what markets and industries that were not super obvious might benefit from our safe, affordable, simple bullet hit rigs and we came up with the haunt industry. As haunts seem to move more toward theatre and theatre more toward the immersive nature of haunts, it seems that everyone is looking for cinematic special effects to enhance the experience. Erica and I both used to work for a halloween mask and costume manufacturer in Pittsburgh called Specter Studios and were familiar with the haunt industry and therefore familiar with the name Leonard Pickle when it popped up at first Google. Of course, Hauntcon is how we should plug into the haunt crowd. We saw that they were interested in speakers coming to the haunters and haunted house convention and talking about what they brought to the industry. I signed up and totally forgot about it, not 100% sure I was accepted. A couple weeks before the convention the Hauntcon folks were nice enough to kindly remind me and we made some plans and before I knew it my plane was touching down in Baton Rouge.
I got a rental, checked into my hotel and had a suitcase full of bullet hit rigs ready to show off about an hour and a half early. It let me get a lay of the land and start to get a sense of who our audience was. I was happy to see a mature audience speckled with youth as I listened to the finer pointers that were being given about how to make an outdoor haunt by Mark and Mellanie Goldsmith of Horror at Huntfield. They gave some great info and were fun to listen to. They then gave the floor over to me and I spoke to the audience about Safe and Simple Blood Delivery Systems.
Mostly what I wanted to focus on was how the demand for higher quality special effects is constantly going up and safety is every haunt’s number one concern so many special effects are general written off as impossible or too expensive. I talked to them about how they could quickly and easily reset our rigs to serve as many guests in a given night as possible and talked to them about how to make lots of stage blood for cheap using a simple syrup recipe. I felt like everyone was very inspired about what kind of new doors this could open up to them creatively. There were lots of questions and we even sold a Tarantino rig to Mr. Alejandro. I took a group of interested parties outside and demoed Tarantino blood hits on the lawn. Great fun was had by all.
I had a chance to thank Leonard Pickle for having me as a speaker at his convention and reconnected with an old compadre, Mr Tom Strong who was at the convention representing a haunt business of his own. We had a chance to discuss the future of the haunt industry and he gave me a lot of insight as to how he thought we might be able to plug into the haunt industry. He is also very interested in the work we are doing and, as Pittsburgh is also his home base, he plans to contribute his genius to our operation when he finishes a stint in New Zealand as an engineer with Walking With Dinosaurs. Looking forward to that new relationship!
All in all I do believe that the haunt industry could be a genuinely interested market if we can show them that the reset time can be fast enough and also as the trend toward more theatrical and cinematic haunt experiences becomes more common.
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