Presentation on theme: "Tools, tips, and tricks to increase brand awareness and revenue."— Presentation transcript:
Tools, tips, and tricks to increase brand awareness and revenue
What is a haunted backstory?? A back story is what happened to “haunt” your haunt. What were the conditions that led to the haunted school house? Why is a haunted mansion plagued by ghosts? A back story is the biography of your haunt, a tale of better days, followed by the circumstances that led to its current state of horror.
For the crew Building the haunt (crew doesn’t realize they are writing their story every day!) Decorating the haunt For the actors Feeling a character’s history Empower the actors with a script For the customer Build anticipation Movie-like atmosphere
DO THE RESEARCH Research the location of your fictional story Know the year, and try to find timely facts Landmarks, cities, even weather enhances the story Names: Characters need names that coincide with the time period of your haunt. WHY RESEARCH? Even if you think YOU know the history of your haunt, the details are what make your haunt’s back story believable. Customers need to be transported in time; rarely are haunts set in the current year. The more authentic the story’s details, the more “movie-like” the experience.
Write it as a reverse fairytale: Everything starts out happy and ends tragically. Just like a fairytale, every good haunted story needs a beginning middle, and an end. BEGINNING: Set the time period Use history from that period to set the stage (i.e., 1941 you’d talk a little about WWII) Be visual “The long yellowed pages fluttered forgotten on the deserted street.” Be mysterious Use local flavor Monuments Streets Rumors or folk lore common to that area Name your main character
MIDDLE What went wrong? The story started happily—what changed? Who was involved? This is where you introduce your other characters Give them names! Nicknames are good. Give them distinct features (will help w/branding) Give them disgusting tendencies Remember your props Identify main props you’re using to scare and incorporate. *This is the tip of the mountain in your story arc
END, Part 1 Describe the “thing” that happened Outbreak, takeover, hellmouth, alien invasion, etc. Describe the carnage Again, remember your props! Remind us how evil your characters can be Leave us with a scary mental image Victims What happened to the people who lived there at that time?
End, Part 2 *This is the end of your story arc This is the result of the mayhem. Describe the horrible conditions that guests who attempt going through your attraction will have to endure. Warn them. Make the situation seem dire. Don’t forget to mention concrete items they may see Leave some room for yearly recurrence
Avoid using exclamation marks Fonts that are too small or hard to read Too long or too short of a story Being too general Nameless characters Telling, not showing Misspelled or use of wrong words Use of 2 nd person (“you”)
Consistency! Build crew now understands the storyline and builds with it in mind; Set designers understand time period when decorating; Actors are now acting out a movie-like role with lines to say because their character has a history; Marketing team (website, social media, radio ads, commercials, flyers) stays consistent.
If you change an entire theme, you will want to create a new story. If you grow the same theme, you can add new characters and elements to the story. Add to the back end: Post a fake newspaper headline describing a new occurrence and continue the story. Add a BRAND new story that uses elements from the old story. Try to keep main characters. Add characters! Add props!
How do I use elements from my backstory in marketing? Although I had to crop this poster to make it fit, this is an example of marketing characters and sets created in the backstory. These hillbilly, chainsaw wielding cannibals were explained in the story, as was the house “lit by a single bulb from within.” The actual actors dressed for the photos prior to the season, and the graphic designer used elements from the story to create the background.
10 good reasons to create a back story for your haunt 1. Back stories give the haunt a life, a history 2. Your haunt appears more professional, thorough 3. Clients feel like they’re participants in the action 4. Actors grasp roles quicker 5. Construction crews can see what the owner sees 6. Marketing, marketing, marketing! 7. Social networking, Facebook & Twitter contests 8. It’s the difference between going to a one-act play and going to a feature film 9. Keeps actors, workers, marketeers on same page 10. They will save you $$$!
The only reminder of the paranormal activity that opened the Hellmouth is on the fluttering yellowed pages of a newspaper left carelessly beneath piles of old books at the Old Settler’s Cemetery. In it, information long forgotten is printed in faded ink—clues to the mystery of the severed head and the yearly paranormal activity occurring at the house once occupied by Charlotte Bacon. The year was 1942, and the world was so embroiled in war that few able-bodied men remained on the home front to perform menial labor. Otto Rosenberg wasn’t exactly able- bodied, but he was stronger with one arm than most men were with two. Otto ran a crew, misfits mostly, who didn’t qualify to serve their country: Earl, who lost an eye in an industrial accident, got the nickname Cyclops; Despicable Dave looked like a child and walked with a limp—it was enough to keep him off the front lines of war but didn’t stop him from killing small animals for pleasure. And Terrible Tim was released from Western State Mental Hospital before they’d cured his unspeakable affinity for eating human ears. Either by the misery of these misfits or by coincidence, future events were put into motion the day Charlotte Bacon hired Otto and his men to work on her house on Lawndale Avenue. Charlotte, a disheveled-looking woman with grossly long fingernails and rotted brown teeth, was rumored to dabble in Black Magic. She lived alone—some say her husband was killed in the war; others contend he was in her basement, kept alive on nothing but cat urine and human rib meat. In any case, normal townsfolk feared her, so she hired Otto and his crew.
At first, the jobs seemed easy enough: fix a window, a squeaky screen door, a leaky faucet. Otto took full advantage of Charlotte—eating her food, drinking her coffee, and even stealing expensive trinkets to sell on the street. Charlotte acted like she didn’t know, but she did—and she was amused. The trinkets belonged to the spirits that inhabited the house. As long as the trinkets remained inside her home, so, too, would the spirits. Removing the possessions weakened the portal that contained the spirits to the netherworld. See, Charlotte was a witch in the strictest form of the word—she cast spells and performed voodoo on anyone who crossed the threshold of her house. One by one, she began killing Otto’s crew, flaying them from neck to tailbone to expose their ribs, and she used their scalps to grind into her own coffee. These men were miscreants, so who would miss them? But one-armed-Otto, he was smarter… and even more evil than Charlotte herself. On a fall day at the end of October 1942, Otto’s association with Charlotte Bacon came to an abrupt end. His plan had been to kill Charlotte that day, but when he arrived, what happened would alter Lakewood forever. The rest of the story can be told only through rumors and remnants of news stories from the day. Some say Otto found Charlotte’s human meat storage and carcasses of the half- eaten (including his crew) hanging from hooks in the basement. And he probably did. But the truth to the disaster is found only among those who believe in the undead—that a far greater evil was unleashed when Charlotte and Otto fought to her death.
It took Otto 14 days to kill Charlotte in a massacre that left blood and unrecognizable gray matter on every surface of the house. During the battle a portal opened, and the spirits Charlotte had kept at bay swarmed like locusts into the world with a vengeance to demonize the town of Lakewood. Otto finally severed Charlotte’s life when he severed her head—and the portal closed, but not before trapping Otto and headless Charlotte in its murky underworld. To the city, all seemed quiet. To the contrary, nothing was ever right again. Each year, the Hellmouth reopens, and for two weeks in October, Charlotte, Otto, and the rest of the undead return to wreak havoc on the town.
“The creativity that a well-written back story brought out in our actors and designers was priceless. It seemed like our designers were coming up with new ideas for detail each time they read the stories, and our actors got to know the history of their character and visualize the world they live in, which resulted in a better overall performance. The back stories allowed our guests a glimpse of the worlds they were about to experience, which created a real feeling of suspense and fear of what they were walking into. The addition of back stories had a direct and powerful impact on the overall success of our show.” Mike Wilbur, Talladega Frights
"You completely changed my mind on how valuable a good back story is. The back story gave us the identity we needed from the beginning to focus our efforts in a single direction, weaving all of the elements of the new haunt together with a seamless end result and a professional image. That one back story saved the business thousands of dollars in time saved and money spent in misguided directions in marketing and advertising over the first year of a new haunt, looking for the image and characters so desired which the public will embrace.” -Mike Callahan, Satterstrom's Haunted Forest, Hobb's Grove, The Raven's Gate, Calif.