Zen and the Art of Haunting

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Like many of you, just about every Halloween someone says to me "Wow - you really went all out" or something similar. I don't know about you, but I never really felt that it was true.

Personally, I just did my first "haunt" in 2010, but I have been doing Halloween makeup and costumes since I was 10. I started out as a ghoul. My face was completely covered in green greasepaint, I wore burlap and snow chains as part of the costume.

The thing is, I saw each costume as more of an experiment really. (Using real moss and seaweed for a swamp creature = bad idea!) I never really considered it going "all out".

in 2010, I decided to see what going all out would really look like. I had just returned home from a couple months in India and was taking some time off. I started building my gargoyle.

I built digitigrade stilts for both height and effect. I built a bodysuit to (hopefully) look like chiseled stone. I took a mask and commercial gloves and heavily modified both. I made some wings. Finally, the paint job and the accessories like scythe and vambraces.

In 2010 I really did go all out on my costume and put all my skill and imagination into it. What I discovered is that "all out" changes the game. If I were doing it all again, I would change so many things. By doing my best at a bodysuit, I gained skill and perspective that would let me make a better body suit. By doing the paint, I gained more skill with the paint. Maybe it seems obvious that doing something makes you better, but I really think the act of doing the best you can cranks the learning curve up.

My end result was amateurish of course, and would never make it into a movie. Nevertheless, by doing it, I raised my own bar. Going all out simply made me more aware of what else there was to strive for. After listening to interviews on Hauntcast for 8 years, I believe all the greats in the haunting world have had similar experiences.

We decide we want to really put up something great for Halloween. We start with a graveyard. It's not much maybe, but it's more than anyone else is doing and it's the best we have at the time. By next season it's a 6 scene haunt with shiatsu massager zombies. Then pneumatics, controllers, lighting... Every time we put it out there, our perception of "going all out" changes.

To the masses, of course, it's amazing. To us, it's just the next step.

I am glad I found a community of people who truly strive to go all out in pursuit of their craft - and want to help others do the same. Even if we never reach that always-receding pinnacle, it's the journey that makes us who we are.

Happy Haunting!