by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)
On Thursday September 15th Miguel and I went to Hangman's House of Horrors to shoot the 2011 season commercial. It will be a short video just like last years was. The 2011 theme is: 'The Haunted Library'. One of the volunteers came up with an idea for a promo video that takes place in a library where all the books start coming to life. The owner D'Ann sent us all an email a few weeks back with the initial idea and we shot ideas back and forth and finally decided on a script and a date to shoot it.
We arrived at 4pm on the first day the haunted house was open. It was 'test night'.... basically the first night where guests got free tickets to be the guinea pigs so the actors (many new each year) could get used to their jobs and try new ways to scare people in the house. We decided to shoot on this day because we could get there early (since they didn't open until 8pm) and have plenty of shooting time, have actors available already in makeup, and do it early enough in the season so the video would be topical and useful to the charity.
Our short script takes place in one room of the house. The first room is made to look like a library. This is the room guests start out in. They are given the general theme then move on into the madness. We were going to use a real library at first but no one seemed to want to bother dealing with all that mess so we opted to use the haunted house's room (which is just fine). The video is basically a shot of the room where horror stories 'come to life'. Monsters come out of the books to scare the crap out of you. My idea for the video was just that. A non-speaking montage of monsters coming out of book cases, etc. Miguel had an idea that required 2 victims. They would basically be there when the monsters start coming out and fail to escape. The great thing is that both video use most of the same footage (just no victims in my version).
I got there a few minutes earlier than Miguel so I started setting up lights and such. When Miguel got there we began shooting from a script that had the parts divided up with what we needed to shoot that had actors and parts that didn't have actors. We planned on shooting all the non-actor parts for the first two hours then have the actors show up and shoot the rest in the remaining two hours.
We got almost everything we needed that didn't involve actors then gathered about eight people in costume to do all the monster and victim parts. Miguel's camera is DOA at the moment so he did most of the shooting on mine. I did a lot of light holding (which is fine with me). The shots looked fine when we did them so I am hoping we will get the desired results. Several of the shots have effects so I will have to spend some time on those as well.
Our two victims were girls (one from last year's video) and more of a newbie who had a hard time acting. Miguel will get what he needs out of the footage though. I am sure it will come out just fine. My shots were much easier and I am only worried about the apex of my video, a shot that reveals the Hangman sitting in the library's chair. It didn't look so good so I am not sure what I am going to do about it yet.
After we shot everything (about thirty minutes before 8pm) we packed up and I had Miguel take my camera home to do the encoding. I told him I would just get a copy of the footage from him sometime in the coming week. One thing we are bad at is putting stuff off so I hope we get out butts in gear and get this video rolled out quickly.