Peer Perspective: Brian McVay, Awaken Haunted Attraction
Brian McVay is a graphic designer by weekday and haunter by night and weekend, at least during September and October. The rest of the year, he’s on the lookout for props and products to make his haunted attraction, Awaken, stand out.
PHR: What is your haunt background?
McVay: I worked at another haunt for about seven years and doing makeup all the marketing. Pretty much, I did the makeup. Then he shut down and we got this (Awaken) going. … It was kind of a natural progression. I always wanted to do movie stuff, but it didn’t play out that way. This does fulfill that set design (aspiration) and doing the characters and all that.
Do you use many ready-to-use props or do you prefer to make your own?
The only time we ever get anything from a store that might have some sort of weird prop is something that we can build upon. For instance, we have all these decaying cats. They’re actually those cheap skeleton cats you can get at Target, but we rework them, cut them, bend them up, put real hair on them and we make our own fake cats. … To look at them, you would never have a clue what they were to start out with.
With commercial haunts versus someone doing something in their house, you have to go above and beyond. Some of these shows I’ve seen, their animatronics are just outrageous. You could buy a small car for what they cost; that type of thing. We build a lot of stuff here.
Where do you typically shop for your base materials for props?
We do buy stuff at the box stores to build light kits and things like that. If we need it, we build it if we can’t find it. If we can’t find it, we build it. … A lot of it, we go to the (Transworld’s Halloween & Attractions) Show in St. Louis. Anyone that produces anything for this industry is usually there. Plus, you go there and get ideas, where you see something and think, “I could produce something similar to use for this or that.”