Hi everyone ... Someone has to post the first .... Non Dan thread ... so here goes. I have been asked to organise a "Ghost hunt" this Halloween to raise funds for Macmillan. I have a venue and intend inviting 30 guests. Now, how to do it? I do not want it to be like my normal (amateur) show, so was thinking of doing it more like a recreation of a Victorian seance (Think full sized Dolly Darko) I have a spirit lamp, Lebedev hourglass etc and will obviously create a back story of the "spirits" I want to attract. I need it to last around an hour and a half. I have access to smoke and pyrotechnics but feel that less is probably best. I want guests to be scared but not too scared and for it to appear realistic ... any help would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Have you had a look at a book called by the ghost illusion and other haunted house things. By black hart. And i can recommend Dinner with the Borgias by David Penn its on his penguin lecture. Really easy and brilliant fun. All the best Carl john 👻
EVP would be a great addition to this kind of show. Something along the lines of Spirit TX would work great. You mentioned you wanted to go victorian so you could adapt it to spirit trumpets, or even a fake wax cylinder if you wanted to get really creative. Of course, any subtle and creepy use of audio is your best friend in these kinds of performances.
I recommend writing the story, giving it some historic teeth (that can be googled) first. From your story, determine what effects logically fit your story. Do not try to shoehorn an effect into the performance as it will stick out like a sore thumb.
Some other resources are: Seance (the bound magazine), Psycho Seance (C. Thisse), and Hidden Things (Lary Kheun).
Az mir vill schlugen a hunt, gifintmin a schtecken!
I've been doing shows exactly like you're describing for the past 3 years now. I did pull some tips from Voodini's books. You really need to ask yourself if you want to play it fairly straight, as in portraying a real seance, or going a more theatrical route. From you're post it sounds like you're leaning toward realistic. I've done both and have learned from each type of performance. If you are billing this as a recreation of a real seance, you may want to go light on the "magic". When I did the more serious seance, I did an ungimmicked esp test, a living dead test, a few tarot routines which were self working and really seemed coincidental more than magic..I did a ungimmicked spirit glass (ouija with upside down wine glass on table). I did RS from outl@w, which led me into a great routine from Anthony Black. I did throw in an OOTW effect, and a self extinguishing candle timed for the right moment but I didn't go over the top with visual routines. I even did a darkroom portion at the end and people claimed to see and hear things that were not part of my show. Funny what sensory deprivation will produce! Now, on the other hand, if you want to go theatrical, you can do a lot more "magic" in the show which is how I do all of my shows now. One thing I do when routining shows is giving a reason for the next routine to happen. For example, voodini's ungimmicked ESP test before a gimmicked OOTW effect. You are setting the stage and testing the whole group, then whoever does the best at the ESP test, you choose for the OOTW (I use 4 specs). Then I keep one spec from that and do a further routine involving remote viewing. Try to let one routine give the context for the next, if that makes sense. Also, I like to have a running theme, or story that ties it all together. I attended a seance performed by a magician a few years ago and NONE of the routines had anything to do with each other. It was basically a seance version of "and for my next trick". It was bad. I honestly think Voodini will be the best resource for what you're looking for. Paranormal Entertainer is a good start.
If you tell a group of people that a room is haunted, then switch off the lights, things will happen.Basivaly what I'm saying is, forget smoke andirrors. Just add a few candles.Do The magic and special effects to warm them up, outside.
Why not do it like the victorians did? Since it is a recreation of a victorian séance, table tipping, glass moving, and pendulum use are the kind of things which were practiced in the parlour rooms of most victorian séance parties. The power of a good story, and the right mood, and the participants will do the rest. You will only need to choose the right participants, and guide them to get the best results. I have no experience with table tipping, but with pendulums and glass moving type of phenomena yes, and I can tell you, I would choose this type of effect over more elaborate, fancy stuff anyday. Why? Because it is not a trick, just phenomena that occurs when all the ingredients are present. All the best!
Dave, Here my full 2016 seance. It evolved a lot since 2016 but it may give you some inspiration / ideas. I am happy to answer any questions (I may even begin another thread one day). I agree with other Paul Voodini was a great inspiration.
Guys, you have all been amazingly helpful. I am starting to put my event together and will update you when I have it ready. Meanwhile a very big thanks to all of you .. and especially to those who have been kind enough to PM me with extra thoughts and pointers.
It is on Vimeo, so, if you search for Spirits in Sydney, you are very likely to find it. If not, a link was posted on the café also. That might help you. Please don´t get me wrong, his séance vídeo is wonderful, and will be very useful to you, but a recreation of a victorian séance would be far less elaborate than what Dr SH did. A victorian séance, as I already mentioned, would use table moving\ tipping, glass moving, rappings (as in the Fox sisters séances), spirit messages (using slates, pieces of paper, automatic writing, as Mrs Doyle did for Houdini, or also common, spirit voices). That was the most common. Daniel Home supposedly also levitated to the ceiling in several séances. Commonly, séances would build up the tone and atmosphere, invoque the deceased, then have one or two manifestations, and that was all. We tend to elaborate far more than we should. As they say, less is more. All the best!
Thanks Dr SH, a brilliant seance, I hope mine is half as good. I have done some research and it turns out that in the village where I live, there was a zoo at the turn of the last century. In 1907 two bears escaped and were shot by a local farmer. The good news is that the records do not say who the farmer was. I think it would be a good story if his troubled daughter was so upset about the death of the bears that she killed herself. I think that this fictitious daughter would be a good spirit for me to try and contact ... what do you all think?
Hi! Personally, I prefer to stay away from using real dead people in my pieces (I don´t know, to me it feels like I´m digging their burial ground or something, like I´m disturbing their peace), and besides, you don´t know if the guy who killed the bears had a daughter. He might have... The premise is great, I really like it, I just am not sure about using a real story... If you need help, please let me know. All the best!
Hey guys, I haven't been on here in a while and when I just logged on a PM reminded me that I hadn't updated you as to how it went.... Well, as they say, every day is a school day and it didn't quite go according to plan ... So what happened, I decided I would base it around a version of the true bears story but created a fictitious set of characters, a widowed local farmer and his troubled daughter. I had them living in the genuinely oldest farm in the village. I had researched the "real" story of the bears to ensure that I would not inadvertently offend any true descendants of the actual people involved. I created a story close to the one described earlier and the evening went as follows
Guests arrived and were shown some of the spooky artefacts from my "museum" such as a last breath, a grave robbed skull and a trunk murderers trunk etc. then watched a short film about the fox sisters. I then told the "ghost story" accompanied by some projected photographs etc. We then did a protection ritual and a candle ceremony to call on the spirit of the fictitious dead girl, at the end of which the candle fell over and extinguished. We then tried using some "familiar things" such as a doll in a crib and a gramophone to soothe her spirit, after which she left us a message via some spirit writing on a playing card. We then did a "Dark seance" at the end of which she got angry and told us to leave.
The ghost story part of it worked really well, to the point that the current owners of the farm believed that it was a true story (till my wife told them otherwise about a week later). The main mistake I made was poor placement of the effects (the rocking crib and picture frame that burst into flames plus a couple of others) which meant they were missed by a number of participants, along with the technical failure of one of the effects. thus reducing the scariness of the evening. The good news is that it raised £250 for Macmillan and I learned a lot. I have been thinking how I can adapt it for smaller "house parties" and include one of Dan's amazing spirit stages so overall, whilst I ended up disappointed on the night, it has been a positive experience ... and I got good feedback from the guests so perhaps I was being a bit harsh on myself. Thanks again for all your help.
Hi! Thank you for the update! It sounds like it was a very nice performance. About the problems faced, well, spirits never behave the way we hoped them to do... I don´t kow how many guests you had, but having them sit around a big round table would ensure that their atention would be focused on the center of the table(and the artifacts you might display there), and on you. The bursting of artifacts into flames can sometimes be too much. Personally I would prefer them to simply move or fall over, just like the candle did (like real spirit activity does, I don´t remember any case of spirit activity that ended in flames, though it makes for a nice effect), but it is your work, so, you are the one who knows best what your vision is... For the house parties, the simple stuff, photograph effects, book effects, pendulum, glass moving, and spirit messages are the best, in my opinion. They look real, and they involve the sitters in the events happening. A simple book test piece, when properly done, can go for 15 to 20 minutes(not rushing and delivering all the information, or hits, all at once, like a waterfall, as it tends to be performed, but giving a hit, letting the sitters aknowledge and register it, then giving some more information about the backstory, related to the information received by the hit, as if putting a puzzle together, piece by piece, then another hit, and so on, delivering it as a theatre piece, not a trick) so, depending on the lenght of the event, you may tailor the pieces to fit, cutting them shorter or letting them develop. There are people who do entire evenings out of glass moving, so, as they say, less is more. It seems to me the event went well, and the response from the guests was positive, so, that is the more important, to have them happy with the product. I look forward to learn more about your future work. All the best!
I had twelve guests which was too many in hindsight, and the burning picture frame was a bit of vanity on my part in that I was just so darned pleased that I had managed to create and build it, but again, with the benefit of hindsight it was an unnecessary bit of theatrics. The main thing is that the experience of performing it has left me keen to try again and make it even better. Once again, thanks for your thoughts and advice.
Hi Dave! You are always welcome to my thoughts and sugestions. Wow, you built the burning Picture Frame yourself? Congratulations! I really admire people like you, who take the time to develop their own work, instead of spending money on things that other people created. Don´t get me wrong, there are wonderful products out there, and even though I don´t use other people´s stuff, if I was the lucky winner of Ghosts of Great Britain, I would use it until death came to me, and even then, probably still use it from the great beyond... I am glad to know your interest has not diminished by the things that didn´t went so well as expected, and that you will perform again. I am always here to help. All the best!