This is day 49 of our 61-day Hauntathon counting down to Halloween. Scott Swenson shares a haunt hack on choosing masks for your haunt.
Scott: Scott Swenson here from Scott Swenson Creative Development and the host of A Scott in the Dark Periodic Podcast for Haunters with another haunter’s hack. In this particular haunter’s hack we’re going to talk about masks, and I got a lot to talk about so I’m going to dive right in and I’m going to go real fast, so bear with me. There’s always been this argument back and forth as to whether you should do masks or makeup. My answer to that, or my suggestion for that is, it just depends. It depends on what you’re trying to do.
Most People Assume Silicone Is the Best Way, and They’re Only Sometimes Right
Scott: People often think if you’re going to use a mask it has to be a silicone mask. That seems to be the industry standard. Silicone masks are great; they are very flexible, they’re very expressive, they’re also very expensive, and they’re not hard to care for but they require some additional care and attention. I think they’re great for certain things, especially if you’re doing like old age characters and everybody in your cast is like 20 and under, they’re really cool for that and you can make some very convincing old aged people.
One of the things I would suggest is if you are going to use a silicone mask, and you’re lucky enough to actually make your own, number one, make sure that you make sure that they are built so that they have some sort of stabilization or support in them; whether that is a mesh that is actually put into or embedded in the silicone or a mesh that goes inside the casting.
Secondly, and this is the best recommendation I can make if you’re going to make your own silicone masks, especially if you’re doing zombies, try to find a way to make it so that there is an opening in the top of the mask, and the especially it’s a full head mask, that there’s an opening that you can pull the actor’s hair through. It does two things, number one, it helps hide the edges of the mask, it also provides a great deal of cooling, especially in warmer climates; actually, even in colder climates, they’re silicone, they’re warm. Because they are warm have a bucket of ice water next to the performer so between guests or on their brakes they can take it out, dip it in the ice water, and put it right back on, it’s almost refreshing. Notice I said almost.
Alternatives to Silicone Masks Are Available And Sometimes The Better Option
Scott: So, if you’re not going to do silicone masks and you want to do something else, and let’s face it, there are times that silicone masks may not be the right thing to do. For example, if you’re doing something post-apocalyptic and you want to do something a little more mechanical, you may not need to invest in a silicone mask.
[I have] this mask here that I call the post-apocalyptic clown mask, that’s not what they call it, but it’s what I call it, and it’s made by Dead Rabbit Studios. (https://www.deadrabbitstudios.com/masks.html) It looks like it’s made of metal, it’s not, it’s very light, it’s a cast resin or plastic. A couple of things I like about it, in the back it’s got a great way to harness it onto your head, which even looks cool, especially if you’re doing something post-apocalyptic and it fits really well, it’s got goggles so that it covers the eyes completely so you don’t need to do any eye makeup underneath, and the jaw mechanism actually works, and when it’s being worn the chin makes the jaw moves so the performer can actually talk pretty comfortably. They’re significantly more cost-effective than a silicone mask, so if that’s what you’re doing, don’t shoot your wad or blow your budget on a silicone mask, because this works just as well, and in fact, in my opinion, better than a silicone mask would work.
Another one I always like to suggest is, think about half masks whenever you can, again, especially if you’re in a warmer climate. Much of what I do is in Florida, so I think warmer climate is important. Half masks are great because you can combine them with makeup.
This is a half mask/beautiful piece of artwork. it’s a leather mask. It’s by my dear, dear friends, the people who run Scared of my Shadow, and the nice thing about this mask again, really comfortable way to attach it in the back, and being a half-mask, it means that the performer can speak, talk unencumbered. I hate it when you have performed performers who are wearing full-face masks and they’re talking from inside the mask. It immediately says, “oh, they’re wearing a mask, it’s not real.” But with a half mask and the right makeup, you can just kind of blend it all together.
Makeup and Maintenance for Your Masks
Scott: Now you’ve heard me say a couple of times, either blackout the eyes or makeup to smooth the edges of your mask, and I think that is really, really important. Even if it’s just putting black around the eyes so that you don’t see the performer’s skin inside the mask. If it’s a half mask, obviously you need to do the rest of the face. If you’re creating a character that’s actually wearing a mask, so it’s a character that has a mask made of human skin or whatever, don’t forget the character underneath; what does their skin look like? That’s probably something you need to do with makeup.
Finally, looking at maintenance, obviously, silicone masks require a lot of care, you can’t just take them and throw them into a bag. I would strongly recommend having head forms for them; because again, they’re a big investment. The same is true with a leather mask.
If you’re sharing masks, which I don’t recommend, but you obviously have to clean them out at some point in time because somebody else has to wear them, maybe the next season. My strongest recommendation I have, and this actually works for costumes as well, is a spray bottle filled with vodka and water. Now yes, you are going to have your performers going, “I need my spray bottle of vodka and water refilled.” Yeah, they’re not going to use that much, all right? So, keep an eye on that and make sure that you’re not encouraging your cast members to be drunk while they’re out there scaring guests, because that could mean a lawsuit, and that’s not good. And any of the vodka and water that you have leftover at the end of the season, then you have it ready for a cast party.
So, that’s my haunt hack about masks. If you would like to learn more about how I view haunting and some of my other suggestions please check out my books: Follow the Story, The 13 Commandments of Haunting, or if you just want some creepy poetry, Awake in the Dark is another book. All those are available online, or you can listen to my podcast, A Scott in the Dark, right here on The Haunted Attraction network, or you can visit ScottSwenson.com and sign up for my monthly newsletter. Until next time, this is Scott Swenson saying happy haunting.