Veteran film artist of 19 years, Brian Demski draws upon his years of Hollywood experience to bring his unique skillset to the horror and haunt industries. His studio, Demski Creations, is based in central Ohio and offers services such as fabricating fully functional props, creature special effects, costumes, puppetry and more. Here we get some insights from the man behind the macabre vision.
How did you get started in this industry?
I’m an artist with a very long career in the film and television industry. I’ve always been a haunt enthusiast as I acted in haunts in my younger years and in addition I just went to a lot of haunts and liked horror movies. I found that in the film business there are a lot of ups and downs so there were times that I’d have a break for a month or longer. I decided to take my knowledge, talent and experience to the haunt industry. I found out about some of the conventions like Midwest Haunters, Transworld HAAShow and Hauntcon. Five or six years ago I got my feet wet at the Midwest Haunters Convention and did better than I expected. I envisioned it as another way to get my artwork out there and make some money.
What do you do mostly for haunted attractions?
Costumes and creatures suits, production design—all of that. It’s really been a great niche for me to get into and show off my talents and experience. I have seen that the bigger haunted attractions are going more for the detail and want pieces that nobody else has – to get the wow factor. I’ve been doing so much haunted attraction stuff – I actually haven’t even done films in a few years.
How do you implement that detail that haunt operators are looking for?
I see a lot of sets and paint jobs and the mechanics of certain things are not as detailed in terms of realism. As far as someone replicating something old like an embalming room, they don’t have that talent or know-how. That’s where my skillset comes into play. I can teach people the techniques such as how mold grows in a certain area, how rust forms in certain areas and how lighting will play a part. Someone who doesn’t understand the art of lighting doesn’t realize that if you paint something to look real, but then light it with blue lights, everything is just going to look blue. You have to decide if you want it painted correctly, or if you want to paint it for the way you want to light the area.
What sets your work apart from others?
My wife and I work together. She is my second-hand man, the best partner anyone could have, and she has been in the business as long as me. She is a key costumer wardrobe person. We create tons of costumes, we have a whole catalog of asylum wear, plus other costumes, furs, and creatures. Basically we’re taking all of our experience from the movie industry and putting it into haunts. Some of the materials we use in the film industry a lot of people don’t know about in the haunt industry. In that way, we can up the game on what we are able to create and do. We can also go to haunts and use older props that have been sitting there and change them to make them look better or refreshed so it fits into the theme. We know ways to cut coers instead of having a $5000 animatronic prop just rot away in a storage unit.
What is one of your proudest moments?
I think it’s having a lot of people appreciate your work. I love that I can walk through a convention or be in a store and someone will recognize me and say, “I love what you do.” Other than that, executing large amounts of work in a small amount of time and making sure it’s safe, cool and that patrons are getting what they are paying for – that is a pretty great accomplishment.
Where do you think the haunt industry is heading?
It’s definitely at a point where the cooler the detail, the better. I’ve been selling my items for five or six years, but I’ve also been into the industry not as a seller, and I see it just keeps growing and growing because of the amount of talent that is coming into the industry. People are expecting a little bit more. When someone’s a trendsetter you’re always going to have people that will try to follow in those footsteps, so the bar is constantly being raised.
Does anything frighten you?
Not paying my mortgage… or electric bills.