Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Nightmare Factory


When I knew for a fact that the Extreme Makeover Home Edition was coming to Salem on Sept. 6th, and that my husband would be a volunteer worker, I kept as quiet as a mummy. He was told it was 'top secret' and not to let anyone know until there was an official press release. Ha! The secret was out from some other loose mouth other than my own, by the time I got off the phone. And photos began to show up on the web (lucky for me) as cameras were not allowed on the set.

The secret is that the Halloween evening 'reveal' was the state of the art remodeling/rebuilding to Hollywood standards of the Oregon School for the Deaf's 20 year old 'Nightmare Factory'....a basement/ underground house open to the public for several weeks, every October, as a major money maker for all of the Deaf School's projects and tuition for those needing help for this wonderful live-in boarding school.

Because it was a commercial project, they used a local commercial builder and Dh, is a residential home builder. But he knows how to 'deconstruct' and he was called in on day 1, stage 1, and did two shifts that day and went back again, as well.

Armed with sledgehammer, crow bar,and an official Extreme Makeover hardhat, he slammed, ripped, tugged, and piled up the remains of an entire boys' dormitory...with the help of a few good friends from the Marion Polk Homebuilder's Association, of course..and later helped with the construction of skeletons and the hanging of fog machines and other fun.

A thousand volunteers showed up to help, but maybe half actually worked. To be honest, DH saw some of them quit during the job since it was more confusing, nerve frazzling, and required more skills than some of them ever expected. But those who worked, and some who didn't, got in on the fringes of the experiences of a Hollywood reality show. The Extreme Makeover bus? It had to roll in with all of the crowd cheering a dozen times, at least. Once to catch our guys cheering at the deconstructing, three times to film its arrival for the students..from 3 angles, and again and again to film the big 'reveal'.

The school is located in a neighborhood, and it wasn't easy fitting in all of the cars, trucks, film crews and gawking spectators. And by the time Rob Zombie, musician and horror film director, showed up in his zombie-mobile, the gawkers showed up in droves. And yes, we do think music will be involved and maybe even Rob Zombie, himself ;)

But while the complicated filming angles might take time, the entire building/rebuilding project took one single week. And that included a concrete basement foundation and building two dorms and a haunted house. DH says unless you were there, you cannot imagine how it can even be done. And they did it up 'green' too, as in slime green, as well as ecologically speaking with lots of environmentally friendly materials and practices.

And yes, he saw Ty Pennington, and the other regulars like the hard working Michael Maloney who was there for more than just photo ops, but he didn't pay too much attention to them, he was too busy trying not to deconstruct a camera or a film crew member or one of the super duper Haunted House experts they flew in for the occasion.

Who knew there are world class fog machine experts or a place that specializes in Halloween props just for Haunted Houses, even exist and can be called in for their expertise? And the animations are said to rival any of those in Disneyland or any haunted house, anywhere! And yes, the students from the school still have a major hand, and multiple roles running the entire event and its experiences and reports are the school is thrilled beyond words at this major happening.

And if you ever wondered about it...no, the show did not pay for the building materials, the special effect props etc. etc. That came from Salem, Oregon businesses, volunteers, and the props people massively donated money and materials. It was quite unbelievable how much was raised and given.

And my husband? He got a free t-shirt, a lot of dirt, dust, and debris brought home on his clothes for me to wash, more sore muscles than he knew he had, and an up close and personal look at 'reality'......the Hollywood version!

note:
The Nightmare Factory opened last night, lines for $10 a piece are an hour long, but for another $5, you can get in an express line. Plus for just $5 more, you can see the whole thing again in the same night...if you lived through it the first time, that is.

spies tell me:
The more you show fear, the more you will be targeted. And just when you think you are safely out...well, go and find out for yourself ;)

7 comments:

  1. We've worked with EHM too. You can see what we did in this photo link . See him? That statue of Casey at the Bat? That came from us.

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  2. How exciting! Will you and hubby be attending this fascinating experience that he helped to create?

    Hope the school benefits hugely from this "affair".

    Thanks for sharing.

    Karen

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  3. There is so much behind the scenes that the viewing public would never even imagine~ thanks for sharing, Michele. I did know that everything was donated by local businesses, etc. but I still believe that this is a show with it's heart in the right place. Don't you?

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  4. The show does an awful lot of good. It also sparked a local man to donate hundreds of free top of the line hearing aids..not just for any of the students who might get some improvement in hearing sound...any sound, but also any other hearing impaired family member.

    I think the show does good, but it's still a show that serves a network purpose at the very same time and sometimes, the choices are more about how well a choice will be popular than necessarily need based. That's show biz and network ratings.

    All in all, it was a fabulous experience for the volunteers who gave so much.And even more fabulous for the school, its students and the community that now has a top of the line event attraction to draw in more economic funding overall.

    And no, I don't do haunted houses. My real life experiences are scary enough! I have volunteered to set them and Halloween carnivals up, my kids have all worked at them, but me going through...yikes! I jump when the toast pops up. I even scream!!

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  5. I couldn't work out what you were on about and then it finally clicked. this is a make over yes? For a school? and it is televised?

    Sounds rather manic, but wonderful.

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  6. Sounds like a wonderful project. That's a lot to do in one week!

    We had one of those makeovers in our city. I stayed far far away! I'm sure I helped keep the traffic down.

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  7. Sounds like the experience of a lifetime! How neat!

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.