Last night was the 7th annual Entertainment Designers form. I feel it was probably the most entertaining and successful one yet.
Before I get into the details, let me explain why the event is held in the first place. All proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society in honor of Stephanie Girard. But who is Stephanie Girard? Well, she was a well regarded Art Director & Set Designer in film, television, and the theme park industry. She worked on a multitude of projects at Universal as well such as Grinchmas and Halloween Horror Nights. She was an amazingly determined and resolute person despite the fact that she battled with colon cancer for six years. Her determination and selfless nature were driving forces in the creation of the Entertainment Designer forum which was created with the explicit desire to raise money for cancer. In 2010, with the help of veteran Universal scenic designer Kim Gromoll, the 1st Entertainment Designer Forum was born.
The panelists for the Forum were
Michael Aiello – Universal
Erin Nicole Cline -Actor
James Keaton – Actor
Mark (Flounder) Hurst – Disney Imagineer
Michael Burnett – Universal
Brian Morrow – SeaWorld
The 2nd session
Both were hosted by Ray Kiem.
The first Session was in the traditional format where the panelist were asked various questions about the creative process behind their particular field. It was funny, touching, and a load of fun. How could it not be funny when the icebreaker was:
“If you’re field was a flavor, what would it taste like?”
The panel was very informative and really gave you some insight into the breadth of experience and talent that each panelist came to the table with. James Keaton expanded on the hilarious high jinks of Jack’s test run and we even learned the original back story for Chance (a doll that Jack had given life).
The second panel was a new format. Titled “From The Blank Page To The Park”, this session focused on the team that designed and built “The Skoolhouse” for the Halloween Horror Nights 2008 scare zone as they discussed the process of taking an idea from inception to finished attraction.
It was really wonderful to see the passion that the team had for the project and the amount of love and detail that went into it’s construction from beginning to end. I got a great sense for the sheer amount of work and creative vision involved in the designing process. Michael Roddy even shed a little light on the initial, pre-Bloody Mary, concept for 2008 as well as the original plans for “Pumpkin Alley”
Of course the auction between the panels was spectacular. It’s also good to know that all proceeds went to a worthy cause.
Overall, it has really been encouraging to see the event evolve over seven years and three locations to the huge benefit it has become. I truly hope it continues to grow and succeed. So if you are into haunted attractions, entertainment design, or just want to help a great cause then I highly suggest it next year. You can follow developments for next year’s event on the FB page.