I hope everyone is enjoying the first season of Achievement Haunter. The cast and crew have worked very hard to create a good looking, fun and entertaining show that we hope delivers. But I wanted to address something I keep seeing in the comments:
Is Haunter scripted? Yes and no (but mostly, no).
Television--or any quality entertainment format really--demands some sort of story or loose structure that many would describe as “satisfying” for the audience. In the horror genre, that usually means quality scares and/or destroying the monster. But, since we don’t know week-to-week if we will find a ghost, we plan a few situations and scares so we can be sure there’s a show. That said, sometimes these moments fail and do not end up in the episode. There are several story beats throughout any given episode; however, everything in between that is completely up to the cast and the random events of any given situation.
To better explain, let’s go back to my days on Immersion S3 and S4, a show that often placed Gavin and Michael in a labyrinth of video game related tasks and scenarios they would hilariously stumble through. Resident Evil, or even Surgeon Simulator for that matter, are really good examples. They are different formats but each have “scripted” elements; but what the lab rats do with those elements is completely up to them. It's what I like to call "Rats Through a Maze" method of storytelling.
For instance, in Resident Evil we set up several obstacles: a course with blind corners and tri hazards, a few zombies whose path and reactions were based on rules, and a clear goal at the end of the course—in this case a key. And each time we would change the Lab Rats camera POV because that was the test. But that’s it. I did not tell Gavin and Michael to try high-fiving three different ways; or how to reload their guns; or where the keys were. It’s all up to them how to deal with the situation.
Surgeon Simulator may be an even better example because their obstacle is right in front of them: save the patient before they bleed out. I set the parameters, add some props and spray lots of blood. What about the plate with fork and knife in the metal drawer? Only Michael knew about that. Gavin had no idea. All I told Michael was: “Look inside the drawer. And the material in the stomach is edible. Good luck.” That’s it. The rest was up to Michael and Gavin. And it’s one of the best moments of the episode!
Haunter is very similar. Did we bring a red ball to coax out Stacy? Yes. Did I tell Michael to pop it? No. Did I tell Lindsay to try and find ghost cats? Yes. Did I tell her to make a summoning circle? All her. Do we use specific tools in the episode based on the story? Yes. Do we script the results? Absolutely not. Do I propose Michael lock Jeremy in a closet? Absolutely. Do we tell Jeremy first? Hell no.
And for the record: I don’t know what the fuck happened to Jeremy at the Long Leaf Sawmill.
So certain beats of the ghost hunt are planned out ahead of time, sure. But all the space in between—and often times the beats themselves—are up to the team. It’s all based around what they experience and the story of the location. All the director does is make sure the audience has the information they need and encourage follow up if something is discovered.
Furthermore, we rarely manipulate the location during a ghost hunt. And the majority of the Story Times are shot on location the next day.
Ultimately, the show is a hybrid. The Story Time is partially scripted because the team needs to know the dates, details and story of the crazy shit that happens at these haunted locations. They need the beats to tell a story. But the rest—the improvisation that we then recreate—is entirely up to them. In the moment. But I’ll write more on the process of Story Time later on in the season.
Hope that is illuminating!
Enjoy the show,