What’s in a Name – How Immersive Theater & Horror Companies Were Named


Names are powerful.  They are our doorway to a company. They are a handshake, a first impression. They connect us to their brand, informing us of what we should expect. They have the power to build a long-lasting relationship or turn away a potential customer. But often times more important than the name itself is the story behind those names. Understanding how and why creators chose the name they did provides a strong connection to the values and meaning instilled in that company.

 

Haunting interviewed some of the best immersive companies and creators in the industry today to discover the story behind their company’s name. These stories are inspiring, thoughtful, and hilarious.

the 17th door

We originally wanted to name it The 18th Door but then ended up watching a documentary on the 18th Street Gang, which was started in Los Angeles. So we decided to register the domain names for both The 17th Door and The 19th Door. During our build we ran out of money, so we went with The 17th Door.

The 49 Boxes - Magic - Thayer - Michael Borys - Alex Lieu - Immersive Escape Room with Magic

“In 2014 I was invited to design an experience for a yearly, weekend long, vaudvillian show called Beyond Brookledge. There were no constraints and initially, there was supposed to 52 guests — the perfect number for a card trick!

My initial intention was to call the show ‘The Most Convoluted Card Trick Ever’ in which each guest, would work at unrelated tasks for 90 minutes for but one revelation — a chosen playing card. A few weeks before the event, I was told that 3 guests backed out and there would be only 49.

The card trick idea was filed away for another time and I simply looked at what I had on my table.

The 49 Boxes” – Michael Borys

alone haunting existential haunt haunting.net immersive theater

At the time of the great cycling of energies, sometime in the late 1940s––one development of which was thereby felt within Free Jazz’s explosion out of Bebop, hitherto an unfelt moment––a paper was submitted on behalf of an organization to the Trademark Assignment System (required by 15 U.S.C. §§ 1057 and 1060 (and submitted and processed concurrent with USPTO) of the trademark assignment recordation requests using the newly created Manuals for Trademark Assignment System (MTAS), which had newly been issued) which thusly altered the status of said organization from the incorporated nonprofit secured 501(c)(3) status to an operational and fully functioning S Corporation, becoming exempt from federal income while also securing a large line of credit with which to move forward in pursuit of human betterment. It so happened that a certain low-level paper-pusher type operative, back then known as a computer (one who computes and was literally a paper-pusher because he actually did the hand-driven, paper and tape pulling of rows of non-rational numbers through matrices of other non-rational numbers for the express purpose of calculating yet other non-rational numbers that said this or that about some function of the organization and actually, truth be told, drove most of the choices of said organization, these human computers did (though they themselves had no knowledge of what they themselves were doing beyond running numbers that beget other numbers)), was filling in for an equally low-level paper-pusher in a different division, someone who fills out forms by hand from the moment they punch in till the moment they punch out (think assistant to an associate in a processing division), the type of thing friends do for each other––and the type of thing that seems perfectly innocent and achievable because of the whole “low-level paper pusher” thing being had in common––and even laudable, and yet apparently is not (and is not in such a monumental way that it set the future of the organization on a new course for which down it still barrels to this day in the modern form of the organization and is the entire reason for this anecdote in relation to the question “what’s in a name”)––when the low-level paper pusher type operative, whom, we must again impress upon you, is almost wholly and strictly familiar with numbers and moving those numbers with manual dexterity on nearly-infinitely long strips of tape through slots and slits and torqueing circular tables to align whole batches of numbers and then handing those numbers off to another computer (rather than writing anything down at all and especially never having perfected the art of spelling-qua-spelling as this operative never needed this skill set in the least and so any ability he had eroded like the landscape) and in fact this operative is so adept at that sort of thing, the manipulation of these charts and bands, that he could convincingly do some sleight of hand tricks even having never tried it before, filled in form 2313-1450 § 38(b) line 221––which was confusing enough because the questions weren’t right there by the blank line that was supposed to be fill in but instead had to be cross-referenced with another form (2313-1448 §§ 1(a) – 346(m) in the Manuel) (so you can already see this poor low-level computer’s confusion and subsequent problem and nearly preordained mistake coming a mile away)––with the wrong answer. The low-level paper-pusher type operative, cross-referencing a form fully two pages away in the reference manual from the correct form in which he was supposed to be using, all the while paying as close attention to the process as this ill-equipped gentleman could, entered what he thought was the answer to the request for “basis upon which said request form is being input and filed” and wrote down “a lone” (of course, meaning “a loan”––thinking he was filling a form out about the large amount of credit the organization needed in order to move its agenda forward––but misspelling it; ironically a computer who does not know how to spell, quite the reverse of today) but in fact this operative had inadvertently written this within the field requesting the new moniker of said organization on the form for the Trademark Assignment System as it altered from the nonprofit 501(c)(3) status to the newly formed S Corporation and written with such a sloppy hand that the article and the noun ran together in the field. It would be months before the mistake would come to light and hundreds of more forms were printed and filled out and resubmitted by hundreds of low-level paper-pusher type operatives without understanding there was a problem at all because of the operational structure of said organization wherein hundreds (possibly even thousands) of low-level employees only ever see their own single, minuscule section at a time (think a pixel to an image) and are basically in the dark, metaphorically speaking, about any overarching condition, and by the time it did come to light it was far too late to stop the enormous gears which had quietly and irrepressible begun revolving. What followed in the wake of this naming debacle within the organization could only be referred to as “heads rolling” (reportedly), after which the computers churning out their numbers output some series that for which the name was retained.

Bamfer Productions | Logo

Bamfer Productions

Usually I would spout some long, philosophical reasoning behind the naming, but it’s much more simple than that. Considering that Bileth is a demonic entity looming in the background of our podcast, Return Home, the Order of Bileth name was born from that as a matter of necessity. Known already to the audience of the immersive show, Bileth is trying to find her way back to this world, and the basis of last summer’s ARG was laying the groundwork for that. You can probably assume that Barry Under Your Bed comes from the fact that his name is Barry and his work shift is that from under your bed. Simple as that. Of course, these are just the show names, but I suppose people assume that they are the company name as well.

Under the umbrella of Bamfer Productions, we produce whatever weird stuff we want, whatever story catches our interest. The name was just something I made up in 5th grade because I thought the word sounded cool. I wish it was more interesting than that, but it’s just stuck over the years, from my film production company to the production company of the podcast, and now, immersive shows. In the Angelo-cornish dialect, Bamfer means to worry, to harass, to torment. So, let’s just go with that.

Blackout

“In an initial stroke of marketing genius (serious <wink> to be inserted here), the original title for the show was nothing more than descriptive words so that it would come up first in online searches. We called it The NYC Halloween Haunted House. (Actually the first FIRST one was called Midsummer Nightmare but that’s a different story.) Eventually we had some producers join us and as the show began to grow, they convinced us we needed to change the name to start building an actual brand. Through that process, the title BLACKOUT was born and it immediately stuck. There wasn’t too much discussion around choosing it; once it was proposed, I think we all knew the name worked.” – Josh Randall and Kris Thor

blackwood

The Blackwood Charter

It seemed like a perfect fit for a mysterious organization –  reminiscent of forests and darkness. And, it had good SEO, so there’s that, too!

Candle House Collective - Last Candle ARX - Evan Neiden - Immersive Storytelling

Coming from a background of traditional folk storytelling, I learned early on that stories have minds of their own. They’re sentient, molding themselves around those who tell them. They abuse, uplift, betray, inspire, visit us in our nightmares, and leave us wanting more. The act of telling a story is halfway between demonic possession and being visited by an old friend. Over the years, the story that has perhaps clung to me the most is an Eastern European folk tale called The Cottage of Candles. It is the parable of a man who has spent his entire life seeking justice in the world, but realizes too late to search within himself. The cottage in the story is the last place he thinks to look and, inside, he finds an innumerable amount of blazing oil candles, each representing the lifespan of a human soul on earth. In that spirit, Candle House Collective invites you to influence and bear witness to human stories in otherworldly contexts, in the hopes of helping you find what it is you’re searching for. We promise you: it’ll be in the last place you think to look.

Capital W - Immersive Theater

When we were developing our first project, Hamlet-Mobile, we needed a production company name to complete our registration for the Hollywood Fringe Festival and couldn’t come up with anything. Finally one of us made the joke, “What about ‘Capital W,’ you know, for ‘Women.'” It stuck. And though our name began in jest, we’re a company of two feminist women artists who care deeply about creating roles for female, gender-queer, and non-binary people both onstage and offstage, so it turned out to be a perfect fit.

Ceaseless fun - Derek Spencer - Radical Immersive Theater

About 6 years ago, my main artistic focus was on writing and recording experimental music. The name “Derek of the Ceaseless Fun” came out of an inebriated brainstorming session with my girlfriend — I wanted a name for my music project that would capture the manic, unfiltered vibe of my recordings. A few years later, I was working on a short-run literary magazine with a friend. The title “Ceaseless Fun” very much fit the theme of the magazine, so we appropriated it from the now defunct musical project. When I got more serious about producing live performance in 2015, it only seemed natural to start attributing the work to “Ceaseless Fun” — a name that, at this point, seemed to be a core theme at the center of my artistic practice. What started as basically a stage name eventually grew into something closer to a company, and here we are!

CoAct

CoAct Productions

Everyone loves a good play on words! When I first began developing what my entertainment company would look like, I knew that I wanted to create some kind of platform in which artists could collaborate. Even more than that, I wanted to develop narratives that the audience could actually be a part of! It’s simple: CoAct encompasses the idea of audiences and performers acting together to create a memorable story.

Delusion - Haunted Interactive Play - Immersive Theater

It was 2011, and I was caught in traffic on my way to our very first venue in L.A. I was thinking how I wanted to move on from our original company title “Haunted Play,” which I’ve held onto for many years. That time in the car was the first I’d thought on this subject. There was talk radio going on in the background, and as I reached to turn off the distraction, I heard a commentator say something about a man “… suffering from delusions thinking he could make it all work the way he wants.” That felt terribly appropriate given the insane path I was embarking upon!

Disco Dining Club

Personally, disco is much more than a genre. Disco is accepting your most hyperbolic self, and then sporting that self in the most public of places. I founded Disco Dining Club in 2015 to advocate a return to rambunctious, sloppy dinner parties. It seemed almost obvious that the easiest way to communicate this rambunctiousness to guests was to pair “Disco” and “Dining” (along with the inherent mystery of “Club”) in our name. The result? All who have entered Disco Dining Club emanate an unmatched colorful exuberance.

Dream Logikk | Logo

dr3amlogikk

I don’t know if there’s any funny, thoughtful or interesting details to DR3AM LOGIKK’s name birth, but i can give u ACCURACY!

Attached iz the screenshot’d transcript of the txt convo between Karlie & i where it wuz conceived. heres sum context 2 the txts, if you want it: previous 2 this convo, we’d decided on the company name K6A6K – which stood 4 Karlie, Annie (McGraph, our 3rd producer at the time) & myself, with 66 (Karlie & my friendship #) woven in2 it.

“dream logic” is a term that (-i dont think wuz originated, but at least i know it through-) Jung & wuz actually one of the first things i’d been talking about az a way to actually create snow fridge – back b4 Snow Fridge wuz called Snow Fridge & wuz just a formless, rando idea of “hey wouldn’t it be cool if there wuz an immersive show that wuz 1 audience member & it wuz IMPROV?” (fun detail: if Karlie hadn’t been the the person I happened to be looking at when having this thought, there’d be nooooo snow fridge whatsoever – NO WAY. but Karlie responded with this like INSANELY not-Karlie-like intense authority, “I want to produce that with you. We. are. doing. that.” & i wuz lk, “ok. mb for fringe since thats coming up or sumthing..” & she wuz like, “YES. THIS. IS. HAPPENING.” & i wuz lk ‘…okee!..’ -ANYWAY–).

Drunken Devil

I was sitting at Villains Tavern – one of my favorite bars in L.A – with a group of friends, who were all trying to help me come up with a name for my new production company. I was several dirty martinis deep (as per usual), and the words ‘Drunken Devil’ came to me. I repeated them several times, and it just clicked. As I surveyed my surroundings – a ramshackle, devilishly-themed bar in the middle of Downtown L.A…live Dixieland jazz echoing throughout the cramped patio…cigarette smoke hanging heavy in the air…I realized that this not only was the perfect name, but this boisterous bar in a dark part of town was the perfect aesthetic to base the company on. Voila, the birth of Drunken Devil.

DryCræft | Logo