It’s that time of the year again, when witches, ghosts, and monsters come out from the darkness to lurk our world, free to frighten the living with every trick they have. Luckily for them, they have master designer Brooke Adair Walters (BFA/Film and Television New Media ‘06) on their side.
Walters is a name that many folks who are fans of the Halloween Haunt season will recognize. For many years, she created some of the most iconic mazes at Knott’s Scary Farm, and terrified countless people as they roamed through the halls she created.
However, she first got her start here at Dodge College, where she originally took up 3D Animation.
“I loved doing it, but spending 13 hours locked in a room by yourself all day made me crazy. I needed some personal interaction,” she said. While she was attending Chapman, she was also painting sets for Knott’s Scary Farm, and found she enjoyed doing that quite a bit.
“There was no production design track then, so I worked with my advisor, Adam Rote, to help create my own curriculum so I could study that for my New Media degree,” she said.
Walters worked tirelessly learning Adobe Illustrator and using vector art, while also continuing to work at Knott’s. Eventually, her hard work payed off, as Knott’s designer Daniel Miller asked if she would be interested in working on a maze together. In 2007, her first effort came to life for Scary Farm in the form of Doll Factory. That set off a long career at Knott’s, where she created such memorable mazes such as Forevermore, Terror of London, and the still popular Trick or Treat.
“My policy in life is to always say yes, to branch out and try new things, and that is basically how I got started designing for Knott’s,” Walters said.
Though she got her start during Scary Farm, Walters also branched out to work for Knott’s overall, working as an entertainment designer for them before moving up to work for parent company Cedar Fair.
Outside of Knott’s, Walters has also worked with record labels to design album covers, produced several music videos, and has many short horror film credits.
Though she took a break from the scene for a few years, Walters came back with a vengeance to the haunt design world this past summer, designing Blood Offering: The Curse of the Iron Witch, for the ScareLA convention in August.
“This was the first time I really did a maze without being under the umbrella Knott’s, so it was a scramble to get to opening day,” she explained. However, she credits her amazing crew with helping her to get it done.
“Actually building the maze was a challenge, because we couldn’t load in until Friday morning, and we opened Saturday morning. We were there until 1AM the night before, until they kicked us out, to get it done,” she said.
Returning to the haunt world lit a fire under her again, and now she is back to doing this as her passion. In fact, she recently opened up a brand new company, Cunning Fox Creations, to take on new design work.
“With Cunning Fox, I want to push envelopes,” she said. “I want to do all the things I ever wanted to do, and then some. I want to explore new technology. I say that Imagine + Innovate + Create = originate.”
Walters has plenty of plans for the future, with more ideas brimming out of her head than ever before.
“My goal is to open a seasonal haunt, something that we open 3 to 4 times a year,” she said. “I want each one to be different, so it’s not about quantity but quality.”
At the moment, she has a few potential locations that she is considering using, but hasn’t set anything in stone yet. But she is ready to live by her ‘innovate or die’ mantra.
“I want to do an overnight event somewhere. I want to do an escape room. I want to work in VR,” she said. “Basically, I keep throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks. I always tell people, nothing is too crazy, nothing is too out there, let’s just see what works.”
When asked if she had any words of wisdom for current students, she had quite a few things to say.
“Making connections, and then working and maintaining those connections, make success,” she said. “Follow your craft and do It passionately. Learn to sell yourself, and your ability to show people who you are and how good you are at what you do. Get out there and don’t be shy.”
To find out more about Brook Walters, visit her site at: