“Hey, what about…?”

I was approached by a student at a conference a few weeks back who told me how much he enjoys reading “imho” and that he looks forward to every post. He then asked, “…but how do you apply your techniques to dark rides and installations?”

The question surprised me. (I thought I’d made that clear…) It seems obvious to me that these tenets apply to all Experience. (Exploration of Assumption, Kile…) So, I asked him if he’d downloaded the book; to which he responded that he had not, as he thought it was probably all the same stuff (Assumption!). I held myself back from questioning him as to how he thought a book that was published a year ago would hold the same information as the blog he reads, every week…besides,I suppose that there are writers out there who do seem to say the same things, over and over.

(If ever I… / …then, shoot me.)


So, I addressed both of these, thusly…

First, about the book. If you haven’t downloaded it and do own an iPad, download it. It’s free. Articulated and explained in that book are the five, key tenets of creating Compelling Experience:

Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 4.16.47 PMThere is quite a bit more in the eBook; all of it foundational to pretty much everything that has been and will continue to be written and discussed in this space since original publication. In successive posts I often refer to one or more of the five tenets, and explore the myriad applications of them across contexts as I continue to encounter and build Experience, myself.

Check it out!

Turning to the above encounter with this student, then. I’ll say at the outset that he is terrifically sharp; inquisitive, highly intelligent, creative. But, he missed the very first of the Tenets in assuming anything.

Take note: pretty much anything is worth a look before rejection over assuming one already knows what’s there. Even – especially – with documents, venues, drawings, reports of one’s own past projects, anything that may have been seen or studied, before: Assume Not.

The human mind is a feisty partner; prone to hiding details and sometimes even changing things in our memory, just to mess with us.

Always look.

The nominal resources expended in the quick google search or scrolling through a document or whatever the source of the memory material might be will very likely pay off, more often than not, in the recovery of a lost detail or – who knows – discovery of something new to add to your arsenal of artistry.

You know what else, unexpected, can happen? This has happened to me when doing this very exercise…sometimes midway through development of a particular project. All the ideas, concepts, approaches, resources and even artists that perhaps didn’t fit the original concept or make the budget cut for that previous thing and had since been forgotten are suddenly reconnected as synapses grown dusty come to life and revivify the memory. “Oh, YEAH,” one has been known to cry, “…remember that guy who did that thing…?” and this new Experiential project suddenly gets a huge boost from the excitement of rediscovery.

Y’never know. Take a look.

Finally, to the actual question. Each and every one of these tenets is absolutely applicable to the custom, immersive experience of the Dark Ride. In fact; from one perspective, it becomes even easier to manage and manipulate audience expectation when every, single facet of the Experience is to be created by you and your team. When the entire experience is under your control, start to finish the panoply of stimuli that will create the Experience broadens, significantly. It may not be not less work, mind you, and probably more; as every, single one of those fantastic facets must be designed, built and paid-for, taking much more time, money, effort and people.

At the end, though, a well-crafted Dark Ride Experience will suspend disbelief from the first moments and take your audience on a fantastic journey…while they are, of course, being Comfortably Disoriented throughout.

It is actually equally difficult if not more so to create Experience in a pre-existing venue or retrofitted theatre; there, one is dealing with set parameters of an actual, physical “box” that may even carry it’s own legacy of preconception around which one must work to erase. Fortunately for the Type A’s, there is no dearth of Challenge in this business.

And while you are at Not Assuming Anything; embrace the concept that no matter how much one knows, one probably doesn’t know Everything (well, except for that one client; you know the one…). I offer that keeping this awareness close keeps one open to suggestion, option, opportunity.

We all simply never know where the Next Good Idea will come from…or came from and gets remembered…



Seriously: download the free eBook, “imho” for iPad from the iTunes Store; available in 38 countries. Thanks for readin’…

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