Sunday, June 19, 2011

NightWalk: How did I get into it?

Everything has to have a beginning, doesn't it? I didn't step into SP with the desire to scare people. (That would be a tragedy.) As an interested Games Personnel in MIT FOC 06/07, I tagged along during NightWalk XX (Xploration and Xperience, as we called it) and participated in the planning recces in the dead of night with my seniors and peers: Chalk, Yap Meng, Jun Hao, Teck Chau, Joshua etc. I had no interest in them other than the excitement of exploring the school at night. Often we would end at 1 or 2 in the morning!

Even though I helped in making props for NightWalk 06/07, and made a few breakthroughs, my interest in NightWalk wasn't really there. I did find out that my prop-making methods used a LOT of masking tape, though. (It was the main ingredient. To this day Joshua, my senior PropMaster, still reminds me of my voracious appetite for masking tape.) As a scarer, my interest was only in perfecting my assigned scare point. MIT FOC NightWalk 06/07 was largely considered to be a success, I am pleased to say.

A serious interest in NightWalk stirred within me somewhere in the middle of 2006, well after FOC 06/07 in April. It began as a series of scare ideas in a notebook I used to keep track of school assignments and the like; a leisure activity. My brain was constantly thinking of ways to scare people: I couldn't walk anywhere in school without chancing upon a perfect place for a scare point. They were always simple ideas: a figure appearing, a sudden sound.

The scares were visualised in vivid detail. Having been intimately involved in theater and the arts since young, my methods for bringing a scare point to life were decidedly dramatic, and I strove to recreate what I imagined in a NightWalk setting, in real time. Thus all my ideas were rather elaborate, requiring a whole team of props people in the background operating the different effects in a single scare. Not very practical in a NightWalk setting, where manpower and ease of setup is paramount, I confess. But the main Idea always was: make the Scare seem Real. Something that will make you go: "Was that...?"

Black light theatre helped a lot. It involves doing something against a black background, such that a puppeteer wearing black can control a prop ghost without being seen. It was easy to see how it could be applied in terms of NightWalk scares, where darkness is a given.

The natural progression was to think of the Route itself and how to improve it. The best parts of SP could be strung together to form a route that is scary as well as easy to demarcate. I asked for advice from my friends and seniors who had organised NightWalks before, whether in SP or secondary school camps, and they helpfully offered their tips and knowledge. I proposed a split route to take advantage of all the hotspots in SP, and to this end, in February 2007 I set off on a photography expedition on my own, where I took pictures of this proposed route.

Sad to say, the proposed route never did gain any following, due to lack of manpower. But the pictures were useful somewhat.

The biggest event was the loss of the notorious MLT2 and Childcare Centre, in late April 2007. I regret not conquering my fears (yes, I was fearful of the MLT2 area, with all its stories!) and not taking photos of the MLT2 and Childcare Centre, which were part of my proposed route. I only took pictures of them from far away. I daresay if someone was there to accompany me, I would have ventured into those areas. And explored them to death. (Pardon the pun.)

Those ideas expanded until I decided to gather all my thoughts and put them together, and this I did. The rest, as they say, is history. My NightWalk Folder grew and grew until today it holds records of nearly everything about NightWalk since FOC 07/08 (and a bit of FOC 06/07). DMIT NightWalk Event 2010 forced me to think of everything else in a NightWalk, from traffic control to route setup, and this I did in collaboration with my juniors at the time. (It didn't go smoothly, I'm afraid.)

To date, I've participated in close to 10 NightWalks, inside and outside DMIT. All those NightWalks and recces I've taken part in have really deepened my knowledge of the school. There may be some things I don't know, but I'll leave it to my juniors to further their knowledge of the school on their own. I'll only facilitate them and offer help where requested.

However long my involvement in NightWalk has been, I dislike to bog down my juniors with my ideas on what a NightWalk is supposed to be. So now, I'm in the process of collecting my discoveries into a Manual, and then leaving it to them to reinvent and innovate the NightWalk. Some rules have to stay, like noise control and clandestinity. Others? They decide.

You should never forget something just because you must. I will never deny my involvement in NightWalk. It has been a hallmark of my time in SP, and I hope others will receive insight from what I've discovered.

Thanks to Yong Xian for this photo. My Signature Scare; the Sadako-Goes-Towards-You. Perfected in FOC 06/07; original location W4/W5 Emergency Corridor. (Here it is located behind W13.) Never fails to scare the living daylights out of campers, especially as the first scare point in the NightWalk. =D

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