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Halloween House for a Cause

Lisa Whittick, an Assitant Director and Storyboard Artist at Brown Bag Films Toronto, LOVES Halloween! Every year her and her family decorate their home for the holiday in the hopes of raising money for charity.

We chatted with Lisa, who told us all about how this incredible tradition came to be and we got a sneak peek into this year's theme.  It's a good one!

When Lisa and her family moved into their Old Oshawa neighbourhood, they were pleasantly surprised at how many little trick or treaters they got on Halloween night.  Their neighbours around the corner would create an incredible interactive Haunted House on their front lawn which would attract quite a crowd but would be a bit too scary for some of the younger kids, so Lisa and her husband, along with their 3 kids, decided to do their first themed house… Ghostbusters!

The reaction was so positive, they just had to keep going.

The following year they decided on Beetlejuice as the theme, complete with shrunken head guy made of clay and the sandworm made from chicken wire and paper mache.

And the crowd just kept growing!

Last year they did a Harry Potter theme and decided to engage the large crowds they knew would show up from previous years, by collect money and food donations for local charities. Even they weren't prepared for the magic of Harry Potter!  People came from as far away as Guelph, dressed as wizards and witches to participate. 

In 2 nights Lisa and her family raised over $3000 for Hearth Place Cancer Center and a truckload of food donations for Settlement House
As for how they executed the theme, they hand-painted signs, built a huge smoke-breathing dragon out of fibreglass with red blinking eyes, and offered Butterbeer to their guests. 

Hagrid and his sidecar were also in attendance and Lisa took on the role of Professor Trelawney.

She also created floating candles made from cardboard paper towel rolls and battery powered tea lights, and used hot glue for the “dripping wax”.  You can see them in the photo behind her son Adam, er…. we mean, Harry.

Lisa's parents even got in on the action and were helping the Sorting Hat sort the trick or treaters into their Houses as they arrived.
(We're told Lisa's dad is a bit of a genius, he actually created a computer program, recorded his own voice as the Sorting Hat with multiple sayings and fastened a Bluetooth speaker inside so that it spoke to the kids!!).

After all that they had the pleasure of delivering a trailer full of food to the Settlement House in Oshawa, a not-for-profit community resource centre dedicated to assisting less advantaged children, families and vulnerable adults whose lives are affected by poverty.

Pictured here is Lisa's son with one of the volunteers at the food bank.  It was the single largest donation they had ever received.

Which brings us to this year, 2018.

The family is attempting to do Disney's “Coco” and raise money for Autism Ontario, a charity which has helped their family a lot since their son's diagnosis 2 years ago. 

Right now Lisa's husband is busy building structures and Lisa is working on creating some of the characters from the movie.

Here's how she's using Mexican Pottery Clay to create Miguel and Hector characters

Lisa: First step is to mould the shape of Miguel's face from reference photos.  I'm using a metal bowl covered with plastic wrap for a base.

After about 2 days of drying time, I paint the details of his face using acrylic paint and adding a bit of nail polish top coat over the eyes and teeth to give them a shine.

After the paint dries we test out the mask with our thrift store finds to make sure it'll work. 

My husband will build a wooden structure for the body, I will build him some hands and we will fasten him to a bench so that kids can take pictures with him.

I'm also starting the same process for Hector

For Lisa's family, Halloween has become a great excuse to get creative and build something memorable for the community. 

You can follow their progress on Lisa's Instagram account here and you can also donate for this year's cause on her Go Fund Me page.

Stefanie Zaarur

We Love Animation®

Brown Bag Labs is an exciting online space, brought to you by Brown Bag Films. We share great content for families as well as behind the scenes fun and tutorials from the Brown Bag Films team.