The Light Guys For The Job
The father-and-son team of Bert and Adam Zelten go by many titles at ScareHouse: “Lighting/tech,” “saviors,” and most notably “the guys from Wisconsin” who make the long drive to “vacation” in Pittsburgh every summer (even though they’re really helping get ScareHouse off the ground for the season).
“All the people at ScareHouse make the scenes and the scenic design,” says Bert Zelten who owns and runs minispotlight.com. “We just come in and light it, whatever they need, to keep everything nice and dark.”
With the goal to keep things “nice and dark,” how do you adequately light haunted houses like ScareHouse?”
“The use of shadows, trying to keep it as dark as possible,” says Adam, “while accenting as much of the detail as possible.”
“Just getting a feel for what’s available and how to light things,” echoes Bert. “At a haunted house, you don’t want everything lit like at a normal place. You want to keep some things dark and just accent what they want to accent and highlight the scenes.”
The Zeltens have been lighting ScareHouse and other haunted houses for so many years that “it’s just another day” for them when it comes to their handiwork. This year marks their eighth season with the Pittsburgh attraction.
“ScareHouse is a great place to come to, and there’s a lot of stuff to work with,” says Bert. “We like coming here. We eat, drink, and have fun. We usually stay about a week each year.”
One of Bert’s favorite aspects of working in Pittsburgh is the “after-hours” fun.
“We wouldn’t be back year after year. It’s like an 11- or 12-hour drive for us, so you gotta want to do it.”
They’ve been doing it so long that they have it down to a science which allows them time for fun.
“In the early days, when there was nothing there, we had some long days,” says Adam. “There were some years when we started from scratch and there were 12-hour days.”
However, when they aren’t lighting haunted houses. . .they’d still rather be lighting haunted houses. Both admit that it’s not only their profession, but their hobby—although Adam keeps busy with an additional job as chef of the Hyatt Regency in Green Bay and former electrician Bert has been running MiniSpotlight for more than 15 years. Bert even has a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for highest score in the ‘80s video game Fast Freddie.
The Zeltens don’t mind making the trek to Pittsburgh for a variety of reasons, but also because it’s become a little bit like home, especially since the Steel City has a bit of that Wisconsin, Midwestern charm.
“Pittsburgh is very much like Wisconsin, especially with how similar all the people are, the heritage,” says Bert. “It’s a lot of the same.”