People love stories

They love experiencing new worlds, new friends, and new perspectives on life.

Sometimes those stories can escape into the real world.

Sometimes, those stories are the real world.

That’s where we come in.

Séance Media creates experiences people fall in love with.

As an immersive experience production company, our goal is to build a sense of awe and wonder into our events; to give people a reason to leave their homes and put down their devices.  Events that can only be described as “you had to be there.”

We design experiences that tell stories in new and interesting ways.  Ways that engage your guests and allow them to become a part of the story.  Ways that make them want to tell your story to their friends long after the experience has ended.  Ways that make your story the focus of something new and memorable.

Immersive experiences live at the intersection of art, storytelling, and psychology.  The goal is to create a story worth living in.


From the Information Age to the Experience Age

During the Industrial Age, our culture was defined by access to goods.  When goods were no longer hand-made, they became ubiquitous and lost their inherent value.  This transition happened over the course of 200+ years.

Then, in the 1980s, we realized that access to information was the true measurement of culture.  Information as a concept had value, and we focused our efforts towards gathering and organizing that data.

Library Science merged with a flourishing tech industry and the personal computer was born.  Soon after, those computers were linked together via a world-wide web of networks.  Then, as a culture, we entered the Information Age.

But within one generation, our culture shifted again.  Information became so ubiquitous it lost its value.

All that precious data became digitized and easy to share.  So easy to share in fact that pirating became a way of life for the younger generation.  Due to stumbles in rights management software, it was oftentimes easier to steal a book, a song, an entire movie, than it was to pay for it.

The outlets that couldn’t compete were forced to close.  Those who were left devalued the media in the hopes that customers would “do the right thing” if it was cheap enough.

Suddenly, everything was 99¢.

The best seller that used to be $25?  It was now 99¢.  That new CD that just came out?  Well… now you could choose individual songs you wanted to pay for, and those were 99¢ each.  That movie that was just in theaters a week ago?  It’s 99¢ now, and you can watch it in bed.

As this was happening, the art world went crazy. 

What was the point of creating things if people were just going to steal them?  What had value anymore?

As it turns out, there was still something people paid money for.  They valued it because they couldn’t steal it or share it online.  It was “experiences.”

Immersive theater is a performance form emphasizing the importance of space and design; curating tangible, sensual environments; and focusing on personal, individual audience experience.
— Dr. Josephine Machon

Now, that’s a mouthful.  Let’s just say that the form has emerged over the past two decades as a major movement in performance and finds itself on the verge of becoming mainstream.

As a form which subverts conventional theater, its success is reflecting a larger need in today’s audiences.  With so much of today’s life taking place in ungrounded digital spaces, audiences long to exist as physical bodies in actual locations. 

When forced to live in a culture that is primarily on screen and two-dimensional, today’s audiences seek expansive, visceral stimuli.  And when forced to live in a world that lacks privacy, audiences find the prospect of an intimate and personal experience very alluring.

When an audience goes into a regular theater, they know what they’re getting – seats, a program, ice cream, a stage, two halves – and as a result they slump, switching off three quarters of their brains. I wanted to create productions where the audience is physically present, so that they are driven by a base, gut feeling and making instinctive decisions. That sort of show leaves a far larger imprint on you than just watching something.
— Felix Barrett, Punchdrunk

How are immersive experiences created?

The most important part of immersive storytelling is the removal of friction between the world we want to present and the guest’s suspension of disbelief.  This is accomplished by creating a world—a combination of story, set, characters, and rules—that engages the four major pillars of sensory experience: Agency, Emotion, Character, and Depth.

Giving the audience agency means giving them the feeling that they can express their will within the world we’ve created.  Their actions can evoke a realistic response from the set and from the characters.

To create an immersive experience, the audience’s emotions must also be engaged.

The story should be constructed and presented in a way that allows the audience to feel emotionally attached to the characters and the world.  To learn more about these techniques, I recommend looking into “The Art of Storytelling” by Pixar.  If you’ve ever found yourself crying over a cartoon character you just met five minutes ago, then you already know what it’s like to have Pixar engage your emotions in a story.  This is done by creating archetypes of very simple and very base emotions, then findings ways to tell the story in a way the audience can relate.  Everyone has felt loss or victory at least once in their life.  Find a way to tap into those emotions and give the audience a reason to feel and release those emotions during the story.

Next up is character.  As the audience experiences your world, they should feel as though all care was taken to present the world in a way that does not stretch or break their suspension of disbelief.

And finally, there is depth.  Depth is the hardest to achieve in immersive theater but is oftentimes the most rewarding.  Like a simple game that can be won in a hundred different ways, you want to keep your design basic enough to be understood quickly but stimulating enough to drive a discovery loop where heightened awareness of the story pieces is rewarded with an even deeper understanding of the experience.