Funatics Brings Green Screens And Life Sized Games To Weddings And Parties

Monday June 2nd, 2014

Posted at 2:00pm

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Taking her talents across Canada, one local entrepreneur is putting the “fun” back in functions.

Starting in broadcast radio, 33-year-old Rebecca Wolfe has since carved her own path. Raking many pit stops along the way, an exciting new chapter has just begun in Windsor. Although she’s been here for awhile now, the radio personality’s business-evolution is far from over.

With the recent launch of Funatics, offering everything from green screen photography to life-sized games like connect four, Wolfe’s business-ventures originally began on a smaller scale.

“I started DJing in clubs when I was younger,” she said. “It helped pay for school while giving me experience in my field. I saw potential in the mobile disc jockey business at the same time and started a business on the side — while still working full time in radio. I had absolutely no business experience when I started, very much creating a sink or swim situation for myself — I’m sure it was pure luck that I caught on as quickly as I did. I grew my business through out the last 10 years, bringing it with me — every move I made across the country.”

Raised in Barrie, Wolfe became interested in broadcasting at a young age. Her high school co-op placement was at a local TV station and pushed her to continue at Kitchener’s Conestoga College. With the program being split into TV and radio broadcasting, Wolfe fell in love with the latter and hasn’t looked back since.

It also meant she’d be traveling a lot along the way however.

“I love working in radio, but it’s no secret the jobs are few and far between,” said Wolfe. “I’ve been lucky to be able to pursue my career since graduating from College over 10 years ago. It requires a lot of flexibility and passion to stick with it. My first full time job out of college was in Grande Prairie, Alberta, a small town five hours north of Edmonton. It was a beautiful city on the foot hills of the Rockies… Nature and wildlife were unbelievable – from hiking to playing golf, where I had a fox run out on the golf course and run away with my ball on the 18th hole. The best part was if you take a quick drive out of the city on some nights you could see the northern lights.”

While feeling blessed for her experiences, Wolfe admits it wasn’t always easy. Being a competitive field, radio has forced her to move nine times in about 12 years. Most cases required the broadcaster to pack, finish her current job, find a new place to live and move across the country in two weeks. Although it took a toll on Wolfe’s savings, she made several friends along the way.

Settling in Windsor, Wolfe learned how competitive the area’s wedding industry was too. In the end, it pushed her to do some research and make a few changes.

“I realized that if I want to survive as a business owner, I’d need to offer something unique,” said Wolfe. “That’s when I started searching the web for fun new party ideas. I stumbled across the giant jenga and thought that it looked so cool! I kept looking and found a couple other giant games that I could have shipped in like the giant connect 4, and giant snakes and ladders.”

Despite limited success finding more, Wolfe had a secret weapon: her husband. Bringing several visions to life, the creative handyman built more giant-sized games like scrabble and checkers. Air hockey, foosball, glow pong and a basketball challenge with electronic scoreboards were soon added to Funatics’ list of rentals for weddings, jack & jills, birthdays, company parties and fundraisers.

Not limiting themselves, they also expanded their photography. From a portable “wall of whack” green screen to a state-of-the-art studio, Wolfe is able to offer unique shots.

Unavailable elsewhere in Ontario, “sandwich technology” puts people into the photos. No, they don’t show up holding a BLT — subjects are inserted inside a unique background, making the finished product look very realistic.

“With photo booths getting so popular, this is a nice, less expensive twist that a lot of people haven’t seen,” she said. “We still offer props and costumes, but with the green screen background we can really match you with your photo, so if you dress up as a pirate, we can put you on a pirate ship. Even more fun is our big green screen in our studios. It’s great for wedding pictures, baby photos and boudoir. A lot of clients like that it’s a safe, clean friendly environment that allows you to be photographed anywhere.”

Wolfe’s new twists on old ideas also extend to her original business. While still providing the same DJ services she has across the country, including a fog machine, party lighting and projection equipment, another evolution has taken place. Giving power to the people, DIY-DJ lets clients serve up the tunes themselves.

“This is something thats just starting to pick up,” said Wolfe. “There’s a lot of people out there that are looking to save, and I say good for them… let’s help! There’s a lot of music lovers out there that want to try DJing their own party, but they don’t have the equipment, We supply them with speakers, amps, the works… even a handy music guide filled with song suggestions proven and tested to work in specific situations.”

Providing advice is hugely important to fanatics too. With their years of experience and hundreds of events setting them apart from the rest, customers aren’t risking anything when it counts. Whether it’s a wedding, charity function or spending money on photos, the quality and professionalism Wolfe brings to the table speaks for itself.

It’s something she prides herself on and why education is so important to her.

“There’s a lot of competition here in the DJ/photography industry, both good and bad,” said Wolfe. “There are some really talented, hardworking professionals that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, and they inspire you to push and work harder… but there is unfortunately the other side – people without the skill, experience or education who sell them selves to brides, which is a horrible way to test your skill because a wedding is a once in a life time moment, you can’t redo the pictures when they come back …I added a page to our website that focuses solely on tips for hiring DJs and photographers, hoping to educate the consumer on questions to ask and what to look for when shopping around.”

While it’s frustrating for Wolfe to see certain businesses rip people off, she maintains her love for the industry. Knowing how it works, she urges anyone to research any company before booking them and to always keep receipts along with copies of contracts.

Wolfe’s decision to diversify has paid off for the entrepreneur. With positive feedback to Funatics’ services, her business has continued to grow.

Still, watching people’s reactions has been a big highlight for Wolfe.

“The reception has been so great,” she said. “everyone who sees a giant version of one of their favourite childhood games smiles, laughs and wants to play — it’s like being transported back to recess time. It’s the same with the ‘wall of whack,’ people are usually a little shy at first, but once the first person has their photo taken, there’s a line-up. People can’t wait to get in front of the green screen and, for some reason, it brings out a different — crazy — side of everyone around. To me it’s just a sign that they’re having a good time, and that’s what every party host, whether it’s a wedding or company party, is looking for.”

Those interested in her services can visit Funatics’ website or facebook page for more information. Discounts are also available for charities (anywhere from 15 to 50-per-cent off) organizing a fundraiser.

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