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View Full Version : finding actors for a first year haunt



jason
02-06-2007, 10:33 AM
what are your suggestions on finding/attracting actors/staff to work at your haunt when your're a first year haunt? how many actors would i look to draw in.. let's guesstamate 50-100.

Mr. Haunt
02-06-2007, 10:44 AM
It depends how large your haunt is going to be will determaine how many staff people you will need. A good place to get people is local schools and college's theater/drama club's and or classes. Also any college's that teach cosmetis this is going to be your make-up artists.

Hell American Freak
02-06-2007, 10:57 AM
Posters at high schools are a sure bet...

jason
02-06-2007, 10:59 AM
Posters at high schools are a sure bet...

I would keep my actors 18+

Nightgore
02-06-2007, 11:01 AM
^That won't work... Even MAJOR THEME PARK EVENTS have teens as young as 16 working. The only difference is working ability and hours working. Just a little more forms! -Tyler

lurker
02-06-2007, 11:18 AM
One avenue to explore are LARP groups in your area. People that enjoy Live Action Role Playing games usually love the idea of working in a haunted house. They already have acting experience of sorts, and sometimes can bring their own costumes to the mix.

Mr Nightmarez
02-06-2007, 11:25 AM
Great suggestion about LARP and Theatrical groups.
Also MYSPACE. We picked up about 5 good quality folks through MYSPACE last year...

jason
02-06-2007, 11:29 AM
^That won't work... Even MAJOR THEME PARK EVENTS have teens as young as 16 working. The only difference is working ability and hours working. Just a little more forms! -Tyler

i will say this about your comment is that the haunt i work at hardly has anyone under 18..if they do it's maybe 2 at the most..so it can be done.

MMManiac
02-06-2007, 12:11 PM
i FOUND MY YOUNGER ACTORS ARE MORE DEDICATED AND ACCOUNATABLE THEN THE OLDER ONES.

xxxdirk
02-06-2007, 12:26 PM
In a perfect world, they would be over 18. However, those that use only +18 are missing a great networking possibility. I mean, these kids go to school with our customers. They talk about all the fun they are having and their friends come out to check what their friends are doing. Yes, you have a lot of headaches dealing with young puppies, but on the other hand, if you get a 16 year old kid that likes what you are doing, you might have them for 2-3 years, maybe more.....

Duke of Darkness
02-06-2007, 12:36 PM
I have worked with some great actors as young as 9 years old. A whole haunt full of young teens, however, is unlikely to be strong from an acting standpoint. Our rule is that if you are under 16 and want to act, a parent or sibling over 18 must also be present and be a member of the crew. This can be a great deal, as we have had several families become fixtures in haunts I have been associated with.

Some of the best haunts, strictly from a standpoint of the quality of the acting, were staffed primarily by high school drama departments. That said, there are drawbacks to having younger actors. Not the least of which is the maturity level. It can be difficult to be in position and in character for an entire evening, and harder still for the immature.

I am still in favor of recruiting from the high schools, but know what you will be getting into. :D

Dave

jason
02-06-2007, 12:53 PM
I have worked with some great actors as young as 9 years old. A whole haunt full of young teens, however, is unlikely to be strong from an acting standpoint. Our rule is that if you are under 16 and want to act, a parent or sibling over 18 must also be present and be a member of the crew. This can be a great deal, as we have had several families become fixtures in haunts I have been associated with.

Some of the best haunts, strictly from a standpoint of the quality of the acting, were staffed primarily by high school drama departments. That said, there are drawbacks to having younger actors. Not the least of which is the maturity level. It can be difficult to be in position and in character for an entire evening, and harder still for the immature.

I am still in favor of recruiting from the high schools, but know what you will be getting into. :D

Dave

that is a great point!! :D i have seen the difference from young kids haunting with their other young friends vs kids haunting with their parents. BIG difference! the kids with their friends would just cause trouble/lose quick interest in what they are supposed to do.

MindWerxKMG
02-06-2007, 01:07 PM
I had a mother and her 8 year old son working in my nursery scene. He was dressed as an evil jester sitting slumpped in a chair. He totally took people by suprise and was one of our best scares. It was a riot watching him and the reactions he got. Patrons thought he was one of the props in the room. At first he was a little nervous but after seeing the reaction he was getting he wanted to work the room alone without his mother. He's now hooked and contantly talks about the upcoming 2007 season.

Hell American Freak
02-06-2007, 02:22 PM
Posters at high schools are a sure bet...

I would keep my actors 18+

Good luck, I hope you plan on paying them per hour. The majority of people 18 years of age and over are out of high school and looking for part-time jobs. Granted, I'm not familiar with the demographic where you are located, but where our attraction is located you're are pretty hard pressed to find anyone 18+ who is willing to volunteer, and be responsible for that matter. More power to ya' if you can gather a good crew that is out of high school, I know I wish we could. It has been my experience that the high school'ers tend to show more of a passion for what they are there to do. What it really comes down to is not seperating them by age but weeding out the ones who are there for the wrong reason.

We have been lucky enough to have gathered a good crew of "regular" actors and production staff that returns year after year, therefore this isn't as big of a problem for us as it may be for a new attraction. This too will come with time as with any other attraction that has a few years under their belt.

-Kurt

jason
02-06-2007, 02:59 PM
my goal is to have paid actors.

Duke of Darkness
02-06-2007, 03:19 PM
Jason - In my opinion, being able to pay your actors is a good thing. The numbers that you are proposing are impressive, but of some concern for a first year attraction. You said that you are looking for 50 - 100 actors. Depending on what the minimum wage is in your state, and assuming that you will be open 18 - 20 days, by they time you add in employer contributions to social security, workman's comp, etc. you are looking at a payroll of between $35,000 - $50,000. Will you be able to absorb that as a first year haunt? If so, I am very impressed.

That said, if you want to hire actors, there is an agency or service in most major cities. They will go out and find the talent for you. You can also consider going through a temporary agency. Either way, you are going to pay a premium (i.e. you have to pay the company, not just the actors) but there are advantages. One of the pluses is that you may pay the service a fee and they take care of all the tax withholding and other details that need to be handled when you have employees. This could save you a significant amount of time and may be worth considering.

Dave

Nicole
02-06-2007, 11:05 PM
LARPer's are always good - also your local Ren Faire folks (tend to be LARPer's too)... community theatre folks. Free postings at craigslist, myspace, and run PAID ACTING GIG ads in the local news paper, local HS papers and college newspapers... list audition dates if you are auditioning.

Jim Warfield
02-06-2007, 11:17 PM
One night a guy who once worked here came walking out of a tavern and was approached by an attractive looking female who then proceeded to bite him on the neck!
She then apologised saying she thought that he was one of the role players roaming around the streets that night!
Watch out for some of these "Role Players!" hahaha!

Just remember when hiring workers, the drunks and aggressive punch-throwers ALWAYS seem to punch the smallest person in costume, which means kids or women, usually.
Funny no matter how drunk somebody says they were/are, they never punch someone their own size or bigger?
It makes me wonder just how drunk they really are, since they are still knowing better than to pick on somebody that might clobber them right back and inflict noticable damage.
I wouldn't like to face a parent of a busted-face, kid/worker.

jason
02-07-2007, 07:42 AM
lol i'm sure 100 is an over shot espically for a first year haunt. 50 will probably be more the range (still one needs to fill the spots for actors that call off that night) plus that 50 woudl also include security/other staff members.

i must say there is some good feedback. thanks!
(now if i only had a few more PM about my stats. post...)

Duke of Darkness
02-07-2007, 12:09 PM
Jim makes a great point. Since I made the comment about having worked with great young actors, I want to reemphasize that they must be put into protected positions, and they must NOT be left alone. I actually had a guy (an adult) try to assault a 10 year old girl in a haunt I was managing. Fortunately, we had an adult who was working various effects and keeping an eye on her. He stepped in and solved the problem in short order. Point is, younger actors need special protection.

Dave.

Nightgore
02-07-2007, 12:41 PM
It may be a good idea to put the younger ones behind drop boxes/doors or in scareboxes. Kind of gets them out of harms way while still getting GOOD scares! You don't want a young person to be the lone greeter! Oh god! -Tyler

Hell American Freak
02-07-2007, 01:11 PM
That is all very true, and a good point at that. We have quite a large amount of youner female actors, we make it a point to have at least one older male in every room where our female actors are. Plus, we have members of the production staff making regular rounds through the house every night. We've had a few altercations with customers, a touch or a grab here and there, but nothing too serious.

MindWerxKMG
02-07-2007, 02:16 PM
From what I understand the IRS has reversed their opinion on independent contractors as haunt actors. If the actors provide their own costumes and makeup and are allowed to choose the roles they want to play and the dates/times they want to work, they can be issued 1099's at the end of the year and the haunt owner is not liable for paying payroll taxes and unemployment insurance.

jason
02-07-2007, 02:21 PM
From what I understand the IRS has reversed their opinion on independent contractors as haunt actors. If the actors provide their own costumes and makeup and are allowed to choose the roles they want to play and the dates/times they want to work, they can be issued 1099's at the end of the year and the haunt owner is not liable for paying payroll taxes and unemployment insurance.

that sounds like it could be a mess! ( i wanna play zombie #1! NO, i want to play zombie #1!!)

Kevin Dells
02-07-2007, 07:15 PM
I know this has been a topic that has been beaten to no end but im volunteer and i would never want to be paid for my fun!
Our owner will offer styphon gifts, I always push it right back at him.

Maybe my crew is the exception here but we have in the past told our owner to keep the money and put it back into the haunt. He has enough expenditure, we see our haunt as our playground and if we didn't have it we would have no place to play.

I don't know, i do it all for the pride! Makes me feel good to know im doing it for me and my hobby,makes me want to try harder every time i dress.

For those that do take the styphon gifts, we divide it up into days worked the more you work the more you get.

When we didn't open this last year and we decided a group of us really still wanted to act, we hit the road and guest acted. The owners payed for the hotel and gas and we got an opportunity to do what we love to do.
All other expenses came out of our pockets for the month, after it was over and the money was missing from our wallets we still agreed we would do it again a thousand times and were happy we didn't just sit during October.

I keep saying it, it's the pride of being your best for you and only you!

MindWerxKMG
02-07-2007, 08:15 PM
What is a styphon?

Kevin Dells
02-07-2007, 08:20 PM
A styphon is basicly a fancy name for a gift.

Jim Warfield
02-07-2007, 08:44 PM
I thought it was a python named Stephan.
It might have it's origins in the boss not paying his help, so he gives them a shabby little gift, in other words, he "Stiffs" them. ("Styphon") Stiff-on.

Nicole
02-07-2007, 09:30 PM
I think Kev means stipends? I think he means premiums/gifts.

We've done those for the top actors that "kill" each night.

We have an "in" with Harley Davidson so we give out cool gifts from them as well as fast food gift certificates and movie passes.

MindWerxKMG
02-08-2007, 06:30 AM
That's what I had assumed he meant, but ya never know!