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View Full Version : how many of you allow your actors



jason
02-08-2007, 09:32 AM
how many of you allow your actors to get involved with the theme of your attraction? why do you let them? is your haunt then a patch work of themes (one room is clowns, the next is jason, the next is dracula, ect.)?

MMManiac
02-08-2007, 09:38 AM
We tried once doing the entire haunt with one theme and man let me tell you... I thought it would be easier but thats not the case. You spend way more $$ and its alot harder. Now we have the house split up into four mini themes. We still get the theme feel, but its still randome rooms. Works out good for us. As far as our volunteers go their imput is very important to how the house runs. I think the more u let them be part of the design/ build area the more lilkly they are going to work harder when it comes time to open the door

Empressnightshade
02-08-2007, 09:52 AM
Last season, I allowed the actors to become involved with the theme by having a "Decorate Your Scene" contest. Everyone pulled the name of a scene out of the hat and that was "their" scene to decorate. They were allowed to use the props and materials here and could also use items of their own. I figured it would be easier on me if I wasn't responsible for decorating ideas all by my lonesome.

MISTAKE!!!!

Most of the crew didn't have the correct sense of how a commercial haunted house should look. This is due to lack of experience. So, some of the scenes did not look professional. I have learned my lesson and will have more of a hold and say-so over what is used and what is put where.

ClusterOne
02-08-2007, 10:36 AM
Everyone is involved in our theme. We use the same theme every year, but we change the about %75 of our scares/rooms and the story line is different as well. This allows us to use a lot of the same props and costumes, but we put them in different places and mix&match the costumes, so it looks completely unique each year. This also saves us $$.

And since our theme is a undead/western theme, I have lots of my cast members bring me goodies they find throughout the year to add to the set. Nasty old cowboy hats, candle sticks, heck even old western looking saloon doors...it works great! I get goodies, and they get a feeling of ownership.

Nightgore
02-08-2007, 11:43 AM
It's useally best to let the actor craft their character to the theme.

For example: A haunted saloon where the whiskey was poisoned and turned the townsfolk into nightmarish killing machines. It's OK to let them come up with their character as long as it stays within the cowboy/saloon/old west theme. You can dictate a MAIN character or host, but let your characters get creative.

You'll be surprised at, with supervision, what your actors can come up with. Just don't let them totally theme out a room. -Tyler

Duke of Darkness
02-08-2007, 12:51 PM
There are two ways that we allow actors to be involved. The regular actors get together with us early in the new year for a brainstorming session. They can suggest themes or changes/additions to ideas that we already have. I borrowed this idea from a haunt that I used to be involved in, and I think that it is valuable not only in terms of gaining ideas, but in keeping your cast and crew feel involved in the off season.

During the season, we will allow actors the opportunity to develop their character, within limits. What those limits are depend on how important the character is to the storyline and how experienced that actor is.

As far as building/designing scenes, many of our actors come help with build out and we are open to listening to their suggestions, but the final approval on any design changes rests with us.

Don't underestimate the creativity of your people, but remember that it is you that is likely to have the best overall picture of what is going on.

Dave

Nicole
02-08-2007, 08:42 PM
Our returning/vet actors have imput and are encouraged to submit ideas for rooms/scares and characters - and if it fits in with what we are trying to do - we'll incorporate it/build it into the haunt.

We like our actors to develop their own characters so they take ownership of it - we've discovered that if they develop their own character, it literally becomes their own "baby" - some of our best performers/characters are "born" this way!

xxxdirk
02-08-2007, 09:13 PM
Good answer Nicole. I listen to everyone and if the idea is god, I will let them run with it. After all, I am by no means the only idea person. Of course, if someone really wants a room and it fits in the haunt, they better be there building right next to me....

Ron

Jim Warfield
02-08-2007, 10:31 PM
The single worst idea helpers here usually come up with are costumes that are too bulky, too fancy, impossible to see out of or walk in, I mean these people are supposed to lead people through the place.
One time a young man showed up here to work dressed as "The Lady-In-White" the perpetual wine cellar ghost here(a real ghost) he was wearing a white brides dress(he supposed he was virginal?) After about 10 minutes he had to leave his place in the house because he had to return to his car and remove the big bulky dress, that he couldn't stand up in.
One young woman working here, who was an nice looking person, physically, was so hurt by a drunk's saying she was "Ugly" (and she certainly wasn't but she was recently divorced and had low self-esteem)
that the next night she showed up wearing a black veil so nobody could see her face at all!
Then the third night, she never returned.
I thought she had overcome her negative feelings.

spookologist
02-08-2007, 10:39 PM
We tried theming a few years back and the customers were disappointed. Although a lot of haunts do it and are very successful.

Empress,
I learned the hard way too......I made the mistake of letting some newbies design their own scene and what a nightmare.

Nicole,
I also encourage and appreciate input from everyone and when people actually work on their scenes it creates an ownership type of feeling for them. They take pride in their scene. I will usually build the actual scene and they will do some of the detailing. Same applies to acting, we give them an outline and let them develop the character. (We keep a close eye on them though)

We also have the Golden Ghoul awards at the end of the season. Some of the categories are for: Best scene idea, Best scare idea, along with our actors and "dead"icated awards. We also recognize rookies.

Wayne

www.trailofterror.com

Greg Chrise
02-09-2007, 12:50 AM
This last year one young guy that was going to help set up and be an actor walked up and asked

" Hey I worked one year at this other haunt and they had this rubber wall that a person would be behind and make it look like the walls were possessed. Can we have one of those?"

No.

Jim Warfield
02-09-2007, 06:51 AM
Wood that have been "The Birth-Control" wall?
Most guys would feel totally intimidated by such proportions of this product.
(I wouldn't!)

Empressnightshade
02-09-2007, 09:02 AM
Of course, if someone really wants a room and it fits in the haunt, they better be there building right next to me....

Ron

That brings up questions:

What do you do if that particular actor has helped build the scene and then take on the attitude, "This is MY scene." PLUS, what if they've been working in the scene for several nights and then POOF, decides not to show up? Should any actor be given the feeling that they own a scene? We had two actors take such an attitude and they both wound up being flakes before the season was over. How do you nip such an attitude in the bud?

Jim Warfield
02-09-2007, 11:15 AM
Stopping or circumventing attitude , especially totally negative emotional attitude as emitted from a human being is almost impossible to do.
Change the locks, passwords,addresses, always be kind to them but remain wary.(Don't co-sign anything)
Feelings of insecurity are usually to blame and some people cannot overcome their learned , built-in need to fail, actually most of us can't overcome that.........never mind.

SpFXChic
02-09-2007, 02:10 PM
Of course, if someone really wants a room and it fits in the haunt, they better be there building right next to me....

Ron

That brings up questions:

What do you do if that particular actor has helped build the scene and then take on the attitude, "This is MY scene." PLUS, what if they've been working in the scene for several nights and then POOF, decides not to show up? Should any actor be given the feeling that they own a scene? We had two actors take such an attitude and they both wound up being flakes before the season was over. How do you nip such an attitude in the bud?

I'm with Nicole on this. We have veteran actors with us that have been around for a long time. We make them a part of the planning process. There have even been some folks who were so impressive in their first year helping out, that we invite them along, too.

We all come up with ideas throughout the year. Some of them we use. A lot of them we don't for one reason or another. If the person who came up with the idea has a lot of details and a good vision of the room, they are encouraged to draw it up and present it. If they have a partial idea, then we build upon it. We never expect them to build the room themselves, we all help eachother building the whole show. We also let them know that they may not be acting in that room. Now, they usually do get first dibs on acting in the room, but if they just don't work out there, then we move them on to another position where they may fit better. We also let new actors know that they can be moved from spot to spot to best fit the show, as well. Generally, they are pretty cooperative, and much of the time excited to get to try something new.

I don't recall ever having an actor get a major attitude because it was "their" room in the whole time I have been with this haunt. It's always been pretty much a team effort. (Don't get me wrong, there are those who let us know they are disappointed because they can't be in a certain room, but we try to get them in there at some point during the run of the show - and if they work out well, then we try to keep them there.)

If they've been working a scene for several nights and then they flake or disappear, you fill that spot with someone new. Hopefully you will have someone who will adapt to the situation and make that room better than ever. Train your actors to fill a variety of spots/situations so that they can act in multiple rooms throughout your run, if necessary.

Oh my....I rambled, didn't I?

Dusti
02-10-2007, 12:25 PM
What do you do if that particular actor has helped build the scene and then take on the attitude, "This is MY scene."

It depends on the actor.
I've had the experience where an actor of mine "owned" a scene, and I allowed it because it was useful to me to have him in that same spot every night. He was responsible, he was part of our building crew, and it gave me in essence an unofficial manager that would always be in the middle of the haunt every night.

The negative was that he got too comfortable being in that spot/character and would show up very late some nights, leaving me with the panic of not being sure if he was going to be there or not. And he did let me down once - and I did recast the role - and it did slap him into being more careful about being in costume on time.

Conversely, I've worked with actors that had no time commitment to a scene, they just decided it was theirs. And the way that's been handled has been to simply remove said actor from that scene. A cast member (IMNSHO) needs to remember s/he is part of a team, and has got to be willing to do whatever management needs that person to do.

More to your point ;) - my gut feeling is that it's a good thing to have an actor help build the scene s/he's going to be working, as it should instill a stronger feeling of investment, which should in turn mean less wear and tear on the props/scene/costume. So I would say the haunt owner should take control over who works on what, and should nurture/control that feeling of being invested. In other words, mastermind the build so that the actor you want connected to a certain scene is the one building it.


PLUS, what if they've been working in the scene for several nights and then POOF, decides not to show up? Should any actor be given the feeling that they own a scene? We had two actors take such an attitude and they both wound up being flakes before the season was over. How do you nip such an attitude in the bud?

Make sure there is a known "understudy"!!
(The only person that is irreplaceable in a haunt is the haunt owner! ) I've found that if an actor knows that s/he could theoretically be replaced if need be, it will (at best) give that person a little breathing room, because most of us get sick at some point during October, and it'll give you the security of knowing that you're covered should your actor flake. Because, unfortunately, Life Happens, and you can't control whether or not your actors will be able to keep their schedule...but you *can* have Plan B ready to go Just In Case.

Jim Warfield
02-11-2007, 07:27 PM
Twice in 19 years on the last October weekend night I had to leave my haunt because of medical emergencys, once for a wife, last year for my Dad (who suddenly had a stroke and died in the hospital 70 miles away)
I felt very fortunate , both times, to have had some helpers here who could and did step in and keep the place running those nights, of course this was only possible because these people had also been working here for some time and they lead tours and work in all parts of the house (almost)
My customers also understood these things and didn't complain because "Jim wasn't here." Of course the facts were communicated to the customers if they inquired.

jason
02-12-2007, 06:41 PM
Our returning/vet actors have imput and are encouraged to submit ideas for rooms/scares and characters - and if it fits in with what we are trying to do - we'll incorporate it/build it into the haunt.

We like our actors to develop their own characters so they take ownership of it - we've discovered that if they develop their own character, it literally becomes their own "baby" - some of our best performers/characters are "born" this way!

that's a great idea on many levels! :D

Nicole
02-13-2007, 08:17 PM
Just to address some concerns I know that were mentioned - we've encounted those instances mentioned too and learned that...

This isn't something we do ALL the time - only for ideas/scares that we think will work with actors that are mature team players... usually returning actors.

I think we have enough of a team enviornment with our troupe, that they know that while we may call it "their room" they aren't allowed to change anything drastically without checking with our owner/operator or a member of the production team.

We (try) to have one or two (I wish we can have more) "floaters" that are skilled, enthusastic and talented enough to play ANY role so they can fill in where we have people missing for those who call in sick, etc. We also use them to relieve folks for potty breaks.

Jim Warfield
02-13-2007, 08:47 PM
When some worker or wanna-be worker gets nuts and shows me some new idea they want to do to scare people and it will be putting customers in actual harm's way , I tell them to remember this idea so they can impliment it in THEIR HOUSE,...... someday.

Nicole
02-13-2007, 09:31 PM
LOL!

Oh, you mean like the time when we had an actor who was "Jason" bring an actual MACHETE? :shock:

We were like, "Um...NO. THAT is dangerous. THAT is a weapon." :?
He was like (through his Jason mask), "....but it's dull?!" :roll:

Goodbye Jason! :wink:

Empressnightshade
02-14-2007, 07:57 AM
Goodbye Jason! :wink:

Did you really give him the axe? :lol:

jason
02-14-2007, 08:04 AM
Goodbye Jason! :wink:

Did you really give him the axe? :lol:

nah, what she ment to say was he couldn't "cut it" at her haunt! ha..oh boy :roll:

Jim Warfield
02-14-2007, 10:19 AM
He obviously wasn't "Too Sharp" of an individual!
(So his edged item had to make up for this)

Dusti
02-14-2007, 01:07 PM
LOL!

Oh, you mean like the time when we had an actor who was "Jason" bring an actual MACHETE? :shock:

We were like, "Um...NO. THAT is dangerous. THAT is a weapon." :?
He was like (through his Jason mask), "....but it's dull?!" :roll:

Goodbye Jason! :wink:

Heh!
My rule of thumb? If an actor asks for a weapon, they immediately get assigned to a no-prop-holding-position where there is as little chance as possible of them coming in actual contact with a visitor.

And they go on my probation list.

Jim Warfield
02-14-2007, 05:40 PM
I think some people assume that if they are working in a haunt that they can do and get away with pretty much anything they want to try.
I have met some very strange ones that wanted to work for me, some have worked for me!

Nicole
02-14-2007, 08:26 PM
This kid had worked for us with props before with no problems... he was actually given a fake machete prop which he used fine on the first night... then the next night we noticed the haunt-prop in the makeup room, and him walking to his spot with something more realistic...

After he gave us the weak argument "but it is dull?!" we said "that doesnt cut it - Goodbye Jason" - but no, we didnt completely give him the axe because he wasnt a sharp guy, instead I think they threw him in the dark maze in one of the two black cages to make creepy noises at people when they went through. :wink:

Ok, I think I worked all your puns in there while actually telling you in more detail the remainder of the story. 8)

PS: I think we havent used a movie-character like that since and tried using unique and original characters. Its weird, some patrons want to see the Jasons, Michaels and Freddies when you dont have them - hard to please 100%, 100% of the time.

Jim Warfield
02-14-2007, 09:35 PM
Any customer that wants to see those movie monsters can buy or rent the movie so cheap. Why bother showing it to them in your place?
This has never made sense to me, but then I can entertain myself with a Bic pen and a single piece of blank paper for many hours, no problem.
(And I ain't drawing pictures drawing pictures of those movie-guys, either!)