View Full Version : Damaged Props and Carelessness
03-22-2009, 10:52 AM
Can anyone here tell me how the keep actors from damaging props, costumes etc. It just seems that because we do alot of work with the FFA group from the local high school we get a number of the actors that just have NO respect for others property. I get costumes and props all the time that have been damaged and destroyed. We are going to have our annual meeting soon and I would like some help PLEASE!
03-22-2009, 10:54 AM
We have a corn maze last year was the first year. The corn maze had walk ways 3 rows wide by the end of the season they were about 16. (Besides the damage done from wind. Do you use anything to keep them out of the corn?
The down side is with kids that age- exactly like you said. They have no respect for others stuff and they think they own the world.
My advice- get older and more mature actors.
03-22-2009, 12:01 PM
Perhaps a new set of rules are in order.
Keeping a record of assigned props to actors would help you weed out who has enough responsibility to handle them and those who are regular bulls in a china shop. Perhaps you could instate a "break it, you buy it" policy with your actors. If they refuse to pay for the damages they caused or don't pay up in "x" number of days, tell them they are no longer part of the haunt until they're out of your dept. Might seem like much, but if they see no reason to play safe, there's not much motivation for them to do so.
03-22-2009, 01:14 PM
If these where paid actors working perhaps 40 hours, they wuld have a value of $400. Screwing up $100 worth of stuff means and getting $60 worth of drinks and meals means they had a total value of $560.
But, they were volunteers and really got nothing but the experience or enjoyment of haunting and someone spent gas money to get them there. Being young it is impossible to make them imagine what $45 is or how hard someone had to work to make $45 to buy something special.
So, every year, it is going to cost $100 per person acting, a known expense that should produce perhaps as much as $1000 per person acting. It is the cost of doing business, providing party favors.
The costumes and props aren't exactly industrial quality time testeed products. You should equate them more to a pair of work gloves which specific tasks might damage 2 or 4 pairs of gloves in the course of a season. If you create severe limitations on what can be done with work gloves, no work gets done as they might get dirty or torn or worn.
Off season things rot and although are being effected by the environment rather than an actor are history all the same. So each year there is a new stock of work gloves and the intention to use them to make money. If even with out all this activity there isn't enough money being made to cover all of these expenses, you have to look elsewhere for why there is no money to compensate these expenses like no advertising, no sponsors helping to cover these expected expenses, the mindset of all involved to promote the event rather than just show up and trash things that cost money.
Rotting props are more suseptable to being damaged easily. In some locations you simply get who you can and can't prequalify who your cast is going to be and whether they were raised properly or not.
In your mind you have to factor in all the time even buying or making things and it should be compensated for with each event or it is't productive whether that is a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. Even a free resource such as volunteer actors isn't really free. You may shift the expense a bit buy getting the charity to also provide some costumes if it is tight. Then you have a little under management of how things are cared for and a respect for what was originally invested and just handed to them.
It is different when it is someone else's time and money somehow.
03-23-2009, 10:58 AM
As you inventory what is left of your costumes and toys.
My first November inventory 20-something years ago pissed me off, but then even though people stole hand-made items (made by me) and I had invested alot of my time creating these things, I also had to look at the money taken in and ask myself if I would rather have that much needed money or my toys?
It is the cost of doing business when your customers are potential theives and vandals with free reign (pretty much)
I can tell myself they are just fans accumulating memorabillia from me, their "god". hahahaha!
That was when I began warning them: "Don't bother to steal anything small because the total-body cavity searches will be conducted at the end of the tour by Uncle Nervous Norbet, the man with the twitchy digit...MY GAWD HE HAS FINGERS LIKE TREE STUMPS!"
As I always say this to the group with the lights up nice and bright, I see their reactions to this rude statement, some look absolutely horrified, some look turned -on! Different strokes for different folks!
It gives them something more to think about though.
I love customers who think.
03-23-2009, 11:11 AM
We just chalk it up to the cost of doing business. All our actors/staff are volunteers so a "you break it, you buy it" policy doesn't apply. Many actors are teens and that comes with the territory.
We buy mostly cheap expendable hand props and site gags, and assume that they'll not last the season. Lowers our stress levels :-) The more trustworthy actors get to use the good props or hang out near the expensive animatronics.
Our experience is that by far most kids are good; it's just a few here and there that ruin it for everyone. We quickly deal with those.
03-23-2009, 08:38 PM
The trick is to make them feel invested in the show, make them feel like owners, pride is your biggest asset.
I will take all of my staff on a walk around the property and as we walk I will point at things and mention how much they cost, not just big props, but If I see a bag of colored light bulbs I will point at it and say the value, the $90 bucket of screws, hundreds of dollars of extension cords, the important thing to show is the waste. Waste is a bigger burr in my saddle than the normal actor destruction. Its pointless and costs me thousands each season.
Get them on your side by giving them pride in your show. then they might think a little more about destruction as it happens and hopefully before.
Many masks that are out there are just plain shoddy in their construction, and also are not made for a human head, actors who get them cant see well and cant breathe properly. so the mask gets altered for comfort. Perhaps a small part of the issue is the costumes they are given in the first place.
I have a ton of experience team building with haunt actors, If you are going to st. louis then find me at the ren grand bar and we can chat.
03-23-2009, 11:02 PM
Exactly You Break it you Buy it! Anybody under 18 we have parents sign a permission form that states if they loose, break, or destroy anything they will be held responsible and must pay for it.
It works. We learned after the first year or two.
03-24-2009, 09:26 AM
Last year we had a problem with young teenagers acting for us. We had a good mask stolen from us and some where just careless about things so we just fired them, they where all volunteers. But I would like to create a rule sheet a.k.a job application where they have to sign it if they are under 18. Just to help us out and giving us the right to fire them at any time if they break any of the rules. I have worked for many haunts as an actor in my younger years and THEY ALL did this. So I think I should follow the same route.
03-25-2009, 09:10 AM
If your potential employee fills out an information sheet and their address is "Mommy's Couch", this could be a tip that they have figured out how to live on $100.oo a year and won't be a trustworthy or reliable helper.
"Hey, I got MY $100.oo, I'm done for the year! What mask? I left it on the floor in the middle of the hallway."
03-25-2009, 10:49 AM
We have a corn maze and haunted trail on our farm. We have a "kick off" party at least two weeks with all actors/staff before we open. Staff under the age of 18 are required to bring a parent or guardian or they cannot work, no exceptions. At that time, we give them a tour of all our facilities and provide them with a handout that explains (in detail) our expectations of them and the consequences if expectations are not met. They sign off on a confidentiality statement, a set of rules and procedures, and safety guidelines. We do walk throughs where we demonstrate how each task is done. They sign off on a checklist of all the demonstrations they received-- So with all that said, if something does go wrong, you (as a business owner) have a well documented leg to stand on. Parents are required to sign off on these forms for underaged kids -- it's no different than getting a job any where else in modern civilization as far as we're concerned. Just because we own a business that's a little out of the ordinary does not mean that we have lower standards. We actually expect more, and we should.
We have staff that assist our actors with makeup (we provide that), but we allow them to come up with their own costumes and props (we provide a suggestion list and items that are not allowed) and tell them to raid the closet, garage sales, or local Good Will stores. Our return actors are used to this and actually have several different costumes they use and are very proud to show off their latest creations. It creates a little competition amongst the actors and they're very careful with their stuff and respect the belongings of other actors also, since they know what it takes in time and money to come up with a costume. This approach has worked so well, that for fun during our "kick off" we announce a contest and we offer a cash prize for the best costumes, props, scare tactics, etc. to be awarded at the END of the season. We reward all staff for going above and beyond and paying attention the details....like others have posted on here, we develop a sense of ownership with them and it is the best way we have found to create a happy work environment with minimal damage or trouble.
As far as volunteers go -- we just don't. At least not in the haunt. We learned our first year that they tend to be ineffective actors and like to bunch up on the trail to visit or text message. We allow them to assist with other activities on the farm. FFA kids assist in our pumpkin patch (daytime), parking lot clean up; etc.
Hope this has helped spark some ideas for somebody out there.
See ya'll in St. Louis -- so excited!
Kaska Family Farm
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