View Full Version : When To Hire Spookers
04-17-2009, 12:52 PM
We are new to the haunt business. We did a haunted corn maze last year and it was o.k. Most of the teens doing it were not that good so we want to hire more experienced actors. When should we advertise for help wanted? Now or later
04-17-2009, 01:02 PM
I would start thinking about what kind of spookers you want. Do you want HS kids? College? Older? Is it volunteer? Paid? Free food / drink?
Scarowinds begins hiring in late-July and continues through August and September if necessary. We hire as young as 16 but work laws prevent them from working on school nights past 10:00pm so older, more responsible adults are the marjority hired.
I think there's a thread in the Actors section about hiring drama or theatre students. I find that they can be really good actors...
Where are you located? It is difficult to find help in your area? Good luck and congrats...
04-17-2009, 02:21 PM
Look at local theaters and drama programs. Local theater groups. People who are formally trained for acting will take the job a lot more seriusly then some kid hired from the school. No offense meant but they have more discipline as well. As on stage they have to have excellant voice control and body control.
This is known to me as i have 6 years of formal drama training. It really does help, and most do it for the love of acting so its likely if you are volunteer you can find them there. We start recruiting about late july.Till a little bit into september.
04-17-2009, 03:36 PM
I would start advertising in the summer; that way you have plenty of time to screen your applicants and have the largest pool of talent possible. The sooner you start assembling the cast then then sooner they can start learning the haunt and getting to know everyone (group outings are a great way for your actors to get to know you and each other and it will give them more pride in their haunt).
We've done recruitments at summer fairs, local horror conventions, community theater groups, myspace bulletins, and craigslist postings.
04-17-2009, 06:29 PM
Thanks for all the advice. We are in a very rural area so not so fortunate to to have a large selection of drama clubs but a few. We are planning to pay the spookers a flat fee per night.
We just want to hire people that really want to do it and enjoy it the way we do. Some of the teens were good but some were not.
Should we plan to furnish costumes or ask them to come up with there own?
Also, we are haunting the corn maze and would like to do scenes like in a house. Any advice on that? It seems we are quite limited.
Rustic Acres, LLC
04-17-2009, 06:48 PM
Go online and check out these links for inspiration. They are both excellent outdoor haunts:
04-17-2009, 09:05 PM
I would always supply costumes, it can be done cheaply depending on your theme, good actors will have some of their stuff and they should get you to approve it before they wear it. What will your theme be?
04-18-2009, 11:41 AM
I agree that you should supply costuming. Actors that are really into the haunt will start creating their own costumes, but it's always great to have a supply on hand.
Hit up local thrift stores (most do a 50% off day or a dollar day) and collect items that will work with your theme. You can find formal wear, old medical scrubs, uniforms, etc.
04-18-2009, 02:16 PM
Start hiring now and train them all year long. Bring in guest actors if you can find some that will train for you cheaply and train all summer. If your rural use myspace to really target people into coming out and helping that i feel is a good easy way to recruit.
Ask the kids that worked for you last year to ask their freinds. If your haunt dosen't have a myspace create one and make it a good freaky page that people will think i want to work here.
Once youv'e got your main page, add all last years employee's and then start searching their pictures, if your actor is pictured with a few other freinds in a couple of pictures then ask them for an add (their more then likely on their freinds list) and ask them why not come out and work with your buddy(who works for you already). Try to create that snowball effect through myspace and your current employee's. A night or two a week from now until September will surely get you a good sized staff.
Hire extra's for sure as some will bail out after they find out haunting is no easy task, this also gives you the option to put better actors in key spots. Also the fact that you are rural you need to consider rides for some actors may not be there every night so a few extra on staff to fill in won't hurt.
Tiki gave you some great examples of country haunts but keep in mind Haunted Overload's owner is one of the best in the bussiness at building huge structures from natural products.
(maybe look at some of his smaller displays and use of lighting)
Spookywoods is what i consider a high dollar haunt, unless you have a huge budget your not going to hit their beauty and Detail.
They do however have pretty much a complete outdoor haunt they do have awesome schenes in.
Another completley outdoor haunt is the haunt i worked the past two years www.woodsofterror.com It's all outdoors, no ceilings and not a flat peice of ground on the 50 acres! Trust me i built stuff there no easy task! We do have lots of pictures so feel free to browse.
If you have any questions about something feel free to message me. I am a builder and actor trainer as well as make up artist im sure i can answer some questions for you.
I looked at your website and if you really want to draw people to the haunt and people to work a haunt your definetly going to have to either build a sister site or change the site you have thats a lot scarier looking and appealing and a myspace to match!! Your site looks great for selling gourds and pumpkins but not to advertise haunting.
Your attracting a teen audience they want scary and freaky!
04-19-2009, 06:42 AM
Hey, thanks Kevin. I certainly don't know much about myspace but maybe should get educated it that will help me connect with teens. Do they find me or I seek them out? I'll ask my teen son to help me with that.
Maybe I'll add a page to my website that is dedicated to the haunt. We plan to start advertising in the local newspapers next week and see what we come up with. Do smaller haunts just pay by the night or the hour?
We went to a haunted forest several years ago and walked thru a dark tunnel with loud music playing. But they had something that was hitting your shoes back and forth. Like some kind of stick that was being poked in and out. Do you think thats what it was? It was certainly creepy and freaked me out. (it takes alot to freak me). Any ideas?
04-19-2009, 07:12 AM
Your son would be a good source to help you with a myspace page if he's had one for awhile or possibly somebody on your staff. They are actually fun to build once you know how, my 15 year old daughter i swear changes hers daily !
To get it started as far as adding freinds, ask your staff who has one and add as many as you can of the people who work for you, add your son and then add his freinds. You can also look in the groups section(myspace has groups for common interests type of things) and see if there are any haunts near you, ask anybody on their lists for add requests.
Sharla if you can't find anybody to set you up a page my daughter Katie and I would be more then happy to get you something going and then just hand the page and passwords over to you to get going.
If you would like that just let me know, i won't take us more then a few hours.
And as an example because you sound like your kind of in the dark with this, im including my myspace address http://www.myspace.com/babyman13 but keep in mind after i retired from haunting i made my opening page non gorey but if you look through my picture albums you will see ton's of haunt pictures!
Im also going to give you a link to my last haunts page as well so you can see what a typical Haunt myspace page looks like.
Click here http://www.myspace.com/woodsofterror
Let me know it would be no problem.
04-19-2009, 08:43 AM
Just to maybe help you a little more i did a few things that i would do if i were a haunt owner.
I looked on Hauntworlds Haunt search to see what haunts are near me and for you it seems you have some in OK City, El Reno looks like they have a nice one as well.
BUT they may be a bit far from you(not sure of the mileage) i just mapquested the full OK map, so possibly picking up a good actor to come out and maybe do a seminar or two might be possible from some of those bigger city established haunts. I would do the search i just did and drop those haunts managment an e-mail explaining your new to this and ask for help in the area's you need it.
You might even be able to take a feild trip to their haunts with a few from your crew if their owners are nice enough to offer, but surely reassure them that all your looking to do is possibly hire on of thheir top guns for a saturday top come out and train your people.
Some owners will be nice enough to let you pick their brains as to how they work their shows, how they build and such. You'll have to wait and see what their responses are but most are very nice people willing to share.
I did notice your smack dab in the middle of a triangle of bigger citys, thats great location even though you may be out on nowhereland. IF you contact haunt owners, costume shops, possibly find a few events in each big city to bring a few of your people and advertise your even between now and October you may see your numbers of patrons grow
Keep in mind people will drive good distance once fall sets in and they get that haunt Bug to go see attractions! They will come from those bigger city's if their not too far away (within an hours drive i think would be max for a small to midsized show, huge events people will drive state to state to see.)
Voucher swaps may be possible as well if you become good trusting freinds with the other haunts.
04-19-2009, 12:49 PM
Thanks again! My 11 year old thinks he can help me build a My Space page and he really wants to try it so I might still need some pointers if you don't mind. Should we use scary graphics? I don't have any pictures of our actual haunt.
Great idea about getting those other haunted attractions to give us some pointers. Have you heard of Scream Country in Oklahoma? I think they have a My Space page and they are very well know and GOOD! They are about 45 miles from me. We are about 1 hour from Tulsa and 1 hour 45 from OKC.
I just have no idea of props, costumes, etc. There is so much out there. We are planning to get a Creature Reacher costume....any feedback on that?
04-19-2009, 09:56 PM
Creature reachers are the top end of what is available at halloween stores,(available to the public) I would not go with them, for a feature costume I would go with one from gore galore. Their costumes are not publicly available and almost exclusive to haunts and theme parks. Add his scream cube to it and you can get custom sounds coming from it. yes, they are more expensive but patrons will say "WOW" instead of "I saw that at spencers"
I am in Dallas, TX . I do alot of actor training and design consultation for haunted houses. Im sure I could pull away for a weekend workshop in late august or early sept if you need it. Feel free to email or PM me.
04-20-2009, 12:33 PM
Thanks Allen. We do not have the budget to purchase one of the gore galore costumes. They do look awesome though! Thanks for the advice.
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