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View Full Version : Just wanted to bring up a point...



Scarefest13
05-17-2009, 04:19 PM
I am writing this thread to get people's feedback on a certain subject...

Why do most professional haunted attractions require their employees to be over 18 years old?!?!

With my experience in creating and acting in my own home haunt that i have had some young kids
act in my haunt. If they are mature and have the passion, little boys/girls i think can be some of the
scariest actors there is. I think professionals should hire younger kids in their haunt that have the dedication.
I can understand how most haunted attraction owners wont want to hire younger kids (14-18) because they
think that they will mess around and not do their job, but i think if they have the passion and dedication they
should be aloud to apply.

I bring up this subject because i am only 14 years old. I have designed, created, built, and acted in my own
haunted house, and i get so (excuse my language) PISSED OFF!!!! because haunted attractions around Southern
California, will not even let kids under 18 apply or even go in for an interview.

Let me know what u guys/ladies think about this subject!

-Scarefest

Nightgore
05-17-2009, 04:43 PM
-Child Labor Laws
-Scheduling
-Parents
-Insurance Liabilities

... take your pick! We do not employ any actor under 17, although, we do have FAMILY members that are around 16 helping. -Tyler

Mike Goff
05-17-2009, 07:38 PM
agree with all of the points above, would like to ad, credibility, we have a few haunts in our market that have a reputation for fielding a group of youngsters, I believe that it is safe to say that this is not a strong point in thier favor.

Scarefest13
05-17-2009, 07:58 PM
I dont think your getting my point,


Im talking about kids APPLYING, this means that the parents would have to be supporting it. Child labor laws are easy to get around, all it takes is a work permit or an entertainers permit at that...Scheduling again, its a parent support situation, i mean its a haunted house, get there after school, get home by 1-2 o clock, thats part of the dedication from the kids...


These things can be worked out.

eyegore123456789
05-17-2009, 08:05 PM
This is true that it sounds so great, but Like my haunt, We have 200 actors, 45 of which were under 18, We ended up not being able to start on opening day because they had not all gotten there permits and some got there permits but also you have to remember in certain states like new york they cant work past 12 on Friday and Saturday and they cannot!!1 work past 10 on Sunday so if you have a great line at 12 and your losing a quarter of your actors kinda puts you in a pickle. That's in NYC at least I know it's where my haunt is.

Killer Katie
05-17-2009, 09:38 PM
My actors had to be at least 15 and the majority of my actors were between 15 - 18. Very very few were above 18. As stated before, child labor laws are realistic in my state, the parents had to sign permission, and I've never had any issues with that!
The building crew however, for liability reasons, had to be at least 18.
I can totally see people not wanting the hassle of dealing with teens, but with the volume of actors i needed, and the pay I was offereing, there was no way I would get an entire staff of adults.
I'm right there with you and the under 18's!

drfrightner
05-18-2009, 12:23 AM
We don't require people to be 18, only 16. We don't take anyone under 16 years of age no one. Larry

Kelly Anderson
05-18-2009, 06:51 PM
Ive been involed with a haunt put on by the Boys and Girls club of Sparta WI for about 7 years now. We definately have a large number of volunteers that are 17 and under. There are a FEW that are great!! Very dedicated which is what you need when you are running a haunted house, when knowbody there gets paid a thing other than the enjoyment of scaring the crap out of people.

Many of the kids are very eager to build and eventually play a character. The biggest ploblem Ive seen with the kids is that they very quickly loose their focus on why they are there. Some it seems like they just come to see their school mates. But I know their are a few that are extremely dedicated. You probably are if you came to this site to voice yourself. And I respect that.

Many of the volunteer groups can get away with some of the issues that a formal business can not; such as the child labor laws. After all, we're all volunteers.

If I were in your situation I would consider finding a charity that is putting on a haunt. Maybe after a season or so you could apply for hire at a haunt of your liking. The experience and the reference might help in getting hired even though your under eighteen. Good Luck!!

Kelly Anderson

HauntYourHouse.NET

BruiseMuse
05-18-2009, 08:33 PM
When I was the acting coordinator for a charity haunt, a large number of our volunteers were under 18 (our rule was 14 and over and they had to have a signed permission slip). There were some kids that were more interested in the "social" aspect of haunting or spent the night trying to text, but the majority of the kids worked their butts off and tried to emulate the older actors.

I agree that you should try to find a charity haunt in your area; they tend to be more lenient with age restrictions.

RJ Productions
05-19-2009, 01:42 AM
I would say that there are occasions or locations in a haunt that benefit from either a younger or smaller actor. Sometimes "kids" can be scary!! On the flip side there are a lot of positions that are just NOT effective with a young or small actor. However the problem occurs with the NUMBER of young actors. Too many and you run the chance of having a reputation of being a "kiddy haunt".

A friend worked the haunt and brought his 9 year old daughter. She hid in the exit hall with a "dead" gutted chainsaw. The actual chainsaw actor (big guy) chased patrons out. He never exited the haunt buy the little girl with the "chainsaw" would chase them out every couple of groups. People crack up laughing..."SHE scared you????". It was effective if done correctly.

Now you put a 4 foot actor in a "Frankenstein" type room and it's NOT scary!!!

Our other big concern is insurance. Some companies will not even cover actors under 18, waiver or not. This will become the number one reason in the near future.

Speculo
05-19-2009, 07:40 AM
Another concern is saftey. Patrons if not approached carefully can be not so nice at times, they can lash out in fear, they say hurtful things. It takes emotional and physical maturity to handle some situations, incuding medical and other emergencies. That said there are many mature 16 years olds and many childlike adults.

But if you have a professional attraction with a paid staff in a big market where there are lots of possible actors why tempt fate? Absolutely you could find amazing 16 year old actors I am sure, but to take one means you need to look at them all, and as we know, you don't really know about an actor until they are in the thick of a real show. We also really want experience, and many 16 year olds have never even had a job - something that is very important as well.

I know we have had to pass on some great young actors before but we have always had an 18 and up staff and it has worked very well for us.
This also plays into the fact we are open EVERY NIGHT in October, a situation that would not work for High School kids.

Truth be told most of those rocking 16 year olds we see in a few years anyway - a year or two isn't terrible to wait to act in a big show, it is another milestone to pass. And usually they have a few years experience scaring folks at a yard haunt or charity haunt and that is good as well!

Another twist on this is that we run background checks on our actors - another level of making sure things are solid.

Hope that explains some of it.

Thanks!

Darkangel
05-19-2009, 07:49 AM
Ben,

How do you guys do your background checks? How do you gather info on them?

Darkangel

Mr Nightmarez
05-19-2009, 09:18 AM
Not sure where Ben gets his done... but you can find places online but they can get expensive.
$15 cheapest I have found to $50 per check. I believe we did a national background check when I had a Spirit store and even those were $10 per check.

I agree that having someone under the age of 18 is not conceivable for larger attractions. Smaller haunts (less than 5k or even 10,000) might be ok - but when you bust above that mark the ratio of incidents, rude clientele, foul language, abuse etc... tends to spiral upward.
We have hired a few under 18 - but we make sure they are working with some of our experienced team or are located in places that won't be as confrontational.

But that's my opinion....

Greg Chrise
05-19-2009, 10:22 AM
My family and I decided to lie about my age so I could get a job earlier than the labor laws suggest. It gave me something to do with my life, I thought and my parents figured out how to weasel ALL the extra income out of me by buying cars they used and would never let me apply for a drivers license until I was 17. Of course I had to keep buyng parts and work on my cars to keep them up. So I walked miles to and from work at night being propositioned by roving drunk perverts of all races wanting to "give me a ride" The longer you can live with out dealing with that entire concept by being a child exposed to strangers, the better.

In the news there are pervert adults in churches, youth groups etc. So unless this is a happy haunt that your parents are also involved in, it is you against the world. Whether there is a law a rule or what ever to skip over. You don't know the true nature of the world yet and a couple more years before you have to really confront this ugly concept is better.

Who said they have all been caught, identified and it will show up on a back ground check? Nothing ever happened to me except perhaps the fear of what could have happened. Perhaps this fear and understanding it is what brought about a scary mind set in the first place.

Adults aren't any better people or really have your intrests at mind beyond stopping you from poking out an eye, a scary idea completely when you are supposedly relying on them every day for some kind of support or judement. When you are old enough be the guy who makes up the rules and people listen, go for it.

Dr. Giggles
05-19-2009, 10:22 AM
I would say that there are occasions or locations in a haunt that benefit from either a younger or smaller actor. Sometimes "kids" can be scary!! On the flip side there are a lot of positions that are just NOT effective with a young or small actor. However the problem occurs with the NUMBER of young actors. Too many and you run the chance of having a reputation of being a "kiddy haunt".

A friend worked the haunt and brought his 9 year old daughter. She hid in the exit hall with a "dead" gutted chainsaw. The actual chainsaw actor (big guy) chased patrons out. He never exited the haunt buy the little girl with the "chainsaw" would chase them out every couple of groups. People crack up laughing..."SHE scared you????". It was effective if done correctly.

Now you put a 4 foot actor in a "Frankenstein" type room and it's NOT scary!!!

Our other big concern is insurance. Some companies will not even cover actors under 18, waiver or not. This will become the number one reason in the near future.
See i don't think that just because of their younger age means their small. My son, 15 6'3. Hes almost as tall as i am! Its not fair! His friends, all around the same age, some a year younger. Are all above 6'.
I have seen some kids who are under 18 in an "18 only haunt", they had more energy, passion, and skill than most of the actors there(Returning actors included)! They even worked more nights than other actors! I say its fair, but there should be requirements.
As in X amount of years of formal drama training, or experience in performances/performing arts.
You must have a ride back and forth from the haunt.
You must go to school the next day, to keep your work permit.
You must keep up on the school work.
You must stay in character all night.
To keep them in character you can use a tick system everytime another actor finds them out of character. A certain amount of ticks and there out.
Same with the other requirements. Sort of a three strike your out kind of thing.
Honestly if you find the right kids you will NOT regret it in my opinion.
But i do concede finding the kids is the hard part...

Speculo
05-19-2009, 07:27 PM
We contract with a local police dept. And yes it DOES get expensive, especially when you are running checks on close to 300 people.

Considering some of the things we found out I am glad we did it.

Thanks!