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Thread: My first Haunt professionally...

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  1. Default  
    #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    613
    Quote Originally Posted by DrDeath View Post
    This will be my first year and a little concerned about actors.
    You know, the one thing I haven't seen any mention of here is the actual floorplan - how actor friendly it is, what kind of room designs it has, and how many actors it actually needs.

    That is a key consideration.

    If you have something that amounts to 1-2 torso tables in each room, or a static location for the actor to stand in all night (Spidoras, picnic traumas, accident scenes, Frank on a lab slab, Drac in a coffin), multiplied times 10-15 rooms or events, then that's at least 10-30 actors that you need to show up. That can be a problem. If your house requires 20 actors to be effective, and only 10 show up, the technical term for that is "you're screwed". If, however, your house can get by on 5 well placed, well used, well utilized, flexible, multi-room actors, and you have 10 show up, you're in hog heaven. Then it's all gravy.

    Don't underestimate the power of this concept. JB's legendary Castle Dragon was 4000 sq ft, and it could get by with only 3 actors on slow nights, and you literally thought you were seeing 10 different actors. And that was without breaking a sweat. I know cuz I worked it. I never had to do a 3 actor night, fortunately, but not only was it very evident from the floorplan how that would work, JB trained us for that, and I often used that principle to play 3 parts myself, all at the same time - two behind the walls and one in view of the patrons in a key room.

    Likewise, last year, we were promised we would have twice as many actors as actually showed up, with a whole bus load of 9 drama club kids & teacher not showing up, but fortunately I designed the haunt to run on as few actors as possible, and those kids not showing up ended up being a blessing, not a curse. That would have been $300 extra that we would have had to pay out just to have 9 kids and a teacher in masks lulling about, going "grrr" on occasion, but more likely visiting with each other or off in a corner texting or wandering about. Also, another problem to deal with would have been the fact that they were drama club kids. As one other astute member pointed out, they spend all their time learning how to sing and dance and recite soliloquies, not actually interact with people and scare them. They usually feel naked without their Fourth Wall.

    So, as to your original concern, if you design your haunt to need as few actors as possible, say, 5 to get by, then anything more that is a bonus. If you need 5, and 10 show up, your set. If need 20, and 10 show up, you're screwed.

    How many did you originally need? And, also, how many non-actor rooms do you have?

    C.
     

  2. Default  
    #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    612
    BrotherMysterio

    Very well put about the number of actors needed for haunting, would work great for a haunted house. I however ran a haunted trail last year that simply got way to big (long) and there were many nights where we needed 15 actors and no less for all of the nights, but most of the nights we were lucky to have 10 so for some haunts it does not work.

    My family and I went to Wisconsin Dells this summer, and there just so happened to be a few haunted houses that you could go through. So I just had to go check it out, lets just say it was a waste of money but it's a nice example of what was said about actors. There was ONE, YES I SAID ONE person that did ALL the scares, no I was not impressed but my wife sure was scared LOL!!! But she does not care to much for haunted stuff, yet it's funny she will be the first to say lets go!!! She say's I don't like getting scared, well thats the whole reason why you are there and pay them money.

    Anyway it's a VERY important subject that gets overlooked and needs to resurface every once in a while.

    So thanks for that!!!!!!

    Mr. Haunt
     

  3. Default  
    #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Midlothian
    Posts
    10
    Mr. Haunt, that sounds about like me. My grandfather would take me to the Jaycee's Haunted House every year. I want to say I was 7 or 8. I remember every year at the end of the haunt they would have a white sheet up in a room and the image would be shown on the screen. The actor would do a quick 30 second skit, the strobe would come on and then out from behind the sheet behind you the chainsaw would chase you out. I knew it was coming and I still got scared.

    When I first got married we bought our first home and I built a little one scene haunt in my garage with that same concept as I just described. I didn't charge anything...wish I would have. On Halloween night though, I had a line down my driveway and then down the street past my neighbors house. I let 3 to 4 in the haunt and had a blast. Now older, I still have this same concept in my new haunt. His name...Dr. Death.

    I'm having a blast putting it all together. I'm just glad that the city is not charging me and arm and a leg, no pun intended, for the building I'm renting. My insurance through Donat is reasonable and my out of pocket so far has around been around $2k. The building was a haunt last year for the high school, so a lot of things just needed to be tweaked. I added 20 new walls more lighting more paint and theme. I just hope I have more than a few people to come out.
    Dr. Death
     

  4. Default  
    #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Midlothian
    Posts
    10
    BrotherMysterio,

    My haunt can host up to 25+ actors no more than 35 though. It has a good layout with guests having to walk through a black revolving door to enter the first room. 2 guest can go through the door at a time and 6 to 8 guests in a group. Room 1 will have a Doctor's office feel that will host 3 live actors, room 2 will be the hall of credentials with 2 actors that will scare guests twice each, room 3 will have 2 actors that will scare twice each. Room 4 is Dr. Death's chamber will have 3 actors then we have a slanted hallway that will have 1 actor or use from the ajointed Room 5 that will have 3 actors and Room 6 that will have 5 actors.

    We are having a staff meeting this Sunday to see who we have and what type of schedule everyone can work. I just found out this weekend that another haunt is shutting down early this season and as they are shutting down we are opening and my get a few from them to work. I believe I will have more than enough however, say one thing do another is what you can count on most of the time. It will work it's self out one way or another and we will adjust accordingly.
    Dr. Death
     

  5. Default  
    #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    613
    Quote Originally Posted by DrDeath View Post
    My haunt can host up to 25+ actors no more than 35 though. It has a good layout with guests having to walk through a black revolving door to enter the first room. 2 guest can go through the door at a time and 6 to 8 guests in a group. Room 1 will have a Doctor's office feel that will host 3 live actors, room 2 will be the hall of credentials with 2 actors that will scare guests twice each, room 3 will have 2 actors that will scare twice each. Room 4 is Dr. Death's chamber will have 3 actors then we have a slanted hallway that will have 1 actor or use from the adjoined Room 5 that will have 3 actors and Room 6 that will have 5 actors.
    Alright, that sounds really actor intensive. :shock: Do Rooms 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, all need 3, 2, 2, 3, 3, and 5 actors respectively in order to be effective, or can each room get by with one?

    And, also, what is your square footage, do hallways connect the rooms, what actor corridors do you have, and do the entrance and exit start and end near each other, or is your haunt one long shot with the entrance and exit opposite each other at what are essentially opposing ends of the haunt?

    If you have a surplus of free volunteer actors show up, then having that kind of staffing or casting is great, but if you are paying them all, or if you are worried that a lot of them will flake on you or toast out, it can hurt you to have such intense, stringent actor requirements to make the rooms effective.

    Keep in mind, that's 18 actors where 4-6 could be effective. Just making that one key adjustment could solve all your problems for you. In the current equation, you need 18 actors, and if only 10 show up, every single room will suffer.

    Also, how many non-actor rooms do you have?

    C.
     

  6. Default  
    #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Midlothian
    Posts
    10
    All 6 rooms connect with each other. I made the walls to make corridors and to make it longer. Before it was just (6) 13x13 rooms. Some of these actors are in the corridors which are tecnically in the rooms. I just listed it that way. RM 1 yes with 3 actors, RM 2 yes because of 2 drop panels across from each other. RM 3 with cooridor has 2 actors in room and 1 in cooridor. RM 4 will have 2 actors 1 as Dr. Death and 1 Chainsaw. Then 1 helper with Dr. Death to work the lights. RM 5 might be able to get away with using 1, however the room has 2 different scare zones opposite from each other and no way of getting to each one as an actor without being seen first, so really 2 actors here. RM 6 is split into 2 parts, 1 actor will be in part 1 and 1 actor in part 2 with air blasts as they exit and then an actor at the exit showing them the way out as chainsaw #2 appears. So, really only 4 actors here.

    None of these actors will be paid, they are all vols. I will know more on Sunday and if I will need to make any adjustments or not.
    Dr. Death
     

  7. Default  
    #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    612
    Dr Death

    Sounds like you have got a good thing going for ya and I hope it all goes well.

    I am trying to get something together for next year, but it's still early in the game yet to say or give much information of whats to come. Have a lot of great ideas and they just keep coming.

    Mr. Haunt
     

  8. Default  
    #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Midlothian
    Posts
    10
    Good luck to you Mr. Haunt,

    Hope you have fun in the process of making it happen...I know I have. Thank you for your input, without people like you to help people think outside of the box, we would just be in the...box.
    Dr. Death
     

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