View Full Version : Actor Question

07-21-2010, 10:11 AM
When it comes to actors, our company is a little conflicted on compensation for them. The insurance quote we got said that if we pay our actors, then we need to carry workmen's comp insurance, but if we use volunteer actors, then we don't. The insurance will however cover medical expenses for any injuries. We have come up with various possibilities including offering rewards and prizes in lieu of pay, but being a for-profit haunt, I feel a little guilty using only volunteers. I want to share and keep my actors loyal.

Advice from some veteran haunts out there?

Killer Katie
07-21-2010, 01:24 PM
Since actors can really make or break your haunt, and you're not a non-profit, it would be wrong to not pay your actors. The only way I can see to cleanly not pay, would be to be non-profit, in my opinion.
I would investigate how much workman's comp insurance would actually cost.
As a cast manager for several years, I wanted to make sure that the actors I have, putting everything they have out there for me and the haunt, are well taken care of if something were to happen while they are on the job.
The claims I have had in about 6 yrs experience can be counted on one hand. This is in large part due to the safety of the sets themselves and rules about personal space and safety. I personally walk through several times to make sure there are no hazards, needless dangers, nails, poor designs, and sets that actually put the actor in harms way. Keeping these things in mind, keeps your actors healthy and ready to go, and claims to a minimum.
And we shall see how many people disagree with me..LOL!
Good luck in your decisions!!

07-21-2010, 01:53 PM
From a management standpoint its always better to employ your actors... at that point they have a job to do and a time to be there. When you go volunteer the number of people that show up every night will vary, people will come and go as they please, and the quality will suffer.

07-21-2010, 03:27 PM
Are actors typically paid per show? From what I understand, Workman's Comp is going to cost quite a bit extra, but I'm still finding that out for sure.

07-21-2010, 03:38 PM
You can pay per hour or per diem. We are probably going to go per diem this year to try and control expenses a little better.

07-21-2010, 07:05 PM
Not sure where the post is on it..but I know you can finagle some normal legalities with hiring actors as independent contractors...I believe it also helps with taxes. I only have that info second hand, but look into it, a lot of owners started doing that a couple years ago when some of the tax laws changed, and it again changed the dynamics of a lot of the "rules" associated with actors.

07-21-2010, 07:10 PM
Only thing about that, Mike is that the workmans comp is required by his liability company so 10-99 or W-2 he is still gonna need it

Twin Locusts
07-21-2010, 07:16 PM
1099 whether it resolves insurance or not; if the business plan is written correctly it isn't a stretch to hire actors under 1099 - other staff W2.

Gore Galore
07-21-2010, 07:28 PM
You must be very careful with calling actors contractors.
There is a definition to contractor and it revolves around having their own tools and being paid per piece or project not by the hour.
Use this info incorrectly and it is an easy mark for audits.

07-21-2010, 08:18 PM
as I said I didnt know all the details, but knew there were a lot of "benefits" to actors being independent contractors. Know of at least 3 in my area that changed over to it mostly for tax reasons. Definitely something you may want to get some legal help/advice on.

07-21-2010, 08:34 PM
We're getting a formal quote tomorrow both with and without Workman's Comp if it is indeed required. But I believe at Transworld I was told by at least one agent that if I pay my actors, then our insurance cost would skyrocket because of Workman's Comp. But I have also heard of owners just paying their actors under the table to avoid it. Arrrgh! I want to do this right, but the thought of our insurance costs getting jacked up scares the crap out of me.

07-21-2010, 09:14 PM
I just got some quotes locally but get a hold of Ken Donat. Work comp in PA goes by a code and what they make. It shouldn't cost you huge amounts unless you have 100 plus actors. My quote was 1500.00 and can do it for less depending on how we pay.

07-24-2010, 03:52 PM
Just thought I would give you my view from the other side. Admittedly, I don't know much about the insurance stuff, this is more about you feeling guilty. In short, Don't.

I am a volunteer actor, off-season worker, and about anything else they need me to do. We are a for-profit haunt, but no-one is paid. Our actors are not paid, even the owners take no profit. Instead, everything made is put into the show for the next year. Honestly, would it be nice to be paid, yes. But for me, it's not necessary. I get paid by the screams of the people and the emotional release at the end of a hard week.

Would I feel differently, if the owners took profit? Maybe, although I know it is a business and they are the owners, so I think I would get over it.

Just thought I would give you my $.02.

07-25-2010, 10:17 PM
That's great to know Fullerm. Wish you lived in my neighborhood.

So what's average pay per night : A makeup artist? Zone Leader? Sercurity? Kinda clueless. Don't want to insult anybody. :)

07-26-2010, 01:23 PM
Last year I worked as a haunt actor for the first time in many years. I was surprised by the types of people who worked with me (beyond the typical "kids" who normally work haunted houses)... Out of work truck drivers, out of work teachers, out of work cooks, out of work _____ (insert job here)... The haunt was only paying minimum wage, but so many people are out of work here, that they were happy to get paid at all. I think I was the only new actor there who wasn't doing it primarily for the money (I just wanted the fun!).

In Nevada, you have to have workman's comp insurance regardless of if you're hiring employees or independent contractors (there are a few exceptions, but they don't apply to haunt actors). IF workman's comp is going to be the difference between opening your haunt or not, I have an idea...

Figure out how much worker's comp and paying your employees would cost, and then at the end of your season make a donation to a charity of your choice for HALF that amount. Then, since you're associated with a charity, it should be easier to get volunteer workers. You and your actors will get to help out a good cause, and you'll save 50%. You don't need to be non-profit to be associated with a charity (with volunteer workers).