View Full Version : Auditions how do you run yours?

11-23-2010, 02:10 PM
I've never done auditions for actors before at our haunt and am thinking maybe we should start.

How do you conduct your auditions?

Are they conducted more like interviews or do you have certain things you want your actors to do?

Jim Warfield
11-23-2010, 06:42 PM
Yes! There would definately be auditions held here...but it is difficult to hold auditions when you barely see enough potentual workers to run the place on a busy night.
We have behind-the-scenes jobs and the grunt-work tasks which usually are filled first when we need them filled (or re-filled)
Almost all of my "actors" drive a long ,long way just to get to The Ravens Grin Inn.
If someone shows up who used to drive a tour bus full of day-tripping tourists and he could pilot the bus up and down narrow streets while narrating the historic tour while also making up his own one-liners and getting $ into his tip hat...hire him, he will do great! (No matter what some spoiled customers might say...like:"It wasn't You, Jim!"
I knew he was great. He worked for me, I was happy with his talents. Could have used half a dozen more just like him.

11-24-2010, 09:36 AM
This is actually getting to be pretty common in haunted houses today. The best thing is to go to YouTube and see how other haunted houses are doing theres. Mostly its just snibits but you will get the basic idea. The harder questions are open door or closed door. Closed door auditions are cool and more personal but I personally hate them. I prefer open door because actors can then see what other actors are doing and learn from one another. I would also look up zombie schools on the web and that will give you another good idea of a good basic training plan. Your learning what your actors can do and showing them techniques all at the same time. It also brings your more advanced and newer actors together and forces them to mingle a little bit for them to get to know one another.

Should you go with closed door... I really have to say no in my personal opinion... The teaching that goes into is more personal but you are putting this person in an area where there just acting in front of a 2 people. An there is a big difference between 2 people and 20 so your going to find out real fast who has stage fright real fast. An those people you need to work with because if they can't act in front of there co-workers how can you depend on them to work in your haunt when you have a group of seven customers .

One thing that I like to stress during auditions is how to respond to children. Its no secret that I'm a HUGE advocate against kid dragging. This is when parents drag there small children thew the haunted house against there will. I like to teach the actors you need to learn how to pull that punch every now and then. I have been doing this for well over ten years and I still run into the occasional ass who thinks its funny to make a child thats already crying wet there pants. So if you have personal things to address in your haunt thats also a good time to do it.

Other then that I'll give you some links that I know, some are good, some are bad, Some are omg is this an audition or a hook up but it will give you some ideas.





Jim Warfield
11-24-2010, 01:32 PM
How many customers can you afford to lose? Treat those smaller kids with some respect and kindness and when they grow up they will probably come back (and not for revenge!)
The numerical figure of people appearing at my door telling me their personal horror stories from other haunts, which made them never go back to any haunt is huge and common.
They come here because their friends told them we don't terrorize people, we entertain...mostly, some will be terrorized by my right eyebrow raising. ("What's under it Jim?")
There is also a large number of scardy-cats who nake it through my house and love it and became Very good patrons of my house.
I tell the kids I will not be terrorizing them because if I did that, they might come back in 10 years as a serial-killer, looking for ME!

11-24-2010, 06:23 PM
It's all a matter of taste. Some folks WANT to be terrorized, and if you have "terror" in your title but don't deliver, they would go away and say you are lame. So we try to do both, entertain AND terrorize. We entertain at the scenes, and we terrorize everywhere in between.

As far as the kids go, we warn them it's PG13. But we also tell our actors to ignore the scared kids, don't focus your attention on them, but rather, on the adults. (If fact, we give them glow-in-the-dark sticks to warn the actors not to torment them.) Of course, if they look like they are having fun, then focus your attention on them all you want. But there is no pride in giving kids nightmares, it's way too easy. (Just whisper to them that you know where they live and will soon be hiding under their bed.) I'd rather have more fun in making the adults wet their pants than the kids. It's much more sporting.

Allen H
11-24-2010, 06:54 PM
I try to keep in mind what I want in my show when I start to staff it. Certainly body type is a consideration due to costumes and such, I also craft excercises that will allow me to see how prospective actors move sound and make judgement calls. It is mostly an interview with three or four excercises.
During the hiring event I also watch where they are waiting pre interview, that allows me to see how outgoing they are with people they dont know and other things. I really like to be watching them and see who lesaves garbage behind and who cleans up even when it wasnt theirs.
We really need to trust those who work in our shows, the big deal is to look for people you can trust.
Allen H

11-24-2010, 08:20 PM
As far as the kids go, we warn them it's PG13. But we also tell our actors to ignore the scared kids, don't focus your attention on them, but rather, on the adults. (If fact, we give them glow-in-the-dark sticks to warn the actors not to torment them.) Of course, if they look like they are having fun, then focus your attention on them all you want.

I have never heard of the glow stick idea but that is fucking awesome and I hope you don't mind if I share that idea around.

As for trusting people yes, thats a big thing. Its not some thing some one can audition for but my god I wish people came with trust portfolios. What really sucks is that if you trust people to much you can overlook there egos. An I'll warn you now if some one that is helping you run your haunt is getting an ego it can and will kill your haunt. Your workers are there mainly to have fun, yes sometimes there is a bit of money and reputation to be had but people mainly work haunts to make friends. We are are people of all types and kinds that have come together with the common interest of Halloween. So if you get wind of egos starting to flare up, do what you can to make things a better place.

I know your kinda questioning well why is that important with auditions . Well you want your good workers to come back. Even your semi good actors you want to be able to depend on because they know the drill, they know what to expect, and you will notice good improvement on actors out of nowhere just because they feel more comfortable on there second year working with you. At the last haunt I worked with I know of eight good workers and two first year workers that have said they will not work for this particular haunt again just because one ONE PERSONS EGO. An thats not including me even though I'm starting to think the same thing as them.

My two cents.

11-25-2010, 06:48 AM
Thanks for the replies!

So far I've been lucky enough to pull a decent amount of volunteers to run the show between 25 and 40 actors (depends on the night) the past two years. Some of which I meet the night of the show and may or may not see them again.

Yes trust is a big issue. My biggest problem is every year I end up finding broken hand held props and torn masks. Usually just laying somewhere and the person who used it is no where to be found. Next year I'm going to incorporate some sort of check out system. Maybe a sign in sheet for name, phone # and email address and require them to leave me a set of keys for DL. This will also ensure I get names and numbers for all my volunteers and not just the one's that show up night after night.

Another problem I'm wanting to avoid is knowing which one's want to scare and which one's just want to hang out. I don't mind having actors that hang out because I can use them for diversions and misdirection, but I need to know which one's those are. I have one girl who comes early every night, helps out with makeup, does her own and even recruits for additional help. She really just wants to stand in a room and watch patrons, so I just make sure I put her in an area with a good actor.

On top of all this and I know using volunteers only maybe the issue, but I need to figure out a method for scheduling to ensure coverage. We had a couple of nights this year that we were a little thin. Luckily I designed the haunt with some ways to work multiple areas with minimal movement on the actors part.

Jim Warfield
11-25-2010, 07:48 AM
A haunter once was really enthused about the volunteer helpers he had one season...so he decided to pay them the next season..and it basically ruined it because he had put a dollar-figure on their enthusiasm and fun and it became just- a -job sort of mentality, of course maybe their enthusiasm would have returned if they were being paid $25 an hour?(Yes, this would work with many)
The "EGO" thing is something. It takes a certain amount of ego to speak to strangers and expect that they will be entertained by you.
I have seen a haunt worker with one night's experience begin bossing around the haunt worker who came in the next night!? "We always do it THIS WAY!" (At least last night "we" did!)
Too many human nature foilbles and faults for us to correct as employers or as faux-parents or amateur psychologists..."Do you need a hug? Do you need a slap? Do you need chocolate? Do you nedd a pretty red star stuck by your name on the chart?"
YEEEGADZZ! Not enough time in the busy night !!!
Walk-in workers don't much legally happen in Illinois anymore unless you have a volunteer charity haunt Criminal backround checks full of all that personal information is required.
I was told the lawmakers left the charity loop-hole for employment...because?...Oh, yes, no self-respecting pervert would EVER think of trying to have their "fun" in a charity haunted house.
Never. Probably, almost never. Maybe not?
Of course eventually a natural "gravitation" may occur.......If a door is closed they try another one, right?

11-28-2010, 09:09 PM
:: sits in her chair for what feels like 5 whole minutes after reading what Jim wrote ::

I question authenticity on this last post on who the poster is. Every thing that was stated was 100% true. The good, the bad, and the sad.

When it comes to getting your actors to interact when there to squeamish or scared I don't like to boost them with confederate to do it. I know that sounds a bit crazy but I don't. What I do is help them create a new personality. Your no longer Amanda Rhonalds or some another actor, your now the creepy clown killer. Your not the one screaming "tell the balloons to stop talking to me", thats the person your playing. Its just a different teaching style so that an actor won't feel stuck on a persona, or worse they become them. Yes you read that right. I have seen people come in as normal people and leave a haunt thinking as a bad ass and looking like a dumb ass. It just happens.