View Full Version : Wages and Compensation for Employees

01-15-2011, 05:06 AM
I am really curious as to what the going rates are for set designers, make-up guys and gals, as well as actors, etc. If you do not feel comfortable posting on this thread, PLEASE PM ME. I am trying to get a set wages and compensation guideline in place, and would like some help in this realm...

Thanks =)

01-15-2011, 08:36 AM
I do set and prop design and workshop and they pay $15 an hour. I think they are paying the Art director by project not by the hour.

Rocky Mountain Terror
01-15-2011, 06:46 PM
Contract labor seems to be the way to go now days as opposed to hiring actors as employees. It gets rid of the unemployment liability, and puts the tax liability in your actorís hands. My business partner and I have two contract employees that manage operations and human resources for our haunt. What we are thinking for this year, as we are still in the red, being a second year haunt and all, is to have an all volunteer actor troupe with a big volunteer incentive package. The incentive package would include a one year subscription to HauntWorld Magazine, one year of Haunted Attraction Magazine, and one year of Hauntcast Radio. Doing the math, itís a lot cheaper than paying by the hour or by the night, and still provides a fair amount of incentive. There would also be additional incentives for the actor with the most nights of acting, most dedicated actor, scariest actor, etc.

Rocky Mountain Terror
01-15-2011, 07:09 PM
I should also note that they would get each of these incentives after X amount of nights acted. I.e. Hauntcast after X amount of nights, Haunted Attraction after X additional nights, and HauntWorld after another X amount of nights. It will give the actors something to work towards, as well as breed dedication, or at least additional interest in the haunt industry, which we hope will increase actor retention.

01-15-2011, 09:24 PM
I should add that I get to work for them normally about 2 days in a row about every 2-3 weeks now and thats if I have two days off in a row. An thats for me being there and working like a dog taking things out of storage, cleaning, painting, making crap, organization of THERE mess, and then of course putting stuff back in storage. They normally leave me a list... That doesn't include me taking work with me back to Shreveport . Whatever I do in Shreveport I do on my own time and I would never ask for money for because I don't think thats right for me to take there money. Haunts that are not in there fourth year yet or if they are still in the red I have a really hard time taking money from. An normally when they do give me money I invest it back into there own haunt.

Now why am I talking about me not taking money.. this is why. I live in Shreveport, the haunt I'm helping is in St. Marys parish, my family lives in New Orleans. When you put it all together there really just barley paying my gas money for me to go see my family now and then.

If your looking for a more full time workshop the only place I know of right now that pays is House of Torment. An they pay from what I understand $8-$10 depending on how good you are. With hope I'll be there in about 3 years, fingers crossed.

Jim Warfield
01-17-2011, 07:36 AM
A haunt owner runs with volunteers, then when the season is over hands out goodies and even $$? But then How are they actually considered volunteers when objects of value change hands along with actual money?
Calling a Toad A Prince doesn't make it a Prince (or Princess)

Rocky Mountain Terror
01-18-2011, 03:54 PM
Well, our actors know that since we're new, some sacrifices have to be made until we become profitable. Giving them a reward for volunteering their time is the least we can do. And no money is exchanged except for what we pay our two contract employees. They put so much time and effort in throughout the year, that it's only fair that they get paid.

I also let it be known that I will not pay myself, with the exception of reimbursement for my out of pocket expenses, until we become profitable and everyone is getting paid. And not all actors get these incentives. Think of them as prizes for being a dedicated volunteer. We also support a local charity, and a lot of our volunteers are happy just to be able to help them out.

I’d love to pay everyone right now, but if I’m not in that position to do so yet, the very least I can do is give them something for their dedication. For example, I volunteered my time for Race for the Cure one year, and at the volunteer party after the event, everyone got a prize bag with t-shirts, key chains, and other assorted things. And I think our goody bag would be pretty kick ass for any haunt volunteer.

I checked all of this out with the SBA, and as long as I treat them as volunteers, meaning I can't fire them, and everyone has the right to volunteer, and as long as the value of the "goody bag" stays below $100, it’s completely within the context of the law. And our actors love the idea.

01-19-2011, 05:43 PM
I for one, love the idea of your incentives. It gives the new actors material that is relevant to their volunteer position and will hopefully build up their passion for the industry. Let's face it, most people aren't aware that we have our own magazimes, podcasts, or any other elements which promote training or craftsmanship.

As an actor/designer, I would absolutely love this incentive, especially knowing that it has the potential to make the volunteers more effective in the upcoming years.

Education breeds success, and if you can have an entire group of haunters who are both passionate and dedicated, than your attraction will undoubtably reap the benefits in the long run..

Rocky Mountain Terror
01-19-2011, 06:08 PM
Thanks a lot. We spent a lot of time trying to come up with a financial model that would give us the greatest chance of success, while still taking care of all of the people who have helped this dream come true for us. We also want to promote the sense that "This is all of our haunted house." I believe that the more since of ownership you give your employees/volunteers, the more it will show in your haunt.

As for the financial side of the house, so many haunts these days are a "one-and-out" production. We don't have the biggest budget in the world yet, so every dollar counts. And if I'm going to invest all of my hard earned money into a business, and into my passion, I am going to do so in a manner that will give us the greatest chance of success. My staff knows this, and my actors know this. Out of all of the new haunts that opened in our area last year, as far as I know, we're the only one who will be around for a second season. We didn't "make" money, but paid off about a third of our initial investment. And most business, no matter what industry, will not become profitable for at least 3-4 years. We must be doing something right.

Thank you for the complement. It's truly appreciated.

02-01-2011, 12:11 AM
Most haunted attractions must pay thier employees minimum wage. If you a Charity haunter, or assiciated with a city county or religiuos group you can use volunteers, if not they must be paid minimum wage. Contract labor have very strict rules and IRS test that most haunt actors would not meet. They do however mee the criteria for employee.

There are a lot of people that think volunteers for a pro haunt for profit (even if your in the red) are ok. They are not and I can say from first hand experience the cost when you are caught are high, not just back taxes, and unpaid wages but a stiff penality that will be different depending on your state.

Employees are employees and not volunteers or contract labors. The local state and federal governments have smell test and they do not meet the strict definations then they need to be paid employees.

With state and local governments looking for more revenue you can rest assured more will come looking. It will bankrupt some if one employee files a complaint.

you can confirm this by contacting you local wage and hour board they will be happy to explain that there is no legal way not to pay employees less than minimum wage ( well ther are a couple that differ by state like owners family and special cases ) and paying empoloyees under the table will bite you in the behind if thet find you intentiallty did it to prevent paying taxes and unemployment and workers comp. that could be tax fraud.

Beleive me enough to check it out with your state.

Good Luck

Mr. Haunt
02-02-2011, 08:07 AM
I think this is a great topic and should be explored more. This is somthing that should be discussed, this way we can protect eaech other.

I have not researchd this as of late, but will post if I find any thing.

If anyone does research and come up with anything, let us know!

Mr. Haunt

Mr. Haunt
02-02-2011, 08:39 AM
Did a little research, but have not found much


Mr. Haunt

Phil Miller
02-02-2011, 11:27 PM
Pro Haunter is correct,
unless you are a real charity like a 501c3 and registered with the state, you can not use free labor even if you give half your profits away. , The federal law does not allow someone to work for free and you profit off their work, it's exploitation. here in DE, we must provide minimum wages and workmen's Comp insurance.
The only way around it is to use a non-profit group that gives you labor and you make a donation to that charity for their time, which is almost the same thing as paid labor but not as reliable.
now, I'm only stating what I was told from meetings we had with our state labor board some years ago. I was also told if we did have volunteers we could be fined $10,000 per worker and back pay.
This past season we raised $250,000+ for the charity we helped out and we still have 150+ paid actors, not one volunteer.