View Full Version : Actor Training Guide?

08-29-2007, 09:12 AM
Howdy -

We've got a new acting coach this year. She's done plenty of theater productions, but haunts are new to her. Can anyone recommend a good actor training guide or video that we can get/purchase for her?

- Steve

Cookie Crumbler
08-29-2007, 03:44 PM
You may want to see if Rich Hanf still makes his Haunted House Employee Handbook. I can't say how good it is, or if it's exactly what you want, but it's worth looking into.

08-29-2007, 09:54 PM

08-31-2007, 10:22 AM
Thanx Guys - I ordered the Rich "Sticky Eyes" Hanf book and the Boneyard DVD.

09-03-2007, 06:58 PM
creature crates haunt actor dtraining dvd is a good one as well.

09-12-2007, 09:11 AM
The following was writen by me. Some of you might recall my posting it last year under my old account (which for some reason got deleted). If you find this useful feel free to hand it out to your actors.

Smacky’s Haunt Acting Basics

Be valuable: That means show up on time every time. This is the NUMBER ONE most important thing that a haunt owner loves. If you cannot be there let them know. If you are going to be late, let them know. Be the person that they can count on. Be a professional and they will treat you as one.

Sometimes this is tough. Sometimes it means that you will have a “crappy” job -- maybe you are pushing a lever all night and that is all you do. I invite you to think of it differently (and realistically). In a theatre, someone you never see opens the curtain; someone is working all those lights. They are no less important than any actor is, and without them, the show does not happen. If you become the person that your haunt owner goes to first (because he knows that you will get the job done right every time) and you can rest assured that you will very rapidly find yourself doing the more glamorous jobs you want.

Why? The owner wants his most reliable people in those positions. Earn his trust and that is where you will be. Remember too that whatever your job, you are an important part of a TEAM of people, working together to provide a quality entertainment experience.

Do not terrorize: by this, I mean, get your scare and get out of the customers face. It is tempting (and almost irresistible) to target the quivering pre-teen girl and ride her until she is in tears. Don't! Get the scare and move on. Better yet, ignore her completely and scare the crap out of her oh-so-cool friends. More important, you can bet that the less skilled actors are focusing their attention on the easy scare, which means the others are probably starting to get bored. Correct this.

Timing: Timing. Timing. Timing. The group knows that somewhere in this room, hallway, or whatever, something or someone is going to pop out and yell “Boo!” Often, that wait is more frightening than the guy doing the scaring is. Timing means knowing when to strike for maximum impact. Be patient and wait for what you think is the right time, then nail them. After every group, study what worked and did not, and refine what you are doing. Always work to time your scare to both their anticipation, and to whatever distractions are built into the room.

Approach: Approach them in a way they did not expect. Come in low and slide or crawl across the floor, come in high and leap from the ceiling, Come in FAST, or if they expect that, stand there and make them wait, then strike. But always try to give them something unexpected. Something memorable. If you have an idea about how a scene might be improved, talk to the boss -- he probably wants to hear it.

Safety: And this one is important so please read it all.

NEVER touch a guest if you can avoid it, and never let them touch you. Particularly, never get hit. Watch the people coming through and keep a safe distance. If you get in their face be ready to get back quickly. Safety is very very important, not just for you, but for the show. Every incident that happens means stopping the show, even if no one got hurt, and that sucks. So just be smart.

Always be on the look out for potential safety issues, and if you have the slightest concern notify your supervisor or the haunt owner immediately. If you think a scare, or even your scene is unsafe, do not do it. Seriously. Again, IMMEDIATELY notify your supervisor or the owner. There is not a haunt owner in this country who will not love you for catching a problem before it develops, and you will never get in trouble for not doing something you feel is unsafe.

Know the fire evacuation plan for your location, and what your duties are in the event of a fire (or other) emergency. Remember, you are responsible for the safety of the customers in your area, so know what you are supposed to do and do it like a pro.

Acting: You are an actor, so ACT. If you do not know how your character would react, it is sometimes helpful to picture a movie character and pretend to be them.
Ask yourself, "What would Brad Pitt do here?" or "How would Captain Spaulding react to this?" Then do it. Go crazy, go over the top, forget who you are and lose yourself completely in who you are pretending to be. No one knows who you are, and all they will remember is that psychotic nut case doing back-flips in the padded cell. Or perhaps you are acting by doing nothing at all, coming at them with stillness and allowing the power of your mind to destroy theirs.

Attitude: Be a professional, but have FUN. If you blow your scare, flub your lines, or even fall flat on your face, do not sweat it. There will be another group along in thirty seconds with no idea how bad you just screwed up.

The Boss: Always listen to what the haunt owner or manager want you to do. If anything they say differs from what I have written here, go with what they want. It is their show, and they might well have a better idea of the overall flow than you. They might even want you to be less scary -- just do it, they would not ask if they did not have a damn good reason. The ONLY possible exceptions to this rule are safety. Never do something you think is unsafe, even if someone directs you to. Take the time to explain to them what the problem is -- it is entirely possible that they did not think of it. I can say this with assurance, I know a lot of haunt owners and I have never met one yet that would knowingly do anything to endanger their customers or actors. They spend more time worrying about safety than any other subject.

Final Notes: Be there when you say you will, have fun, be professional, be safe, and act. That’s is really all there is to it.

(NOTE: If you are a haunt owner and found this useful, you have my permission to repost this or use it in any way, both on or off myspace, so long as the following link is included:
http://www.myspace.com/heeby_jeebies )

09-13-2007, 01:42 PM
for the Creature Crates DVD ref, and the text posting. I'll incorporate that text into our actor guide, and once I get it in good shape (probably after this season), I'll post it for the benefit of others.

thanx - you guys rock!

09-15-2007, 01:30 AM
Hello, My name is Geoff Beck from Shutter Productions, and I produced a documentary on haunted house actors called PLAYING WITH FEAR. It has over 19 interviews from veteran actors talking about their experiences, and their personal acting style. it has over 350 still photos of actors, and has a section talking about the importance of costuming. There is a tour of Netherworld Haunted House, as well as interviews with "Crazy" Bob Turner and Terror Park's Kelly Collins (MHC) who also tells me he uses this DVD to inspire his actors. There was another couple who have a small haunt who I met at my both at MHC who told me they don't hire any new actor until they have sat down and watched this DVD. it also includes a new additional 1 hour of 8 different makeup jobs to educate your makeup crew. Total running time is 2 hours ($15.00 plus $2.00 shipping). You can order it through paypal from my email address geoffgbeck@yahoo.com. If your interested, I also produced a DVD on just makeup called HAUNTING MAKEUP VOLUME ONE which has over 3 hours of 20 chapters including 13 makeups as well as demos on costume detailing, teeth making and advice for beginners from Screamline Studios (run time: 3hrs. $17.00 plus $2.00 shipping). Check out the reviews on hauntworld.com.