View Full Version : How much to Pay

12-13-2007, 03:06 AM
If you've been scaring people for years, top notch actor in the building, how much do you think an owner should pay for one of the best actors? How much should new actors be paid and everything in between.

Just wanted everyone's view.


Jim Warfield
12-13-2007, 08:55 AM
Use a merit system, have them bring in the scalps from each night , countem up!

Happy customers exiting , no real complaints, people getting right back in line to buy another ticket......

Then you KNOW for sure. the only thing is , this experience is usually not just all about THE MONEY.
I sure try to do the right thing by my helpers here but I totally ruined a very good helper once , I gave him a cash bonus for a really good job. The next year he was out there, doing whatever his moods dictated, illreguardless of how purely annoying or hindering to other helpers and customers he was being.
Nobody enjoyed, nobody was entertained, nobody was scared, then he decided to just not show up on a couple of the busiest nights of the year without warning because he took his "talents" down-the-road. The other place found they couldn't tolerate a loose cannon to such a degree either.
All very sad. A waste of potential.

Greg Chrise
12-13-2007, 06:35 PM
The top of the line real asset actor would compare to how much a DJ, an MC or band member would make in a night. Provided they are seriously bringing something to the event. So this ranges $120 to $200 a night. Wether they realize it or not, this sounds wonderful to make as much as $50 an hour but, this limits them to only being wanted on certain nights. If you don't reward someone that has invested in one or more quality characters they are indeed likely to become part of the midway instead of the cast.

On the low end of the scale, slighltly above minimum wage is acceptable. It is maybe a dollar more than minimum wage because it is a temporary position. Then there is the fact that over the years with demonstrated investment and continued participation in education, they will increase a bit every year and one day might have that $20 per hour or more position.

The lower end has occasional perks like coming to pick them up and get them back home to arranging others to car pool them their. Little things like that are really appreciated by those that can not provide for themselves or otherwise be left out of the fun.

Because the entire involvement is under 90 days, they can be signed up from anything from having to report to a temporary company that will be handling the payroll to an independent contractor that will be making their own investment in the tools of the trade and will get paid in November. Making the bigger bucks also comes with the responcibility to genuinely provide a service to the event. They should be submitting a bill with some amount of pre agreed upon time to pay. This confirms their independent non employee status for tax purposes.

It is also possible that this star is to realize his stardom is only required two nights per season and all other hours will be at a much reduced rate as he gets on the job familiarity with the type of customers and layout of the facilities.

It is different per region but here $10 to $12 cost after taxed and such is quite the commitment from a company. Especially mutiplying this by 30 to 75 positions. So the normal increase from year to year is a scale of not being a problem, doing the job and progressing at 50 cents to $1 per year to the maximum $10 to $12 rate per hour. This might be 6 years of involvement.

A star negotiation would have their own high quality costume developed, be able to explain or demonstrate what they are going to do and do what they said they were going to do.

Any deal with an employee or long term character is difficult only in getting the what do you want from them. If the upper level wants to be treated like an employee they get employee rates. If they have the mindset of being able to provide a legitimate service as a signature character, sometime it is simply haveing the freedom to be who and where they want to be. I have watched events at wander in time and the bands and DJs and MCs aren't all that whereas the actors are in fact getting it and it is a shame they are not compensated at such levels.

in the long run, those providing a service are worth 4 times the hassle of the ones that need everything provided to them to still do half of the job. On the same token there are a lot of unproven individuals that will walk right in and suggest that they be your partner with 60% of the door and they will show you how it is done, never having even been to a haunted house. Usually these kind of people have been to prison. I think they learn how to do this there and always have to go back for refresher courses it seems.

Jim Warfield
12-13-2007, 06:49 PM
..and that 60% of the particulair "Door" they are referring to is the Women's Restroom door.
50cents a peek through the magic veiw finder hidden in the center of the door.

damon carson
12-14-2007, 04:00 PM
Ya i would agree a percentage off the door! If they are in charge of all the actors. The very best & top actor you have you cant afford to loose this person. They can make or break your haunt and keep moral of your other actors up as long as you keep this person happy and on your side.

12-21-2007, 03:17 PM
you mean us actors are supposed to make money? whooooooa wait a minute...

12-22-2007, 11:47 AM
I never would have realized that the pay was so low on the scale. so i had always figured on what i could afford what i wnated to take home if any and to be willing to make exceptioons for those special individuals. wow 20 bucks an hours for a seasonal job you had better be good unless i am just making good money then i always agree with passing on the good fortune to others with bonuses or insintives.

i think the big dollars would come down to camera views punctionality, scares, charachter, personality and dedication to the BLACK ARTS. LOL

Jim Warfield
12-23-2007, 01:37 AM
..and by chance would that $20 hr. pay check be directly connected to the black art of blackmailing the boss?
I have had employment where this happened. My Father told me,"Never dip your pen in the company ink." (or then you will find yourself using ink to write out pay checks for some very unmotivated workmanship.)
I used to watch as a female inkwell got a paycheck for a week but only working for about 3 hours each week.
OK, I was jealous, I just wasn't the Bosse's type, I guess?
He was too tall, and the bloody butcher knife he always was holding in his left hand made me nervous too!
He was a surgeon. Never saved even one cow, pig or chicken that he worked on.

01-04-2008, 09:03 AM
Tell me this... Sort of on the same topic...

If you had a 3rd year actor, someone who stuck with you through good times and bad. Helped with building, developed promotional materials (radio and tv commercials, flyers, website design, etc.), made their own costumes, and acted in the show. At the LEAST a solid 3 to 4 month commitment to your show every year. Certainly an asset if not more.

All of a sudden, this person doesn't show up on a Saturday night (second weekend in the season) and doesn't return for the rest of the season. No explanation, just for "personal reasons".

No amounts previously agreed upon, only an understanding that they would be duely compensated as they had in years past. Would you pay this person?

Would you at least return their phone calls? Return equipment to them that they had let you borrow?

Howie Slobber Erlich
01-07-2008, 08:01 AM

I would pay this person what ever the lowest paid actor recieved an hour for they hours they had worked that year. I would also make sure that they got any personal items that they owned returned to them. And I would for sure call them back.

Howie "Slobber" Erlich
Deadly Intentions Haunted House

01-11-2008, 01:55 PM
I figured as much. Hell, gas money at least. I drove about 80 miles, round trip, to the haunt at least a dozen times before the season even started. Not to mention the video work. It's been shot, edited, delivered, and used and I haven't received a dime for it. Worst part about it is that I considered the owner a very close friend.

I've had a couple of other workers e-mail me recently wondering why they haven't been paid. They have been unable to contact the owner and knew that I worked closely with him. It's just a shame when you trust someone. Granted, I didn't give notice when I left, but that doesn't mean that the work I did was for free. God only knows what these kids did to piss him off to the point that they won't get paid either.

I guess I'll know better next time around.

Greg Chrise
01-12-2008, 05:23 PM
The haunt season is like taking a bunch of new hires with all the expectations of any other corporate benefit laden enterprise. The thing is, the money comes from the customers and the big break even and profit (if there is any) is in the last two weeks of the event.

All year long I have new people show up for work, expecting all the easy stuations that former jobs had afforfed them and more. Usually they aren't expecting to hang around and put out as such, that much intrest. Yet, with in 3 days the barrage of questions comes up. Okay, it's day two and I took a bath, what kind of raises will I be getting. How about just fireing everyone you have and make me your foreman partner and I'll show you how to make money. It will be great when I get that 60 hour a week check (when it is winter and we work 30) (and I'm not 28 anymore) chances are they might want to consider a second job?

Then rarely you have the go getter that runs around doing things of great quality, showing their capabilities all the while sort of making their own mind up as to what these tasks and how many days rather than hours these things should take.

The the other questions, is there hospitalization? is there a retirement program? I sure would like to join a health club and get healthy.

Answers: No there is no hospitalization, we don't hire sick people, if you are too sick to work we can drop you off at the salvation army.

Answer: The retirement program is simple, who ever falls over dead, you get to go through their pockets. Just a warning, so far it hasn't been me your boss, it has been a few employees.

Answer: A health club? Okay the premium membership costs $3,000 and includes an endless supply of towels. Just start bringing in those 50 pond bafs of material and I will deduct it from your check.

My latest over demanding helper last worked for the city who had no problem having them work lots of overtime doing mindless work to no specific quality. They had somebody sitting in an office faxing the time cards and yet another on the tax payers tab driving around delivering checks and collecting time cards. I really had to sit back and understand this fantasy world of endless expectation. I came to realize the city pays no rent, no taxes because they are the government, and have budgets of millions already for the taking posted years ago for this.

In comparison a small business or haunt gets all their income from some kind of customer. Then they pay for a shop, all the transportation, spend hours training for something that isn't supposed to be done mindlessly, they have to pay taxes on the employee and everything and every dime that passes through their hands and pays sales tax on all the minor expendatures and if the customers are slow to pay or unimpressed, the getting any resources part gets to be a little tricky.

Plus, in case this guy didn't notice, the city kind of dumped him at the end of the season so you had to look for a job and came to work with us. So how great of a gig was that really? I'll bet they faxed the report that said they won't be needing you anymore. I don't even have a fax machine. Here's a pencil.

Plus it seems we are coming to get you, dropping you off, taking you to the bank to get your check cashed and buying your lunch. Did the city do any of that?

We also seem to get calls where people who have no idea where we will be working are telling us they won't be coming in due to the rain. All the while we have some indoor projects as well as things to do at the shop.

Possibly it isn't that you got ripped off but, no one cared wether the customers came, were impressed, satisfied and enough of them came to pay everyone. Possibly some people imagined that doing their own campaigne of sorts would help even if not delivered and should be compensated for, but, they kind of took it upon themselves to do this with no prior agreement as to how much it would cost or what the benefits would be.

There is nothing wrong with beeing gung ho and contributing beyond what is expected and expecting some kind of end compensation for one's efforts. The thing is is needs to be completed work that derives an income from some kind of customer or provides a true benefit that increased the number or the satisfaction of the customers.

Usually the end goal of the go getter is to be there in the end having created the opportunities for reward AND being there to see the program through to a great conclusion.

Just doing a bunch of things with great enthusiasm and quitting short has no value at all. Unfortunately in the business world, if they are your employee you have kind of paid them anyhow.

In comparison, I have three people in different parts of the country that sort of inherited businesses that I got tired of. They prospered for decades to this day and simply got rewarded for showing up and doing what was necessary. I actually learned from these people how to take over a company by being the best employee and even being a financial contributor. All too many business owners never thought of what a headache every aspect of business could be or how hard it was to make ends meet to the extent that when they had to pay taxes, someone else has to make their payroll. You are only one step away from serving their customers directly with out a drop of a heart beat when they quit.

At this point you are already sort of doing everything, you just go to work. However, the school system or families or who ever (the prison system) have brain screwed everyone into that expected income simply by demand with no real skill, knowledge or investment in plan or thought or sweat.

Sure, just walk in and it is yours even though you have no idea what the skills are or what the great line of tasks could become that have been "expected performance" of the company for decades. Even on the Today Show they say the best way to lose friends is to have money dealings with them. Or when one has no idea as to what it takes to develop the resources it took to create what is seen as possibly a blank check with no end scheme really in place.

And while I'm bitching....

would you rather work 60 hours at $7 per hour or 30 hours at $12? It amazes me how many people think that the 60 hour job is better. After taxes it is the identical net income even with overtime but, apparently the school system has failed in math as well.

I'm sure that next spring the city will call our helper with their exciting offer. Do you want a career that leads to a $30 per hour income and self owned business or do you want to run a weed eater for 60 hours a week? I will decide at that time which fate is better for him.

(insert the Jepardy song here)

01-12-2008, 06:51 PM
Possibly it isn't that you got ripped off but, no one cared wether the customers came, were impressed, satisfied and enough of them came to pay everyone. Possibly some people imagined that doing their own campaigne of sorts would help even if not delivered and should be compensated for, but, they kind of took it upon themselves to do this with no prior agreement as to how much it would cost or what the benefits would be.

There is nothing wrong with beeing gung ho and contributing beyond what is expected and expecting some kind of end compensation for one's efforts. The thing is is needs to be completed work that derives an income from some kind of customer or provides a true benefit that increased the number or the satisfaction of the customers.

Usually the end goal of the go getter is to be there in the end having created the opportunities for reward AND being there to see the program through to a great conclusion.

Just doing a bunch of things with great enthusiasm and quitting short has no value at all. Unfortunately in the business world, if they are your employee you have kind of paid them anyhow.

I see your point, and yes, I did a few things that the owner did not expect me to do, and I do not and never have expected payment for these things. My costumes are a good example. However, you really shouldn't hire anyone to do anything for you unless you are 100% positive that you will be able to pay them. I don't care by what standards or point of view you look at it from, I was ripped off.

The fact is, I was asked to design flyers, I did. I was asked to shoot and edit two television commercials, I did. I was asked to shoot and edit several short films for queue line entertainment, I did. I was asked to produce two radio ads, I did. Also, this wasn't a 'Here's the final cut, see ya' situation. I produced drafts of everything and worked with the owner until he was pleased. I don't know who you hire to do similar work, but I guarantee they wouldn't do it for a pat on the back or for 'the thrill' of working in a haunted house. 'Thrill' isn't a widely accepted currency, so I had buy my equipment with hard earned money.

I could reverse your statements and claim that perhaps he didn't pay me because he doesn't know what skill and how many hours are involved with graphic design and audio/visual editing and production. I'll tell you this, if he had hired a different company to do it they would have been paid before they even started rolling. They would've been paid a lot more than I ever asked for with no question as to how many customers their product appealed to. That's a gamble you take with advertising mediums. You approve the final and that's that. You can't go back and say "well, I didn't make as much money as I had expected to make so I'm not paying you."

It was planned. He had everything in his hands before he turned on me. When I stopped acting in the show, that sealed it for him. I'm the sucker for not seeing it coming before it was too late.

Jim Warfield
01-12-2008, 08:47 PM
They should be paid what is owed to them. This takes any debt off your books and clears things for what may or may not happen later.
Employees who ditch the haunt on a busy October weekend may not realise how much this potentially hurts the quality and safety of the show. It might be tempting as the owner to deduct a certain amount from what is owed because of this factor but then when it comes right down to it, I am a softy usually and I wouldn't be deucting anything.
Maybe haunt owners should come up with a formula as to the actual value a weekend emplyee is to the show on those Friday and Saturday nights though. I have also been left in the proverbial "Lurch" by such absentees, most of which were for no real or valid reason, just quirky attitudes, usually.
The "best" one was when a relative working for me left at 9pm on an October Sat. night because he had to suddenly be in a town 10 miles away "looking at an apartment"?
It was extremely aggreivating to have family employees who had such unreasonable feelings (or mental awareness absences?). One bragged to the non-family employees that I couldn't fire him because he was "family"...he was very wrong, he discovered.
If you wouldn't tolerate a non-family employee "scuttling your ship" then why would I allow a family member to do such harm (or potential harm?)

Greg Chrise
01-12-2008, 09:00 PM
All you describe is probably a pay out of from $4,000 to who knows. Technically this is more than $800 and felony fraud on one hand if the quality of the product could be seen fit by non participant. However, in the real world an attorney to even consider this debate will be a minimum end bill of $6500 and so it isn't worth any such litigation.

So to properly recoupe your loses (of which sorry to say I have had a dew providing service to haunted houses) you have to consider this part of your resume. Perhaps the portfolio of your work which in any other bigger industry begins with a $25,000 marketing survey about what people would be intrested in most.

As it has not been paid for, it is yours to use as an example to display a sample of your skill and accomplishment. Not necessarily that you would be going directly into the field of edvertising or creating advertisment for haunted houses as a job or career but, At least this is completed work and proves you are capable of such things. In the real world of course it may only be seen as "inspired or passionate" but it is better than not having any affilitation with any thing.

Consider it branding. let the free market decide if it is worth creating a demand for. In this instance you are going to use it as a sample of your work that puts you into the $4,000 to who knows how much catagory rather than dude, i just want my gas money.

Even if you chose not to do any other advertising piece for anything ever again, it means having done it (even for thrill) made you aware of all the conceptual problems and considerations. It gave you an opinion about what could be done in the future with more resources and something to go on.

In a way this was an education. Unfortunately ther is that lack of class in this industry about people saying they would pay you and then when it comes time to pay, oh, didn't that other guy pay you? It is totally wrong and even those that did pay I had to send Vampirella lose on them to collect.

I have threatened to come get complete haunts with semi trucks over $200. It is so sad. I've spent more resources collecting than was due on general principal. Now, generally I understand things happen occasionally but in the haunted house thing lots of very hard work over years ended up not even being much more than one more line on my resume.

I will say this name dropping did get me a location, a sponsor, an entire acting troup and advertising that all would have cost this easy $25,000. All earned by getting ripped of for smaller amounts.

In retrospect, I could be small and say there are some things I won't be doing because it would benefit these people directly with my hard earned cash but, you know what? They ended up being good references for additional work. Even with out name dropping (as in other fields these people are no body) but, calling out the locations of the haunts, I recently got an easy faux finish no one could figure out how to do and I was confident and informative because I have done something similar on a large surface before.

I consider it all free research. A place to test yourself. Of course after a decade of doing this, you have learned enough to do your own events. Education is very expensive. You could have mispent your own money in an event and that is worse than having field tested your capabilities, even testing/training your helpers for expenses incurred.

I can tell how well you responded to my not knowing anything that this will be an asset to you in the future.

01-12-2008, 11:34 PM
Well put, and I agree 100%. I have considered all of these things, which is why I have not and will not trash his haunt and why I have tried to explain my reasons for not returning (By the way, I highly doubt that you're interested, but PM me if you are, it makes a hell of a conversation). I have no delusions of a legal battle over my humble paycheck and, to make matters worse, this is much to the dismay of my Wife, who is waaaaayyyy more pissed about the whole situation than I am. She wants to pay him a visit herself and Vampirella has nothing on her. How embarassing. Besides, there were no contracts, no invoices, nothing on paper, like I said, only an understanding that I would be duely compensated as I had been for prior work.

I absolutely despise any business that holds a grudge because someone resigned their position without notice. Especially when the position is seasonal, temporary, or subject to undefined terms. Sometimes enough is enough. Life is too short to hate what you do, where you are, or who you associate yourself with. As if that is any reason to decline earned wages. Petty.

I have moved on and I do intend to use the experience to my advantage. The point is that I have worked for the guy for 3 years. I helped him out when no one else would. I brought my friends to help him when no one else would. I defended him through thick and thin and I offered a professional service for a fraction of what someone else would've charged. I just wanted to know if any of you would take advantage of one of your workers this way and maybe make a few of you aware that, even though it may be the nature of the industry to be thrifty and pinch those pennies, you may want to think about the time and effort that your 'go getter' is investing in your show and the faith that they may be putting in you and your show before you judge them. I just can't stand people who turn their back on friends like that. I feel sorry for him and anyone who would do a person the way I was done.

Jim Warfield
01-13-2008, 08:11 AM
I firmly believe in paying people who work for me. This is just right and fair. Unfortunately (not in your case as it sounds) I have also had some helpers who used their time here to figure out just how little work they could give me and still get paid!
Every job requires the expenditure of personal energy and time but the haunting business requires so much energy that only comes from a true desire to be there, scaring people and some will not ever see it this way or find that "fun", sad for them, I feel.
I have met people who spent vast amounts of their time and skills working, even managing someone else's haunt , only to get totally stiffed=no pay at all!?

My first year at Transworld I was sitting next to "Grandpa & Grandma who took in $140,000 each October with their haunt and were bragging to others at Transworld that they paid their helpers with an ocassional free hot dog and a simple "Thank You"!?
Their helpers were actually "getting" a Really BIG hot dog in my opinion, Butt they might not have fully realised it!

Greg Chrise
01-13-2008, 12:03 PM
Even in our regular business of putting textures on pool for people who somehow make $4,000 a day becomes tough to get paid. People build up a little heirarchy of "he's in a meeting" right now, don't answer their cell phones, purposely go out of town or have some excuse like they need to transfer funds or what ever.

The Vampirella Collection (although she is mean as hell) is actually relentlessly professional. Routinely calling and being nice, wasting their time poinitng out how hard we worked, how expensive the help and materials are, even disclosing the actual expenses to a point where it is obvious we engaged in this activity not to rip them off but to help them have a good product. Generally there are no complaints with the work or the performance and generally they agree to all of thee points and that they need to get us some money. Now When will that be happening?

The picture painted by this communication is that not just one person has been not paid but, an entire organization has been effected that is used to having recourse in order to get paid.

Even when I sell a job to strangers it is generally a referal from a number of companies we are subcontractors for. I have always looked at the Haunted House like it is just one of the 40 or so jobs we do every year. One of my little sales closes is usually prefed by the previous referal and they say you drive a hearse? Yes, I do because of the haunted house but, I find it works in this industry too as I can always drive in with the hearse and collect something. They usually fill in the blanks wit get in the back. I say yes, generally people will give me money just not to see the hearse in their neighborhood and have to explain all of this to everyone over and over.

The secret however to our making money and getting paid all but once over the past 15 years has been that we are relatively transparent in how much everything costs, they couldn't do it because there is a developed talent and trained skill involved and we have taken that to a little higher level with exactly how each step is done. As customers watch and check on our progress it is obvious we are doing some very physical things over a long course of time. I have come to see this as a performance art.

Somehow even if a competitor did such and such a step, the customer didn't see it done. I redo other people's work too and charge less than they do. So you did the job more reasonable, used better longer lasting materials that might have required you to go slower and allow things to cure out, you di all kinds of sanding and edging where the other guys didn't do that. The end result is a happy customer. We did what we said we would do, we were there when we said we would be and I hear from all the contractors we are the only ones that do that.

So when it comes time to be paid, I understand to some extent that they have to get the money from the customer, put it in the bank, make sure the check cleared and then pay us. However too many times I have pulled up to a business and there is a new truck or car or piece of equipment sitting there shining and they don't have our check. Do I need to go get the hearse? Do you want Vampirella to call?

I don't care if the money has to come from the budget of another job or if they have to sell one of their bobbles to pay me. They said they would pay me and here I am.

I understand the economy has all the expenses have risen, it has gotten tighter but the buying new toys hasn't seen to stop. Even if it delays me getting what we worked hard for. As an employer and operator, I have paid everyone and bought all the materials, paid for the location that all of this is kept and traveled all over the place in the expectation of getting paid.

Just recently, we stopped going to a location due to the weather, never asked for any money and we got a check in the mail for what has been completed. That's my kind of customer. Meanwhile right next to this same project, the guy is out of town so how are we going to get paid?

The other buzz I occationally put in their ear about getting paid is that because of what we do, I have the heavy equipment that takes these products off. So rather than filing a lien, sueing a non payer, the unpaid product is mine and I will remove it if it isn't paid for with this equipment and leave behind a finish that looks like the hiway department scabbler has been here.

So, part of the education is to be entirely transparent all the way through the process. Be sure your customer sees progress and how hard it was to do something all the way through and give them a heads up that it will be time to get their wallet out or promise where the money is coming from at some time in the future.

So far, although I occasionally drive the hearse to get a check, I haven't had to show up at their front door with the good shovel and the hearse at the curb. I haven't had to spend a couple hundred dollars scarifyinf their yard or writting swear word into their pool deck wit a machine. Just the potential that this is where it could head is very entertaining or it prompts people from ordering things that don't really have the money right now.

Being around haunted houses has made my real life a bit different, perhaps even more effective. I have had to sit here many times and wonder what someone had of equal value that I might want. Occasionally it isn't worth putting out any further effort. You just add one more sentence to your sales close. Again turning a loss into insurance to not lose again.

Then, another trick I have learned from the haunted house industry is to explain to anyone how to do it themselves, where to get everything, how much it costs, what you have to do to complete the task and so on. They will either try and realize it is tougher than it looks or understand what is involved and hire you for a preset amount. Another form of total transparency.

Communicating that we are just intrestested in providing a service for a living wage, we aren't buying a new limo at the end of each job.

I have come up with crazy things to say reguarding getting money. Someone will say the cliche " baby needs a new pair of shoes" I will respond with "my dog needs a sex change operation."

But, at any time it could be just like that X-files episode where the inbreed mutants fire up that old junk car, playing Johny Mathis on the radio and go into town to kill the sheriff.

I begin the potential scare right off the bat and go to the door of the personal home of every new contractor and knock on the door to meet their wife. So as to say I know where you live. So as to say, sorry for being rude but, our getting money for very hard work is serious business. Just like customers call up the better business burea before dealing with a contractor, I fully investigate a client and list potential ways I will be paid or who will be the hostages, do they have any furniture that I might need? Are they okay with the type of helpers I have at any given time?

Now a new seriousness has occured whereas contractors are bidding my time and paying at the very moment of job completion out in the field no questions asked. Well, I guess that moves that contractor to first call status. Those who need to wait untill the payment is handled by their accounting department can wait their turn.

Jim Warfield
01-13-2008, 01:34 PM
Having a door-to-door bill collecting business must not be legal anymore in this state?
When I was a kid it was legal and the bill collector who seemed to strike fear into the hearts of dead-beats was a guy who only had one arm?
Maybe it was the fear that he was so tough handling the painfull loss of his arm that he could beat you to death and think nothing of removing one of your arms in lieu of payment?
I heard that in one of the South American countrys the bill collector always drove a blindly red new car and they sent two guys to your door wearing red jumpsuits, making it all the more embarrasing and hard to explain to the neighbors.

Greg Chrise
01-13-2008, 04:31 PM
As far as legality it is a grey area. I'm pretty sure what changed is the fact that everyone decided to buy guns to protect their property.

Apparently you can righteously shoot someone on your own property but, you can't go over and protect the neighbors house or chase down thieves.

For the civilized, there is just too much time involved in explaining what happened.

For entertainment purposes, some of the pool companies had pondered me collecting for them using the hearse technique or when I did do their pool deck come up with the words you are a big prick really big in the final finish that when hit with a certain kind of light illuminates. Of course the pool company would sell them and collect on the special light fixture as well.

Jim Warfield
01-14-2008, 12:07 AM
I know when someone used to owe my Dad for a new furnace we could not legally incapacitate their furnace to try to force a payment from them. Another guy in town sold and installed a central AC for a big dead-beat..no pay...he waited until it was the absolutely hottest day of the entire summer then drove up next to the compressor, snipped all the lines off, loaded the unit into his truck and drove away with it!
Explain that to your wife and kids Mr. Deadbeat!

Greg Chrise
01-14-2008, 07:23 PM
I learned how to say "I didn't do it" over and over and over.

Greg Chrise
01-14-2008, 07:26 PM
In Illinois, there may be laws about the furnace not being screwed with, as some case in 1950 found the entire family and the dog, dead in the middle of winter with their tongues stuck to the wall.

Jim Warfield
01-16-2008, 07:42 AM
If they would have limited their tonguing to something alive (like each other) they would still be alive today, in jail, but still alive!
Watch out for those cold steel jail bars!

Evilution Unlimited
05-01-2008, 07:52 AM
How do you guys handle taxes on actor wages? Do you pay them as independent contractors (so they pay medicare and social security), do you pay them under the table, or do you pay them like a regular job with all the social security and medicare costs being matched by you?

Kevin Dells
05-20-2008, 07:57 PM
you mean us actors are supposed to make money? whooooooa wait a minute...

LOL Man your not just kidding on this one Rob!!

O.K. im up for hire, whats it worth to you and no iv'e never done time im always like this!

I also Build sets, do spfx make up, and yes even carpool and wipe noses for the kiddies!

Nose wiping seminars i charge more for!! You supply the kleenex.

The Shack
05-20-2008, 10:24 PM
I have been on both sides of the fence on this subject. I am an actor, janitor, builder, security, director, a shoulder to cry on, creator, owner and a sucker. I have acted in haunts ever sense I was a kid. I acted for free sometimes and I scored some good haunt jobs and got paid good money for my services. I recently just did a three year tour for free. I have bought costumes, props, brought in help, etc and did not get paid a dime. I put in many many hours all year long and worked on the house and made role call every night. My friends were not paid and were talked down on by this owner and his wife. This was a big dissapointment to me, my friends and family. I didn't even get any credit with local media, website comments or a thanks from this haunt I partnered with. Bullshit man. Some people are just sorry and have to pay thier debt ecspecially new upcoming haunts. I have owned and ran my own haunt also. I did not make a dime, but I did pay my actors all that I agreed to pay (hourly). Actors do need to be in the scene every and all night. Dressing up in a costume and yelling all night is a hard job. It will really wear you down over time. You should be compensated for your hard work and time spent. Pay actors based on years spent, reliability responsibility, and quality of fright. Give them a bonus for being there every night or just for doing a good job. If they can't pay they should allways show appreciation towards you or reconize you somehow or any chance they get. It is hard to get good actors and keep them around. Do not ruin it for 1st time actors. Pay all actors if possible and even reconize them on your website, news enterviews, paper, and/or anyway possible. People will go miles for a great leader.

05-23-2008, 10:38 AM
I do agree that a paid actor is typically a happier actor. But if you are running a volunteer haunt, its always appreciated when you give the actors free food and a gas reimbursement (especially with the nightmares at the pumps right now!).

I think at least minimum wage for a new actor is a good starting point, especially if they are acting and running around for at least 4 hours straight at night. I think there should be a sliding scale based on talent, experience, and overall contribution to the show (example: if an actor does makeup on otehr actors every night as well as act, they should receive more than just an actor).

07-17-2008, 10:26 AM

I had this happen to me two years back. I had an actor who had been with the event since day one (so 4 years). He was one of my best-always bringing new ideas to the table, willing to move to whatever scene needed aid each night, etc. Then, we got a new actress in 2006. Suddenly my actor was more enamoured with her than the event. I often found them taking their 15 minute breaks together (and the break last more like 45 minutes), sneaking off into the woods, etc. Then one night....they just didn't show up. I have always had actor contracts. Each one signs stating they will be there for all the nights (or provided 24 hours notice they aren't coming), they will never come drunk or high, they release us of liability for injury, and that if they no show one night- they forfiet all the pay they had earned up to that point. So, when they came back the next night, once I made sure there had been no emergency that kept them away, I explained to both of them that they would night be recieving any pay for the nights they had worked prior. This was a big blow for them because we were on night 9 of 12 when they missed. They agreed and apologized for the absence. They worked the remainder of the event and were paid for the 4 nights after their no show. Actress left at the end of the year. Actor is back 100% and better than ever.

Won't really help you for your current situation with the actor now, but I would consider contracts for future years. Covers everyone involved. :cool:

07-17-2008, 12:54 PM
I have only worked at one commercial attraction, but it's been for a number of years. We have always paid our actors a flat rate per night they showed up, and if they showed up all the nights (16), they got a bonus, and if they were a roamer, which only our top 8-10 were, they got a bigger bonus. I think our top paid actor might have made $400 for the season. We have an average of 60 actors a night, and if we paid everyone minimum wage, there is no way we could even open our doors. We already don't make money. I know acting is hard work, but I thought we act in haunts for the love of it, not to make a ton of money. Honestly, my job as technical director: all the animatonics, all electrical systems, all pneumatic systems all lighting, all sound, etc, I only make about $3 an hour average per season.

07-17-2008, 01:47 PM

I agree wholeheartedly. We pay a flat fee per night as well. We explain to our crew that they really need to be in this for the love of the work, not for the money.(Since now a days the money barelyl covers gas!). We do the contracts to give them incentive to stick to their word and finish out the run. It also helps us in the end....If an actor breaks contract, the money that they have forfieted goes into a fund to give other actors a bonus.

Jim Warfield
07-18-2008, 05:16 PM
In a perfect world we wouldn't need contracts, but of course there's no such thing as a perfect contract.
Some people get very emotional when it comes to money owed them or money they feel was wrongfully with held from them.
I very well remember the conversation that took place in my front room during a tour in which a group of people told me all about not getting paid for haunt work, so they broke out all the glass in that guy's classic hearse!
What did this "cost" him?
The most unpredictable and dangerous animal on earth...man.

07-18-2008, 06:19 PM

That is oh so true. Since nothing is perfect, you just have to find the formula that works best for your haunt.

Jim Warfield
07-19-2008, 02:02 PM
"Finding what works best for you."
I have modified almost everything I was ever given or got to make it work for me, doing whatever I am trying to accomplish here with always limited means.
things have worked out with me doing this to my advantage because most customers here see things pretty much the same way and they do not feel ripped off for the price of their ticket simply because there are no $5,000.oo displays here.
Of course I do compensate by applying my strangeness and physical energy to the tour I give them, afterall the thrill is mostly from the information you give them to set them up for it, setting their mind to the "anticipation mode".
As with all art you give them part of something stimulating and allow their mind to fill in many of the blanks. Customer mental involvement is" THE Be-All and End -All" of this business.
Anything less is delegated to "ho-Hum"?
And soon forgotten....then you have to spend More money on advertising AGAIN!

07-19-2008, 07:15 PM

I love the fact that you mention not having $5000 displays and interaction with the crowd. While we don't go about our interactions the same way (I believe you said you do the guided tours, while we don't) we are of the belief 100% that quality interaction is key. Infact, that's where the name of our company came from. We believe that in the haunt, the actors provide the Foundation For Fear. We also work on a limited budget, so we shy away from the large animatronics and more costly props. Whenever possible we use a living breathing person to play every part. Including the roles that aren't supposed to be as living and breathing :grins:.

I have been to some HUGE haunts that contain the latest and greatest props and effects. usually that only human interaction I got at these was when I bought my tickets. The effects look awesome, sure. And I know they were quite pricey. But to me, I can always rationalize that it's a piece of machinery. It's isn't going to hurt me while I walk through. However, the live actor with that chainsaw and crazy look in his eye....He could be a whole other story. I mean, really....we all know how unpredictable us actors can be :)

Point being....Nothing like a haunt (no matter how small) running on live talent.