View Full Version : Actors, managing them, and all the BS

07-23-2009, 11:56 PM
Ok, well here I am wondering. Every year we pay our actors and have about 60 of them thru out the halloween season. alot stay, some go, some new guys come on board during mid season.

Im guna ask to all or any of you, How do you manage your actors before operation and during? We've tried "scream leaders" one in each house who still scare but also manage and we pay them a little more. That seems to do Ok. the only problem is that we might really be picking out our best character more than our best manager and its tough to decide...

How else is better? Two or three MAIN managers? or a manager in each of your houses. We run a 5 house attraction. Whats the best way. I need help on managing my actors and i start to get frustrated in october when paper work gets messed up and hours get lost and subtracted and added and multiplied by pi.....SO CONFUSED!

Also, how do you sign everyone in? detailed list of what you get from them and times obviously you write down of that night would help me figure the best way to log their hours.

The more I know now, the more I can get myself ready for our 2009 season and that will definitely help in the long run. I know its a short time for all of us to work with, with our actors, and I just wanted to see how all you other guys manage your actors and their information. that's all.

Thanks for the help

07-24-2009, 12:59 AM
okay, here's my idea: now, firstly i'm by no means a professional, but to me it seems that you need a secretary to take care of paperwork. Firstly, I like that you have your best actors as managers simply because your other actors will go to them for help simply because they are managers and you want your best to be giving advice because they know what they're doing. Now as for hours, I reccomend keeping a list of all your actors and managers. every day require them to come in at a certain time (giving enough time to put on makeup and get ready obviously) and when they get on site, have a print out of everyone required to work that night ready and when they get there have them sign in. at the end of the night have them sign out. if they leave early have a manager from the house they were in log the time they left. then just put the time sheet in a file every day for the week and at the end of the week have your secretary (or you) add up the hours and pay out accordingly. the managers could also keep a print out of the actors in each individual haunted house just so they know who is supposed to show up and to make it easier to know if an actor leaves early. keep in mind you don't have to pay actors for every second they're working. for example: if you're open every night from 7-11, that's 4 hours. say it takes 2 hours for make up and costuming, that's 6 hours. then add another hour or so for cleanup at the end of the night, that's 7 hours. you could pay the actors for 7 hours a day if they stay the whole night. that makes it easier having a constant number. if they have to leave a few hours early, like i said earlier, have a manager be in charge of keeping track of who's in their house and when. hope that helped!

Allen H
07-24-2009, 05:48 AM
This is the very reason that several folks on this board have produced haunted house managing software , Kelly being the first one to pop into my mind. Here is the best I have for answers after 20+ years in the industry from tiny volunteer haunts to Universal studios Horror Nights.

How do you manage your actors before operation and during?
*** Make a google or yahoo group for your cast and keep the list active, once a month (or more) post something haunt related on it in order to keep the show in their minds. This alone will increase your rate of return about 20%. Post things like what you are working on, updates about trade shows, new associations you've joined, and that kind of thing. Its also the place to post dates for your hiring events and other necessities.***

I use one manager per house (we have six on our site) and one actor manager. The house manager is in charge of signing in and out costumes and signing in and out actors. We pay our actors and we pay them by the hour like you do. We are open from 7pm till 1:30am so we pay them from 6:30pm till 2:00am. Thats a half hour on each end for make up and clean up. Yes, some make up jobs take longer but that just means it takes those people a little more time to get ready for work. Looking cool is the benefit as opposed to the $3 or so they are missing out on by not being paid for that time. Just like Coaster said this changes the hour math mess into a normal block of time where exceptions are noted by the house manager.

The main actor managers job is to make sure each house has enough performers and to shuffle and fill in as needed. They also run an opening meeting which has informative as well as morale purposes. Morale is the real method of payment no matter what you are paying them. A great haunt cast is kind of like a cult in their selfless devotion to the cause, you will never pay them what good actors are worth so you have to rely on them getting a different kind of payment (morale).

That Is how I run it and It is a good system. Also during these times take a second to consider that the chaos of the season is one of its perks and part of its appeal. Coming from a seasonal haunt background I went to work for Terror on church st. and then Skull Kingdom in Orlando FL. In seasonal haunts there is an element of chaos and problems arise each night that allow you and others to shine by using problem solving skills (the most important haunt skill set in my opinion). At the year round haunts I mentioned It was a well oiled machine, there was no chaos and no chance to shine. The magic of our season is the fine line we walk between chaos and order, the very fact that we are getting paid to induce panic is part of that dichotomy. How fun would the season be if it operated as a smooth 40hr a week job, if Halloween was just another day at at work and indistinguishable from a busy night in July? Chaos can be minimized and narrowed down but it needs to be there in some fashion for my season to feel complete. Embrace the chaos and disorder because if they were gone you would miss them, a switch flips when a show gets to organized and runs to smoothly, it loses the edge it used to have and the feeling in the air.
Best of luck,
Allen H

Jim Warfield
07-24-2009, 07:26 PM
To having a house run like a well oiled machine is the customers who walk into that machine all ready too well "Oiled".
Slipping, slouching, leaning on the walls ending up horizontal sometimes..
Keep these types outside and everything runs so much better.
I think the best perk my older employees like here is butchering the dialog I usually perform and adding some comic statements or outright insults about me personally!
If the customers like it, it's all ok with me, my ego can handle it.
We do things somewhat differently here and educating any newbies as to what I want and don't want is sometimes the straw that broke their little humpy camelbacks.
When you tell somebody how you want something done 3 or more times and you explain why you want it to happen your way and they then continue doing it their way..."GRRR!"

07-25-2009, 01:17 AM
awesome. Thanks guys. I got what your all saying. Look for die heart Halloween fans and not the ones there for just money because then you know they're really trying. Thats a givin. ha. I usually work those ones harder if I can in anyway possible.

Also, we do basically the same thing with hours. We Pay thirty minutes before hand (6:00pm) and thirty minutes after we close (changes with how busy we really are) for make up putting on and taking off.

A great idea would definitely be secretary by far! I'm just looking at it as, the more help I got the less I have to do and I actually get to run around and have fun at the haunt. "scream Leaders" or managers in the houses that also act are what we have now. I guess I just need to add more responsibility to those managers such as signing in's and out's. Thats always been my job. Ill just be there to supervise.

Maybe at the beginning of the night set up different rooms in our costume lounge/make up rooms and let the houses meet up get pumped for the night and sign up and hold contests between houses. We get alot of free stuff from sponsors and I cant see why a free movie here or a free week of tanning or 50% off at party city would hurt for the scariest house of that night? (we do exit interviews every night and find out which was scary)

Ill com up with a plan and bring it back to this forum to see if anyone else wants to run the same ideas in their haunt.

Thanks again and keep more ideas coming if ya want!