View Full Version : Improve Your Volunteer Acting Staff

Hundred Acres Manor
08-31-2009, 10:47 AM
Hey everyone, Ethan from Hundred Acres Manor here. This thread applies to any haunt weather you are 100% volunteer based or if you mix and match volunteer actors with paid actors. Heck, it could also potentially improve the quality of your show from an acting stand point if you are 100% for profit. At our haunt we are challenged with dealing with up to 150 new (never acted in a haunted house) volunteers each and every night of operation. We do have a core group of about 25 individuals who know their stuff, but the newbies, um, YAH. Any whom, here it goes. Over for the first five seasons of our haunt, we had issues with getting our volunteers to do exactly what we wanted them to do. If you put an actor in their assigned location and give them a run down, chance are the are going to forget what you told them to do, get bored and elaborate, or begin feeling like they repeated themselves so many times that they need to "freshen up their act". I also had issues in the makeup and costuming area because I would tell them what to get and they would forget or tell the makeup artist otherwise. So, here was my solution to this problem and it has worked VERY well and has drastically improved our show.

At the beginning of each evening upon sign-in, each and every actor gets a "hot sheet". This tells them their position, their makeup and costume, their lines, how to act, a bit about their character, and some tips on being successful. We do also put them through a quick crash course in haunting but this is a great base line to start with. The actor gets the sheet, hands it to the makeup artist so the makeup artist knows what to apply, they get the sheet back and hand it to the costumer who hands them the noted costume, and returns the sheet to them once more. The actor then keeps the sheet with them for the remainder of the evening. When they are placed in their positions they have time to review and practice before the gates open and ask their zone managers any question they may have about their position. During the evening, the zone manager assigns stars on the actor sheet if they are doing a good job and crosses stars out if they are just fooling around. At the end of the evening we collect said sheets and give the actor of the night a prize (a Hundred Acres Manor tee shirt, four free passes, and a return invite to act in the same spot the next evening).

Here is an example of of of our sheets:

Hundred Acres Manor 2009

Location Information
Zone - Two
Area - Valley View Hospital
Position - Reception

- Dead base
- Scare tissue
- Stage blood (cracked head)
- Medical Scrubs (blue)
- Medical Jacket (white)
- Office Clipboard.

Scare Type
- Startle

Your Job
You are the dead receptionist at Valley View hospital. Your corpse has been rotting away in the reception area since the hospital closed in 1915. Greet visitors as they enter the abandoned hospital. Hide behind door and quickly advance towards the patrons while using one of the following lines. Be sure to project yourself and quickly reset.

Your Line Choices
Please use ONLY the lines assigned to this position. Do NOT elaborate.

- Do you have an appointment?
- All visitors must sign in!
- The doctor will see you now!

Tips For Success

- Scare every group every time no matter how small or large the group may be.
- Scare large groups more than once. If they are in the back of a line of 20, chances are they didn't see your act.
- Scare reset! Scare reset! Scare reset!
- Use only the lines assigned to your position unless otherwise instructed.
- Scare for the middle of the group unless otherwise instructed.
- Scare forward!

Now this is just a simple outline example but you can tailor it to suit your haunts needs. I hope this comes in handy for other haunters out there. I know it sure was a big help for me!

Best Wishes,



Boo Crew Production
08-31-2009, 11:58 AM

Great idea! Anything to make to process more efficient, and less chance for miss communications. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

08-31-2009, 08:02 PM
Sweet idea that makes sense. I can see where people might have all sorts of problems with not being sure on what they need to get for their costume/ make up/ and acting this gives great information to the actor and i think would def help them feel more comfortable with the huant!

09-01-2009, 01:28 PM
I just wanted to say that you have some of the best ideas!!! that are useful and would be faily easy to implement in any haunt!! I have seen you post before and just wanted to say THANK YOU!!!


Hundred Acres Manor
09-01-2009, 03:22 PM
Thank you Christina! I hope that you have a fantastic haunting season! I checked out your haunt site. Looks awesome! :D

Best Wishes,



09-01-2009, 08:30 PM
Thanks for posting, this is definitely something we can use at our haunt to get the most out of our volunteers.

Jim Warfield
09-03-2009, 11:04 PM
To my helpers to add, subtract, improvise and most of the time it does work out, eventually.
First season shyness must be circumvented somehow.
Last year one guy wore a dress. My Wife partnered him up with a guy he didn't know who told him infront of the customers to "Get back in that closet!" Which he did since a closet was right there so handy.
From the lack of expression on the "closet" guy, we don't think he understood the joke, which whether an act or not, made it alot more entertaining for the customers!

09-11-2009, 08:12 AM
We'll be trying this out this year! I mocked up one of our rooms on a hot sheet and brought it up to our staff. Everyone thought it was a great idea, and one of our guys sat down and started writing them up before I finished pitching the idea.

09-15-2009, 08:45 PM
Ethan, this is exactly the solution I planned to use last year when I was having similar problems. It sounds like you already tried it and it works well. I'm sure some folks will ignore the sheet, but for those who honestly want to help but are overwhelmed with information the first 30 minutes they are there, the sheets will help a lot.

It will also be helpful reminding them other things, like where the fire exit and extinguisher is, stuff like that.

09-16-2009, 12:37 PM

Your haunt was awesome during the MWH tour and your tip on the hotsheet is first class.


Night Stalker
09-20-2009, 06:40 PM
Great idea Ethan,

We have a book that contains such information but to have sheets on hand and to give to all newbies is a great idea. Thanks for sharing.


Hundred Acres Manor
08-28-2010, 04:30 PM
Hey everyone! I am very glad to see that this may be of some assistance to you guys! I am actually just sitting down to write up our 2010 Hot Sheets today lol :D Sorry I have been such a stranger, lots and lots going on down at the haunt. I wanted to thank you guys all for your kind replies and I wish you all a fantastic 2010 haunting season.

Best Wishes,

Ethan Turon


08-30-2010, 08:24 AM
This is FANTASTIC! Thanks so much for sharing, Ethan!

08-30-2010, 10:44 AM
Great idea...

Pumpkin King
08-30-2010, 03:49 PM
This will make it so much easier this year!

08-30-2010, 10:43 PM
I really like this and will give it a try this year. Thanks for sharing

Hundred Acres Manor
08-31-2010, 11:10 AM
Hey all,

Please keep me posted and let me know how this works out for all of you this season.

Best Wishes,

Ethan Turon


08-31-2010, 05:19 PM
Hot sheets are a great idea! Back in the day I would have a veteran actor give the newbie a brief rundown of the scare. Then over the course of the night Zone managers would watch over them and I would personally filter though and help them along with altering lines and what not. There was one disaster that stands out where the actor decided he should say "I smell your fe-ar" but it sounded like he was saying "I smell your peter". So after a good chuckle I corrected the issue. A hot sheet does not cure actor boredom, but some actors do not need the freedom......

08-31-2010, 05:40 PM

Thanks for the tip! We do an all volunteer haunt and this is a fantastic idea for the actors who come just for a night, or even a few nights. I will try it out and let you know!