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Thread: What is the going rate for live actors?

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  1. Default What is the going rate for live actors? 
    Luke Furney Guest
    I was wondering what the going rate for live actors should be? Also security and ticket booth workers and so on?
    Last edited by Luke Furney; 08-28-2012 at 11:07 AM.

  2. Default  
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Clinton Twp, Michigan
    There are a lot of variables. How long have they worked for you, how good an actor, how hard is the position, are they getting paid cash or check, are you taking out taxes or 1099ing them or no taxes at all, are they full time or part timers and so on?

    I have had this debate with several local haunt owners over the years. I have in the past paid my actors as high as $10.00 an hour to someone who had been with me for over 10 years. In the first couple years I paid as low as $5.00 an hour cash and did not take out taxes.

    So, after speaking to a very respected local haunt owner, he said 90% of all his actors only make minimum wage. I have decided this year that all my actors are going to be making the exact same amount. This way there are no hard feelings or feelings of favoritism. All actors are making $7.50 per hour which is .10 over Michigan's Minimum wage. Keep in mind, that I also do cash bonuses for best actors every night, ranging from $20.00 to $100.00 and tons of horror merchandise as well. Almost every actor will get one or more bonuses through out the season.

    Simple fact is, with the way the economy is right now, there are plenty of people who would love to work for that amount, and would be very grateful on top of that. I may lose some actors this year because it will be a pay decrease for some of them. I will be very sad about that. But the simple fact is, I still have to be able to make a profit too. I have a workers meeting scheduled for the 16th of Sept., and as of right now, I have 40 more people showing up then I will need. It will be no problem filling my haunt with quality actors.

    Now as far as ticket booth and security. Ticket booth people will also be making $7.50 an hour. But, security is a different matter. This is the hardest one to figure out. YOU NEED GOOD SECURITY! Quality security people who you know you can trust to handle any situation, the way you want it handled, are hard to come by. You need to negotiate the best deal possible but understand that these for the most part are not going to take minimum wage. Figure at least $10.00 per hour up to about $25.00 per hour. I usually set a flat rate per night depending weekday or weekend. I am the closet haunt to Detroit and have never had any major security problem because I have great Security.

    Hope this helps a bit,

    Howie "Slobber" Erlich
    Deadly Intentions Haunted Attraction (The Final Chapter)

  3. Default  
    Luke Furney Guest

    Thanks for the reply, I'm also in Michigan as well; I'm located about 10 minutes south of Kalamazoo. I'm really just trying to cover my bases before under taking all of this. I really don't want to make a low quality or run of the mill haunted house.

  4. Default  
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Clinton Twp, Michigan
    I would say to you that it takes time to build a quality attraction. Do not over extend your first year or two. The first thing is to establish good word of mouth. That does not mean you have to spend a fortune. Just be creative and make sure your actors do a good job. Once you get there, then you'll start really getting busy and that means more money to do bigger and better things.

    This is my 26th year in the business. 13 years for charity and 13 years for profit. (Cool I just realized that!) And sadly my last year. Mainly do to declining health. After all these years, I am finally happy with what I have accomplished in the business. Both good and bad. It's all been a very fun journey that I learned a lot from, and who I have met so many life long friends!

    I wish you the very best this year and for the future. If there are any other questions I could help you with, don't hesitate to ask.


    Howie "Slobber" Erlich
    Deadly Intentions Haunted Attraction (The Final Chapter)

  5. Default  
    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    Howie is great and very experienced (much more than me) you definitely should respect his word.

    However......I have never and will never pay someone to act for me. And I have over 45 actors on any given night.

    My crew is entirely volunteer, and I don't run a cheesy charity haunt these days, my partner and I are doing a lot of hard work to make sure our actors, scenes and scares DO NOT reflect upon anyone else's in the state. We want to be unique.

    So now onto the financial side, is it cheaper to pay everyone minimum wage, or cheaper to find dedicated volunteers who LOVE acting and scaring for the FUN of it and will give you their ALL, and give them community service hours for school or whatever if they need them and just donating a percentage of the ticket sales?

    Weigh your costs, pay everyone or pay no one but donate to a worthy charity?

    Being a not for profit haunt, we landed both armed and unarmed certified security as well as a few off duty cops for free from a trusted security company that is paying those guys for us, out of their pocket. They're using it as a write off, and we get to feel beyond safe! I couldn't be more grateful!

    Just something to think about, especially for your first year.

    Howie, much respect buddy! Not trying to disrespect ya, that's just the way I run my haunt

  6. Default  
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Mesquite, TX

  7. Default  
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    We pay out "Main" actors $350 for the season. Then we supplement the actor field with groups from the college. We make a deal with them that they supply us with 8 actors a night and we "donate" $1500 to their club. We also feed everyone, supply the costumes and makeup and supply pop/water for the night. Seems to work well for us.

  8. Default Then there are those "Horror Stories!" 
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Ravens Grin Inn, 411 carroll st.mount carroll ill.
    " worked for 3 months building his haunt, I managed it every night , he was going to pay me for all of this November 1st, then he disappeared!" (I guess financially speaking the employer withheld 100% for the payroll taxes?)
    I don't know how anyone could do this to someone else, but then in my working life I was usually the guy getting hollow promises in leu of foldable money.
    In Illinois if you own a haunt or are paid to work in one, You have to have a criminal backround check, this costs Us $16.oo/per/person. They reject anyone with a history of frequenting prostitutes too, so this means ... don't pay That bill!???haha!
    How many "$16.oo's do we spend every year and THEN they decide to Not Show Up? Don't ask. ("Grrrr!")
    One of our employees's name was caught by the state computer-ejected because some convict had once used "part" of His name as an alias, so now for the rest of our employees life he must be finger-printed every year to prove he is not the other guy, which costs somebody $45.oo! He says he paid it this year.
    I once hired an old celebrity to work here, he said he was "Tony The Tiger", he resembled him too, then I discover that he lied! He was NOT "Tony The Tiger!", he was "Chester The Frito Molester!" I actually implement "Chester" in my first room and get screams from many people when they see him!... then they laugh, as required.

  9. Default  
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    I too like 8 and 8 likes me.

    I prefer to mix my vols with my paids about equally.

    This year I've worked a scheme to help me manage actors by classifying their positions and importance into 3 categories: A,B and C.

    The A's are the must-have-covered spots, usually comprised of the best actors, and qualify for pay if they're up to standard and want it. I get vols here too.

    The B's are the fill-if-you-can spots but won't stop the show if unfilled. They can qualify for pay, but so far it's not been a huge issue. I have asked that they either vol some time or donate some pay to charity. B's get bumped to A spots if unfilled, sort of understudy style.

    The C's are volunteer only spots, and again I have had no problem filling them. These are usually my youngest or high school vol time seekers. C's get bumped to B spots if needed or even A's, but so far thats not happened.

    The real trick is designing the haunt so that the A's,B's and C's are evenly mixed about. Makes it WAY easier to sub a guy on zero notice if he's at least slightly familiar with the position by being near it prior.
    How can a man die better than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers and the temple of his gods.

    What you put into your mind- you put into your life.


  10. Default  
    Luke Furney Guest
    Thanks, everyone for the continued input; I'll put all my findings in front of my team and make something work for us.

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