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My Experience As A Haunt Actor

October 1, 2012

When I am not acting in a project, like most actors – I have a “survival job”. It pays the bills, but it’s not very creatively stimulating. At times I have found myself just “going through the motions”. It’s hard to stay motivated as an actor when you aren’t actually in a current project. Then last year, I found a seasonal job working at a haunted house! I had a great time, and I am going to be returning to work there again this year. What I love about this job is the fact that it doesn’t feel like a survival job. It’s very similar to working as an actor, and most of the people who work in the haunted house are actors! It’s based on improv, because you are constantly interacting with the “guests” (people who enter the haunted house), and you have to be ready for anything. You never know what may happen – each night is different!

I have learned a lot since working as a haunt actor, and I thought it might be interesting to share some of the tips I keep in mind while doing my job. Note, if you are working in a haunted house – you should always listen to the owner or whoever is in charge. If anything I suggest differs from what they say, listen to them. They may have specific instructions for you.

     1.) Come up with a backstory for your character. 

Even if you don’t think you will need it, it’s a good exercise to get into character. Also, you never know when someone may spring a question on you – and you need to stay in character.

     2.) Be prepared for people trying to scare you!

It may seem surprising, but I often have guests trying to scare me back. I have developed a high tolerance to loud noises, haha!

     3.) Always be aware when someone has had enough. 

Most people coming to a haunted house are in the mood for a good scare, but you will get those people who react badly to being scared. Some people forget that under all the makeup and creepy costumes, we are just normal people. You do not want to get hurt – so, take note of those people and just stay away. Also, due to the hours we work, we often have guests who are intoxicated. It’s just best to avoid them if possible. You’re better safe than sorry!

     4.) The best way to remove all the makeup, stage blood, and/or latex? 

Makeup remover/baby wipes, water, and lots of scrubbing! A hot shower is really the best solution. I always think of this as going to the spa and getting a nice exfoliation treatment. 🙂 Of course, you should always ask the makeup artists what they recommend for removing your makeup. They may have specific instructions for you to follow, depending on your makeup.

     5.) Take care of yourself.

We work very late hours. Most of the time, we work anywhere from 7pm to 2-3 in the morning. We come in contact with a lot of people on a daily basis, plus most of us have a day job as well – so we’re not getting a lot of sleep. That’s a lot to ask of your body. Always drink lots of water, eat a healthy diet, and if your role requires you to do a lot of screaming (most do)- drink plenty of tea with honey, and suck on lozenges. Build your immune system up with vitamins and nutrients. Working in a haunted house is a lot like being a show, because there is a large cast of actors, and once one actor gets sick…. Everyone gets sick. So take care!

     6.) Most actors probably know this rule already from being in shows, but…. If you are given any props and/or costumes to use – take care of them and DO NOT take them home (unless otherwise instructed).

     7.) If you are inside the house, do not touch anything in the rooms, unless you have been instructed to do so. 

I am so lucky to be working with such an awesome cast and crew, and I can’t wait for the season to start!


7 Comments leave one →
  1. The Reflective Artist permalink
    October 1, 2012 8:54 am

    What an unusual “day job!” It’s great to read about this kind of event from the perspective of one of the performers involved. Have fun this season!

    • The Growing Artist permalink
      October 1, 2012 9:48 am

      Thank you! It is definitely an unusual “day job”, and I never would have imagined I would enjoy it this much. So glad you enjoyed the post! 🙂

  2. October 1, 2012 1:12 pm

    Very cool survival job, for sure 🙂

  3. October 4, 2012 10:47 am

    Cool! I love how you treat the haunt job as professionally and with as much care and attention as a more “traditional” stage job. That’s awesome and I’m sure the key to your continued success as an actor! Happy Halloween! 🙂

    • The Growing Artist permalink
      October 5, 2012 11:05 am

      Thank you! Happy Halloween to you as well 😀


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