It might seem simple on the outside: popping out of holes in walls or chasing guests with a chainsaw to get the scares they so crave; but there are so many layers that you may not be aware of. Scare actors practically have to give away their own safety and sanity just to scare you for the few seconds your lives cross paths. Audition season is just around the corner, and there’s some things you should know before standing before the audition panel. Here we will discuss the pros and cons of scareacting…
On the Surface
This job has everything! You get a kick out of scaring poor unfortunate souls and get paid for doing it! You’re even luckier if you are chosen to bare a chainsaw, a staple weapon of choice at every Halloween Horror Nights.
Though scaring guests from a hidden corner sounds easy in writing, it can get incredibly taxing. The redundancy of doing the same 10-15 second action every 45 seconds can get very monotonous and even mind numbing. Scare actors assigned to scare zones don’t have to worry about this as much though, since they are free to roam their assigned, much larger scare areas and can use much more of their surroundings to their advantage. Nonetheless, being confined to a dark corner is not suitable for all.
Job Description and Duties
Scare actors are performers in an elaborately produced show. The houses and scare zones are even called shows, and have directors, producers, make up crews, and even curtain calls. Both houses and scare zones work the same way, with each house or zone having two casts: Cast A and Cast B. Each cast switches off every 45 minutes, meaning cast members get a 45 minute break every 45 minutes. Have you ever waited in line for a house and saw a line of zombies, scary clowns, or cloaked hooded creepers walking into and out of the house or queue line? That’s a cast change! Scare actors are free to eat during whichever break they choose, but they must do their best not to mess up their make up too much. Re-touches can be done before a cast change.
After you have gone through the audition stage, which is a long drawn out process (which is best left secret), you are assigned either a house or scare zone, cast A or B, and either told the actual name of the house or scare zone or just simply “house 4” or “zone c.” You will also be given your character’s name, what they are doing, and which weapons they use (if any).
Keeping Things Consistent
The show that is the haunted house needs to stay consistent for all guests to experience basically the same quality of scares every hour, every night, every season. To keep scare actors and special effects operating at peaks, there is a quality assurance team, if you will, that oversees the performers every hour or so. HHN officials walk through the houses constantly making sure everything is happening as it should be. They walk through the houses amongst the guests, sometimes even with universal board members and other neckties of the office space environment of Universal Studios corporate. If they have any issues with a particular performer or special effect not operating to their liking, they make it known either to the stage director or even the actor themselves.
The Risks Involved
Given the nature of the job, scare actors are putting themselves on the line every night. People refer to the separation of reactions when getting scared as “fight or flight.” The person getting scared either escapes or throws a punch, basically. Scare actors are even told on their first day of the high likelihood of getting punched in the face at least once during the season. Most cast members, though, take this as a price to pay for doing what they love to do.
The guests who actually do the punching (or otherwise) are greeted by friendly police men at the exit of the house and arrested. Sometimes they even make it onto the news!
So where’s the fun?
The fun lies in the amount of creative freedom the actor is given to make his or her assigned scare really memorable. They may use different methods to try to scare the many different types of people that walk through their halls or streets. Almost everyone scares differently. Some people walk with their head held high as if nothing will scare them, and some walk around clenching onto their friend or loved one with their hand half covering their face. Each and every person a scareactor comes across is a new challenge to get that scream.
But the best part about it are the repeat visitors, the frequent fear pass holders. These guests attend the event multiple times and can find liking to particular characters or scares. The scareactor can make great opportunity of this and let the guest know that they recognize them and acknowledge their brave return, whether it be a finger point, or perhaps a whispered “welcome back” into their ear. The possibilities are numerous and it’s fun to find new ways to let the regulars know they’re appreciated.
So is it for you?
Now that you know a bit more about the scareactor gig, do you feel properly prepped? Will you buckle under the pressure to perform at your peak nightly or will you revel in the opportunity to make grown men cry?
Up for the challenge? Let us know in the comments!