You’ve probably never stopped to think about what that creepy guy wielding a chainsaw chasing you down a dimly lit hallway does to get into the spirit of things, or pondered the fact that he’s just a regular guy in a costume, trying to make you pee yourself a little bit for a living. Funny how logic leaves your body when you’re in the middle of a zombie apocalypse or attempting to outrun an evil clown with a particularly speedy PB.
Scaring the bejesus out of someone for work is an intriguing career move and there’s a heck of a lot more to it than saying boo on cue. So, what exactly does it take to be professionally terrifying?
From learning how to scream properly to terrorising an audience and getting into character before a shift, we caught up with a pro scarer from Tulleys Farm to find out what it’s like to scare people for a living…
What qualifications or experience do you need to be a professional scarer?
None at all! Just lots of enthusiasm! I had full training provided by Scream Park Entertainments.
What’s the audition process like?
It’s a 2 stage audition process. The first stage is a fun 2 hour physical and vocal workshop. Playing lots of games, doing exercises and learning the basics of scare! If successful in the first round you are invited back to the second round – SCREAM TRAINING! A full day of workshops, where they teach you everything you need to know about Character & Scare techniques, as well as how to look after yourself during the run.
What does a typical shift at work look like for you, if that exists?
I have to arrive at Tulleys an hour before the mazes open to get into costume and makeup, and then we all have a full team physical and vocal warm-up before we start scaring! I get given zones to work in the maze but I’ll generally work in all areas of the attraction over the course of the night. I have at least 2 half an hour breaks in the shift where I go back to the dressing room. My shift finishes at 11.30 pm and then I get out of costume and makeup and go home.
What’s your favourite character to play?
This is my third season at Tulleys and so I have been lucky enough to play lots! I LOVE THEM ALL! But being a Swing actor means you get a chance to work in all the mazes, which is mental!
What’s been your best / most extreme scare reaction to date?
A code yellow! (someone wet themselves!) Haha!
It must be a very demanding role, both physically and mentally, especially for the voice. How do you prepare for each performance and what’s it like interacting with an audience?
YES! Scream Park Entertainment prepare us for this lot, right from the auditions. We are taught how to harness our voices and our energy throughout the night/season. Lots of fun warmups and exercises! Keeping hydrated throughout the shift and EATING WELL!! It is the most physically and mentally demanding job I have ever done, but also the most fun!
What are the risks of the job? Have you ever had any hairy experiences?
Sometimes the customers are not very nice. We get called all sorts!! But it’s only them reacting to me making them jump. You do have to have a pretty thick skin sometimes. But we’re also given lots of training and support to manage any difficult customers. #OneTeamOneScream
Do you end up losing your voice a lot as part and parcel of the job, or is there a secret technique you use for screaming and making scary noises?
We are taught by Scream Park how to make scary noises without using our vocal cords, but still having a great effect! As long as you look after yourself and always warm up before your shift, you won’t lose your voice.
How do you typically get into character ahead of a shift, or is it a case of costume on, makeup on, BOOM, you’re in scare mode?
Costume and makeup do help. But in rehearsals, we are given lots of info about the maze and the characters within, and then they workshop the characters with us so we know exactly what to do. The warmup before we start is always fun and really gets us into the zone!
For any aspiring actors and scarers, what should they know about the reality of the job, the good, the bad and the ugly?
It’s tiring! It’s sometimes cold and wet! Very physically, vocally and mentally demanding, but It’s all worth it! It’s so much fun and I’ve made lifelong friends and look forward to it every year. The best job in the world.
What’s your top tip for scaring the living daylights out of people?
Build the suspense, choose your moment carefully, then IMPACT!
Have you got a stand-out performance you’re particularly proud of?
I don’t think so. I’ve had some great reactions in my time that still stay with me. That code yellow will be with me my whole life!
What’s sort of reaction do people have when you tell them what you do for work? It’s not your average 9-5 is it!
Usually, they say “that’s sooooooo coooool!!” Most of my friends are now doing it with me and some people just think I’m MAD!
Where’s your favourite place to haunt? (haunted house, scare maze?)
Anywhere at Tulleys!
What does it take to scare you? Or are you pretty much desensitised to pranks and scare tactics now?
The unexpected! If I go to a scare attraction, I’m quite hardened to it now, but still love it. It’s the rest of the time, I can be quite a scaredy cat!
Grab your tickets for Shocktober Fest at Tulleys Farm here!