During a warm summer day in July, many people (who are 18+ of age) line up on the side of the Gate, waiting to be ushered in to show Knott’s what they are made of, to become Scary Farm Scare Actors/Monsters. They are invited in through security check and into the backstage area of Knott’s to check in and to auditions, which were held in within the haunted penitentiary of Paranormal Inc. They were casting for their infamous event Knott’s Scary Farm. They were looking for people to unleash their inner monster to become Clowns, Zombies, Ghosts, Witches, Creatures, and Things that go Bump In The Night. Hundreds of people, young and old, newcomers and returning scare actors, audition every year to become the fear that lurks in The Fog and In the Darkness. But before they can become monsters of Scary Farm, they must show what they got and what they are made of to a panel of Scary Farm designers and talent coordinators. These are the people who have a keen eye for evaluating actors’ strengths and where they will fit best in their twisted family. There is NO Failing in this Audition. Everyone has a place in the realm of Scary Farm. From line control, to a Zombie in infected, blackout, maze monster or even t streets.
Prospective monsters congregate where guests await their next great terror before venturing in during the haunt season. Excitement, anticipation, and nervousness linger in the air as they talk amongst themselves about what may come during auditions and where they hope to be casted. Time ticks by quickly as groups of future monsters enter and exit Paranormal Inc. with excitement on their faces.
We are then escorted into the showroom where a panel of talent captains and designers Jon Cooke, Gus Kruger, Nathan Hale, and Andrew are waiting for the next group. The group is escorted into the maze, a perfect atmosphere with eerie music playing in the background to audition to. Cooke welcomes everyone and asks each person to introduce themselves, state specific talents (like stilt walking, contortions, etc.), haunt experience, and where would they like to go. Each one steps forward with enthusiasm, expressing their love for the event. Then comes the fun part, lol. Jon instructs the group of future haunt monsters to show their best ZOMBIE, CLOWN, and WEREWOLF. The room erupts with a terrifying menagerie of everyday people becoming your worst nightmares. Throughout all of this the panel are writing down notes. No Makeup and No Costume… these people become all of these in a snap. Then Cooke goes down the line of scare actors and asks for their best pop out scare, each one gives their all to scare him.
The audition ends, and those who are trying out for streets stay behind in Paranormal Inc. while the rest of their group wait for them right outside. The ones who are moving forward for Streets auditions state which of the four infamous zones, Ghost Town, Fiesta De Los Muertos, CarnEvil, or The Hallows, they are interested in. They are then asked how they would portray a monster of that zone. Each actor gives their wild spin on the zones they are interested with energy and dedication.
They are then excused from the room for the audition is over. The panel of designers and talent coordinators talk amongst themselves about the results of the auditions and where each person would fit best in their world of nightmares. After deliberating, going over notes and finishing up their paperwork. They invite the actors who passed the audition for streets back into the room and congratulate them on succeeding. As Jon Cooke calls this part, “Making dreams come true.” 🙂 Those who are selected for streets are brimming with excitement because it is a position where they can roam outside the mazes and scare all guests who cross their path.
Speaking with Cooke and the designers, we asked what piece of advice they would give to those who wish to audition next year?
“For me, the biggest piece of advice is just to come in and Don’t Be Afraid to look Silly and Dumb and Just Have Fun with It.” 🙂
Returning with the actors, they are looking forward with curiosity to which maze they are going to be placed in. So everyone, including the future street talent, are escorted next to processing where many dedicated Scary Farm employees look over the actors paperwork and place them in their mazes. They go over which every actor, their character and their maze. Also, a lot of important information regarding working Scary Farm is also gone over in this room.
Next up, now that the actors know their character and maze they will call home during the haunt season, they head over to warehouse P…. Wardrobe. They enter a giant warehouse which has a sign for Scary Farm Costuming. Future Monsters check in and they are called individually to be measured and to be fitted into their costumes.
Many talented women and men of wardrobe are bustling around inside warehouse P, they enter the many rows of racks of costumes. From samurai armor to clown outfits, this is an important part of bringing the monsters to life. These detailed costumes tell part of the story of the monster. When they bring an actor back, they look at their paperwork, measure them and swiftly grab their costume. The actor goes into the changing room and gets into the costume. When they emerge out of the curtain, they are slowly becoming their character. Then they go over what they need along with the costume, such as props, makeup, mask, etc. Also, what is recommended to wear under the costume and how often the costumes are washed. They also pin the costume for the best fit.
Leading the team of wardrobe is Tim Barham, he designs the costumes for Scary Farm and does so much for Berry Farm as Area Manager all year long. He works alongside the designers of Scary Farm going over what kind of costumes are needed for each maze and how they can bring that to life. Going over the fabrics, materials, design inspiration. For example, for Shadowlands, he delved into the fashion of that era and an authentic kimono was brought in for research and inspiration. He collaborates with so many talented tailors of the wardrobe dept. in making the best costumes for Scary Farm. With each costume, so much love for the event and care is put in it. Especially with zones, where the costumes correlate with each other. Also, if scareactors create their own original character and they wish to make their own costume, they take the design and get it approved by Tim. Tim guides the scareactors who are creating their custom costume so it is of the amazing quality of all of the costumes of Scary Farm. He and his department do such a fantastic job with costumes every year. When you look at a monster, they appear to be of the worlds they come from. The costuming really brings that to life.
See everything that is from this article brought to life in our vid! With interviews and even more good stuff! Link Down Below!! And be sure to visit Knott’s Scary Farm This MONTH and see the hard work of all of these talented people in action! Thank you for reading and thank you to everyone who participated in this article/video. And Thank you to Scary Farm.