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From streets to scares: our Editor In Chief becomes an actor at Field of Screams

Our Editor In Chief went behind the scenes at Field of Screams to see what it would take to become a horror actor. Pictured above is a severed head prop in the bus portion of Nocturnal Wasteland. Jared Hameloth/Snapper.

Mickayla Miller
Editor In Chief

Who knew that a 10-minute encounter with one of the owners of Field of Screams, Jim Schopf, would lead to one of the best nights I’ve ever had?

Field of Screams, a haunted attraction right in Mountville, thrives during this season, procuring scares to even the most seasoned of visitors. There’s just something so charming about how scary the park is; regardless of what you’re afraid of, there’s something at Field of Screams that’s going to get to you. After going nearly six or seven times, I was excited to see what all went into making the park such a special part of the horror community in Lancaster County.

THE ARRIVAL

I arrived at around 5 p.m., greeted by a crisp wind and a pleasant traffic director.

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Daytime at Field of Screams is surprisingly calm – the emptiness is neither threatening nor reassuring, and the buildings and decor look more casual than scary. After talking with a few people, I found myself at the costume barn, where there were a few people getting ready for their big night of scares.

I first spoke with Stevie Paquin, the manager of the Nocturnal Wasteland. He mirrored my excitement, and seemed just as happy to see me as I was by just being there. Terrifying masks lined one of the walls, and on the opposite side of the room stood racks upon racks of costumes, organized by the factions: The Den of Darkness, Frightmare Asylum, the Haunted Hayride and, my personal favorite, the Nocturnal Wasteland.

Actors casually got ready, and the other co-owner of Field of Screams, Gene Schopf, could be seen talking to some of the actors and managers.

THE TOUR

While I focused on making sure I was taking it all in, Stevie had called up the actor who I was going to be shadowing. Enter Josh, a man with sandy blonde hair and a calm demeanor. He has been acting in the Nocturnal Wasteland for two years in one of the bus scenes, and made no attempt at hiding his adoration for what he does.

Josh took me, and my News Editor (interim videographer) Jared, on a tour through the nooks and crannies of the Nocturnal Wasteland before eventually making our way to the bus where we would be acting. Upon first glance, it may just look like a creepy, unclean bus filled with scary props, but Josh debunks that immediately by showing the parts he personally added, and how he makes his way through the scene.

Through Josh’s explanation, the bus turned from simply a set to something more; it was the place where he could put on a mask and have the time of his life scaring people. And, he was damn good at it. More than once, he mentioned how working at Field of Screams has been a “dream come true.” After spending less than 15 minutes with him, I believed him. You can’t make up that kind of passion.

THE MAKEUP

I was a little hesitant about the costuming. After all, whenever you tell a plus-sized girl that you’ll handle the costuming, it’s easy to be afraid that nothing will fit right. Stevie breezed over, picked out a toolbelt and a denim jumpsuit, and that was it. Everything fit perfectly. When it was all said and done, he gave me a latex skin-like mask, and I knew that we were about to hit the point of no return.

I went upstairs to the makeup room, a large area above the costuming room. My makeup artist’s name was Destiny, or, more likely known as “Ms. Frizzle” to Nocturnal Wasteland fanatics. She typically performs in the bus alongside Josh. In less than five minutes, my face was all bloodied and painted, and I was ready to go. The result? Horrifying. She did a great job.

Side note: After the day was over, Jared and I went to Rutter’s in our makeup. Needless to say, the scares did not end even after taking off the skin mask.

THE SCARES

After standing nervously like a board for about an hour, I finally started to get more into my element. Josh, laden in his full head mask, played the part of a disgruntled man with a penchant for ‘craniums.’ He was up in peoples’ faces, loud and confident in his acting style. Between his reassuring comments and his tips for scaring people, I felt confident despite being completely out of my element.

There were times where I hardly got a reaction, and there were other times where I got loud, visceral screams. It’s easy to understand how people can get hooked on this feeling. The adrenaline started within minutes of me being on the bus, and didn’t end until long after I got home.

The bus itself came alive at night; it was made exceptionally creepier when you didn’t know what was happening behind the bus’s many corners. It quickly turned from unkempt to undiscovered. Jared went more into his role than I did, which made the scene even more fun, if at all possible.

All in all, that Sunday ended up being one of the best nights of my life. I had already intended on becoming an actor for Field of Screams at some point in the future, but my plans have solidified into something more realistic.

While I was expecting to have fun, I wasn’t prepared for the amount of fun. Not to mention, everyone treated me like I was family the moment I walked in the door. Between the fun I had scaring people with Josh, the good conversations I had with Stevie and the brief, but insightful talk I had while in the makeup chair with Destiny, I find it increasingly sad that I might have to wait another year to see them again.

But, that said, one thing’s a given: regardless of whether I’m a patron or an actor, Field of Screams definitely hasn’t seen the last of me.