onceuponarealityproductions

Archive for September, 2012|Monthly archive page

1 year of self-producing.

In Uncategorized on September 23, 2012 at 1:46 am

 

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I’ve come a long way in a year. One year ago I had a script sitting in a computer that I even I couldn’t take seriously. To me, it was like having a diary that I wanted to perform for people.

It was too personal. It wasn’t good enough. My story is not special…it’s something that everyone has gone through.

These were all of the obstacles that I gave myself. When I look back on all of it, it was exactly that…obstacles I gave myself. No one was holding me back. No one was actually telling me I wouldn’t be able to do this. All creative people manage to destroy themselves before they get out the gates. Its amazing really. In 1 year, I learned a lot. I learned how to go venue shopping. I learned which questions to ask. I learned what elements are important in a contract. I learned that you have to ask for help…there simply aren’t enough hours to take on the responsibility on your own. I learned that I could produce a successful show with little to no tech rehearsal as long as I had a strong team working with me (and I always did. They were always amazing) I learned that its ok to let others believe in you…and that was the hardest part. I produce my show because it makes me happy. It gives me fulfillment. I’ve always turned to theatre when I was unsure of something in my life. When I quit my salary paying job, I turned around and marched my ass into a theatre and found a way to perform on their stage. When I moved to Idaho and didn’t know a soul in town, I walked into Opera Idaho and asked for a job, because I had to work in theatre for Idaho to feel like home for me. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when I was on the verge of seeking therapy to figure out why I was going through massive bouts of depression, that I turned to theatre and wrote “Princes Don’t Live in Cyberland.” Theatre gives me everything I could ask for, and I only hope that I’m somehow giving even an ounce of that feeling back to people when they see “Princes.” I don’t claim to know everything about theatre or producing your own show, but here’s what I learned this past year:

1) Don’t be afraid of what you want out of life. Don’t wait for it. Not even a day. If you aren’t waking up completely excited about something that you want to achieve, go find that something.

2) Theatre costs money to produce. Plain and simple. Don’t be a dumb-ass like me and think you can use your rent money and be just like those characters in Rent living on the edge to produce your art. It’s not worth it whatsoever. Do your research. Look into investors. Look into fiscal sponsorship. Find the best option for you.

3) Reach out to everyone you know and don’t trust that facebook is the best and only source to do this (it’s not). Email people. Call people. Text people. Let people know what you’re doing. You’d be shocked at the number of people who want to support you. Who want to hear your story. Who want to be there for you. This show has connected some of my family back together. I’ve gotten back in touch with people I haven’t seen in years. It can be truly amazing. 

4) Pretend like you know exactly what you’re doing at all times. The night before my first meeting with the production manager of my first venue, I sat at home and reviewed the venue contract line by line. Then I made a list of questions. Then I reviewed everything again. Then I practiced asking my questions. By the time I got into the meeting the next day I sounded like I’d been producing theatre for years. I got handed the keys to the venue on the spot for my professionalism. You won’t know everything right away, and that’s ok. But do your homework.

5) Follow your industry. Know the players. Just because I don’t live in NYC doesn’t mean that I don’t know the names of at least 5 women’s theatre groups who would produce a show like “Princes.” A successful theatre industry is contingent on one important thing: the audience. Follow tourism trends. Are people seeing theatre? How are they hearing about it? What marketing are they responding to? Do you need a street team? Should you tweet it? I follow Ken Davenport’s blog on a daily basis. (highly recommend it!)

6) You’re always selling yourself, whether you like it or not. You’re the brand of your show. Plain and simple. I can’t tell you how many people have sent me Disney imagery on facebook telling me it made them think of me. You have to carry the image of your show everywhere you go. Own it. If people are investing in what you stand for, own it. 

7) Protect your work. It sounds so silly, but seriously. Protect your work. Copyrights are approximately $30. Don’t post a script online unless you’ve put a symbolic condom on it. Wrap it up!

8) As much as you love doing what you’re doing, don’t be afraid to give yourself a break. People have told me I’m ‘lucky’ that things are working out, when it has absolutely nothing to do with luck. It has everything to do with waking up, pounding a pot of coffee and sitting at my computer until I’ve either researched, updated my website, created a mailer or researched some more. I think about theatre when I wake up. I think about theatre when I go to bed. It’s something I’m passionate about and it’s non-stop. Sometimes you have to stop or it turns into a job. Give yourself a break. Trust that you’re busting your ass enough. 

9) Getting rejected is the fun part. Rejection is part of the business. A funder will reject you. A theatre group will reject you. You’ll do a show with 5 people in the audience and feel like you want the roof to cave in on you because you’re working so hard and something needs to work out. Enjoy the rejection. The champion of rejection is Tyler Perry. He was self-producing his own show for years before his career happened. He performed to audiences with only a handful of people. Threw money down on as many venues as he could trying to produce and make it happen. Got told ‘no’ a lot. He could’ve quit at anytime, but he didn’t….and well, you know the rest. 

10) It’s a huge risk. You’re better off not doing it. A part of me has been wanting to lean toward going back into auditioning mode and auditioning for other people’s projects when I get to NYC. It would be easier. Easier to put the producing part into someone else’s hands. Easier to be a player in an already established project. Here’s the truth of it..it will always be easier that way…but if you have an idea sitting in your computer and you don’t know what to do with it, stop worrying about it and just do it. It’s so incredibly rewarding to see your little theatre creation learning to walk on the stage. Theatre needs new ideas. It needs new scripts. New ways of telling a story. Go produce something. Anything. 

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No.

In Uncategorized on September 19, 2012 at 11:22 pm

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My parents used to tell me that I handled the word ‘no’ better than anyone they knew. They never worried about me when I sauntered off to job interviews or auditions. They knew that with each ‘no’ I was more set in my ways. For anyone who has pursued a career in acting, we get used to the word ‘no.’ You aren’t the right body type. You don’t have the right hair color. You don’t have the right personality. You stop taking it personally. At the end of the day, it has nothing to do with you, but it has everything to do with a business. I’ve been producing my own play for the past year, and I’ve never heard more ‘no’s’ in my life. I’ve submitted my play to festivals in just about every state. I’ve gotten rejected. I’ve heard, “you’re not exactly what we’re looking for right now.” I’ve even gotten email invites to play festivals that I’ve been rejected from. I’m a firm believer that with each ‘no’ you’re one step closer to getting you’re ‘yes.’ I’m trying to move to NYC this year and applying to every possible job. Yesterday I got an email saying that I was rejected from the opera company in NYC. I almost jumped out of my seat with joy. Someone saw my resume. Someone knew I existed. I’m one ‘no’ closer to the ‘yes.’ To all you actors and aspiring theatre folk, you’ll get rejected a lot. It’s the nature of the beast. Learn to love it. Pursuing theatre is like dating. The person who finally says ‘yes’ to you is the person you’re meant to be with. So go out there and live the dream!

Go climb a tree.

In Uncategorized on September 18, 2012 at 8:43 pm

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I work in a call center. Won’t advertise which one and I won’t even say how many people find out I work in a call center and ask me with a serious face, “How do you do it?” First off, I got completely lucky with the call center I work for. The pay is great. The incentives are great, and the constant support I get from management is great. The one factor that is unknown on a day to day basis, is what kind of jackass you might be talking to on the other line. I could write a play based off of my experiences with this job. I’ve never seen people get so bent out of shape over media before, and I’ve worked in some form of entertainment since I was 18. I have quite literally stopped watching TV and stopped going to movies since I’ve taken this job. I’ve talked to too many people who want to make sure they have a certain level of HD or programming in their home before making sure that they have enough money for groceries. I love TV, don’t get me wrong. My unhealthy obsession with “How I Met Your Mother” is one for the books. But Jesus Christ. When you go day after day listening to people put more emphasis on their programming then their own well-being, you just want to pull your hair out. 

 

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time at my gramma’s. It was a requirement to play. It was a requirement to be outside. Her answer to everything was, “Go climb a tree.” And we did. We climbed every damn tree in her huge backyard. She had turned her yard into frickin’ tree suburbia. Each of my family members had their own tree-house. She had so many tree-houses that if you grew tired of your own, you could stay at the Motel Tree-house or the Castle Tree-house. There was a certain magic in having a tree house. Leaving your normal world behind and escaping. Living in nature…it was really just sitting on a branch and trying not to get attacked by ants, but it was still nature. It was magic. The magic of growing up, the magic that you hope to keep with you and hold onto when you make silly grownup decisions that make you bitter. Anyway, the only TV we were allowed to watch was the 60’s TV version of “Batman and Robin” or “Mr. Bean”…which actually explains a lot as to why I’m such a quirky mess. But even TV was an event. It was something special that we did together, not just something you would do to waste away an entire day. 

This blog stems from one crappy phone call I took last Sunday. It was a big day for the NFL. Every game under the sun was playing. I took a phone call where a guy on the other line was throwing a temper tantrum over the fact that the Jets game got blacked out. He screamed at me to push the button to fix it. This is where I started my spiel on how blackouts work, all the while thinking that this guy is either A) a moron if he’s such a sports fan and has no clue how a blackout works and B) Does he seriously think I have the power to press a magic button to fix everything?

I continued calmly and explained that the game was being carried on a local station. Insert tantrum *here*. He demanded the programming be aired on the channels he was paying for, not a local. He then screamed out that he demanded to speak with my manager since I was incompetent, and should just crawl back under the rock I came out from.

I forgot to mention that when this lovely gentleman screamed these words, I had just come off a 17-hour shift from the day before and I was now working a 14-hour shift. My only response was, “I’d be more than happy to get you my supervisor, as long as you SHOW SOME RESPECT!”…insert pause here. I put him on hold and tried not to cry at my desk. I’ve talked to assholes like this many a time. I can usually laugh it off. Roll my eyes. Anything. Not today. It absolutely infuriated me. Not that I got yelled at…just the fact that a person was capable of treating another human being like shit because of football. I wanted to tell him to go climb a tree. To gain back some sense of self. I wanted to stand on my damn soap box and tell him that he’s a moron. That there’s better things in life. That life’s too short to pop a blood vessel over a bunch of guys wearing shoulder pads and getting fat paychecks. The next day I got a call from a man who responded to my simple, “How’s your day?” with “Well, it’s awful.” He didn’t want pity. He just simply stated that his wife had a stroke and went blind from it. I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to reach through the phone and give the guy a hug. This guy was trying to program his remote so that he could turn on his TV so that his wife had something to listen to while they figured out all of this hard shit that was going on in their lives. 

Media is important to everyone. Let’s face it. For some, it’s an escape from a reality that we aren’t quite ready to accept. It’s something to be passionate about when everything else has turned to shit. Who knows? Maybe the only positive thing in that one guy’s life was football. I can understand how he’d be pissed, but here’s the bottom line: Don’t treat others like pieces of crap. Being an adult is hard. Everyone will tell you that we had it easy as kids, but the truth is, we have it easier as adults…but only if we want to see it that way. As an adult, you have the choice of hanging onto a piece of your positive side that you inherited as a child, in order to help you tread down the path of adulthood. To people like football guy, all I have to say is, “Go climb a tree,” so that at least you can gain back your sense of self…

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