onceuponarealityproductions

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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