Are The Two Cardinal Rules Of Producing Right?


Max Bialystock:  The two cardinal rules of producing. One: Never put your own money in the show.

Leo Bloom:  And two?

Max Bialystock:  [yelling] Never put your own money in the show!

– – – – –

This line, obviously from The Producers, got one of the biggest laughs on opening night, when the audience was filled with actual Bialystocks and Frankels and Weinsteins, oh my!

But is it true?

Sure, Producers understand that the chances for actually recouping your investment in a Broadway or Off-Broadway show are like winning the lottery . . . on your birthday . . . while pigs are flying (by Foy).

But is it a sin to open up your own wallet?

The answer is no.

You might be able to avoid putting your own money in the show, but you better be willing to.  Because if you’re not willing to put your money where your mouth is, then you’re not passionate enough to produce.  And maybe you should look at the project a little closer.

I always put a little something in all of my shows, for two reasons:

  1. I wouldn’t want an investor of mine in any show that I didn’t believe in myself.
  2. It helps when you’re raising money to be able to say to a potential investor, “I already wrote my check.”

How would you feel if a producer was giving you the hard sell to invest in their show and then they told you that they didn’t invest a penny?  Insider activity is a very commonly watched stat when playing the stock market, so shouldn’t we watch it when investing in shows?

By the way, for those looking for the response to an investor asking if you invested, and you haven’t, it’s this:  “I had so much interest, I wanted to make room for as many investors as possible, so I backed out.”  A piece of advice:  only use this if it is true.  Don’t treat your investors like they are one-time investors.  Treat them like they are with you for your lifetime . . . and they will be.  Even if you produce Springtime for Hitler.

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