The Most Popular Posts of the Month: October
Time for that monthly summary of what got your attention last month here at The Producer’s Perspective:
- The most read post of the month: The Last 20 Years of Best Musical Winners: A By the Numbers Infographic
- The most commented on post of the month: I want to retire . . .
- The comment of the month is from Michael Young and was in response to Even Oscar Winners Have to Make It On Their Own.
I strongly believe in this post and wanted to share my story.
Two years out of college in the ’70’s my best “unemployed actor” job was part time clerking for a theatrical attorney, Harold Orenstein. He heard me complain about my actor audition situation, lack of an agent and what I felt was my lack of real opportunity. He told me that instead of complaining I should “make my opportunities”. He suggested I go out and find a play with a part that was right for me, option it, and produce it myself. He gave me access to written materials (like what you provide daily) on how to produce. I decided I had to give his idea a try.
I found a play from a novice playwright and began what became a long process of optioning it; producing backer’s auditions; and finally raising part of the money to do it off-Broadway. I was unsuccessful at fully funding it and the project died. But, the process gave me confidence and pride and, most importantly, many new contacts in the New York business side of the theatre world. This new networking introduced me to two full time producers. They asked me to join forces with them to produce a Broadway play from a new playwright, Howard Ashman, who later wrote “Little Shop of Horrors”. They had optioned Hershel Bernardi as the lead. We raised almost a half million dollars and after a reasonable run had lost only $40k.
But most importantly, I made contacts with agents on a whole new level. The day after the closing of the play I was in our attorney’s office discussing the dissolution issues when an agent called to say they thought my experience and personality would make me perfect as a talk show host on TV and they had an audition set up for me. I had never considered this idea, but armed with their confidence in me, I auditioned and the rest is history. I got the job, won Cable’s first ACE award as talk show host a year later, and won my first Emmy just 2 years after that.
For the rest of my career I have always been working on a project to create employment for me. Most of the time, something else has come up and provided me a greater opportunity. But working on my own projects has never allowed me to be idle; provided many valuable contacts; and given me the confidence to audition for other’s projects without feeling like getting hired was “do or die”.
This is the story I share and advice I give to those starting out.
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