Episode 163 – Award Winning Playwright, Daniel Goldfarb

I met Daniel Goldfarb back in 1997 when I company managed a workshop of Parade. Daniel was Alfred Uhry’s (who wrote the book) assistant, and I remember people saying . . . “That kid that is booking Alfred’s travel and getting his lunch? He’s going to be a major playwright someday.”

That someday is now, as Daniel’s plays have been produced at every major regional theater in the country, from Williamstown to MTC (more than once) to Playwrights and beyond. I mean, most young playwrights would kill for a show at just ONE of those theaters! He attended both NYU and Julliard and now is on the faculty at NYU.

We had a great time together on this podcast, reminiscing about our days on Parade and also talking about . . .

  • NYU or Julliard . . . which program did he like better?  🙂
  • Why he writes at coffee shops.
  • How he was discovered and how he dealt with the first show not getting all the way to Broadway.
  • Critics . . . why they are important, and what he wishes for theatrical criticism in the future.
  • How he markets himself, and why it’s challenging.

Daniel has already made quite an impact on the NY theater scene and beyond. But just like someone whispered his potential to me years ago, let me be the one to tell you, his success so far is only the beginning.

Enjoy the podcast!

Click here for my podcast with Daniel!

Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)

Download it here.

My 5 Friday Finds: A sneak peek at a puppet and more.

Here are five things that fancied me this week:

  1. Why have one mentor when you can have a tribe. Tim Ferris shook up the productivity world with his Four Hour Work Week and then he went on a podcast tear, talking to everyone from Schwarzenegger to Jamie Foxx to Tony Robbins.

Then, smart biz guy that he is . . . he took key excerpts from all of those interviews and put them in a book called Tribe of Mentors. Yep, he just repurposed his own content. No additional work, but yet it’s super valuable. One sits on my desk. I read a new excerpt a day (they’re a few pages) and learn something new.

  1. The stock market sucked this week. I’m reminded of this Warren Buffet quote:  “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”
  2. The next Bedlam.

Downtown theater company, Wheelhouse, has been making waves over the past few years and is taking their NY Times Critic’s Pick, Kurt Vonnegut’s Happy Birthday Wanda June, uptown to the Duke starting 10/18. Disclaimer, I’m on the Advisory Board. But there’s a reason. I think they are the next Bedlam.

  1. Speaking of Bed . . . Have you tried the “Bedtime” feature on your iPhone? It’s better than an alarm because it doesn’t just tell you when to get up, it tells you when to go to bed (but nicer than your mom). It got me more sleep this week, which allows me to get more work done, which . . .
  2. Maybe I’m not supposed to say this . . . But the Producers of King Kong invited industry folks to a special behind the curtain, sneak peek of Kong himself this week. That’s right, we get an up close and personal view of the puppet, the thing we’re all curious about. So smart. Taking people behind the ropes, where other people can’t go, is a great way to get them on your side.

Why you need to get OFF-line every once in a while.

No one is more of an advocate of technology in the industry than me.

But just like a diet . . . you can’t just eat one food and expect to be healthy.

Diet, exercise, and building a business are all about a balanced approach.

And online marketing and professional development must be balanced with offline initiatives.

While online is easier and faster to execute, offline or in-person connections are still much, much stronger.

That’s why last year I held my first Producer’s Perspective Super Conference . . . as a way to get passionate people who want to make theater in a room.

Like most of the things I do, I had no idea what would happen when we announced it. A few months later, we sold out, with 150 people gathered at Playwrights Horizons to hear from expert speakers in our industry on all subjects, from raising money to social media and more.

I know of at least a dozen productions that were jump-started at that conference, and about a hundred other networking connections that were made.

So, of course, when something works like that, we do it again . . . and we try to make it even better.

Introducing Super Conference II . . . coming up in less than 30 days, on November 10th and 11th. We’re at a bigger venue this time (and we’ve already sold more tickets than last year) and more speakers, including Tony Winners Itamar Moses, Lisa Kron, and Des McAnuff, plus Sergio Trujillo, Stephen Byrd, Neil Pepe and more, talking about subjects like:

  • Demystifying Show Biz Law: Everything You Should Know to Save Time and Money
  • Sure-Fire Tips on Raising The Money You Need to Get to Broadway
  • Media Blitz: How to Get Press That Sells Tickets
  • License to Sell: How to Make $$$ Beyond Broadway
  • Building Your Brand: How to Be An Artists & a CEO

And a keynote by one of the most produced playwrights in the country, John Cariani.

It’s the only conference dedicated to giving theater artists the tools they need to get their shows off the ground.

You can see the full roundup of killer speakers and their subjects here.

We’ve only got about 70 seats left . . . and based on the sales velocity, we’re going to sell out pretty soon, so if you’re interested in learning about the biz and how you can make your mark, click here and sign up now. 

I have no doubt you’ll walk away inspired and infused with an energy to make whatever theatrical goal you have happen . . . and fast.

So close your computer, put down your phone, and come meet people in person.

After all, we work in the theater . . . if you’re not willing to come meet people in a room, how do you expect to get people to come to your room when you’ve got a show?

Register for The Super Conference here.

Broadway Grosses w/e 10/7/2018: Not Monkeying Around

A three-day weekend for many locals and tourists brought a welcome boost to the box office last week by 13% over the previous week to a total of $33.3M.
Three newcomers, The Ferryman, King Kong, and American Son, all had a strong showing. Nearly all shows posted significant jumps over the previous week with family favorites, Wicked and The Long King posting the largest increases.
You can find the rest of the figures below, courtesy of The Broadway League:
Show Name GrossGross  TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
ALADDIN $1,340,113.30 13,143 95.13% $101.96
AMERICAN SON $204,803.80 1,450 93.67% $141.24
ANASTASIA $677,187.60 6,719 73.48% $100.79
BEAUTIFUL $829,402.28 7,543 91.90% $109.96
BERNHARDT/HAMLET $365,370.70 4,556 77.38% $80.20
CHICAGO $792,844.51 8,452 97.82% $93.81
COME FROM AWAY $1,186,268.74 8,538 102.03% $138.94
DEAR EVAN HANSEN $1,505,369.19 7,997 101.59% $188.24
FROZEN $1,600,999.20 12,298 91.29% $130.18
HAMILTON $3,227,193.00 10,758 101.80% $299.98
HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD, PARTS ONE AND TWO $2,101,243.00 12,976 100.00% $161.93
HEAD OVER HEELS $227,083.75 3,219 41.78% $70.54
KING KONG $364,854.00 3,472 100.00% $105.08
KINKY BOOTS $750,620.70 8,185 71.85% $91.71
MEAN GIRLS $1,341,523.00 9,767 99.66% $137.35
MY FAIR LADY $1,139,773.50 7,675 89.75% $148.50
ONCE ON THIS ISLAND $426,463.70 4,783 85.90% $89.16
PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL $1,210,340.80 9,003 96.35% $134.44
SCHOOL OF ROCK $745,372.40 8,354 68.57% $89.22
SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY $2,410,527.50 4,740 100.00% $508.55
SUMMER $576,926.50 6,083 51.73% $94.84
THE BAND’S VISIT $935,616.00 8,075 97.15% $115.87
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,236,053.00 8,716 104.06% $141.81
THE FERRYMAN $572,006.46 5,795 94.78% $98.71
THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT $793,068.50 6,285 78.25% $126.18
THE LION KING $2,277,162.00 13,572 100.03% $167.78
THE NAP $228,087.00 3,790 73.68% $60.18
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $1,163,986.79 12,266 95.53% $94.90
THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG $298,897.50 4,919 72.00% $60.76
THE WAVERLY GALLERY $361,161.50 5,102 92.61% $70.79
WAITRESS $717,115.00 6,984 83.54% $102.68
WICKED $1,773,676.00 14,030 97.05% $126.42
TOTALS $33,381,110.92 249,245 88.14% $130.71
+/- THIS WEEK LAST SEASON +$3,141,572.50      
PERCENTAGE +/- THIS WEEK LAST SEASON 10%      

Today’s blog was guest-written by Ryan Conway, General Manager for DTE Management. Find out more here!

GUEST BLOG: Video Saved the Theater Star by the Vallés Brothers

It’s 2018. You need great video. Right. Now.

But why? Why great? And why now? To borrow that saying from the early days of film, let’s cut to the chase (and the stats).

Great, because over 500 million people are watching videos on Facebook every day.

Now, because a great video will make your show stand out regardless of its current phase of development, be it a crowdfunding campaign, investor meetings, social media marketing or B-roll footage for news outlets.

Whether on a Broadway budget or a church-basement-in-Soho budget, the way to get eyeballs on your show’s promotional materials for more than 5 seconds is with video.

So, who exactly is watching your videos? Yes, a viral video that racks millions of views is the Holy Grail of marketing tools, but pinning your hopes on that happening is probably not a wise business plan. The video you create will first be viewed by potential investors and avid theater fans that seek out special content about the ins and outs of the industry. It’s a narrower scope to begin with, but the great thing about having a solid video from the get-go is that, should it achieve viral status, it will henceforth convey a professional image of your show. The “money people” aren’t interested in seeing shaky, vertical cell phone video of a show where the bright lights blow out people’s faces and you can’t see the acting. Good footage will wow the folks who are in the best position to catapult your show to the next level.

And here’s the thing: video for your show doesn’t only mean video of your show. It means video of your rehearsals, interviews with the cast and creative team. Behind-the-scenes as they build the sets and costumes. All of this content can start generating a following on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram months before previews start.

But what’s involved in creating a great video, you ask? Start with great audio: bad video is unfortunate, but bad audio is unacceptable. If there’s a soundboard processing your live audio, the videographer should be able to plug into it to capture the actors’ clean microphone feed. Otherwise, microphones will need to be placed close to the performers specifically for the video. You can’t get good audio from the built-in microphone on a camera at the back of the performance space.

Speaking of which, make sure you allow enough room for the cameras on tripods at the back or sides of the venue. The videographer is often overlooked when planning the seating layout for the audience, leading to a last-minute scramble, reseating patrons minutes before the performance begins. Also, the videographer needs time to set up all the equipment and check sound levels before the audience enters.

A brief word about lighting. If your show is on a stage with theatrical lighting, you’re good to go. Stage lighting, in most cases, does not need to be enhanced when taking video. If you’re recording a rehearsal or a reading in a studio, the available overhead fluorescent lights (while not very flattering) are usually fine. For capturing interviews, however, the combination of a professional lighting setup and a visually interesting location will maximize the speaker’s impact and give your project much more legitimacy.

Unless you plan to ask your significant other to hold a Handycam for you (not recommended), be prepared to include videography in your budget. For a reading with a small number of actors, an elaborate multi-camera setup is not necessary. A few hundred dollars gets you a videographer with a good camera and a couple of well-placed microphones. This should be fine for capturing performers sitting with their scripts in hand. Conversely, if you’re recording a fully staged production, you’re going to want a variety of camera angles. It should include a wide shot of the entire stage, a medium shot following the performers, and a close-up of the actor delivering the lines. That’s certainly more expensive than hiring a solo camera operator, but it’s the best way to make sure your video doesn’t miss any part of the staging. Click here for a sample of a cabaret performance shot with three cameras (with over 64,000 views).

As you can see in the link above, a great video serves as a high-quality calling card. You reap its benefits long after the show is done, when you’re prepping your next one and beyond. People click on a video because it holds the promise of the unexpected. Make sure that when they do, they’re floored.

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We’re Tony and Jaime Vallés, brothers who’ve been working in the arts since the end of the last century. Ivy League grads, Eagle Scouts, fully bilingual family men. Our experience as screenwriters, stage actors and moviemakers gives our video work an emotional edge that’s hard to find elsewhere.

From corporate presentations to actor reels, live theatrical events to legal proceedings, human interest interviews to crowdfunding campaign videos: we plan, we adapt and we deliver.

Our home base is New York City, but we’ve taken our operation everywhere from Connecticut to Cancún. And we don’t just do video: we’re equipped for photography and graphic design, so you get a finished package, in either English or Spanish. Visit us atwww.ajvmedia.com to see all that we can offer.

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