The 3 Fs

I like to make up dorky abbreviations and acronyms to help keep me on track with a goal.

For example:

EAI – “Easily Actionable Item” A short term task that is easy to accomplish that helps demonstrate forward motion to a organization (just ask the Off-Broadway Brainstormers about this one!)

And here’s my latest!

I am in the midst of looking for new projects, so I came up with a three stage structure to define the steps a producer needs to take when developing a new project.  Rather than name it “A Producer’s Three Stage Structure” and sound like an MBA candidate writing a (boring) paper, I called it “The 3 Fs”.  And since I’m not an MBA candidate and no one is forced to read my papers, I’m posting it here for your grade instead.

THE 3 Fs

1.  FIND IT

Transferring a show from a regional theatre?  Optioning a friend’s play?  Writing it yourself?  This stage is all about locating the property that you believe deserves and demands to be seen.  Think of this stage like adopting a child. (And you wouldn’t rush that, would you?)

2.  FLESH IT OUT

It’s your job to assist in the development of the property so that it can grow stronger.  The definition of development changes for each show.  Some pieces may need help with the script.  Some may need a new director that you can find.  Some may need a place to rehearse.  Some may need cash.  Figure out what your show needs and get it.  Even if whatever it needs is not your strength. Either find someone who can deliver what the show needs, or learn how yourself.  Your kid is going through puberty.

3.  (Bring it to) FRUITION

This is the practical part of producing:  booking the theater, hiring the GM (or doing it yourself), preparing your marketing campaign, and getting that show to opening night.  Your kid is 18 now.  And without you, he or she would sit at home playing Wii, smoking doobies and not go to college.  Don’t let that happen.

There they are:  The Three Fs.  Say them with me five times fast.  Find it, flesh it out, fruition.  Find it, flesh it out, fruition. Find it . . . ok, you get the idea.

Grade me on them if you’d like.  Or better, come up with your own better way of putting up a show.

Because the truth is, now matter what road you take, or what letter you use in your “Three Stage Structure”, how you get your show to the stage is not as important as simply getting there.

(Oh and by the way, your kid may still flunk out of school and end up in prison even if you follow The 3Fs perfectly.  But hey, producing shows is not like living in China.  You can always have another kid.  And don’t ever let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t.)

Get Lost!

I got lost over the weekend while driving through Columbus, Ohio (I was scouting for a documentary that I’m producing and directing, but more on that later).

While I was trying to figure out how an interstate that ran East and West could all of sudden run East and South, I realized two things:

1.  I’m buying a GPS.

2.  Getting lost is OK.

Sure, I was an hour late and lost my voice screaming at the Lord of the Highways, but I still made it to my destination.

Whenever you’re lost, you always end up getting to your destination eventually, don’t you?  You never just pull over and say, “That’s it.  I’m done. I’m going to sit in my rental car until the scavengers pick over my bones.”  No, you stop, regroup, pick up a McDonald’s fountain Coke, ask for directions, get mad, listen to music, get mad again, call friends for help, and then finally, you make it.

Remember this the next time you’re writing or producing a project and are frustrated that you’re not reaching your deadline on time.

It’s OK to be late . . . The Lord of the Highways knows it took us 4 years to get Altar Boyz right and we took many a wrong turn along the way (remind me to tell you about the time that Abraham’s name was Leonard and Luke was addicted to Vicodin).

Sure we would have liked to have gotten there a lot faster, but making sure you get there is the most important part.

Just ask these guys how happy they were that they didn’t turn around and go home at some point during their 7 year trip.

Off-Broadway Shows Are Like Rowboats . . .

Ok, it’s time to announce the answer to the Off-Broadway  rowboat riddle!

Unfortunately there were no winners to my $100 challenge.  A couple came close, but here’s a longer version of what I was going for.

The analogy actually starts like this: Broadway shows are like giant steamships, kind of like the Titanic. They are so big, so cumbersome and require so much energy to get going, that once you actually get them in the water . . . there’s not much you can do to veer them from their destination. 

They are either going to hit the iceberg, or they won’t. Off-Broadway shows are more like rowboats.  You can turn them a lot quicker and with a lot less effort.  One quick row of an oar and you’re headed in a new direction. Unfortunately, they also sink a lot faster.  (In fact, 89% of all commercial Off-Broadway shows close within 6 months). Here are a couple of my favorite entries from some of the readers out there:

– “Off-Broadway is like a rowboat.  You only get somewhere after working hard to move yourself.”

– “Off-Broadway is like a rowboat.  The more people you have rowing in the same direction, the faster and farther you go.”

Thanks, guys.  And for being a runner up, I’m giving both of you iTunes gift cards!  Keep your eye on your inbox.

And I suggest you get this song with your first purchase.

New Businesses Are Like Children . . .

Children grow very quickly in the first few years of life.

And then, eventually, that growth slows down.

New businesses (and new shows) . . . are the same.

It’s easy to get them to grow during the first few years (or months if you’re talking about a show).  The hard part is to continue that growth, long after puberty is over.

Because otherwise, they just get old and die.

 

Life Is Like A Snow Globe!

Special thanks to my friends at  Travelzoo for the most inspired Christmas card of the year . . . and for giving me a new analogy to use (I love analogies.  Ask my staff how many times they’ve heard me say, “Off-Broadway is like a rowboat . . . “) 

The simile is simple.  Life (and business) is like a snow globe.  Sure, a snow globe is pretty to look at when sitting on your desk, but you only get the full potential from it when you shake it up

I’m going out to buy a snow globe today so I can be reminded of this every single day.

 

Back to my “Off-Broadway is like a rowboat” analogy.  $100 to anyone who can finish my thought.  Employees of Davenport Theatrical are not eligible (nice try, guys).

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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