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.

Episode 162 – Five Time Tony Award Nominee, Michael John LaChiusa

Here’s something I bet you’d never guess. Of those five Tony Award nominations that Michael John has on his resume, three of them (that’s more than half if you’re doing the math) are for writing the book of a musical, not for writing the score!

That’s right, the guy you know who has given us some of the most uniquely challenging and boundary-pushing scores like Giant, Marie Christine, and Hello Again does a whole lot more than just write show tunes.

In fact, I’d give him (and I’m sure my peers would agree) the musical theater version of the title of “Auteur,” as he’s given us shows like Hello Again, Marie Christine, The Wild Party and more.

Not only did I learn a bunch during this podcast, but I had a blast talking to Michael John about how he became one of the most talked about musical theater artists of his generation, as well as . . .

  • When people say something can’t be made into a musical, that’s when he gets really interested.
  • A type of musical you’d be surprised that he’d want to write.
  • What he tells his students at NYU most often about writing musicals.
  • How he started his career by cold-calling industry heavyweights and dropping by theaters (everything people tell you not to do).
  • How he feels about being a Tony Nominator

For someone who has given us some of our most significant pieces of theatrical artistry over the last couple of decades, after listening to this podcast, you’ll find Michael John more down to earth than most.

This one is one of my faves.

Click above for my podcast with Michael!

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: Percentages Mean Nothing No More.

Happy long weekend for some of you, and enjoy these five finds from the week on Broadway and beyond:

  1. TKTS lists actual prices instead of just percentages.

blogged about this when it was announced, but it went into ‘play’ this week. The TKTS booth, which added 40%, 30% and 20% to its discounts years ago, now will just list actual prices. So no longer will a $100 ticket at 50% off look like the same price as a $50 ticket at 50% off.  This could be one of the biggest changes to the strategy of how Producers price at the booth, as well as how Producers price their full price (it’s common that we often price full price tickets thinking how much we’ll get at half-price) since the opening of the booth itself. (In other TKTS news, the Brooklyn location closed recently due to . . . what else . . . low sales.)

  1. Wicked in concert but on TV.

In another sign of Broadway’s growing footprint on pop culture, NBC agreed to air a special Wicked concert (shot at The Marquis Theater) to air on 10/29 featuring Idina Menzel, Kristen Chenoweth, and superstars such as Ariana Grande (future Elphaba anyone?).

  1. Originals, originals, everywhere.

Netflix started off as a way for you to “rent” movies without going to the local Blockbuster. Now, they invest heavily in originals. Amazon started off as a way for you to buy books, then movies and TV shows . . . now they make ’em. And now Audible (an Amazon company) is on the same strategy train. They recently announced that they’re going to give away original programming with a monthly subscription. What does this say? Content is still king . . . and the success of any business, big or small, is making @#$%. So go out and make something today.

  1. The Measure App on the iPhone.

If you updated your iPhone recently, you probably have seen the new Measure app . . . which is a digital tape measure. Amazing, right? Not if you make tape measures. Seriously. A company like Stanley Tools will see a reduction in sales because of this app. Just like that, something that has probably been a foundational form of revenue will slip away slowly. It’s a great reminder that all businesses can be disrupted . . . so keep innovating.

  1. King Kong starts previews.

The biggest and most expensive musical since Spider-Man starts previews TONIGHT. You know what?  I can’t wait to see it. Whenever you build someone that’s the “biggest,” people are going to want to go.

Wishing you all a great weekend, and hoping it includes lots of theater.

Where do our big hit ideas come from?

Like stockbrokers, or more specifically, private equity investors, Broadway Producers, Broadway Investors, and even creatives are always looking for the next big hit.

You know, the one that will run for years, win Tony Awards, and give the individual the freedom to do a lot more stuff.

Just like in business, I believe the big hits starts with the idea. There are a lot of other factors that go into hit-making, but if you don’t have a good seed, then it won’t even sprout, no matter how much you water it, fertilize it, etc.

That’s why I decided to dig into where the ideas for our big hits come from. Because if we know where they come from, we can seek more of them out. I call this the, “There’s gold in them their hills,” theory.

So, we looked at the Tony Award-winning best musicals of the last twenty years, as well as our longest running musicals, and googled-our brains out to see who conceived them, who started the snowball rolling down the hill . . . or as I like to say, who served the tennis ball. (Entrepreneurs are always responsible for starting the game.)

I don’t think the results below will surprise you, but I bet they get you serving the tennis ball to specific types of people later on today.

 

In the last twenty years, the ideas for the Tony Award Winning Best Musicals have come from:

Writers:  65%

Producers:  25%

Performers:  5%

Directors: 5%

The ideas for Broadway’s Top 20 Longest Running Shows (all musicals) have come from:

Writers:  52.5%

Producers:  42.5%

Performers:  5%

 

Just for contrast’s sake, we also asked the same question for the plays.

 

In the last twenty years, the ideas for the Tony Award Winning Plays have come from:

Writers:  85%

Producer:  5%

Author of Source Material: 5%

Director:  5%

The ideas for Broadway’s Top 20 Longest Running Plays have come from:

Writers:  95%

Producers:  2.5%

Performers:  2.5%

 

My thoughts?

Well, Producers popped up on this list more than I thought, and I love that Performers sneak in with a big one every once in a while.

But the big takeaway is that no doubt, if you’re looking for a big hit, then after you call your Mother today, make sure you call your favorite writer and say, “Hey, got any ideas for a Broadway show?”

Because statistically, that’s where the long-running, Tony Award-winning shows come from.

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Got an idea for a show? But need some help getting it out there?  Take our 30 Day script challenge, guaranteed to get your idea on paper, so you can do something with it. Because a great idea never executed can never be a Tony Winner, Long Running Show or anything. Click here.

Broadway Grosses w/e 9/30/2018: Out of the Woods?

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending September 30, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

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