What a Producer’s #1 Job Really Is.

Producers do a lot of things . . . market shows, raise money, give notes, etc.  But I’ve distilled a Producer’s job down to a simple thing in 2017.

You know what I do?

I get people in a room.

The theater is a collaborative art form.

Scratch that.  That’s not true.

It’s a massively collaborative art form.

It’s actually impossible to create on your own.  Because even if you wrote, directed, starred in, marketed and paid for your own production, it wouldn’t be theater unless it had an audience.

So in order to create theater, you gotta get people in a room.

A director, writer, designers, producers, actors, etc.  Because when you get a bunch of passionate people in a room, great things happen.

And that’s why we’re having a conference this year.  Because as much as I love me some bloggin’ and podcastin’, it never inspires as much change and as much action as a couple hundred theater people talking about theater and how to make it better for themselves and for others.

Our first ever Super Conference takes place in just about a month, on Saturday, November 11th and 12th.  And just look at the speakers we have . . .

  • Lynn Ahrens (Once On This Island, Anastasia)
  • John Rando (Gettin’ The Band Back Together, Urinetown)
  • Leigh Silverman (Violet, Chinglish)
  • Patrick Cook, Director of Musical Theatre and Jazz at BMI
  • Randy Weiner (Sleep No More, Queen of the Night)
  • Beatriz Westby, Event Producer at Launchpad
  • Jennifer Ashley Tepper, Creative and Programming Director at Feinstein’s/54 Below
  • Jill Rafson, Director of New Play Development for Roundabout Theatre Company
  • Steve Cuden (Jekyll & Hyde)
  • Beth Blickers, APA
  • Jonathan Lomma, WME
  • Sean Patrick Flahaven, CEO of The Musical Company
  • Tom Kirdahy (Anastasia, Bandstand)
  • Daniel Wasser, Entertainment lawyer
  • Eric Goldman, Entertainment lawyer
  • Roger Bean (The Marvelous Wonderettes)
  • Sara Fitzpatrick, Founder and President of ARTHOUSE
  • Ryan Conway, General Manager of DTE Management
  • Amanda Bohan, Founder and President of ABM
  • and of course . . . me!

We’ll be talking about raising money, marketing shows at all budget levels, working with Directors, and more.  And like any conference, the coffee breaks will be killer.  Connections will be made.  And I’m predicting that we’ll have at least three productions emerge from networking at this conference.  I just know you guys, and that’s what you do!

When you register for the conference before October 31st, you save $100.  You can do that by clicking here.

I look forward to seeing you there!

 

Podcast Episode 133 – One of the most produced playwrights on the planet, Jonathan Rand

Jonathan Rand has had over 4,000 productions of one . . . just ONE of his many plays.

Then how come you never heard of him?

Because this art-repreneur used a bit of Chris Anderson “Long Tail” theory to focus on a niche . . . and he has blown it up into a very successful, full-time writing career.

And none of his shows have ever been in New York City.

I’m not going to reveal all the secrets to how he built his career in this preamble to the podcast, so if you want the full story, you’ve got to listen in and hear Jonathan talk about:

  • How entering a contest kicked-off his writing career.
  • How a couple lines of HTML and ZERO expectations changed his life.
  • What high schools are looking for when they decide to license a play.
  • The day he founded Playscripts and why (the most successful artists I know have great business skills – and this is one of the best examples in our industry).
  • How plays are discovered by the subsidiary market, how that’s going to change, and what you can do to get your stuff noticed.

I’m constantly asked whether or not it’s possible to get your shows produced if they haven’t been seen in NYC.

The answer?  Yes.  Thousands and thousands of times over.

Listen in to hear how.

Click here for the link to my podcast with Jonathan!

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

Download it here

 

 

 

You’re invited to our first . . . Shut Up and Write!

The world . . . and this city . . . and especially this business . . . are full of talkers.

There are so many people with ideas for plays, musicals, apps, inventions and even plans for how to fix healthcare.

But as I wrote about here, ideas are worth jack shipoopi.  What matters is doing something with your idea.

Believe it or not, I struggle with action-ing my ideas too.  You should see the list of the stuff I want to make, build, write, etc.  That’s why I’m constantly searching for new ways to trick myself into motion.

And one of the best methods of motivation I’ve learned over the years . . . is to schedule time for what I want to do, schedule a place for what I want to do, and surround myself with a community of people who want to do the things I want to do.

Because there is energy in numbers.  (This is why we created PRO.)

That’s why, on Saturday, October 14th from 10 AM – 1 PM, we’re hosting our very first “Shut Up & Write!”

If you don’t know what “Shut Up & Write” is . . . it’s exactly what you think it is.  You show up at a space, along with a whole bunch of other people, you stop talking about your ideas, and you start writing them.  It’s at a set time, it’s in a place nowhere near your TV, and you’ve got folks around you that are succeeding and struggling with the same things you are.

Wanna come?

I promise that by the end of the session, you’ll be further along with your project than you were when you walked through the door.

Our SU&W will be held right here in midtown Manhattan at a location only disclosed to those who sign up.  All you have to bring is your laptop/tablet/pad of paper, a positive attitude, and your desire to turn an idea into something tangible.  It can be something you’re working on or something brand new.  It can be anything.

We’ll provide the space, coffee, AND my Director of Creative Development and Dramaturgical superstar, Eric Webb.  Eric will hold Professor-like ‘office hours’ during the session, so you can ask questions about your project if you’re stuck.

Oh, there’s one more thing you have to do . . . register.

Because we can only take a limited number (we don’t have Yankee Stadium for this).

When you register, you’ll see that our SU&W is not free.  It costs a whopping $3.65.

How did we get that weird/specific number?

It’s the price of a Grande Latte at Starbucks.

Why are we charging that?

Because I’d bet that many of you spend at least that at a Starbucks every single dang day.

And if you’re willing to spend $3.65 on a beverage, but not willing to invest $3.65 into an action plan that will get you out of the house and get you further along with your project, then, well, no offense, but we don’t want you at our Shut Up & Write.

But if you want to write . . . and if you are smart enough to know that sometimes you need a little help from your friends to get you to your goals and fast . . . then sign up for our Shut Up & Write today.

We’re going to have some fun, meet some cool folks, and get some @#$% done.

See you there.

TheProducersPerspective’s SHUT UP & WRITE
Saturday, October 14th
10 AM – 1 PM
Midtown Manhattan Location disclosed to participants only.
Register here for the price of a coffee.

 

What great documentaries can teach you about writing your show.

Netflix saved the documentary genre.

All of a sudden, these true-life films that struggled to get any attention, and rarely received real in-cinema distribution, had a place where they were featured right next to the new releases.  (Think about that for a second – Netflix puts The Avengers right next to a Food Doc – have you ever seen that at your local AMC?)

That means a ton more people watch ’em.  Which made documentary makers (including me!) jump up and down with joy.

And it made documentary viewers (including me!) do backflips over those filmmakers jumping up and down.

I’ve been watching a bunch lately, and I noticed something interesting.

Some of the best docs I’ve seen fell into three categories that I call the 3Cs of Documentaries:

  1. CONTESTS:  the main characters compete in a competition (e.g. The King of Kong, Spellbound, First Position (produced by Broadway Producer Rose Caiola), etc.).
  2. COURTROOM:  a crime drama where the main characters are proclaimed guilty or innocent at the conclusion (Making a Murderer, The Thin Blue Line, Capturing the Friedmans).
  3. CALENDERED:  the drama takes place over a fixed period of time (Super Size Me, Hoop Dreams, etc.).

Why do these subset docs work so well?

In all three, from the get-go, there is a clearly defined conclusion.  The audience knows where we’re going from the get-go . . . Who will win . . . Did he do it . . . What will happen when the clock runs out?

When the suspense is so specifically drawn so early, it’s much easier for an audience to go on a ride with you.  And, the first two of these genres-inside-a-genre are even more common than the third . . . because the lack of a complicated conclusion is even simpler to digest.  Win/Lose.  Guilty/Innocent.  Yes/No.

Does that mean every doc or every play or every musical has to be a contest, courtroom drama or calendered event?

Nope.

But if your show isn’t one, see how you can make it feel like one.

From the opening scene or two, let the audiences know the simple options for your conclusion (get the girl/don’t get the girl, adopt the kid/don’t adopt the kid, live/die), and they’ll cancel their Netflix subscription altogether.

 

Why I go to golf tournaments, which has nothing to do with golf.

A few weeks ago on a Sunday, I got up at about 6, grabbed a subway to the LIRR to a shuttle bus to the Glen Oaks Golf Club on Long Island to watch the final day of a PGA playoff event.

Now sure, I’m a golfer, a golf fan, and have even written about golf tournaments like this one before.

But that’s not why I go to golf tournaments.

See, the cool thing about a golf tournament is that if you plan your day right, at any time you can be standing just a few feet away from the greatest players in the world, for the same general admission price that everyone pays.  There is no courtside seating at a golf tournament.  There are some “super boxes,” but those aren’t close to the action.  Every man, woman or child can be up against the ropes if they think about where and when they want to be next to their favorite player.

And that’s why I go to golf tournaments.

Because one moment, I could be steps away from the #1 player in the world. And the next moment I can be watching a rookie who I think may BE the #1 player in the world someday.

Why is this important?

Sure, I learn about the game by watching their swing, by hearing them chat with their caddy about strategy and seeing what equipment they are using close up.

But the most important thing I learn . . . is that they are human.

Seeing them up close gives me a chance to see them screw up.  To hear them get frustrated.  To see them spit!  These greatest players on the planet aren’t walking on air . . . they put one foot in front of the other just like everyone else.  They just chose what they wanted to do and worked at it.  Hard.

And that’s inspiring.  Because if these human beings can do it. Then you and I can too.

That’s why I encourage you to get yourself around the “best players on the planet” in your theatrical field . . . whether that’s writers, directors, actors, or whomever.  Learn by watching them, listening to them . . . and also learn that they are just people that put one foot in front of the other, but walked ran sprinted like they were in a Tough Mudder race towards their goal, refusing to let anyone get in their way.

And what we do is easier than what athletes do!  You don’t get an advantage in writing if you’re 6’2″ and look like you’ve been cut from a slab of marble.  It doesn’t matter!

If you learn anything from the superstars in any industry, realize that they are human beings.   And you are a human being.

Which means you can do everything they can . . . and maybe even more.

– – – – –

We’ve got a great group of the best “Players” in the world coming to our conference.  Are you coming?  Find out who’s coming and see the schedule here.

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