Q: What do Off-Broadway and Independent Film have in common?

A: Almost everything.

Here are some common (but admittedly general) characteristics that could be used to describe both Off-Broadway and Independent Film:

  • Lower budgets
  • Original works
  • Emerging artists
  • Risk-taking
  • Artistic
  • Celebrities
  • Etc.

So if they are so similar, then why oh why does Independent Film have such a better rep than Off-Broadway (besides the obvious “off”-in-the-title issue)?  I guarantee if we had done a one-word survey on Independent Film, it would have a lot more positive associations than the Off-Broadway associations we talked about yesterday.

Two things changed the face of Independent Film in the last two decades:

  1. The democratization of production thanks to new technology (digital cameras and digital editing allowed anyone to make a movie inexpensively).
  2. Indie Films compete side by side against their mainstream counterparts for awards – and often beat them.

How can we use these examples to better Off-Broadway?

  1. If I were an Off-Broadway Producer or member of the Off-Broadway Alliance (oh, wait, I am), I’d be looking at how we can use technology and our new DIY world to reduce our costs, while maintaining high-quality productions.  Off-Broadway shows can’t be produced like mini-Broadway shows.  They have entirely different economic models and therefore have to be built differently . . . and today they can be.
  2. I’d also be lobbying the Tony Awards for some sort of Off-Broadway recognition.  While we’ll never go head-to-head (nor should we, Drama Desks), partially because unlike film, we “graduate” many shows to Broadway and therefore Tony eligibility, Off-Broadway deserves a piece of that big night.  Why not a citation for a production or an artist or a theater company?  There’s a Tony for regional theaters, why not one for Off-Broadway, which I’d bet has been responsible for more eventual Tony Award winners than regionals.

Somehow, somewhere, Off-Broadway got a bad rep (and yes, it has to do with the name).  What should we do?

Over the next ten years, Off-Broadway’s goal should be to change its brand to exactly that of Independent Film.

Otherwise, as films get even easier to produce and distribute and therefore appear in theaters, on computers and on iPhones with even greater frequency, people may just decide to go see a movie instead of a show.

Wanna see a couple of Producers get naked? Here’s how.

Either this blog will turn into one of my most read entries because of the title, or the title will conjure up images of a naked David Merrick or Florenz Ziegfeld and make people want to throw up all over the keyboards.

But I’m not talking about Merrick or Ziegfeld.

I’m talking about Julie and Martha.

Julie and Martha are two of the Producers of David Stallings’s Barrier Island, which opens April 30th. These two flirtin’ fundraisers have taken to a little game they came up with called Producer Off, that’s bound to raise a few eyebrows and some bucks at the same time.

It’s simple.  There are photos of each Producer online.  For each chunk of cash that each Producer raises through online donations, the OTHER Producer has to take off a piece of clothing, take a new photo, and put it on the web for all the world (and their mothers) to see.

It’s fun, competitive, and also pretty safe (a few quick calculations will reveal that the ladies are wearing enough accoutrements to never have to reveal too much of what’s underneath (oven mitts?)).

But that won’t prevent Julie and Martha from getting attention from people who had never heard of them before, and donations from people who never would have donated to their cause before.

In fact, I contributed some cash to both of their accounts.

But I did it to support their risk-taking, get-the-money-at-all-costs, out-of-the-box, passion for the theater.

Yeah. Yeah. That’s why I did it.

To see Julie and Martha, click here.

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