Self-Production Primer: Team Building – Roland Tec
Roland’s rules about producing:
The biggest challenge: writing is solitary. In order to become an effective producer, fight against natural tendency to hide in the corner. Producing is about gathering people together, getting a team of people to work at their peak. Producing is a creative act.
Get a notebook. Takes notes. The minute you start producing, every conversation moves it forward – or back. Take notes on every email, meeting, etc. Time is in short supply. Follow up quickly and effectively.
The “all in” rule: when you’re sending someone an email or leaving a phone message, include all the necessary information. Otherwise you slow down what needs to get done.
Clarify your goals: what’s your objective for this production? Is your goal to break even? Have a commercial success? If you don’t know before you begin, hard to access your success at the end.
Find a producing partner. You can’t write and produce at the same time.
We often think: who can help? Ask another question: how can every person in my life help? Everyone can offer something to the production. Find the right thing they can do. Some it may be money. Others may introduce you to other people. Others will be your greatest cheerleader. Or a great actor. Or teaches at a university and can get you student interns. Start thinking about finding ways in which the people in your world can become involved in your dream.
Scheduling: can’t start without your director. You want to make sure you have the right director, one who understands your show. If you have any reservations, keep looking.
Pre-production tasks: (2-6 months) Book the venue, raise the funds, hire the cast and publicist and crew (when hiring crew, delegate whenever possible – let your lighting designer hire everybody else in lighting, etc.), sign and file all union and legal paperwork, obtain the insurance.
Production tasks: rehearsing to performance level, build set and costumes, loading in, hanging and focusing the lights, rolling out the PR in all its forms (press release must drop at least six weeks prior to first performance), box office (never too early to start taking people’s money) and house management
Post: pay bills, strike set, return borrowed materials, assemble a clippings book (good press agent will do this for you, but they may miss something) – every mention in the press is there; assess financials; gather the team to say goodbye and thank you. Followup: what were your goals? Start assessing the success or failure or in between during the run of the show. If you want to move the show, you need to know early. Decide who’s on your decisionmaking team who’ll sit down with you to decide about moving the show.
Have a production office (your living room?) where people can meet, leave packages, etc. One central place.
Casting: in conjunction with director. A good director should have a way that he/she likes to cast. If using Equity actors, must notify Equity before casting the show. There are rules about casting Equity actors. When you start casting the show, that’s the beginning of your PR campaign. Actors are great marketers – talking up your show after reading the sides. The way you run your auditions is having an impact on how folks perceive the production. If they’re sitting around for seven hours to be seen for five minutes, forget it. Schedule appointments in 15 minute intervals. Your auditions are the first time you’re engaging with the public. Be organized. Don’t run long. Make people feel taken care of. Never give out roles. People value the things they have to work for.