Friday, March 27, 2009

What's Next?!

So, where are we: I’ve secured the rights & the venue. I am in the midst of blackmailing everyone I know into donating their precious $$$ to the production. But, what is next? People. I need people. And trust me when I say, you always need more people than you anticipate.

Our first year of production, I had absolutely NO idea how much work it would be. None. Zippo. Zilch! Seriously, if I had any clue I may not have done it at all. However, in my complete ignorance I jumped head first into the deep end. By the time September rolled around and the show had come to a close I was practically comatose. I not only produced and directed the bloody thing but I also did anything and everything else from doing the job of a technical director to acting as the marketing/publicity person. I’m still not quite sure how I managed to do it all without imploding.

I learned my lesson and the next year (yes, I am glutton for punishment) I doubled the amount of people on the creative/production team. My two absolute must-have team members without whom I would definitely spontaneously combust are an Associate Producer or Production Assistant and a Production Manager. The Associate Producer/Production Assistant basically takes over the producing job once we get into the rehearsal phase so that I can focus on my job as the Director. The Production Manager co-ordinates all the technical aspect of the show such as liaising with the venue and overseeing construction of the set & costumes. This way, I never have to be the “bad” guy and as the Director I can create a safe and collaborative environment between the designers and myself.

Thus, let me introduce you to Heather Young. She has been the Production Manager for 2 years running and will be again this year. She is my saving grace and without her I seriously don’t know what I would do. Throughout the production I thank god every day that she is there to keep everyone in line…er, moving in the right direction.

(Heather's Blog post to come shortly)

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Show me the Money

Ok, cliché title, but it only becomes a cliché because it speaks the truth.

So, starting off where we left last time. You apply for the rights and magically they become yours. Then they tell you in order to secure these rights you need to send them a cheque for blank amount. Hmmmm….you mean I need money to produce a show?! So you dig out your credit card or find someone you know who isn’t a starving artist to loan/possibly donate the money to you. (ie. that corporate lawyer you know who works in the corner office on the 30th floor of a downtown office building with a view to die for).

Meanwhile you’ve also been researching venues. Finally you find the one that best suits the needs of the show. You tell them your days including tech and strike time. They send you a tentative invoice telling you it will cost you blank amount and say in order to secure the venue you will need to put down a 50% deposit. You blink a few times at the $$$ and think to yourself where the f*#$ am I going to get this kind of cash when I only have $5.94 in my bank account!

This is the reality. Art doesn’t happen without Money. Finding the $$$: this is the rather un-glamorous job of the Producer.

When I first started out, fundraising was probably my least favourite part of the job but now I actually kind of enjoy it. At first it can seem daunting and awkward asking people to donate their money, time, services, etc to your production but ask you must. In my experience box office revenues account for less than %50 of your total revenue stream (sorry little bit of business lingo there). So, where do you get the other 50-75% of the money to put up this beloved project of yours? From the generosity of others.

Now, I have done all sorts of fundraising events throughout the last couple of years such as garage sales, raffles, pub nights, etc but those events often take a lot of organization and time without much return. In my experience the best way of fundraising is actually the simplest: just ask! Yes, it can be intimidating at first but it gets easier and eventually you may even enjoy it because the truth is people really do want to help. They want to be a part of creating something from nothing and seeing it come to life. It gives people great satisfaction to know that they are helping others achieve their dreams.

So ask. Ask corporations to sponsor you in return for logo placement on your poster or an ad in your program. Make a list of everyone you know and send out a donation letter. Paper, envelope, stamp. It is the easiest thing to do and you’d be surprised how many cheques you get in the mail. All those $25 donations add up.

And, lastly, work with other theatre companies. For the past two years we have worked with another local company to run their concession with the profits going to our company. Right now that is what we are doing with Patrick Street Productions and their production of The Full Monty. On Opening Night alone we made $1000 dollars. What did I have to do? Pour the wine.

~Sabrina Evertt,
Artistic Producer

Friday, March 13, 2009

My First Blog

In an attempt to join the rest of the social networking world I am creating a blog for our upcoming production Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love by Brad Fraser. The idea is that as we go along the production and design team, as well as the cast and crew, will blog about the process. The good, the bad and the ugly.

So, first thing first, the play. Why did I choose this play of all plays?

Well, I pretty much came upon it by accident. I had applied for the rights for a few other plays but alas they were TOO new and weren't being released as of yet. What?! You mean I can't just produce whatever I want? So what if it is on Broadway right now? We are five hours away by plane!! The next thing I knew I was at the VPL just sifting through plays and there it was. Love at first sight (or on first read). I admit I am generally attracted to plays that delve into the darker side of humanity which is odd cause generally in person I am fairly 'sunny'. People always call me sweet (I am NOT sweet).

And this play is dark. And twisty. I love it. At its core it is about people learning to live with the disappointments that life has dealt them. Along the way, the characters explore sexuality, friendships and relationships and learn that the line between friendship and intimacy can be a blurry one indeed. Weaving through these complexities lurks the mystery of a serial killer who is loose in the city and killing young women. With many twists and turns, written 20 years ago, it doesn't remotely seemed dated.

I applied for the rights and we were off and running.

~Sabrina Evertt,
Artistic Producer