This is a series: Part 1 and Part 2.

 

The average workplace touts multiple things to get talent through its doors: freedom, snacks of some sort and culture. Google has donut burgers. Apple has sushi. Your average workplace may have bagel Fridays. These are the supposed perks that will make employees happy and keep brain trust stable.

It’s amazing when you’re producing your own project that your employees/vendors value two things above anything else: transparent communication and time. If the work is interesting, they will shirk at pay if you (the head honcho(?)) keep them up to date about any changes and not make their part of the plan difficult with needless meetings, unstable schedules and inconsistent cycles of any sort. They also want to do the work and go home.

Theater is nothing but emotional peaks and valleys; it’s art after all. I was appreciative of the team that helped my goal see the light of completion while they were appreciative of not being stressed when the show was in full swing.

Create a System: Front Load All Production Work First, Learn Your Lines Last

The above title may be geared towards theatrical folks, but it can be simply translated as: Have fully functional systems in place before doing the fun stuff. When I first started the production of Black n Blue Boys / Broken Men I kept the entire team in the loop and gave end dates right away AFTER I established they were firm.

When all parties knew what was going on and what work had to be done,  I left them to their own devices while I wrote grants and learned lines.  We established trust early and consistently maintained it during the entire production. The calendar dictated our system of delivery, and since we started early, there was plenty of wiggle room for pivots.

Planning Will Always Cost Twice As Much and Take Twice As Long.

No one told me this, but producing and performing a one person show is a great cell for honing estimations to a razor’s edge. Summarized? Any project you are going to do will take twice as long and cost twice as much. It’s always safe to ballpark on the high end. Thinking you’ll have your lines cold in 3 months? You should give yourself 6. Think your show is going to cost 5k? Make it ten. When everyone knows the time will likely double, they may do two things:

  • Procrastinate
  • Deliver Early

With the exception of a few people, I found that delivering early was the better choice for my vendors because if the pay was the same, they were more focused on getting their time back to hang out with their family, do personal errands and the like.

 

Know That A Production is 80% Business & 20% Art.

There is a reason why Tableau’s infographics are much more prominent in the tech world than Power BI’s; it’s because of marketing. There are Tableau shirts everywhere in Seattle; and hip people are always wearing them. When you’re doing theater, it’s imperative to be good but it’s crucial to market one’s self, but marketing isn’t selling. Selling is slimy. Marketing is telling people what you’re proud about and why it would benefit them. In my case,Black n Blue Boys / Broken Men  was a finished product from an established author. Dael Orlandsmith was already nominated for a Pulitzer for her previous work and this person’s show was already performed in major cities years before.

But I wanted to tell people about the work, because Treehouse still stood, kids still needed help and they were going to get an edgy, big stage production that would have not likely happened in Seattle. So I focused on talking about the established benefits than I did set design, lighting (which was thought of the day before the show) and costumes.

I felt that people needed to know about foster kids, so I busked. I bothered. I handed out fliers personally. I did it on the street, in coffee houses, anywhere anyone would listen. Mailchimp (mailing lists), WordPress (website) and Blogs (content) can do wonders digitally while I beat the pavement.

When you have a product that you know rocks and can benefit someone, tell them! Good god, I know I did. The worse they can say is ‘no’, and then you move on.

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With early adaption, and communication, your clients(audience) and team(crew) will perform leagues better than your average team. Everyone on the fence will make a decision for, or against, the project and this will save time, effort and resources. Implementing automation, all while fixing stop gaps for future project replication, can carry the bulk of the work and leave you to do what you do best: create.

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