TeleCourse Raw Notes
Producing with Passion
Feb. 17, 1998
Notes Taken by Tara Greenway Leibowitz
"PRODUCING WITH PASSION" TELECOURSE 2/17/98 GUEST SPEAKER: JIM FREYDBERG, producer of many Broadway and Off-Broadway shows including "BIG" and "HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH" which just opened Off-Broadway to a rave New York Times' review.
1. You must look at producing a show as opening a new business -- you would never close a restaurant because it got a bad New York Times review
a. You should plan on a strong reserve (4 weeks worth of total running cost) and a huge advertising budget (25% of total budget)
b. The power is beginning to shift from the critics to the audience -- e.g., TITANIC (received negative reviews) -- remember the reviews are only out for 1 day -- mostly what people will remember is the advertising -- pull good quotes from reviews and that's it
c. It's difficult but not impossible to make a living producing theater -- remember most shows you will produce will fail or will look successful but actually lose money. If you must general manage your own show you can make a living.
2. If you need to raise more money, first go to your original investors (as the SIDE SHOW producers are trying to do), they have the most to loose if the show closes and does not recoup
a. Give the investors BUSINESS reasons to put up more money, like "our full-price ticket sales are going up steadily"
3. Freydberg's object is to produce a body of work of a certain playwrights or directors he admires, not just one play
a. Don't think about how much money it may make -- you'll probably be wrong anyway -- shows that were hardest to raise money for are the most successful -- shows that were easy to raise money for are usually the ones that fail -- money people like familiar shows, e.g., shows that have already gotten good Times reviews. This is unfortunate, since "familiar" often equals "failure"
4. When you produce, think: 1) why am I doing this play? 2) who will come to it? a. Don't waste the playwright's time if you love a play but know you won't be able to raise the money for it b. Don't market it to the wrong age group or other demographic or judge it in previews by the wrong demographic audience.
5. Freydberg does not ask for money. He just gets people to follow him. Just says why he loves this project.
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