Monday, 19 December 2011

I’ve just agreed to produce my first show independently. HELP?

Bridget Floyer

Who attended?
Only got one name so here are the whys!
- runs a Marketing and PR film and helps small companies
- works for ACE and interesting in independently produced work and what questions people are asking
- doing a Producing MA so interested in potentially producing own work
- runs a fringe festival on the Isle of Wight
- interested in how to be adaptable to different situations
- has done some producing but still not entirely sure what the role means
- doing an MA in community arts, has an idea for a musical
- producing her own work, can share experience
(some whys are from the same people)

Summary of discussion

I convened the session because I’m about to produce my first play (with a film and theatre company) and although I’ve worked in the industry for nearly ten years, I’ve never done this independently before – maybe I’ve done things backwards! It seems as though a lot of the help and support available is aimed at those aged 25 or even 30 and under and I’m 32. Was interested in getting advice but also in discussions generally about starting out later on. Notes are not in chronological order but grouped loosely into categories.


- Go through a company, you can claim VAT
- Separating film and theatre (into separate companies) is a good idea, people don’t get confused as to what you do (and different scales of budget can be a problem)
- drilling down the product and finding out what it is is important – have an R&D period
- don’t necessarily make long term decisions until you know what the product is
- but do also go for it – staying in development for too long can bog you down

- Match your product to your venue
- Choosing the right venue is really important
- venues don’t have to be existing theatre spaces, can create your own
- find your venue first

- Can be useful NOT being subsidised – if independent for the first time subsidy could make you not scrutinise your costs so carefully
- The Space – partnership between BBC and Ace, digital arts fund, just closed
- Grants for the Arts fund development (one member of the group had received development funding from G4A)
- sponsorship – break it down into bitesize chunks, find what your investor’s reason is, what’s their benefit?
- crowdfunding: you need to have a really strong existing online audience
- one member of the group [knows someone who?] crowdfunds everything they produce but then makes it all freely available online. Sustains his work that way.
- £1 a month direct debit – doesn’t seem that much, you forget you’re paying it and never cancel, if you have 100 people doing it that’s £1200 a year
- if people have turned up to a live event they want to purchase/donate online
- people want to donate to someone they know, to have a face to it
- online donating you seem to need to offer something back

- Do audiences cross from film to theatre?
- Generally hard to cross over audiences
- Often depends on the right setting
- IoW Festival do have some cross-over audiences
- work with what you’ve got –eg if your work is new and experimental find an audience who are interested in that
- A lot is about audiences trusting a venue (though some audiences don’t even cross over within a venue – is that partly about the audience not the venue? eg some “types” are more likely to cross over than others)
- can be interesting to go out to get a different audience
- explore different expectations, different venues, not so much competition? More open?
- What is your audience’s expectation and how do you create different expectations


- does anyone who produces ever go “yes I know what this is, I know how to do this”?
- can be a very undefined role – varies loads, job description is often misleading

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