This week's guest blog comes from Katie Santos, a new manager who learned some valuable lessons about producing that she has kindly offered to share. Take it away Katie!
It was Opening Night. My fiancé, and co-producer of the show, was in the audience - a potential investor to his right and another texting, wanting to attend tomorrow nights show.
I was backstage, calming actors, finding costume pieces they misplaced directly in front of themselves and just generally breathing a sigh of relief that tonight, the culmination of all our hard work would be realized.
At the end of the night, we all breathed and toasted to a collective sense of exuberance:
"We did it!"
Of course, we looked forward to tomorrow ("and tomorrow and tomorrow...") We were on a fast track and Broadway Bound. And this was no unfounded pipe dream; we had done our due diligence: collected a great team of experienced, award winning professionals; gotten a solid script and intense marketing in the form of a well known famous author with a huge following; and had a production value so high that we'd Sold Out our first sixteen shows A Full Month in Advance.
Failure at this point, could only be attributed to something Completely Beyond Our Realm Of Control:
Like Mercury Retrograde;
Or The Apocalypse;
Or the Fickle Workings of the New York Audience Hive Mind.
If this show was not a smashing success there was nothing we could say that we had failed to do.
Yeah. That's what we thought, too.
Here's how we made that mistake and how to make sure you Don't!
1- Our Relationship With Our Most Important Partner:
Of all our amazing, professional, talented partners in this show, the one we may have failed in relating with was our venue and box office Owner. It's easy to forget the importance of this individual, given that they are rarely involved in the rehearsal process or attend production meetings. And in this case there were plenty of excuses why our particular situation was "difficult". However, this is the partner who, more than the General Manager or the top-line investors, can be the safety net of the show - before, during AND after.
Your positive relationship with Every Individual, even the more "difficult" ones, is absolutely necessary in holding on to your inevitable success.
2- Our "Fully Grown From the Head of Zeus" Marketing plan:
Like Athena fully birthed from her dad's head, our Marketing Plan came to us Ready Made. Created on the backbone of a famous author, with a loyal and huge following in the real world as well as online, it seemed Goof Proof. Our script, adapted from his books, appealed to not only current fans but "theater geeks" as well. As we rehearsed and built the show, he blogged and tweeted, promised his fans they would meet him if they came and even offered to buy each audience member a drink! When the first week sold out, crashing our online ticket service in the process, we were convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that we had a huge success on our hands.
At a few production meetings the show website was discussed ("When would we have one...?") and the idea of hashtags was bandied about ("It would be great to have them publicized...") But the urgency to follow these thoughts thru was overshadowed by the Awesome press we were getting on sites like Jezabel and Cosmo and on the authors own blog. That's all we needed, right?
Your marketing plan is not a static entity. It, like the show, should grow and evolve; and as it does, so will your success.
3- Positive Thinking.
As the ball of success started to roll, gathering speed and social media laurels, we started to tell ourselves that the greatness thrust upon us was inevitable. "This is going to Broadway," we said, before we'd even opened. And it didn't seem crazy! If anything, our Positivity was backed by practical plans and spreadsheets. We were so positive, that we didn't see the alternative ending. Couldn't see it - and I believe that we couldn't for many reasons. One main one might be one we all struggle with sometimes: fear that if we let negativity in - the "what ifs" and the doubts- our success will disappear.
*Be Positive about your continued success by taking an honest look at the possibility of failure.
The final bonus point:
*Always Remain Conscious of the Success You HAVE Achieved! We did not make our end goal of Broadway - this time, or in this way - BUT: We DID put on 16 Amazing , fun, memorable, successful shows. We DID make lifelong friends and connections that can only benefit us in the future. And we did learn so much - even more than what I've shared here .
We're excited to share these lessons with our peers: one-on-one and at regular group workshops with fellow producers, directors and managers - so that we can all continue to achieve every bit of the success we deserve!