Little Jimmy's Guide to Self-Producing, Part 8: Filling the Gaps & Plugging the Holes
Kent Barrett, who just began chronicling his efforts to produce his script, asked me some questions in the comments section of the previous entry, which made me realize I may have missed some points or only dealt with them in a cursory way. Here is our exchange, which I hope will help fill in some gaps and plug in some holes from my previous self-producing entries. (In the same comments section, RVCBard also asks some questions, which I do my best to answer. In addition, RLewis has also been helpful in answering some questions in the same comments section as well.)
1. Obviously trying to stay within my budget - which I wanted to ask you about: In one of your entries you talk about joining an umbrella arts organization such as Fractured Atlas or The Field. If one were to join such an organization, then would it be possible to call yourself a non-profit institution without going through all the 501c3 craziness? The reason I ask right now is because there are many spaces that will give discounts to non-prof groups, but I didn't know if that could truly apply to this situation. Do you, by any chance, know?
If you go through Fractured Atlas or the Field, you're sort of a not-for-profit company. That is to say, think of Fractured Atlas or the Field as the Parent Company and you're under their umbrella. But if you solicit donations and get the donations through them (I don't know how the Field does it exactly, but with Fractured Atlas your donors are sending donations to Fractured Atlas c/o you, and you keep 90% of the donation, and the donation is 100% tax-deductible to your donor), it's going through a not-for-profit institution. You're not 501c3, but you're accepting donations through a 501c3 institution. If you join one of these orgs, you can honestly tell your potential donors that their contributions are tax-deductible. I don't know if this applies to discounts for spaces (it may not). But you can ask them.
(I should also probably point out that the odds of your budget going up are about as likely as those of the sun rising in the morning. These are just the rules of the game. Our intended budget for Monkeys, which was admittedly laughably naïve, ballooned to $2,400. You'll most likely go over-budget. Just don't let that discourage or worry you too much. But at the same time, don't let it get too out of hand, the way we did with our second play.)
2. Many spaces seem to want you to have liability insurance, some want some sort of fire coverage, and still others require their own personnel on sight acting as either technicians, management staff or both.
I only covered one of these aspects very briefly, so no worries. Yeah, you'll probably need insurance. That's something that's changed since we started: most theatres had their own liability insurance (and some still do, but they're shrinking in numbers). There are a bunch of places that offer this. We used to use CIMA, but now we get our insurance via Acord, based on a recommendation by Fractured Atlas. (These are the same places we get our actors insurance if we cast Equity actors.)
3. When requesting a space rental, do I need to let the venue know that there will be things like graphic language, simulated sex, violence, nudity, etc?
Most don't care. We've never had a problem. It doesn't hurt to let them know in advance (we do, and have always been met with, "Yeah, we don't care."). But thanks for letting me know! Now I'm sure to check it out.
4. Have you guys in the past ever offered free drinks after the performance? I know we can't sell alcohol without a liquor license, but do you know if it's possible to give it away for free?
Oh we've done that, sure. Most theatres allow it unless it's a conflict of interest (i.e., they have a bar on site and that hurts their profits). Again, just double-check with the space beforehand. 99 out of 100 will have no problem with it. (RLewis also offers some handy advice on getting a pretty cheap one-time-only liquor license. We here at Nosedive have never done that, but then again, we here at Nosedive are a pretty irresponsible lot.)
5. Do you need to register the theatre company name somewhere some how? I was just going to make something up and go with it.
I suspect many folks may disagree with me on this one, but so be it: Naaaaah.
We just made something up and went with it. A quick Google search should help you determine if the name's already being used.
I'm actually of the belief that it's perseverance and maintaining your brand through consistent (and hopefully, quality) work, NOT legal paperwork, that will protect your company identity.
Several years ago, I discovered that there was a British film production company called Nosedive Productions. I didn't contact them and they didn't contact me. (I actually had no idea which company came first.) There were no legal kerfuffles. There didn't need to be.
We did our own thing, which was very separate from what this Nosedive in England did, and have kept doing our own thing. Since then, it looks as though the other Nosedive disbanded.
If and when you decide to incorporate, then yes, part of the paperwork will involve getting an official and unique company name (we're officially Nosedive Productions Inc.). Also, if you join Fractured Atlas or The Field, your name will be protected.
But for now? Naaaaah. Just make something up and go with it.
A bit odd,
James "Endgame" Comtois