Little Jimmy's Guide to Self-Producing, Part 10: Getting The Band Together
Of course it figures that, after trying to make a habit of posting these self-producing how-to guide entries during the week, but leaving Friday clear for other such nonsense, I do the reverse this week. Ah, well. I am, after all, a blogger, and not to be trusted.
Blogs. Ya get what ya paid for.
Any ole fuckeroo, on with the show...
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RVCBard had asked me earlier about how to go about getting the right collaborators and my original answer was a little fumbling. I think this is because this falls more in the "alchemy" category than the hard science one. Still, I thought I should expand a bit, since this tends to be one of the biggest hurdles when a would-be self-producer is starting out.
As I have said before, and will say again, I was - am - very lucky to have met up with Pete at the time that I did. We had very similar goals and were on the same page when it was required. In other words, we're actually very different people (then as now), but see eye to eye on a number of crucial junctures. I was also very lucky to have a friend in Chris Bujold who decided to move down to the city once he heard Pete and I were thinking of putting on a play. We were all very lucky to know Dave Townsend and Adam Heffernan, who were willing to lead us horses to the water. We were lucky with picking our cast for Monkeys. We got lucky when we discovered Katie Clark (who acted in our first play and a couple after that) was dating this Christopher Yustin guy, who was super fun to hang out with and an amazing actor. We were lucky that he lived with Steph, who really liked the plays she had seen of ours and wanted to be a part of it. I was lucky that Pete and Patrick Shearer were good college friends, and we were both lucky that he decided to move from California to New York in 2001. And I consider myself very lucky to have such a talented younger sister, who wanted to join Nosedive after she graduated from Vassar in 2005, even though she is a punk.
And so on, and so forth.
So, yes. We ended up lucking out - and continuing to luck out - with joining up with excellent collaborators, some of the best in the city, in my humble estimation. But fortunately, it doesn't require luck alone. And eventually, as you progress, it requires less luck.
In case you hadn't extrapolated this, not only did I only refer to a small group of people, but only a small number of were there from the very start.
(Hell, a couple years ago Pete unearthed a copy of the script for Monkeys and we realized that he and I were the only two people involved in the production that were still involved with Nosedive.)
Like-minded people gravitate towards one another. This may take some time, but that's fine. If you're working on creating and cultivating a company, you shouldn't expect - nor are you expected - to have your company fully formed and frozen in time from square one. People will come and people will go, but more often than not, the good ones, if they're not there from the start, will eventually come along and stick around.
Bear in mind it was years before we did any sort of collaboration with such folks as Qui Nguyen or Mac Rogers, two of the best playwrights working today (in my humble estimation).
(For those of you seeking simple nuts and bolts information on how to get a cast and crew together for Play #1, I think the best bet is to rope in as many like-minded creative friends you've got. I mean, you have to have at least one or two, right? Unless you're a friendless creep who stinks of cheese. Okay. So if you're a friendless cheese-reeking sociopath, but still want to self-produce, you may first want to shower. Then, after you've cleaned yourself up a little, you can either take out an ad in a trade publication like Backstage or post a listing on craigslist. If you're a writer and you absolutely can't find a director, direct it yourself. And again, you may also want to join the Community Dish, if you're in the New York area. If you're interested in joining the Dish, shoot me an email and I can tell you how to get involved. But please, shower first. I don't want you showing up to the meetings with that cheese funk.)
You also need to heed Mac's advice of going out and seeing as many shows as possible. You should do this for multiple (and obvious) reasons, but one of them is, of course, to seek out potential collaborators.
Since self-producing is about carving out your own path and cultivating your own garden (to mix two really horrible metaphors), a lot of your experience will be that of the trial-and-error variety. Don't worry about the errors, because trust me: you're a-gonna make some. Just try not to repeat them with the next show.
If you continue to put out good work, you'll draw the attention of other good theatre artists who will want to work with you and vice versa.
Offending his collaborators with his writerly musk,
James "Stinky Cheese Man" Comtois