As an artist the most frustrating thing for me used to be when I was in between projects…or more accurately out of work. In the first decade of my creative journey, even in a good year I spent more time “out of work” than working as an actor, writer or producer. Most actors understand that we will spend more time looking for work, auditioning and submitting than actually creating, especially before we hit our stride…I don’t know about you but spinning my wheels trying to convince people to hire me was not why I got into performing in the first place.
Within my first year of living in New York City I got into a small theatre company in the East Village; we only did new works, most of which were written for the core members of the company, one of them was even published – Galaxy Video. After about two years with the company I stepped in as a producer, with no experience. Over the next two years I produced 3 original plays from the script development stage to full scale productions, the experience was invaluable and set me on a path I never expected.
Almost two decades later I have over forty independent film/digital and theatre productions under my belt as producer. Thanks to my writing and producing skills I learned to take control over my career because I have the power to create projects for myself and to spearhead productions for others.
My first tip for any frustrated artist would be CREATE YOUR OWN PROJECTS! If you write, partner with directors and performers. If you are a performer, make friends with writers and directors and so on. There are so many talented people just like you that haven’t had the right opportunity to showcase their extraordinary ability.
In my experience the #1 thing that stops artists from moving forward with a project or an idea is funding, or more accurately lack thereof. Many artists wait until they have funding in place before they move forward, or even talk themselves out of starting all together because they can’t see how their vision could ever come to life without funding in place or the right connections. I can only speak from my experience, but I’ve never waited for funding. Every project I’ve ever produced (where I was in charge of fundraising) the money always came once the project got going. If there is passion, enthusiasm and momentum things always begin to fall into place. I’ve always worked with the “if you build it they will come” philosophy. Yes, I am a total dreamer, that’s why I live in the creative world where anything is possible!
It doesn’t cost anything to write (alone or with a partner) or to get a group of actors to read a script in a living room (or on zoom). The way I work the living room is my creative space, because although I don’t get to be on stage or in a studio every day, I do get to be creative in my living room as often as I choose. It’s also a great place to get others excited about your work, on your turf and on your terms.
Once you have a solid script and a group of performers who are excited about it, invite some other friends or colleagues to listen and give feedback – get them excited about the project too! This is how you get momentum. Reach out to as many people as you can for advice and tips, at every stage of your process, it’s a great way to let people know you are working on something. Look up theatres or writing groups to see who hosts reading nights where you can read a scene (or the entire script). Many theatre companies or industry groups do weekly or monthly readings and are always looking for content (i.e. We Make Movies LA & NYC, Naked Angels NYC, WildSound Toronto just to name a few). These readings are a great way to open up your network, find collaborators, get more people excited about your project and to be part of a creative community of like minded artists.
The key is just start, take the plunge and put your work out there. It’s amazing how much support you can find in unlikely places and how the right people always seem to appear at the right time. The money won’t come to you until you go as far as you possibly can without it…and then somehow, it will appear.
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