Overheard at Angus Vol. XIV: Tough Love

I get a lot of emails asking for advice on a lot of different subjects, from how to market a show about puppets to is it better to start off your career working for a non-profit theatre company or a commercial theatre producer. In fact, I’m still reeling from the fact that I had been corresponding with and was supposed to meet with Marina Keegan about her upcoming move to NYC before her tragic accident in May. (Read about her story and her Fringe show, The Independents, here.)

Of course, the most common frustration/question I get is, “How can I raise money for my show?”

I usually point people to this blog, and tell folks to look for the coming e-book (It was a New Year’s resolution of mine to finish it this year) and when with consulting clients, I develop a specific strategy.

But it’s a complicated and difficult question to answer.

Which is why I was so intrigued to hear one of my peers answer the same question a few weeks ago.  I was on a panel, next to an esteemed member of our industry, and sure enough, after the panel was over, he was swarmed by young up-and-comers looking for a chance to network with him.  I was chatting with a few folks just to his right when I heard someone say, “Mr. Big-Wig Producer, I have this show.  And I’ve been trying to raise money for it.  And I just can’t do it.  What should I do?”

Without even a fraction of a second passing by, Mr. Producer said . . .

“If you can’t raise the money for your show, you don’t want to produce it badly enough.”

It was a bit of a harsh/tough love response to this wanna-be, but in the Big-Wig Producer’s defense, the wanna-be was whining like a two year old whose parents wouldn’t buy him the latest Lego set.

And frankly, Mr. Big-Wig Producer was right.  The proof?  Really awful things get produced all the time . . . in every market . . . theater, film, financial instruments, toys, furniture, etc.  I’m sure you’ve seen movies, art, kitchen products, or whatever that you thought was junk.  Well, it got made.  Because someone raised money for it.  On sheer passion alone.

Raising money ain’t easy.  You gotta want it baaaaaaad.  You gotta believe in your show baaaaaaad.  You gotta think that there is no other option for you but to raise that money.  And if you don’t, very baaaaaaad things will happen.

Don’t give yourself a choice.  And certainly don’t whine about it.

Just raise it.

Need more tips on how to raise money for your project?  Click here to read all my best practices.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.