How a Broadway Star reminded me about producing . . . on a budget.

I went bar hoppin’ last night.

First stop was our ProducersPerspectivePRO  monthly networking event (which was a blast).  And while that was still winding down (these Pros can party!), I popped on over to that Broadway hangout, Glass House Tavern, to meet with my new bud and Broadway leading man, Jeremy Kushnier.

We were shooting the shinola, when Jer started to tell me about his equally talented writer-director brother, Serge.

Turns out, Serge just made a movie, starring Jeremy.  They’re starting to roll it out now, with the hopes that they’ll win some festivals, sell it to a studio, etc.

What intrigued me was that Serge made the thing happen himself.  Although he had hoped that some big Hollywood Producer (or even a medium Hollywood Producer) would scoop up the script and shoot the movie for him, that didn’t happen.  So he did what all artists should do and said, “Ok, if no one is going to do this, I’m going to do it myself.”

But that’s not why I’m writing a blog about these two bros.  Because, why sure, I love me some inspirational self-producing siblings, but what got me was what Jeremy told me next.

Serge and Jeremy knew that they didn’t have bottomless resources.  (And actually, no artist has bottomless resources – even Julie Taymor got capped.) So, instead of just trying to figure out how much it would cost to make the movie,  which usually ends up being so much it scares people off from producing, they used what I call “The Back In” method.

Serge looked around and said, “Ok.  What do I have?”

  • He knew he could do some crowdfunding that would generate X amount.
  • He knew he had his brother.
  • He knew he could ask for a few favors, invest a bit of his own, etc.

Once he knew what he had, he set out to make a movie with that.

He “backed into his budget.”

Or, to put it in his own words, direct from his EPK (Electronic Press Kit) for the film…

This film was written as a means to make a feature film on a obtainable budget in a reasonable time frame. “Just make a movie already” mentality.

This process is so genius because it guarantees that you’ll get your project done.  So many clients come to me with a show they want to produce, but they say, “I can never raise this money,” and they give up.  End of their story.  Literally.

What they should do is flip it around and say, “I can get x, y and z.  How can I produce the show for that?”

And it’ll happen.

See, I’ve always been a believer in this simple phrase…you can produce a show for any amount of money.

Does that mean you can produce your show on Broadway or Off Broadway or with a certain star or set?  No.  Obviously, the depth of your resources will literally afford you more.

But you can still produce it.  (Limited resources often stir even greater creativity – just ask John Doyle or Joe Mantello.)

And let me tell you…as Jeremy said before we clinked drinks, “any show is better than no show.”

Cheers to that.

So do what you can now.  And it will give you a chance to do even more tomorrow.

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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.