Monday, June 4, 2012

What Is A Producer?


Not in a million years would I have told you that when I grew up I would hold jobs whose descriptions are ambivalent and nebulous.  For example, I'm an "IT Architect".

"Soooo....what is it that you actually do?" is the number one question I get when I tell people I work for an IT firm.  I then have to resort to drawing from popular culture and quote the (in)famous Tom Smykowski line from Office Space to give people an idea as to what I do:
"Well look, I already told you! I deal with the goddamn customers so the engineers don't have to! I have people skills! I am good at dealing with people! Can't you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?"
 Still don't know what I do?  Don't worry...most people still don't really know what the hell I do for a living.

Another job I have grown into is theatre production.  My aptitude for it is very high; it's not everyday you get to put mundane corporate skills to work.  It's akin to being the quarterback on a football team; when the team loses, it's all your fault; when the team wins, you had absolutely nothing to do with it - it was a "group" effort.

Soooo....what is it that you actually do?

When I tell people that I'm an actor, director, and producer, the first two items click in their minds.  The third one gets me weird looks like when I go to club frequented by 20 year-olds...


...but I digress.   Being a theatre producer means doing a lot of the same things corporate middle managers deal with:
  • Contracts
  • Personnel
  • Budgets
  • Promotions
  • Politics
To date, I've produced over 25+ productions.  I can only think of one that didn't break even or make a  profit.  And at the end of the production, typically the best I can expect as a reward for my efforts to make it happen is staff and talent walk away saying, "Well, that was fun.  See you next time." as they go off to their next project,  Sometimes the acknowledgement is more and many times it's less.  After 7 years of doing it, I ask myself, "Why do it?"

I'll tell you why.  There is a satisfaction I get when a production of mine goes up, the audience is having a good time, talent is happy, and the venue is happy to have my production there.  Seeing the magic of what it took to get there finally pay off is a huge high for me.  It pays off to see my "baby" at work.  Of course, in my own blog, I'm going to take a ton of credit for these things working (yes, it's a group effort but fawk it ... I am taking my cot damn props for once!).  It's super rewarding.

Today I was on a call where some of my staff openly admitted, "There's a lot more to production than we originally thought".  My response?

"WELCOME TO MY WORLD!!!!"

It brought a big smile to my face and large cackle from my gizzard.  For once, people understood what is that I do as a producer.  If they were to ever ask anyone in theatre the question "Soooo....what is it that you actually do?", they will know what it means when they hear "producer"!!!!



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