You want to be a Broadway producer but you don’t know where to start.
I’m going to share with you a secret that will help you jumpstart your Broadway producing career, legitimize your name within the industry and open the door for you to scripts and investors.
And I’m going to tell you how to avoid making the single biggest mistake aspiring producers often make.
Here’s the secret: all you need to do to start your Broadway producing is to go out and produce something.
You may think I’m exaggerating but I’m not. Remember, this is how to start your career.
The single biggest mistake aspiring producers make is waiting for that perfect script to magically show up in their inboxes, or waiting until they have a huge list of potential investors ready to give them money.
The truth is, to get started, you don’t need tons of money. You don’t even need the perfect project.
Very few producers get their start by producing a multi-million dollar Broadway hit.
Building a producing career involves proving to the industry that you can make shows happen. They don’t have to be big shows. Really, any size show will do. But, when you make a show happen, you will be a producer.
So, how do you start?
Easy. Start with a reading. Find a friend who wrote a script. If you’re thinking about a career as a Broadway producer you almost certainly have a friend who has written something.
It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, or something that seems totally commercial. But it should be something you’re willing to put your name on.
Then, book a rehearsal studio (there are plenty in New York) for a few days, and get some actor friends to agree to participate.
Finally, send out an announcement about the reading, include the names of the cast and make sure it says that you are producing the reading.
There, you just produced something. You may not get a ton of people to come, but again, we are talking about how to start.
By doing this you have accomplished two huge things. One, you have put together a presentation of a script - otherwise known as producing. And, two, you have something out there in the world that has your name on it and the words “produced by.”
Allison Bressi is an early career producer who is building a name for herself producing staged readings.
I asked Allison what it was like for her to get started and she told me, “I just sort of jumped in blindly. I got very nervous on the “day-of” when the audience started arriving and it became real. But when it was done I felt a huge sense of accomplishment.”
Once you’ve done one small reading at this level, start to produce more readings and slowly grow them in scale.
The goal isn’t necessarily to get people to hand over money to you, at least not yet.
Allison added, “For me, it took several readings for people to start putting together who I was and what I was doing, but I think that means I just have to keep moving projects forward. It's exciting to have people in the industry associate my name with the projects I’m working on. And I'm really proud to be working with such exciting and wonderful artists.”
Next time you do this, hire a general manager to lend your reading some credibility and to help you implement the correct Actors’ Equity agreement (there are quite a few, and an experienced general manager will make sure you’re using the right one).
Now call some agents and see if you can get some actors involved who have some name recognition within the industry. Not necessarily big movie stars, but actors who have one or two Broadway credits to their name. These names will stand out to investors and producers who get invited to dozens of readings each week, and they will be more likely to want to come to your reading.
A casting director can also be a good hire if your readings are starting to grow in scale.
Then repeat the other steps from above. Send out an announcement and you’re in business. If the announcement comes from a respected general management office, that will increase the legitimacy of the project in the eyes of the industry.
As you do this, you’ll start to get a reputation in the industry as someone who produces stuff. Why? Because you are now a producer. And new scripts may start to come to you in unexpected ways.
The dots will start to connect themselves. You’ll meet other people beginning their own producing careers. Some of these people will become your producing partners.
Eventually, you’ll want to graduate from readings to Off-Broadway or being a Co-Producer on a Broadway show. But, don’t overthink things at the start. Just go out there and do it.
Daniel Kuney is the Co-Founder of Jumpstart Entertainment, a Broadway and Theatrical General Management firm in New York City.
Allison Bressi is a producer in New York City. She is currently working as a line producer on Lynn Nottage’s and Tony Gerber's This Is Reading, producing Betty Shamieh's The Strangest and shepherding the new Michael Kimmel play, Stand. Up.