Over the two week intensive with Frantic Assembly we were introduced to a group of outstanding practitioners currently working within the theatre industry. They all came from various disciplines, from lighting and video designing to composing and sound design. My two favourite guests were Simon Stevens the playwright and Stephanie Connell a producer for Frantic.
For this weeks provocation I would like to focus on Stephanie, as I learnt many incredibly interesting things about her job role that I didn’t realise I had no previous understanding of what exactly a producer does. In the past I generally did not work around any producers, usually the companies and shows I worked for did not have enough funding to pay a producer. Hence this role fell by the wayside in my continuing observation of theatre. I am glad I got to sit and listen to what exactly they specialise in.
Stephanie explained that a producer is present in every step of a creative process, from the beginning seed idea to the final show.They are responsible for the general financial aspect of a production particularly as they normally write up the initial funding proposals.They are in charge of the network and communication with company partners.The marketing campaigns are their domain, they are expected to generate the initial advertisement for a new show.Day to day they liaise with the creative team and production manager, to settle any disagreements and to keep communication flowing.Lastly they are responsible for general administration and management of contracts and fee agreements.
These are just a few aspects involved in a producer’s job description. However even the list above is more than I had previously thought a producers job list involved. I always had the mentality that the creative leader particularly in smaller budget shows, were expected to not only create the show but also front the majority of the administration and advertisement as well. I no longer feel this way, and would love to look into finding a producer to collaborate with in the future. They are an integral part of a creative process behind the scenes that I was not aware of, and have a newfound respect for what they do.
I can imagine when creating a show to have the support of a producer that is capable of advertising your idea not only to funding institutions but also to the general public, it can relieve much of the pressure on your shoulders and your confidence in that it will be done right.
It was an incredibly informative discussion that I am glad I got to be a part of. I have been thinking about all of the amazing creative collaborations possible to artists these days, and now have broaden my view to collaborations behind the scenes that are just as important. If not more so, as without someone like a producer you may not be able to put a show on the stage.