By: Kelly Shea
I’ve watched a lot of videos over the years. Approximate at least 5 videos a day over 14 years…5 videos a day x 365 days a year x 14 years equals 25,550 videos (Now there were some days that I watched up to 10 videos a day or more…)
I’m what they call a “Talent Director” or just a plain ol’ “Producer.”
I’ve pretty much seen it all and without a doubt, I am a hard person to convince that you (the performer) have “the most unique show I’ll ever see.” I ‘ve seen some pretty crazy stunts and some of the world’s best technique, I’ve seen some of the top comedians in the world and have heard all the best lines. So, how do
you successfully convince me that your show is the one that I want to put in my festival?
Every festival is different–I’m sure you know this by now. We all have different mandates and requirements. Do your research first, talk to other performers about the festival and find out if your act would suit it. Sometimes they may have the answer and sometimes you just have to go for it and apply.
Applications: oh the dreaded application. Really just more paperwork for all of us but at least they help me in finding out that your show would actually fit on a pitch before you arrive. This simple little application feeds me information at a glance that I may not get over several emails and phone calls. Not all festivals have applications but take a look at those that do and make sure when you are submitting yourself to a festival, you list all your requirements and technical needs.
Video: oh dear. Now as I’ve mentioned, I’ve seen a lot of videos. When I started it was actually video. Sitting in front of a TV and VCR player (please don’t make me explain a VCR–see Google) watching,
rewinding and fast-forwarding through entire shows. Video promo has come a long way since then and I now no longer need to watch full shows. Keep in mind that this is how you are represented–invest in this. I have one rule with videos–you must get me within the 3-minute mark. I will not fast forward through 20min of show to get to your best parts. EDIT. I know that you want me to see how you build a crowd but I don’t need to see that–show me that you have a crowd that are enjoying your act.
Make sure that your camera is set up so that I’m not watching the back of an audience member’s head. I know there are people there and don’t need to “feel like I’m a part of the audience.” Focus–and with this I mean the focus feature on your camera. Time stamp–please send me a video that was made within the year. I’ll be able to figure out if you are sending me a video from 1998.
Bios/Photos: ok, number one rule for me is spell check. Spell check your bio. Spell check everything. Ok rant over.
Bios should be short and sweet when first introducing yourself to a producer. One-line sentences that give me a brief description of who you are and what you do. I can read full bios on a website. A few things to keep in mind are that I don’t need to know every skill you have in this sentence. I know that your show is comedic–I would hope it is. I know that you juggle–I think the majority of performers know how to juggle unless your act is an all juggling to the max act–then I need to know that. Plus I know that your show is interactive–I would think that having to build a crowd constitutes interactive? Sell yourself with one sentence.
Photos should be clear–If I wanted a selfie, I’d follow you on Instagram. Remember that most festivals do have media requests and a high-resolution photo is a must. Otherwise, I will have to do my own sketch rendition of you and you don’t want to see that.
Website: please tell me you have one. Not everyone has Facebook…well I do but often times we might pitch you for another festival and having to send a Facebook link does not often work. These days it’s become pretty simple to set up a website and maintain. You must have at least one friend who is a techie… Oh and MySpace isn’t cool anymore.
Follow up: I think for the most part you should always follow up with an application. I often have emails get lost or junked–if you don’t hear from someone, just drop them a line. I’m not saying a full on stalker follow up, just a little message to make sure they did get your application. I try to respond to all applications with at least acknowledgement that I’ve received it but sometimes I get busy and can’t get to all of them. Follow up with me and I’ll do my best to respond to you. Befriend me on Facebook if you have to. Just follow up.
References: I like these. I know a lot of performers around the world but not everyone. I find it’s great if you know some acts and they are willing to vouch for you. Often times, a reference from an act that has been to the festival (especially if they have been there a few times) goes a long way with me.
Now I’m not saying that all of these pointers will get you into all of the festivals–I’m just trying to give a little guidance of what I like to see. Not all producers are the same either but I think we all would agree on a few of these things and maybe next time I might be able to give you some insight on what happens when you do get accepted into that festival. This is another thing I like to rant about.
I know that all the blood, sweat and tears that you have put into your show is real and I have great respect that you’ve chosen to be a part of the circus for your career. I always wanted to run away with the circus and with my job, I get to do that every day.