The Broadway Producer
Pun Bandhu (Broadway Producer) gives expert video advice on: What is the role of a Broadway producer?; Do Broadway producers get rich?; Do I have to be rich to become a Broadway producer? and more...
What is the role of a Broadway producer?
It actually varies. Typically, the Broadway producer; or the lead producer of a project is the one who spearheads the charge. He's steering the ship, basically. You can become involved with project in many different levels along the way, along that process. You can be involved at the very get-go and actually be involved in the creative process of packaging the play. You option the play first of all, and then you package it. You bring the director on board; you have a hand in the casting, working in hand with the casting directors and the director. Primarily what you're responsible for is making sure that the show is successful. That involves raising the capital, bringing on other interested parties and partners who can tap into your vision or the director's vision, who want to buy into your product basically. So, raising the capital and then also the marketing, the publicity. Sort of overseeing all of that. You have your publicists, and your advertising agencies, and your marketing directors. But, you are sort of overseeing everything and making sure that everything runs smoothly. In the end, it's about getting butts in seats.
Do Broadway producers get rich?
I think the answer is Yes. I don't think that anyone wants to produce something that,commercially at least, they do not think has the potential to make the money. That being said, it's a really risky environment. Only ten percent of plays & musicals on Broadway succeed and many of them fall by the wayside, and by succeed, I mean to make their money back. It's probably the only business where you are overjoyed if you do not lose money, and so that is, that's interesting and it creates different problems and dynamics, but no, I think everyone feels like there is a good reason for putting the show on, that it has the potential to make money. There are also commercial producers who I really admire, who do it because they feel it's important, they feel like, you know that, if I believe in this play, hopefully other people will believe in it as well and it will find the audience, even though it's not sort of what is traditionally deemed as 'commercial', and that is what I mean when, you know, David Stone, producer of Wicked, said at this cnference that I was attending, that the things that he thought would make him so rich actually failed and it were the things that he thought were unexpected were the ones that turned out to be most successful, and so there isn't a formula. We have been very lucky, our first two projects right at the back, both won Tony's and, we were very selective as to, what we decided to choose, we actually took a year between Glen-Gary and Spring where we were looking at a lot of projects but nothing really impassioned us and really, when you are choosing a project that you want to attach your self to, you could be getting in bed with these creatives and artists, for potentially ten years for more, and it is not something I am going to choose lightly because you want to choose something that you are impassioned by because, as I said, hopefully other people will see what you see as well.
Do I have to be rich to become a Broadway producer?
Well, it couldn't hurt. No, you don't have to be rich but you do have to have access to capital. You do have to be able to bring on, or have the connections at least to bring on, partners who can provide the capital for you. That's one of the main jobs of a producer and there are a lot of start-up costs involved. Start an LLC. You have to pay the lawyer. You've got to option the play. You've got to workshop. You have to pay the actors that are involved before investors are even brought into the game. So no, you don't have to be rich but you should have some rich friends.
How much money do I need to produce a Broadway show?
To produce a Broadway Show, It really depends on the show you're producing. In New York, on Broadway it's fairly uncommon for a play to come under 2 million dollars in this day and age. This is 2007. And for a musical they usually range from 5 million dollars all the way up to 16 million.
Why would I want to be a Broadway producer?
Well, I can't answer that question for yourself. But for me, the reason why I wanted to be a Broadway producer is because I love theatre. Ever since I was a little boy, I've been in this world and I want to create magic for other people to experience as well. And it's very fulfilling to me. I started out in this industry as an actor and to some extent it's sort of the opposite sides of the same coin. An actor is nothing without the audience and that's what the producer does; make sure that there's an audience. I'm facinated by the marketing, the publicity aspects of it. We had a lot of trouble marketing Spring Awakening out of the get go because people didn't know what it was. And that's what I loved about it was an opportunity to really to think outside the box and to try to change things up a little bit as well. I mean, so much of how Broadway is run is sort of the old guard and there's a new crop of producers who are coming in and sort of saying, "Well, why does that have to be the case?" and "Why can't we do this?" And that's exciting to me! First, and foremost, it's always about passion. I've known people to produce something because they loved, like one moment in a play that they could watch again and again. And really, you're throwing a party for other people and you're hoping that people will come.
What qualities make a good Broadway producer?
I think, again, it's that passion. You need to have that passion in order to convince other people to buy into your vision. I think that honesty and trustworthiness is something that is paramount. It's a small little industry and people talk. Different producers have different reputations; you have to have the trust and the responsibility to take care of your investors, and for your investors to put in money in you. I think that first and foremost this is a business based on hand shakes. So much of being a Broadway producer is about networking, it's about having the social skills, it's about being able to excite and energize other people, but also more than that it's also about being a good leader. It's about compromise. It's about being able to have all of the parties at the table, whether that's the creative party: the director, the actors, the stage managers, or the producing partners, all of your partners who might have different ideas to as how to market, a show and sort of being able to sort of take the best ideas for the benefit of the show as a whole. At the same time make people feel like they were listened to, even if that one particular idea at the time might have not been the best for the show in your opinion. So it's very diplomatic, but it's a community. Having started as an actor, I'm much more aware of the fact that it's a collaborative art more than anything else, so it's about collaboration.