One of the rude awakenings I had after launching our Kickstarter project page, happened when I sat down and started to do the math. You see, $15,000 is a lot of money to me, and when I made that our fundraising goal, I thought that I was being extravagant.
While Equity caps a Showcase budget at $35,000, I never thought that our show would need that much money. So, while we have been begging and pleading our friends, families and colleague for help in raising the Kickstarter funds, we've also been aggressively pursuing "front money" or "seed money" opportunities to match (yes, that's right, match) the money we are desperately trying to raise on our own through Kickstarter.
The advantage to raising front money is that it is considered a high-risk investment toward our ultimate commercial production. So, when we go Off-Broadway or Broadway, those front money investors will share a bigger piece of the pie than someone who gets on board just for the commercial production. It makes sense, right?
So, why do we need close to $30,000 (almost my annual Paley Center salary) for a two-week show? Well, one of the joyful tasks I had the pleasure of doing over my Thanksgiving weekend was the budget. I don't want to bore you with the fine print, but here's a general breakdown of some of our expenses:
THEATRE RENTAL for 2 weeks: $7400
INSURANCE (required): $1000
CREATIVE/CAST/CREW FEES: $3460 (That is $100 each to our director, choreographer, stage manager, designers, and the required transportation stipend [$138] we need to give each actor.)
TOTAL SO FAR: $11,860
So, we haven't even raised enough Kickstarter money to cover this much yet.
Let's go on, shall we?
REHEARSAL SPACE: $2700
NEW TOTAL: $14,560
Okay, so now, if we make our Kickstarter goal, we can actually rehearse the show that we are putting up in bare theatre without sets, costumes, lighting and sound.
Let's keep going:
SCENERY $1850 (Blocks, a Trojan Horse, and a backdrop.)
PROPS: $250 (Swords, shrine to Athena, boxes of letters, etc.)
COSTUMES: $350 (Togas, soldier costumes, the rest will come from the cast.)
SOUND: $2000 (Body mikes, amps, sound board, speakers.)
LIGHTS: $1000 (Follow-spot rental for 2 weeks.)
PRODUCTION COST SUBTOTAL: $5450
**Please note: The middle school musical I used to direct each year at East Side Middle School had a budget of over $10,000.
NEW TOTAL: $20,010
Now we can see and hear our cast on a minimal set in a theatre. But who is going to come to it other than you all if we don't publicize it. Let's add in publicity:
EMAIL BLAST: $2500
POSTER DESIGN: $300
PRINTING (posters, postcards) $500
NEW TOTAL: $23,510
Ah! But, wait! There's more!
VAN RENTAL/CREW FOR LOAD-IN: $500
STAGE MANAGER SUPPLIES: $250 (Anyone want to donate spike-tape?)
SCRIPTS/SCORES COPIED: $300
BOX OFFICE SET UP: $100
FOOD FOR THE CAST: $1000 (We can't pay them, but we can feed them.)
FINAL TOTAL: $ 25,660
That's right, over $25,000 for a show where no actors get paid, brilliant designers and creative artists are paid $100, there is almost no scenery or lighting, the actors are mostly wearing their own clothes and the producer (me) who will be doing 20+ hours a week for the next six months coordinating all of this, won't be making a cent.
So, friends, leave the front money to me. I've got a handle on that, and I WILL make that happen. But, the remaining $4500 we need to meet our Kickstarter goal?
Well, for that, I could sure use some help.