How to Get an Indie Theatre Project Off the Ground: A Q&A With Point No Point’s Noah Davis

July 24, 2011 4:06 PM

Noah Davis and Mylene Ding Robic in Point No Point

Noah Davis’ Point No Point, which you can see now at the Tarragon Theatre’s Extra Space until July 31st (get ticket info), is an independent production that Davis wrote and co-stars in with The Listener’s Mylène Dinh-Robic. It’s directed by David Tompa, who rounds out the three-person Chainsaw Theatre Co-op team.

The subject matter of the play is deceivingly simple: it’s about love. But love, as we all know, is anything but simple. “Love at its messiest.  Love at its hardest.” is what the show promises. Love as we all actually know it to be.

Similarly, staging a play is harder and messier than anyone would ever expect it to be when they’re sitting down and enjoying the final product. Since Davis is so open and honest about love and relationships in his work, we thought he’d be equally forthcoming about what it actually takes to get a passion project like this off the ground.

Here’s his excellent (not to mention, eloquent – we love interviewing writers) advice on taking your work from your brain to the world, on using social networking and the power of fundraising sites like IndieGoGo.com or Kickstarter.com to build a budget and an audience, and the number one secret to producing good theatre on a small budget.

1. As an actor, what makes you decide to write and produce your own plays, like Different and Point No Point?

I want to tell stories.  As an actor you are most often hired tell somebody else’s stories.  I have been writing since I was a little kid and so the acting and the writing are two mechanisms that work in tandem to drive the machine of storytelling.

As I was work-shopping and developing the script for Point No Point there was a lot of excitement generated by my peers, people felt strongly that this play needed to be produced.  Mylène Dinh-Robic, was fiercely passionate about playing the character Susan.  Mylène works most of the year as Olivia Fawcett on The Listener and we had a window to do the play while she is on hiatus.  David Tompa, who has done fantastic work with Red One Theatre, was excited about directing Point No Point, and he had just come off directing Diving Normal. David and Mylène are exactly the types of artist needed to tell this challenging, personal story.  I knew if I could make it happen with this team that we would have the potential to do something fantastic.  So, instead of waiting for somebody to give me the go ahead, I decided to put it into action and produce this play right here, right now.

2. What was the IndieGoGo process like for you and your company?

It’s been pretty exciting!  I was hesitant to go the crowd funding route at first because I was a scared that we would fail.  However, I have a musician friend, Lelia Broussard, who financed her latest album through crowd funding.  I had helped her put her campaign pitch together and then watched it go out into the world and more than triple her funding goal.  So, that gave me confidence that it was possible.  Within the first five minutes of launching, we had our first contribution and it kept going from there.  It becomes a thrill to see a budget start growing day by day for a project that you so passionately believe in.  Beyond the financial support it is a beautiful thing to know that people believe in you and the project enough to be a part of its creation. It inspired us to work harder and really push our limits to make Point No Point come to life.

[Check out Point No Point’s IndieGoGo page]

Point No Point's IndieGoGo page

3. Since you surpassed your fundraising goal, what tips do you have for others who want to get similar projects funded?

Including a video pitch in your campaign is hugely important.  It personalizes your project and gives potential funders an insight that can’t be garnered from reading text on a page.  The production value isn’t as important as the content.  We shot the video pitch for Point No Point on our cell phones. Our goal was to be simple and honest and express why we felt this play needed to be produced.  That worked well for us because of the nature of this play.

Put care and attention into the “Perks” that people receive for contributing to your campaign.  Make them unique to your project.  It’s very important to make sure that you can also realistically deliver on these Perks and stay organized as contributions start rolling in.

It was helpful for me to look at other campaigns from a diverse range of projects to see what I responded to, how each was tailored to their unique needs, and what did and didn’t work.  There are many resources online that give tips on how to run a successful campaign which were helpful as well.

4. What did you do to help promote the IndieGoGo project on your own and how did that help build an audience for the actual show?

Social media is an essential part of our success.  IndieGoGo makes it tremendously easy as they have a solid integration with Facebook.  Twitter will help, especially if you have a large following.

Email has been essential as well.  My advice, don’t discriminate who you send it to.  You will be pleasantly surprised who steps up to contribute.

So then, even if people don’t contribute, your project is out there being promoted which is building an audience.  Somebody who sees our pitch video for Point No Point may not contribute to our campaign, but they may think “hey, that’s the type of theatre I would like to go see”.

Also, the people who do contribute have a personal involvement that goes beyond regular audience members.  One of the main Perks we include in our campaign are tickets to come see the play, so that they can witness the results of their contribution.

5. What advice do you have for people who want to stage a play on a budget?

Be a good person and work with good people.

Once I made the choice to produce Point No Point, regardless of the circumstances, I was fortunate to attract collaborators who are just as passionate about this play as I am.  If you believe in your project and find talented, lovely human beings to work with, anything is possible.  It is a ridiculous amount of work and can be stressful, especially when you are passionately invested with the material.  But keep the joy in the work and put your trust in the people working with you.

We thank Noah for his advice and the only thing we’d like to add is: get thee to a theater to see Point No Point. See where the bar’s been set, what you too can accomplish and enjoy a good story performed by quality actors.

You still have eights days to see the show in Toronto.

You still have seven days to contribute to the Point No Point IndieGoGo project to further the production potential of the play.

Visit the Chainsaw Theatre website.
Chainsaw Theatre on Facebook
Chainsaw Theatre on Twitter for last minute ticket deals.

 

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