producing: making life easier
Updated: Jun 20
As you go from project to project as a producer, you start to realise that there are certain types of admin that you will need to do over and over again on each show. After doing these projects I have amassed a little folder of templates that I can now draw from, cutting the work load in half. If you are just starting out as a company, it might be useful for you to spend a bit of time making and gathering your own.
To get you started I have listed a few of my templates and their key points below:
Contracts. When starting out this often doesn’t feel necessary, but it is great (even when working with friends) to set clear expectations for your project. I have a template contract, and I highlight bits in red that would need changing from project to project. I can then easily edit and send it out in a few moments. Contracts don’t have to be fancy, nor do they have to include fancy jargon. Simple and to the point is best.
When writing your first contract don’t get too bogged down with it. Writing out simple things like turning up on time, learning lines, keeping the important dates free, being nice to others, agreeing to any recordings or use of images is a great place to start. Include a section too that you will sign stating that you will make sure it is a safe environment and include any other promises you want to make around promotion or quality of work.
If you need an example and are a part of Equity, they have simple sample contracts that cover everything.
Starter Form - Actors Information Sheet. When starting out I would send a higgledy piggledy mishmash of requests for headshots and costume sizes. We would get back the answers and there would always be something missing as it became hard to keep track of what was requested.
Now I have a form that I can send out to everyone. It is a document where people can fill in their contact information, socials, dress sizes, bio, pronouns and attach their headshot. Simple!
Account Spreadsheet. This can double up as a project timeline.
I have a couple of spreadsheets pre-made with costs that I know will be needed in every show. Things like lists of creatives, marketing, props, set etc. The list can feel endless! Next to these costs I have a column for when I expect to have these things bought or people hired, then a column for when it is actually done, one for the price and one for when it has been payed. You can make and design this anyway you like, use whatever columns are useful for you.
Contact Sheet. The contact sheet will be sent out to everyone involved in the project with people's/theatre contact information. It is useful in case of emergency changes to schedule and to keep everyone in the loop (do ask people if they are happy for their information to be shared in this way). I have a simple template that I can copy and paste people's information into when I get it. It includes the person's job title, phone number and email. It also lists who should be contacted if running late or in an emergency.
Risk Assessment. From my experience, larger venues will have their own version of a risk assessment that you need to fill out, but smaller venues probably won’t ask for one. In the smaller venues, I will fill out my own anyway… just in case. It is good to have to prove that you have tried to negate any risks to your team. My risk assessment is a small table that includes a description of the risk, the level of the risk (small, medium, large) and a section for how we will control the risk. I will then sign and date this at the bottom of the page.
Feedback forms. These are great to send out to theatre goers after the show. You can use platforms like Survey Monkey to get you started. The answers from these questions can help support your applications for grants later on.
We use questions like how old are you, how did you hear about the production, three words to describe the production, would you recommend to a friend, what will you take away from this production, would you see one of our shows again?
Schedule. Have a template that you can easily edit different dates and times into for each new rehearsal schedule.
Press Release. At least four to six weeks before your show you will need to send out to press asking for them to come and review the show and offering free tickets. I have a blanket press release format that I edit for each production. It always contains a picture, key dates and places, tag lines, a quick description of the show and company (including any reviews if you want but this is not necessary), a highlight of creatives and some of their work.
Two weeks before the show send out a follow up/reminder email to anyone who hasn’t got back to you yet.
If you want an example of this, please drop me an email.
Grant Applications. When I first started applying for grants I asked friends for copies of their successful applications. I have a log of them and they have helped me to create my own.
Emails. I have a log of emails that I like to pull from. Things like offering jobs, first contact emails and sorry not this time emails. All of them have specific space for personalised sections, but this makes sure that I don't skip key information.
If you want some further information and copies of my templates, please drop me an email.