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  • Ausette

reframing "NOs"

Hello! My name is Ausette Anderies, and I am currently working on co-producing Relative Motion, by Stephanie Greenwood. I am somewhat new to the Very Rascals team, and very excited to be here. 

As I am moving forward into all the new projects of 2024, I have been reflecting on what practices are at the core of small-scale producing.

I am by no means an extensively experienced producer, but as a young artist starting out, demystifying the steps it takes to put a piece of work on its feet has been an important tool to dissolve the ‘stuck’ feeling that can take over between projects.

The term itself can have so many meanings, but ultimately I see producing as a process of weaving vision, logistics, and belief into actionable steps. 

VISION: The story, concept, or world your writer/creators see. 

LOGISTICS: The space, physical resources, scheduling, and technical support.

BELIEF: The imagination and motivation from the artists and practitioners.

What stands between a piece of work and its final form, is connecting all these aspects. Which often starts with building a team. This is easier said than done, but there are a few key mindset shifts that have helped me. It is not possible to cover all these things in one go, so particularly I want to share some thoughts about getting ‘nos,’ and how I use them as fuel.

‘Get the Nos ASAP’  or  ‘do the worst version of everything ASAP.’ 

While it is useful to think and plan, it often avoids a hard reality: in order to figure out what to do, you must start.  This is the part I find most difficult. So, I set myself a few rules. My first time sending cold emails, I decided to stop thinking and send the first one as soon as possible. How did I make this happen? Set the goal of writing the ‘worst’ pitch email, and even reach out with the goal of getting as many nos as possible. Aligning the discomfort of the unknown with an action that is always achievable; you can always create the worst version of something immediately. And, although it might sound odd, this mindset helped me reduce the inertia needed to get started, and opened my mind to the reality that I will always be stumbling and learning throughout the process. 

“No,” then, became a directional force carving the path towards my goal.

This is not to encourage being unprepared when you start to build a team. Before and during the process of getting ‘nos,’ I write down any questions I think might come up. For example, if I was looking to produce a play and someone gave me a script, I would begin by creating a thorough picture of the story, needs, and parameters of the project. The more questions you have answered the more accurate you will be in who you reach out to and what you ask of them. However finished or unfinished the project is, you must know why you are reaching out to a particular director, set-designer, or venue. What is it you are looking for? And what will they get out of it? And possibly most importantly, what about the project aligns with the ethos of the person/company you are reaching out to? This may seem like a lot of work, for possible nos, but this knowledge builds a clarity that inspires the right people to join your team. 

Often ‘nos’ reveal what you need to think of next, some information you have yet to share, or thoughts you have yet to clarify. With every ‘no’ you will have answered a question and have a new question to answer. These ‘nos’ are gifts guiding our process if we let them be so.

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