‘In Depth: Working As A Producer’, Workshop with Fuel Theatre and the National Theatre, 19th May 2017

‘In Depth: Working As A Producer’, Workshop with Fuel Theatre and the National Theatre, 19th May 2017

The first big thing to mention this week is that I’ve started my new job! When this goes up I will have spent a whole week as Metta Theatre’s administrator. It’s great, and I’m really enjoying it so far: stay tuned to hear more about what I’m doing in a few weeks!

As those of you who’ve been around for a while will know, I interned at Fuel Theatre last summer for three months, which was an amazing experience, which set me up to start working towards being a theatre producer some day. (You can read my weekly blogs about what I got up to while I was there here.) When I saw that they were running a workshop about producing, in conjunction with the National Theatre, I was very tempted, but I hesitated, I wasn’t sure if it wouldn’t be aimed at people with more experience than me. I emailed Kate McGrath, the director of Fuel, who was running the day, and asked her if she thought it would be relevant to me. She sent me a planned schedule for the day, and it looked perfect, so I booked to go along, despite it being less than a week before my final exams, and I’m so glad I went.

The day was split into four in-depth sessions from various perspectives, using the National Theatre and Fuel’s co-production (along with West Yorkshire Playhouse, though WYP weren’t involved in the day) of the Barbershop Chronicles as a case-study in the earlier sessions. It was hugely useful in terms of learning about producing, and also upped my excitement about seeing the Barbershop Chronicles (on 5th June – watch out for my review in early July, when I tell you about theatre I enjoyed in June).

 

Session One: The Artist-Producer relationship

This was led by Kate and Inua Ellams, an artist Kate has been working with for 9 years. The focus was on how they had developed their relationship up to their current project, the Barbershop Chronicles at the National Theatre (which I saw on 5th June, btw, and it was fantastic, but more on that in a few weeks) and, drawing for how their relationship worked, how other producers might create relationships with artists and produce their work.

It was an incredible insight, and here are the biggest points I took away from it.

  • It takes time. Kate and Inua’s relationship has taken 9 years to develop to the stage it is at now, and that time was necessary. Kate explained this as being about trust. The artist-producer relationship depends on trust (trust that each will do what they need to do, trust that the work is good…) and trust takes time to build.
  • A group member pointed out in this conversation that, in order to trust an artist, the producer first needs to trust themselves; their taste and ability to pick something worthwhile to work on, their ability to be flexible and open to responding to ideas, and their ability to do all the administrative and financial tasks on their to-do list. (I think this is probably also true the other way round; artists need to trust in their own work before they entrust it to a producer…)
  • Different people need different things to begin a relationship (Kate specified that she needs to see the work in real life, and meet the artist for an in-person chat [or several], other people will need other things, from simply an idea they are insipired by to a detailed CV of successes or particular character traits for personalities to mesh…). No one comes in knowing exactly what they need to start building relationships, but it’s worth thinking about as your career develops, so as you do more, you can be clearer about what you need.

 

Session Two: Co-Producing

This was a panel discussion between Kate and Fran Miller, the National Theatre’s projects producer working on the Barbershop Chronicles.

It was a dynamic, fast-moving conversation, and explained how the co-producing relationship between Fuel and the National worked for the Barbershop Chronicles, which enables a bit of comparison of their roles as producers in a huge institution and theatre, and in a small company.

There are 25-30 shows per year at the National Theatre, and it is a staff-heavy business, with over 1000 staff members, which makes it a very different environment for producing that Fuel (10 staff members).

Co-production contracts are very complex and detailed, but very useful: they still go back to it regularly. It is negotiated by everyone involved (in the case of the Barbershop Chronicles, Fuel, the National Theatre, and West Yorkshire Playhouse). Kate and Fran suggested that, with such a complex document ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’, but do worry and discuss the necessary complexities until everyone is satisfied with them.

When working with a huge company like the NT different things come into play than working with smaller companies, because there are more people and more procedures involved than in smaller institutions, which don’t necessarily have policies for certain things. Kate and Fran gave two examples of how this affected the Barbershop Chronicles production process: the marketing was dictated by the NT’s marketing timeline, which was non-negotiable. The other, more amusing example, was Kate’s idea of getting food from the countries visited in the play for press night. In a small company, this might only have required one conversation, but with the NT, required eight conversations with eight different people, all of whom had input on how press night should function.

*Side note* There was a question during this conversation asking about contracts in general. This was the advice: Begin writing a contract with a standard contract originally and then edit it/make it bespoke to individual relationships/situations. *End side note*

 

Session Three: Detailed parts of producing.

After lunch, the first session in the afternoon was more detailed insight into producing. Four members of the Fuel team came in to give insights on their particular roles within Fuel as a producing company: Ed Errington, General Manager, Stuart Heyes, Head of Production, Emilie Wiseman, Head of Programme, and Sarah Wilson-White, Projects Producer​. The attendees of the workshop had half an hour with two members: I was in a group discussion with Ed about fundraising, and one with Sarah about pitching tours to venues.

Ed focused on fundraising for smaller projects and explained the importance of multiple sources of funding. He explained ACE small grants (<£15,000) and said to ask for what you needed, but to go up to the limit, not to feel that you’d be better off asking for £10,000, when you needed £15,000 from ACE, because you thought they might be more willing to give a smaller amount. ACE won’t cover all the costs of a project though; you need to get other funding sources: in-kind support is one (e.g. a venue offering you free rehearsal space). The other important ones covered were trusts and foundations and crowdfunding. Trusts give funding to projects which match their areas of interests: focus applications on the few to whom your project is relevant. Some do support non-charities (e.g. Jerwood), but it is usually easier to get support from trusts if you are a charity. Crowdfunding is a resource which is still being discussed: people are still working out how best to use it. The recommendation that came out of this discussion was to focus crowdfunding on something specific (e.g. please donate to help build the set) and giving appropriate rewards.

Sarah started by suggesting that you should give yourself a year to 18 months to pitch a tour, knowing that popular touring windows are school holidays for children’s shows, and Feb-May/Sept-Nov for adult shows. You should know how much each show costs before you pitch it to someone, and you should tell venues exactly what each show costs. The key information to put in a programmers pack is minimum stage space, target audiences, dates. Invite people to showings, arrange meetings in Edinburgh and develop relationships personally (preferably over phone rather than email). The objective is to find synergy with venues and aims. She also suggested the importance of budgeting to get photos/films from R&D periods (research and development) to send with programmers packs (but don’t send these if they don’t end up being good!).
Session Four: Different Producers’ perspectives

The final session was a panel discussion between four producers with different backgrounds: Kate, Nick Williams, an independent cross-scale producer who produces international tours; Henny Finch, a commercial producer for Headlong, who recently produced 1984 in the West End, which is currently on Broadway; and Kate Scanlan, currently working with Battersea on a new, localised cross-artform space.

Each gave an overview of the sort of work they do, and some advice. Start by getting to grips with how the landscape works where you want to create work, and make partnerships. Go make the relationships in person. In the relationship development stage, it is more about the meeting of minds of collaborators than about the show necessarily. If you can afford it, you can be in just one place, for just one week. Think about shows as ‘one suitcase’ or ‘two suitcase’ shows where you can. If you’re looking to make an adaptation and need to discuss rights: take your time with relationship building, it will be a series of delicate conversations. Remember that subsidised theatre can move to the commercial sector if it is popular enough.

They finished by giving a “top tip” each: the single piece of advice they thought would be most useful. These were:

  • Pick a good ‘Horse’ (artist) and back them to the end
  • Trust yourself: charm people, solve problems and trust yourself so you can be believed
  • It’s easy to get bogged down in stuff – just keep going!

My biggest conclusion was that producing is about relationships with people, and to take your time building these: I’ve got a long process of relationship building ahead of me, and I’m looking forwards to it immensely.

That’s all for this week, thank you as always for reading. If you have any particular insights that you can add to this conversation please leave them in the comments: it’d be great to hear them, and please like the post if you enjoyed it! I’ll be back next week with my “West End Wish list”: everything I want from a West End show, follow the blog if you haven’t already so you don’t miss it!

Emily xxx

How to make the most of an Internship, Fuel Theatre Internship Overview

How to make the most of an Internship, Fuel Theatre Internship Overview

As you will know if you’ve been around for a while, I spent 12 weeks this summer interning with Fuel Theatre in London, UK. (If you’re new, firstly, welcome! Secondly, if you want the more detailed posts about what I did day to day, you can find them here: Week 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.) I’ve repeatedly said what a wonderful experience it was, and that I learned a lot from it. It’s true: it was, and I did. These are some of the things that I thought were really valuable in helping me get the most of the experience, and some of the things I wish I’d realised earlier, which I hope will be useful to you, either in internships directly related to theatre if that is what you want to do, or more broadly. (Also, a quick reminder that I wrote a post with tips on how to get a producing internship, which is one of the most popular posts on this website, and which might also be useful to you, either directly for producing or more broadly to get internships in the arts or even beyond.)

When you get an internship, you are looking to get several things out of it; experience, contacts… It feels like (or it did for me) you need to present yourself perfectly, and learn absolutely everything as soon as possible. Spoiler/ tldr if you don’t want to read the whole post: this is false. You have as long as your internship is to learn, and, if you’re getting as much out of the experience as possible, you will be learning the whole time. As for self presentation – if you’re polite and hardworking (which is really a bare minimum for life, so shouldn’t be too difficult) that’s really all that matters.

The Executive Director at Fuel, Ed, gave me the best piece of advice about interning on my very first day, and while I mentioned it then, it needs to be said again: ask questions. Ask questions to clarify what you’re doing, but also ask questions about what other people are doing (within reason, obviously don’t interrupt someone with a deadline in an hour, who is evidently stressed), ask questions about what the company is doing, and what they want to do in the future, and ask for advice from as many people as possible. My experience was that people want to help, and will answer your questions to the best of their ability, which will give you a lot of insight and advice which you are likely to find useful!

If I were to do my summer again, one of the few things I would do differently is have a clearer idea of things that I would want to know more about, so as to have more and better questions to ask. In my case it worked out fine, because I had 12 weeks to think about more questions, many if which grew out of what I was learning, but, especially if you have an internship which is shorter than mine was, planning some questions in advance would be a useful thing to do. This is also something people recommend doing for interviews, so it’s clear that you’ve thought about the job you’re applying for and how it would work for you?

The other biggest tip I can give, and this is something I feel I did quite well, although of course you can always do more, is make the most of the extra opportunities made available to you.

This is obviously a broad concept. It includes listening to the discussion going on in the office around you, to pick up on what sorts of issues can come up in the development process of a production and/or find out about other people in the industry and what is happening in other places. It includes going to as many of the events you are invited to as you possibly can, because going to see work you are invited to is networking, as well as getting to see incredible theatre (which you should strive to see as much of as possible, when interning and when not interning). Essentially, even if something feels a little bit difficult, or like you are putting yourself out there more than feels comfortable (and believe me, I know how that feels!) you should try to do as much as you can, without actually damaging your mental health, which would obviously be counter-productive. Remember that you are only interning for a short amount of time, so even if it feels like you are pushing yourself well beyond your comfort zone, you will hopefully have time afterwards, whatever you may be doing afterwards, to take extra care of yourself in compensation. In my case, that meant I let myself off a couple of evenings at university where I might have enjoyed going out, but I kind of just wanted to stay in and watch a film or something, and so I didn’t go out and I didn’t let myself feel guilty or worry myself with FOMO, I just chilled out at home. (For more advice on how to handle pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone without damaging your mental health, see my post on how to network in the arts as an introvert.)

There are lots of other little things that you can do to make the most of an internship, like focusing on what you’re doing and not worrying too much about how you’re dressed (beyond being comfortable in your appearance, ie. wearing clothes which are literally comfortable to wear and which enable you to feel comfortable, for instance by feeling dressed appropriately/on a similar level to those around you). In terms of clothes, for what it’s worth, in my experience, in the arts, there is less of a need for “business attire”, although I found I felt more confident in myself if I was smartly dressed.

In fact, not worrying about the little things is a good way to make the most of an internship! Tackle the big things, like learning about the company and career advice and options for development (either within the company you’re working for or in general) and don’t sweat the small stuff, like what to wear and does it matter what you have for lunch, or where you did your degree, or whether you use jargonistic words or simple ones… The odds are, if you don’t know if it matters – it doesn’t matter very much. Sure, things might be easier for you if you’re always “perfectly dressed” (whatever that means) and you always express yourself perfectly, but honestly, it isn’t the big deal you’re worrying it into being, I promise.

Basically, if you focus on learning as much as you can, and not about how you present yourself (beyond, you know, simple politeness, but, frankly, that should go without saying) you will present yourself in the best light, because that’s what an internship is for – learning – and on top of that, you’ll make the most of it by learning as much as you can! Win win.

Thanks as always for reading and I hope that was useful to you! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, or any tips you think I should add!

Emily xxx

Fuel Internship – Week 12

Fuel Internship – Week 12

It’s officially over, and by the time you read this, I will have left Fuel a week ago. I spent 12 weeks there, 36 wonderful days of work which you can read about in all my past posts, and I’m really quite sad about it being over: I’ve had a wonderful summer and I didn’t want it to end, but I’m looking forwards to an exciting final year of university including all sorts of theatre related projects that you’ll hear about here in due course (next up is The Marlowe Showcase, in just under a month, which I will catch you up on the progress of next week, and other projects include both my dissertations, going to see lots of theatre and more…).

I want to extend the hugest of thanks to the whole team at Fuel for your kindness, generosity and overwhelming willingness to help me: I’ve learned so much from you all this summer, and I really hope we’ll get an opportunity to work together again in future.

To the rest of my readers – if you see work by Fuel coming near you (this will be mostly people living in the UK, but not only you!) I urge you to go see it – all the work that I have seen by them is fantastic, and I’m really excited by some of the work which is coming up, I can’t wait to see it, and I want you all get to enjoy it too!

Now that’s all said, here’s what I got up to in my last week with Fuel…

Day 34:

On Wednesday the highlight was going to a rehearsed reading of Lady Percy by Queynte Ladies in the afternoon, but before that I did a few more normal work things. These included sorting out the recycling of printer cartidges, going through some application notes and audience feedback…. Then, just after lunch we went up to the the other side of Covent Garden, to the Seven Dials Club, (just next to the Donmar Warehouse). We were expecting a verse play, and we weren’t disappointed: the reading turned out to be a full length (75 minute first half,15 minute interval, 50 minute second half) verse play, in the style of an early modern (Shakespeare/Marlowe…) history play, but focused on Lady Percy, the wife of Henry Hotspur, Earl of Northumberland, and with themes treating gender in a more 21st century way. There were obviously still wrinkles to be ironed out (it was after all, a rehearsed reading of a work in development, and not a final product!) such as, in my opinion, it being a little too long, but it was a wonderful piece, which was brilliantly written and which I look forward to seeing in its more final form in future. If you see it, or Quenyte Ladies’ other piece, Marge and Jules, on near you, I wholeheartedly recommend them! When I got back to the office I got on with what I’d been up to earlier with applications, but there were only 45 minutes of my day left…

Day 35:

On Thursday I got in, and finished off the admin from the previous day, and then started on something new – editing a video extract for an application. We wanted a clip from a previous performance with an opening overview and an endscreen, and no-one in the office had an experience of video editing, so I had a play around until I got something together that we were happy with. This took me longer than it probably would have taken someone with a lot of experience with editing videos, but I was proud of my achievement, and am hoping to improve my video editing skills over this year, to have an extra tool in my bag when I get to applying for jobs.  I then had some more upkeep things to do; some editing of the Fuel website, and some booking of trains for various people, both performers and members of the Fuel team, for a variety of events in the next few weeks. I also got to attend the first production meeting for a project in the future, which I can’t tell you very much about, but the meeting experience was fascinating, and the different options and methods and things which could (and then of those which should) be prioritised was an exciting discussion to attend and hear people’s opinions of (and give my own…)

Day 36:

My last day at Fuel was a relatively quiet one, I went through the online statistics of our various websites for the month of September and inputted them into the comparison document, and I planned out some tweets for the coming weeks, but it was a great opportunity to ask any final questions to the members of the team about any advice they could give me. The most insightful was Tom’s suggestion that another thing I should check out/try to get experience of within theatre production/administration is how it works within a venue, rather than a production company, just so I have the experience of different environments and the requirements/particular skills or roles involved in each of those. Hopefully I will get a little of that this year, while at university, but if not, I agree that it would be a good step to take! We left the office a little early and Robyn, Kate and Tom took me out for a leaving drink, which was incredibly kind of them, and I appreciated it.

So that’s it guys… My time with Fuel is over, I am back at university for my final year, and I am so grateful for the wonderful opportunity I was given and the exciting time I had this summer. I really, really hope I’ll get to work with Fuel again, because they are a wonderful company, who produce incredible work, and they are all really great people, which is a lovely thing in a work environment. Thank you all as always for reading, I hope you’ll continue to enjoy my journey, and follow it along with me as it evolves, and I will see you next Friday, to tell you all about the Marlowe Showcase.

Emily xxx

P.S. I’m so sorry that when this went up at 5 o’clock, some of the text was missing. Not sure what happened, but I’ve fixed it now!

 

 

Fuel Internship – Week 11

Fuel Internship – Week 11

By the time you read this post, I will have an hour left of my time with Fuel, and that makes me quite sad. Week 11, like every week before it, and the remaining week I’m sure, was wonderful, and I’m so so grateful to everyone at Fuel for the wonderful time I’ve had, and the opportunity I’ve been given.

Day 31:

I started off Wednesday with completing an Arts Council England application for a really exciting sounding R&D project, which I hope will develop into something public soon, because I’m really keen to see it! You’ve heard a lot about ACE applications from me now (and if you haven’t you can go back and read more about the process in previous updates about my time at Fuel!). I then got started on a relatively long winded task, which took me the rest of the day and some of Thursday: compiling an Excel document of all the performances and development projects from 2012-2014, which artist Fuel were working with, and which venues they worked in, in order to be able to have all that information to hand when they create the new business plan for the next five years. It was a really interesting process because, after 10 weeks with Fuel, I’d heard about a lot of the projects, many of which have been remounted since, and it was interesting to see where they were at in 2012-2014.

Day 32:

Thursday was spent mostly working on my comprehensive list of past work/artists and venues, with an interlude of making a publicity plan for The 14th Tale, which is, as you read this, touring schools around the UK. More on The 14th Tale in just a minute, but in terms of the publicity plan, this involved writing possible tweets and facebook posts about the project and its development as it tours London, Margate and Newcastle. These are put in an Excel spreadsheet, with an order, so that they’re evenly spread, but also in flow with other tweets/facebook posts written by Fuel about other events. If you want to see what I wrote, go check out Fuel’s twitter page!

Day 33:

On Friday, the big thing of the day was the dress rehearsal of The 14th Tale, which several of the Fuel team were attending, before it went off to schools on Monday. Gareth, the projects producer for this project was in Brixton (where the rehearsals were happening) in the morning, so one thing I did was get some of the things which needed doing in the office done for him (some printing for the workshops which are happening in the schools along with the performance, finding a clipboard and printing a couple of scripts…). The other thing I did in the morning (and finished off after the rehearsal) was create itineraries for Kate and Tom who were going to Norway on Wednesday/Thursday for a performance of Fiction. The dress rehearsal was great – Michael (the performer) was really good (and very impressive – I don’t think I could manage anywhere near that level of energy performing on my own for 50 minutes, never mind remember 50 minutes worth of text…) and the show itself is fantastic. If you’re one of the lucky people who’s school is being visited and you get to see it let me know what you thought in the comments!

That’s all for today, thank you as always for reading! Feel free to like the post if you enjoyed it, let me know your thoughts and/or questions in the comments and follow the blog if you haven’t already done so and you want to read more! On Monday there’s an announcement coming up about the future of the blog (!!!) and then Friday will update you about this last week at Fuel.

Emily xxx

P.S. This blog now has over 100 followers, which is wonderful – thank you so so much for joining me on this journey.

Fuel Internship – Week 10

Fuel Internship – Week 10

The fact that this is my week 10 post is slightly odd. Where did the summer go? I’ve had another really wonderful week at Fuel, but it’s starting to kick in that it’s almost over. By the time you read this, I’ll have said goodbye to a couple of the Fuel team members who are going on holiday (or, in one case, on honeymoon – congratulations again!) and only have three more whole days at work… Needless to say, I’m getting as much as possible out of them, and trying really hard to make them last as long as possible.

Day 28:

On Wednesday the office was quite quiet, as a couple of people were working from home, but I had plenty of things to keep me occupied. I started off my day with updating the google calendar (which exists so that everyone know what is going on outside the office at any given time, and has a fair idea of what everyone else on the team is doing) with the most recent things in the programme plan; pencilled in shows go in in one colour, confirmed shows in another (and a couple of pencilled in changed to confirmed etc.). Then I had another script to go get bound, this time for the director of the show (the last one was for the actor, given the director has a ‘proper’ printed edition) who felt that the printed and bound script was much easier to work from and wanted one as well. The next task on my to-do list was drafting an invitation email to a performance of one of Fuel’s future productions for collaborators and (hopefully) future venues/future collaborators. This was an exciting task, particularly as I’ve not yet written one of these, and they’re an important part of the producing process (and a particularly useful skill to learn in advance of the Marlowe Showcase, which I am in the process of producing and will be inviting agents to very shortly!). My next important task for the day was continuing to reformat the marketing statistics by venue and artist, rather than by date. In between the big tasks there were other little bits and pieces of course; some printing (including colour printing, which meant a second trip to the printing and binding shop, who absolutely noticed that hadn’t I already been in earlier, and was I back?), a couple of emails, sending some documents from the shared drive to people working from home, following up with the branded sweets company… Then, at the end of the day I got started on another bigger task, which I expected to finish the next day – looking up reviews of collaborators’ work to include in a funding application.

Day 29:

Thursday was a good, busy day. I had a couple of bits of work to do in terms of assisting with a funding application to Creative Scotland, for some research and development to happen in a few months. The simple bit was transferring the budget from its Excel format, which will be used by Fuel into the application form (and fixing a couple of issues which came up when we discovered a mistake in one of the Excel formulae), and the slightly longer task was sorting through the supporting material of biographies of collaborators, and finishing collecting the reviews I’d started getting together the previous day. I had a little bit of filing to do, and some shredding of confidential information. The next thing I had to do was find a video of a previous performance of a piece of work by one of our collaborating artists, who wanted to have a copy of it. Unfortunately the edited version of this made by a previous employee at Fuel was nowhere to be found, so, after some searching, I trawled through the SD card of our video camera to find the footage of the show, which was in several 20 minute clips, because more than that is too long for the camera. This led to my learning the very basics of a new skill: video editing. I downloaded some free editing software recommended by a quick google of what worked, and linked the videos together into one (this sounds simple in writing, but it took me quite a while to work out even just how to do that. If anyone has any advice on learning how to edit videos, so I can do this better and with more ease in the future, I would be very grateful for it!) I then started on some information which needed adding to an ACE application online.

Day 30:

On Friday I had a lot to do. I started by finishing up with the ACE funding application I had started the previous day, and then finished up some elements of the Creative Scotland funding application that had come up in the previous two days. Then I worked on my biggest task of the day: compiling a list of all the information we would need, in order to complete a visa application for travel to Australia for one of our artists. I had several visa forms, the instructions from our contact and google, and I needed to get a list of information to Gareth, so he could get in touch with the artist once, by email or phone, knowing all the information that he needed to ask him for. This was a complicated procedure, but I got there in the end (and now, if I ever go to Australia, I will know what is expected of me in terms of visas!).

That’s all for this week, thanks as always for reading, and thank you to the wonderful friend who I stayed with this week, it was really lovely! Feel free to like this post if you enjoyed it, let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments (especially if you have advice about video editing) and follow the blog if you haven’t already and you’d like to read more.

Emily xxx

P.S. Over 100 people are now following this blog, and I’d just like to thank you all for your support and encouragement – I really appreciate it! I hope you continue to enjoy my writing!

Fuel Internship – Week 9

Fuel Internship – Week 9

Week 9. I have three weeks left (two, by the time you read this!) and I’m already quite sad about it; I’m loving working for Fuel (if you hadn’t worked that out already, maybe go back and read a couple of the previous posts about my time here… :P) and will miss it when I’m done.

Day 25:

Wednesday was a relatively relaxed day, filled with small things which needed doing to keep everything ticking forwards nicely. I started by working through the quotations I’d received for possibilities for branded sweets for Fuel (for details see last week’s post here) and discussing them with Emilie and Robyn, the head of programme and the administrator. I sent the best option a couple of questions about label shape/sizes and requested a sample. Then I sorted out some receipts which I needed refunding for travel expenses etc. I then took the script for a production which we will be taking to schools around the country in a few weeks (for further details see Fuel’s twitter updates, several of which will have been drafted by me!) to be bound and posted to the performer. I got some other things, including print cartridges to be recycled posted and then worked on updating the communications statistics for July and August. This is essentially a track record of twitter analytics, facebook statistics, soundcloud statistics, google analytics for the website… to see how virtual interactions are being received.

Day 26:

On Thursday, my biggest task of the day was being on the panel for the interviews being held for a job at Fuel. The team had felt it would be a good experience for me to find out how that environment works and that my perspective would be interesting to them (or at least they told me that!) It was an absolutely fascinating experience, and I found myself thinking about how I would have answered the questions, what I liked/didn’t like in their answers; what I felt was stronger/weaker in their presentations, and from all that, what I needed to try and do myself in interviews in future. It was reassuring to find out that my instincts about what was better/weaker was in parallel with what the other interviewers (ie. the members of the company who were actually making that decision) thought. Now I just need to be able to put it into practise! One thing I hadn’t realised which I can share now – you may well already know this, but just in case you don’t: it is expected to speak in an interview as if you’ve got the job, so ‘I will do this…’ and ‘We will do that…’, rather than the conditional ‘If you hired me, I would…’, which would have been my go to.

Day 27:

The highlight on Friday was getting to go to the first, private sharing of New Europe, a piece which Fuel were associate producers for, which had had two weeks of research and development time, and was having a public sharing at a sold out event at Camden People’s Theatre the next day. It was an incredibly exciting experience, and one which I’d never really had; somewhere between a public dress rehearsal, where the audience was 11 people made up of the creative team around the event, and a private discussion (perhaps the latter so much more so because it was a one-man discussion performance). I loved the piece, and the way it neatly brought together different narrative strands, while all being spoken by the same performer and I thought it explored some really interesting ideas. It was doubly exciting to realise that that is part of your job as producer – to see exciting new theatre and help it grow. As I write this, Jesse’s performance at CPT hasn’t happened yet, but I’m sure it will go brilliantly, and if you’re one of the lucky people to have been along, let me know what you thought of it in the comments! Before and after the sharing I had some other, more ‘normal’ things to do in the office; scan a prompt script of the only copy of one of our shows, so that we  had a backup in case it got lost, getting a list of contact details for drama teachers at schools in an area we are hoping to take a school’s tour too, get contact details together for people to invite to another event we’re hosting… It was a great day, and a great end to the week at Fuel.

All that remains to be said for this week is a huge thank you to the wonderful friend who let me stay this week after my plans had to change – I’m incredibly grateful.

That’s all for this week, thanks as always for reading! Feel free to like this post if you enjoyed it, let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments and follow the blog if you haven’t already, and are interested in hearing more! I’ll be back on Monday with some advice about pushing yourself and then on Friday with an update about Week 10!

Emily xxx

P.S. Do let me know if there’s anything you would like me to cover in a blog post sometime, and I’ll do my best to fulfil that!

Fuel Internship – Week 8

Fuel Internship – Week 8

Week 8 – how did that happen?! I’m two thirds of the way through my internship with Fuel, and I want to reiterate (again, I know, but I think this can’t be said enough) how grateful I am for this opportunity, and how generous the Fuel team have been with their time, advice, generosity (and the office biscuits!). I’ve learned so much, and been able to firm up my feeling from producing student theatre that ‘producing professionally would be something I would find exciting, rewarding and interesting even when I’m doing the most boring stuff of the job’. I’ve now spent eight sets of three days, 24 days, doing some really exciting and some more mundane (see shredding below) things, and they’ve shown me that this is definitely something I’m interested in pursuing in the future. As well as enabling me to learn how to do them better before I have the pressure (which I really hope I will have in a year or two) of having someone pay me to do this job, and no one to double check that I’ve done it right and fix it if I haven’t. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And now, on to what I’ve been up to this week.

Day 22:

I arrived in the office at quarter to 10 on Wednesday morning, and was greeted by an email from Stuart, the head of production, asking me to book a van to come to Somerset House, pick up a load of technical equipment, and take it across town to the store, where he was waiting for it. I did so, and then started on my task for the morning; planning an itinerary to send some members of a creative team for one of our future projects abroad for some research next month, and looking into the necessary visas, vaccinations etc. I’d started getting my head around this when the van – which I’d been told would take an hour and a half to arrive – showed up at 10:39. So a few other members of the team in the office and I loaded up the van and it went off to the store, and then I got back to work, comparing flight possibilities and timings, looking into distances and estimated taxi costs (which I had to get google to contextualise for me, because I had no idea about the conversion rates for the local currencies), looking into possible hotels and costs, and drafting a sample itinerary. I formatted this into a word document list, which is my personal preferred way of reading a schedule for myself, so that I could best understand my options, and then reformatted it into a timetable-like format for the producer who is working on this project. (Side note – let this serve as a reminder to everyone that people all have preferred formats for understanding things, that none of these are necessarily better than others, and that a bit of flexibility – e.g. working in your own preferred format, and then handing to others in their preferred format – is a good thing!) I spent the afternoon working on a couple of little things which needed doing (posting a couple of letters, looking up an old email which Niamh needed for a future project…) and planning social media publicity for the next few weeks and months – looking into recent reviews which could be shared, making a brief list of upcoming events and looking up good quotations in the script of a play which will be touring soon (putting my 2/3s of an English degree to good use!).

Day 23:

On Thursday morning I continued with social media publicity planning. This started with looking up special days of interest coming up nationally and internationally which we could use (e.g. if we had had a show about a rabbit, we could have used National Rabbit Day for publicity. Unfortunately, we don’t, but if you do – feel free to make the most of this, and let me know about your show in the comments, because that sounds like fun!). I then interrupted my social media work, which was relatively long-term stuff, to do something more short notice, updating the latest stage of discussion in the communal ‘communications’ document, in which we list venues we contact, the show we’re contacting them about, who the specific person involved in the communication is, if there is one, and what the latest communication has been (e.g. ‘this show isn’t right for their style of programme/their venue, but they would like to hear more about future projects/other work by this artist…’). I then got back to social media planning, listening to an amazing podcast with the artist whose script I had read the day before, listening for interesting snippets we could use. This took a while, as the podcast was 69 minutes long, and any extract I wanted to quote I needed to listen to several times, but it was fascinating. After that, I had a meeting with Louise, one of Fuel’s co-directors, who wanted to have a proper introduction (as she had been away for most of the time since I arrived) and also hear both how I was doing, and what I want to do with the next few weeks and the future. I was a little nervous beforehand (who isn’t when they are prepping to have a chat with someone whose work they admire?) but it was really relaxed, while being incredible helpful for me. We essentially had a chat over cups of tea (this is, after all, England). She asked me about myself and what I was interested in, and what work I enjoy. You’ve already read a lot of this on the blog, so I’ll spare you the repetition, especially given how long this week’s blog is looking. We then talked about options for the future, how she’d got to where she is and what motivates her, which was both fascinating and inspiring. She suggested that the best way to be a producer was practice and just doing the stuff, experiencing the problems and learning how best to problem solve. She said that lots of good courses are available, and teach interesting and useful things, but that she felt, from her own experience, that one learns more from just doing it.

Day 24:

Friday was another good day, occupied mainly with setting up social media publicity schedules. (Incidentally, would this be something you’d like a how-to for a Monday advice blog sometime? Let me know in the comments!) We have several shows coming up, and I planned out tweets about them to schedule in advance, such as countdown tweets. To read those, you’ll have to follow Fuel on twitter (you can do that here) and see what comes up in the next few months! I also had some administrative things to do which needed doing; booking some trains for some artists coming up to do some workshops, updating the Fuel website to reflect a couple of new relationships, and getting started on looking into branded sweets which we send as thank yous to venues etc. to see if there is a better option than the chocolates we’ve sent so far. More on that next week!

That’s all for this week, thank you as always for reading, and a huge thank you to my grandparents, who rented a place on Airbnb for the days I was in London, so I got to spend some time with you and go to work. I had a wonderful week, and I really appreciate your generosity.

Emily xxx