Archive for August, 2013

Miley Cyrus, Miley Cyrus, Syria, ok, Circus.

Pirates!Okay, admittedly this blog has zero to do with the VMA’s, but I thought the above was sort of beautifully homophonic. It was also a blatant attempt to get more clicks. Hey, if CNN can do it, why not us? The following blog on the scale of world importance may be pretty low, but if FBI investigations and tornadoes or our experience creating The Bizarre and Curious Quest of Killian Cog might interest you, carry on.

 

In our production planning meetings, one thing we didn’t plan for was a tornado….Or the ticketing agency getting hacked one month before. I also thought I was a stage manager. Oh, the lessons you learn.
The OracleI would say that Laura and I are highly organized. We do our best to trouble shoot every possible issue. One thing I’ve learned from producing many shows is that some issue that you could have never anticipated always comes at you from sideways the week of the show. And of course, The Bizarre and Curious Quest of Killian Cog as no exception.
We’ve been on tours where someone accidentally booked the wrong nights for a hotel and a cast of 20 had to wander around some mid-western town in the snow, trying to find a place to get some much needed sleep. We did not want that to happen to us. So we checked and double checked everything. And yet…
Killian in the space betweenAbout a month before the show, we were informed the ticketing agency we would be using got hacked, and the FBI was investigating so no tickets could be sold. We decided that we would just have to roll with that one and did an invited dress to try and drum up interest. It wasn’t what we’d hoped for but we figured there was nothing to be done.
Leaving NYC was pretty smooth, aside from sitting in the Holland tunnel for three hours and almost forgetting an essential set piece. We arrived in the middle of the night and got up the next morning ready to go. Mother Nature had other plans though. We unloaded the truck just in time to watch one of the most intense storms I’ve ever seen. Tornadoes passed by and huge trees were uprooted. Luckily, the theater was the emergency shelter for the area so we just stayed put. However, then the power went out. It’s hard to focus lights without electricity, so we finally went back to our dark hotel.
The next day the cast was coming and we had no way to make them food and didn’t know what to do with them without power. Luckily, when they finally arrived so did the power. But of course by then we were quite behind schedule.

Opening Wheel

Opening Wheel

We worked feverishly with everyone pitching in to try to get this show up on its legs. That is when I discovered I don’t actually know the first thing about stage managing. Sigh. And our show couldn’t be more complex. It is like learning to sew by making a wedding dress. Oy.

Ellie having the time of her life.

Ellie having the time of her life.

But you know what?! It all somehow came together perfectly, just like it always does. I wouldn’t have believed it the day before we opened and yet we did it. We had a venue that was willing to help us out, our rigger Bill Auld who knew exactly what he was doing, our lighting designer Marty Postma who is beyond professional, my husband Uri Attia who was changing the music for us the day of, Mike and Dave who showed incredible patience and a cast who was not only focused but made our lives easy.

Cool effects!

Cool effects!

AND you know what?! It was a great experience!! Despite all the fits and starts, everyone actually enjoyed themselves. I’ve never made art that I felt as proud of and was as fun to create. That alone feels like a huge accomplishment. I know this is only the start.

For more pictures of the show, check out out Killian board on Pinterest!!!! CLICK HERE!
 
 
 

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When a Gig Goes South – Insane Gig Confessions

August 19, 2013 Comments Off on When a Gig Goes South – Insane Gig Confessions Working in Circus
group silk

They could have had this!

“You need to double your budget.”
Noise of choking on coffee…
“Just add whatever, but they are going to worry if it’s too low.”

Isn’t the above what everyone is dying to hear?! What?! You mean we can fly in all the best performers, pay them what they deserve to be paid, and really do things right and not worry about what it costs?!! Did we die and go to some cirque-style heaven that happens to be in Connecticut?
 
Laura and I actually heard those words recently. Cirque ain’t cheap so usually there is some expectation management involved in the other direction. This one seemed like one of those inquiries that comes along as many times as an honest politician. On the surface it appeared all sparkly and heaven sent, but really it was the arc (as in the lost one the Raiders were looking for). Once opened, it unleashed all sorts of smelly hellacious monsters that almost took out our emotional knees. They wanted Cirque du Soleil, but they weren’t available so they settled on us. We know so many amazing performers, it really wasn’t a stretch to provide that level of show.
 

Or this!

Or this!

One thing anyone in the entertainment business knows is that the fabulously wealthy who throw extremely extravagant private parties can also come with a serving of hot neuroses. There is fun crazy and the there is cray cray. Those parents who hired paparazzi to follow their sixteen-year-old daughter around her party, AND also hired a body guard to protect her from the hired paparazzi? Fun. And hilarious.
 
Back to the present. This client wanted their bat mitzvah/party for their friends to be “perfect”, which translates into second guessing every little thing and changing their minds before they’d even made them. Cray.
 
Things turned nightmarish quickly. Every time we spoke with them, we would settle on a decision, get ready to go to contract and then we’d find out an hour later that everything we’d discussed was not in fact actually settled. It got to a point where nobody could remember what the last decision was because there were so many. Every conversation was like starting over.
 
The final straw came when they wanted us to hire a rigging company of their choosing, the people who happened to be doing lights for them. I called and emailed that company relentlessly and never got a call back (what’s hilarious is that several people knew what company I meant without my ever mentioning their name…reputation people!). I began to feel like a stalker and even considered showing up unannounced at their offices like some weird creep with a thing for DL-2’s. Then the company actually claimed they had been calling me relentlessly. Again, I began to think that perhaps I was having mini strokes and losing control of my brain. I felt better when we checked out that company with several seasoned rigging professionals, and each basically told us, “Watch out, 1. they aren’t safe 2. they’re cheap.” Ruh-roh. So rather than sweat a rig that might very possibly come crashing down, we sensibly said that we need to hire our own people.
 
Guess what happened? That “unlimited budget” suddenly disappeared. Apparently safety is not something these people can afford. After six proposals (SIX!), in person meetings, phone meetings, getting riggers and costume people and other subcontractors to do endless estimates, they decide to go “a different way”. The irony? The very first modest proposal we submitted that utilized six great performers and a free-standing rig probably was what they wanted all along.
 
Moral of this sad tale? I have no idea. Don’t get dicked around? Probably unavoidable. We patted ourselves on the back for doing the right thing, and yet I can’t help but feel like we lost somehow, and that somebody else might be benefiting from all our hard work. But who really cares if ImaginAerial lost a gig, right?
 
These big proposals that get to the final stages and then don’t happen are always difficult. They take a toll and cost small companies like us in time and reputation. Nobody talks about them because nobody ever wants to admit that these dead proposals matter in any way, or even happen. Artists have to hang tough and keep looking ahead. None of us want to admit that we haven’t figured out some secret that allows us to read minds and know exactly what “perfect” is. Can we put on an event that’s original and mind blowing? Hell yeah! But this is what we really want to hear:  “Here’s is what we can afford… Give me the best 20 min show you can.” Right?
 
I’d like to start a support group right here, a safe place to vent. How far have you been dragged along before that contract never materialized? What was the most frustrating or hilarious part of it? Get it out! It will help all of us feel just a little bit better. Share your experiences in the comments below!

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The RIGHT Way to Contact an Entertainment Company

August 13, 2013 Comments Off on The RIGHT Way to Contact an Entertainment Company Uncategorized, Working in Circus

A quick video bloggie on the best way to contact an entertainment or production company – do it right! Sorry for the (gently terrifying) color – shot it with the webcam on my computer (which apparently I should never do again). 😉 Don’t forget to click “Like” below the video to get a free copy of our PDF checklist!!!!

 

 

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I QUIT! When it’s Time to Throw in the Towel

August 6, 2013 Comments Off on I QUIT! When it’s Time to Throw in the Towel Uncategorized, Working in Circus

Knocking yourself out and not getting anywhere? Been chasing that dream for ten years but still treading water? At the end of your money? Time? Sanity? Well friend, have you thought about quitting?

Here’s a fantastic blog post by (brilliant) artist Yao Xiao about exactly this. Yao did the illustrations for our recent show “The Bizarre and Curious Quest of Killian Cog”, and we’re bg fans. Have a read – you’ll be glad you did!

 

 CLICK HERE – Thoughts from “The Upside of Quitting” about Art, Commercial Work and Being Happier

 

Illustrations by the amazingly talented Yao Xiao!

http://www.yaoxiaoart.com/