Get Out of the Sandbox: Find Collaborators for a Project
An acting exercise.
Okay, actors. Let’s do a little “as if” exercise. Let’s play…pretend!
You’re 4 or 5 years old and your parental figure takes you to the park on a gorgeous Saturday in the middle of summer. They set you down in the sandbox and sit on a nearby bench reading the latest Dan Brown bestseller. You play for a while, maybe try to build a little castle and sculpt a moat, when you see a mom approaching with her kid, your age, in tow.
You get excited! This looks like Timmy who comes with his mom every Saturday, too! You guys make the bestest sand castles and have tons of fun. You really feel safe with Timmy, he unlocks something in you creatively when it comes to sand-castle construction. You two have been in the thick of it together.
But as the figures get closer, you realize this isn’t Timmy but some random kid with his random mom! She sets him down in the sandbox and goes to sit on a nearby bench, reading her Michael Chrichton. Your new companion smiles at you and starts to help with your moat. Who is this kid? You don’t feel safe. You throw a tantrum.
End of scene.
Take a chance
What in high heaven does this have to do with self producing?
What about finding collaborators on a project?
Well, when most of our clients self produce they basically are the protagonist of that story. They are already taking a big risk by producing a venture, there’s so much at stake! And as opposed to playing with more unknowns in the form of new collaborators, they seek comfort and safety by surrounding themselves with their “Timmys”.
This is a human norm not unique to us as artists, we wrote a whole post on the importance of trust and connections. However, by sticking to what’s familiar we miss out on a great opportunity to grow our collaborator pool in a meaningful and impactful way.
Although maintaining your existing network by providing them opportunities is a cornerstone of good business, the only way to truly grow is by expanding.
Over and over again, we see artists put so much into terrific creative ventures without giving much thought as to how to make the most of the opportunity at hand. While there are many, many ways to flex and stretch a self produced project to your benefit, one of the easiest and most effective is inviting other kids into your sandbox.
Think about it. Here you are with a great opportunity and project (and hopefully some dough)… you have something you can give! Being in a position to bring on collaborators and pay them is very powerful, much more powerful than going to strangers when you are only trying to get something from them.
The process of finding new collaborators can and should be strategic. What could working with this particular director do for your future? Are they connected to a producer that you’ve been wanting to work with for a long time? Or what if you cast an actor you don’t know who has the agents you want and not just your co-worker at the restaurant…again?
Another benefit of actively seeking out new collaborators is that it will force you to utilize your existing network. As you try to figure out ways to connect with unknown collaborators who can inch you towards career milestones, it makes sense to engage any mutual connections you may have. Now you are being guided to figure out ways to uniquely engage and add value to their lives in order for them to introduce you to your targeted collaborator.
Using a self produced project to expand your network means more eyes on your product in a meaningful, personal way which means more opportunities in the future.
Don’t bank on the idea that your self produced Zoom reading with all of your friends will shoot you to stardom or that the low-budget indie you make with your buds goes to Sundance. By all means collaborate with “your people”, but also guarantee that it ultimately benefits your career by bringing on new and exciting prospects.