Listen carefully..that crackling sound you hear coming from the North Coast of your map of the United States is the sound of another fervent Cleveland theatre discussion. Hey...at least we care! This time the topic is videotaping in the theatre for promotional purposes. The spark was lit when Cleveland Plain Dealer Theatre Critic Tony Brown was nice enough send out a call this week to area theatre folk to send him links to videos promoting upcoming shows to include in his blog, one with a much larger audience than any of ours individually.
One area theatre marketer responded:
This actually brings up an interesting question. Most show licenses state that you're not allowed to record your productions, and yet many grant committees request them, and promotional guides recommend them. Our theatre recently made it 'official policy' not to record performances because the possibility of having a show shut down was too risky. I'm curious as to how other local performance groups have reconciled their desire or need for videos with the licensing restrictions placed on the shows by their owners.
Of course, you know I had to chime in...I mean, the whole idea of Call-Back is based on the video medium - albeit, not for the purposes of flying in the face of copyright and licensing laws or anything, but obviously I'm a big believer in the use of all sorts of multi-media for theatre production marketing. So I crawled up on my soap box and preached:
In terms of promoting a show, I don't think the issue is so much one of using extended footage of an actual performance during it's run (which can be a sticky legal issue). Linda is right, very few people beyond the cast and their immediate acquaintances might care to watch that anyway. The more interesting story of any particular show is what happens back stage and behind the scenes. What went into the making of this show. This is what I've based the Call-Back cable and on-line theatre documentary series on - reality TV based on community theatre productions! I've been fortunate to be invited to document productions at a number of different theatres for Call-Back. I've found that interviews with different theatre artists, cast members, snippets of numbers or scenes from rehearsals, etc. can really be interesting to larger audiences. I've tried to make viewers feel like a part of these shows themselves by putting together series of episodes they can follow throughout the rehearsal process. This can be really effective in generating buzz and interest in shows if the episodes are edited in interesting ways and as professionally as possible. And there are no legal restrictions on talking to (non-equity) cast and crew, etc.
Of course, there were other comments (some even got a little snarky to make the read ever so much more interesting!) that can be read by clicking on this blog title link.