Monday, October 1, 2007

I Am Water

Monday, September 24, 2007: The IT Awards held our 3rd annual Awards Ceremony. It was a great evening and I think everyone had a good time. It was my turn to write a blog and I thought writing about the ceremony would be a snap. But to be honest, I was having trouble organizing my thoughts about it into something cohesive.

After thinking about it for a few days, I think the reason why I've been struggling is because as a producer, your attention is stretched in so many different directions and you have to be involved in so many different aspects that it is sometimes difficult to have a clear view of what the end result really is. I won't know how the evening actually went until I see the DVD.

One of my favorite Zen observations is that when water running down hill meets with an immovable object, the water does not try to go through the object, it simply goes around it. There are many times when I have to remind my self that "I am water."

So on that note, I'm letting it flow.

I've been an Off-Off-Broadway producer for many years and producing these awards is very much like producing an OOB production.

We have no money, but we have managed to get a lot of the resources we use donated or swapped for in-kind services. Don't tell anyone but we bought the "toilet in a box" that was used for the Cino performance and returned it the next day. The red fabric that covered the podium was purchased 4 years ago at the .99 discount fabric store and has been used at just about every one of our events since. I would say that a good 65% of our prep time for this event is spent trying to finagle resources. Luckily we have a very resourceful staff.

Everybody's schedule is impossible. We all have day jobs and other projects, but somehow we make it work. Although if you were to follow us around, you might think we were a bunch of drug dealers because of all the late night telephone calls, quickie meetings on various corners throughout NYC (to exchange papers, thumb drives, money, etc.) and all the hustling we do.

We rely on our friends to help us out. I don't know if they love us or hate us for it, but every year we turn to our buddies for everything from raffle prizes to glowtape to letting us do our dry tech in their office on the Sunday before the ceremony and every year they come through providing manpower, ideas and creative input. God bless 'em.

I work with some of the most dedicated, imaginative and good natured people that I have ever known. I can't say it enough how much I love our staff. Yes, we get on each other's nerves and sometimes we want to punch each other in the face, but it is only because we are all so passionate about this and feel that it is so important. This is going to sound totally sappy, but there are days when I look at Nick, Jason or Akia and I am overwhelmed by their commitment and abilities to accomplish the impossible. They give up sleep, money, comfort… They go out of their way to make meetings at the craziest times in the most inconvenient of places. Then there is Christopher, Desmond, Hillary, Morgan and Nancy. We ask them to do the most complicated, often unreasonable things and they do it with such grace and ease. When you are overwhelmed with details, it is such a relief to know that you have intelligent, competent, pleasant people on your team.

Of course we have our share of drama. All of us have bad days and we try to be sensitive to that. And there are some events, situations or people that it would be inappropriate to discuss here. It is during these times that I find my self repeating over and over again, "I am water."

We are dealing with much bigger spaces than are generally used for Off-Off-Broadway productions. There are cool things and not so cool things about that. This year we actually had wings and a fly space. We had microphones and a follow spot. There was a green room AND dressing rooms… and a fancy staircase. There were also a lot of restrictions. We actually ran into red tape about our tape. We had to have the kind and brand of tape we used approved through their facilities department. "I am water. I am water, I am water." We had to go through their catering if we wanted to provide food for our crew (we bought pizza for everyone anyway and then got in big trouble about it). We had to pay for security (which is not cheap) and of course the space itself was not inexpensive. But it was a good space and worked well for us and like many OOB companies, we would like to find a place to call home so we'll probably use it again.

One of the big differences between producing a show and these awards is that we only have one shot at getting it right. It is very visceral and definitely keeps everyone on their toes. It also means that if you screw up… you just screw up. There is no fixing it tomorrow night. There is also a huge part of it that is simply out of our control. Like the script for example. We provide each of the presenters with a suggested script. They are told that they can use the script as written, make changes to it or do something entirely their own. We don't know what they are actually going to say until they get out there on the stage. Of course we have no idea what the recipients will say. We're just glad we have insurance in case someone trips while trying to make a grand leap up onto the stage (I did appreciate your enthusiasm Dan Safer).

We create the structure and the rest takes on a life of its own. There is something very Zen about letting go and just accepting that it is what it is.

Shay Gines

Executive Director

New York IT Awards