The Making of: The Miracle
Last month we put on a show called 'Miracle' and while it's still fresh in our minds we thought we'd share a few things we learnt along the way. As much as I dislike the idea of writing a bullet point to-do list that will 'guarantee you a top quality live production’, hopefully they’ll be some points here that may prove helpful for you as you think about planning yours. They’re by no means comprehensive, but they’re things we’ve learnt are crucial in putting on a good show!
(As an aside: ’The Making of’ as a title just sounded a little better than: ‘Five things to help you put on an incredible production…’)
Big productions ALWAYS take longer than you think. Start sooner and plan well. As fellow creatives, we fully get that’s hard for us! Make sure you allow yourself extra time for anything that you are less experienced in. For example, nailed that killer lighting scene always takes double what you imagine it would, especially if you don’t really know what you’re doing, like us!
Miracle: Ideation began in October with a team of two. Planning & delivering creative elements took two months. Stage design and build: 10 days. Production setup and lighting design: 4 days
Right from the start of the ideation process it’s important to give your ideas time to grow and develop. Although most of us would probably rather work alone we need to bounce ideas around - I can’t tell you how many times I’ve realised that an idea is complete rubbish until I try actually explaining it to someone for the first time! Keep the team small and don’t take feedback personally. Easier said than done.
Miracle: Loads of people were involved in putting Miracle together. Pete mentioned everyone here.
3. Simple goal
However good your final production is not even a pro-West End show would please everyone. Then again, neither should purely ‘pleasing’ people be the goal. Work out a clear idea of your precise audience that you want to target and the response you want them to leave the production with. Have these people in mind for every creative element of your production; that way each element should reflect that goal and build towards the response.
Miracle: Target audience: First time visitor aged 12-45. Simple Goal: Leave them with the reality that Miracles really happen today.
Story is everything. Think of your production as a story; it needs to have a beginning, a middle and an end. The whole production needs to flow together with each element building on the last. (You would think this is obvious but from my experience it is unfortunately not!) Finally use your set design and your pre-event 'hype' to give context to the story you are trying to tell.
Miracle: A simple break down of the story we wanted to tell was that this ‘miracle baby’ born 2000 years ago has become the ‘miracle maker’ who is still performing miracles today all over the world and right here in London. Every element therefore had to lead people to the conclusion that Jesus could do a miracle for them today.
One of the biggest limiting factors in the quality of a production is unfortunately a financial one. Lighting hire, stage hire, marketing (those embossed, copper foiled, copper painted edged, gfsmith 800gsm colour plan invites don't come cheap!), video etc all cost time and money. Each event we do needs to weigh up the costs involved against the desired outcome (or to use the Christianese, ‘fruit’). Having said that, lights and haze machines aren’t everything; although without them, you have to work harder! Be prepared to have frank conversations about budgets with the relevant people, and we've found that the more we can source from within the community, the better (and cheaper)!
I recognise that each production and context is different and so what we’re able to put on out of the newcom studio might be very different to what you do. What works for us might not work for you! However, in our experience, these have been some of the key steps which have allowed us to put on some great productions.
We hope this has been a helpful starting place for planning a production. Here is a little highlights video from some of the footage we shot during the Miracle. Enjoy and all the best with yours!