All You Need To Know About the Hollywood Fringe Festival – From a Pro!

I’m on my way out of town for work, stressed out and juggling rehearsal, writing & prep for the 2017 Hollywood Fringe Festival— I call an Uber for thgregorycraftsbusiness-1920x1280-72dpie airport and my driver ends up being Gregory Crafts a total expert on all things HFF!

After a most fortuitous ride to LAX, I ask him to answer a few more questions for The LA Actor’s Blog.

Crafts is a founding member of Theatre Unleashed and is proud to serve as its Managing Director. He is also a card-carrying member of SAG-AFTRA, Actors Equity and the Dramatists Guild of America, a founding Board Member of the Theatrical Producers League of Los Angeles and a member of the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights. As of the 2015-2016 season, Greg is proud to add “Ovation Voter” to his list of titles and accomplishments in the LA Theatre community.

He has been nominated for The Fringe Ensemble Theatre Award (2015), winner of the ENCORE! Producers Award (2014), Nominee for Top Of The Fringe Award (2014) an Official Selection: Best of Hollywood Fringe (2013), Nominee for Fringe First Award, Best imagesWorld Premiere, (2012), Best of Hollywood Fringe (2011), and Nominee for the La Fringe Award, L.A. Theatre Review (2010).

1. You have a lot of experience with the Hollywood Fringe Festival as an actor a writer a director and a producer, tell me what have you gained from that experience and what do you think an actor/writer/producer might hope to achieve through the festival? 

 Wow, where to begin? Well, to put it simply, participating in the Hollywood Fringe has made me a better all-around artist. In 2009, my first play, Friends Like These (www.friendsliketheseplay.com) had enjoyed a critically acclaimed, sold-out six week run in North Hollywood. Once it closed, I knew I wanted to find it another life somewhere. A friend suggested that I take it to the New York Fringe the next year, and when I started googling, I found the Hollywood Fringe website. After looking over the site, I was immediately hooked and connected with the festival on social media, and immediately began a fundraising campaign to bring my show to both festivals.

Bringing this show to the Fringes taught me everything I know about producing; budgeting, ticket prices, marketing, how to transfer a show, how to handle suddenly recasting roles, coordinating cast travel and accommodations… Name a curveball, and I probably had it thrown at me during the eight months I worked on this. Or when I brought the same show to San Diego in 2014 – that time, I had the unique experience of losing my venue a month before the festival opened, and had to scramble to find a new one, last-minute. Found a new space, but no one was willing to travel to it, and I can count on one hand the number of patrons we had for all four performances. Combined. Thankfully (for me, at least), two of them were critics who gave us rave reviews.

Side note – bringing my play to the festivals paid off. Friends Like These is now published with Stage Rights, an independent label here in Los Angeles.

Fringe has also made me a better, more flexible and patient artist. Fringe can be a high-stress environment, and as an actor, it has taught me how to quickly adapt my staging to new environments (oftentimes, you don’t get rehearsals in your venue, and sometimes the first time you get to run your show in the space is your opening night).

As a writer, I feel like it’s given me the opportunity to get my words on stage when more traditional outlets writers can submit to are already overwhelmed and inundated with scripts for consideration.

Finally, the networking that goes on at Fringe is first-rate. I’ve met dozens of artists at Fringe whom I’ve gone on to collaborate with, whether they be directors, actors, or playwrights, and my career is exponentially richer because of it.

2. Is the Hollywood Fringe festival competitive as compared to, for example, Edinburgh? 4272032

It’s tough for anything to be competitive on the same scale as Edinburgh. When you go to EdFringe, you’re one of three thousand shows. At Hollywood Fringe, you’re one of about three hundred. However, that doesn’t mean being a part of Hollywood Fringe is easy; it’s still a very competitive landscape, and even good shows have to fight for an audience’s attention.

Generating positive word of mouth quickly is absolutely crucial.

3. In your experience what do you think the festival is looking for? 

Anything and everything. That’s the beauty of Hollywood Fringe. I’ve seen it all at the Fringe; from commedia dell’arte, to interpretive dance, to interactive and immersive environmental projects, to something that can only be described as a hairs’ breadth from a live sex show. It’s all welcome and encouraged.

If you’ve got a story to tell and the money to rent a space, you can be a part of the festivities.

 

4. Once accepted to the Hollywood Fringe what does a production need to do to be successful? 

First off, the production needs to be good. There’s no faking that. Make sure your production is Something Worth Seeing. From there, it’s all about marketing. Know what you’re selling. Know to whom you wish to sell it. Figure out how to reach them.

I also say that every production should schedule an additional performance during Preview week, and paper it. Fill every seat, even if you have to give them away for free. Then get those patrons to get on the Fringe website and social media, and leave good reviews. That’s a good way to generate positive buzz.

5. How important is choosing the “right” venue? What makes a venue “right” for a particular production? 

I’d say it’s pretty important, although unless your show has specific tech requirements, almost any show can be done almost anywhere.
For picking the right venue, think about the following: what tech stuff does my show specifically need? Is the space large enough to fit my cast/crew/production elements? How many tickets do we realistically think we can sell?
 

6. As it is important to know your audience, I’m wondering, who attends the Fringe?  

This is an excellent question. You could break down the Fringe demographics into a few categories:
First-Degree Audience (Friends and Family of the artists, who will come out and support them in anything they do.
Other Fringe Artists (theatre-makers love going out and seeing what else is at the festival, and networking with the people whose work they enjoy or respect).
Traditional Theatre Audiences looking to “Walk on the Wild Side” – Fringe theatre is typically raw and unpolished. There are audiences who wish to get away from the spectacle of larger stages and see something “real.” This is where they go.
There’s more, but those three typically strike me as the biggest ones.

7. Any other super secret ninja tips for us? 

Don’t just bring your show to the Fringe festival; be a part of the Fringe. See other Fringe shows. Connect with those artists. Have drinks at Fringe central. You know you’re a part of the Fringe family when it takes you an hour to leave the bar at the end of the night because you keep getting stopped to say goodbye by your new friends and fellow Fringers as you’re headed for the door.

Click for details on Gregory’s next show A VERY DIE HARD CHRISTMAS opening soon!

And here is another GUEST BLOG Crafts wrote about self-producing. 

Click for TOWN HALLS & WORKSHOPS from HFF16

TIMELINE for 2016 here so you have an idea of what to get in order for HFF 2017 and when! Registration opened Nov. 15! 

 

Greetings Fringers,

We are so excited to be embarking on another terrific year of Fringe!

Last week we announced the dates for the 2017 Town Hall & Workshop seriesWorkshop I: Working with Venues is next week on Tues., January 24th. If you’re planning on participating in the festival, you should definitely join us. We’ll have a ton of information and resources for you. See below for more information.

Save the date! Thursday, February 2nd is the first Town Hall and it’s all about the registration process. Click here for the details.

We also want to remind you that Fringe Scholarship applications are still being accepted. See below for details.

Have questions? Send them to us at support@hollywoodfringe.org.

Fringe On!

Ben Hill, Festival Director
www.hollywoodfringe.org

Workshop I: Working with Venues

The first workshop of the season, Workshop I: Working with Venues is Tuesday, January 24th at 8 pm at Actors Company’s Let Live Theater (916 N. Formosa Ave.).

The workshop, moderated by Outreach Director Meghan McCauley, features a panel of Fringe venue managers who will give you an idea of what to expect when working with different venues during Fringe. This is a great opportunity to meet people who could book your show!

The workshop will consist of an extended Q&A session and stories from the panelists with a mixer to follow.

This event is free and will fill up quickly. Register now to reserve your space by clicking here.

Can’t make it to the workshops? Each workshop will be recorded and posted on FringeTV, our official YouTube Channel. Subscribe to our FringeTV Channel here and stay tuned for new posts.

Fringe Scholarships

Fringe Scholarship applications are still being accepted and are due February 10, 2017. They exist to expand and diversify the pool of artists producing work at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. We have 10 scholarships available to first-time Hollywood Fringe producers who self-identify as contributing to the ethnic, cultural, racial, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or ability diversity of the Fringe community.

Scholarship recipients will receive:

  • Free registration for one Hollywood Fringe production
  • Three free performances at a Hollywood Fringe Scholarship venue. See link for more details.
  • A Fringe mentor—an experienced Hollywood Fringe participant who will guide you through the process.
  • Marketing and networking opportunities as a member of the Fringe community
We are also looking for Fringe Mentors. Click here to learn more about scholarships and mentorship.

The Fringe Scholarship program is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts.

More Ways to Support Hollywood Fringe

The Hollywood Fringe Festival is a nonprofit and relies on the support of people like you to continue our mission. To donate to the Hollywood Fringe Festival visithollywoodfringe.org/donate.

The organization needs volunteers and interns throughout the year. Sign up here.

Key Dates for 2017:
April 1st: Registration Deadline for Guide Inclusion
June 1st-6th: Fringe Previews
June 7th: Fringe Opening Night Party
June 8th-25th: 8th Annual Hollywood Fringe Festival
June 25th: Fringe Award Ceremony & Closing Night Party

Be part of the conversation by following @hollywoodfringe (and use the hashtag #hff17) on Twitter and Instagram.

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