Being Festival Ready

Festivals are a big part of a performers networking engine, there is a process. To follow are some tips I have for festival activities and application best practices.

Selecting a festival should not be done willy nilly. You want to make sure you are aligning to your overall performance objectives and goals. If you treat your participation in a festival or major event as a strategic business move, you will be able to clearly align the content you will be presenting.

Doing your research about the history of a festival is key. As is understanding how the producers are. If you understand what the festival is about, their mission and values, as well as previous years participants, you have a better understanding as to the content they may be looking for. If you are looking to take a risk with your application and be completely outside the general norm, do it, just know you will have to make sure you really sell it by having a great video, and total package. Many may say that is not the case they look for all types, but truly you can see trends.

You want to think about budget. Do you have the money to go to that festival in Europe? Can you feasibly go without the support of anyone else? That is a real important question. One I have asked myself several times. You don’t want to “figure it out later”. Mentally planning for festival acceptance before you even submit is a healthy practice. Knowing how much you can logically spend before doing any application is equally as important.

The act you submit should fit the stage of the venue. You want to make sure you don’t bring a giant prop that you stand on, if the ceiling is short. You may not get the luxury of a big venue. KNOW THE VENUE! Producers are great about putting up where the venue is, so look at the photos and plan what you want to do.

If you are planning a specific act, make sure your video demonstrates the readability for the venue in question. Equally, make sure you know what your lighting plan is too, to either make the act feel bigger (if it is a small act) or controlled (if it is a big act). Your lighting plan will be deeply important. GO BEYOND I want yellow lights. Think about the plan. Have a big plan, as it is easier to go big and have all your needs in mind.

Some of the things you will need to have in ready for your application, is:

  • Bio: You will need typically both a short bio and a long bio. MAKE THIS RICH! Hire someone if you must, but you need to have something standard. Typically that is also on your website. This creates a consistent messaging.
  • High Resolution Photos: You want to have both a headshot, full length shot, and I recommend a square photo. The square photo helps the producers with other social media platforms where they don’t have to do extra edits.
  • Information about your act: Save yourself time and store the Act Profile Template for all your performance pieces.
  • Website Address: yes do it, invest in it.
  • Contact Information: have it on hand so you can copy and paste it
  • Social Media stuffs: A fan page on Facebook is significantly better for festivals social media activities than a personal Facebook page. And having a consistent Instagram and Twitter handle makes it easier for everyone, and maintains branding.
  • Video: You will need to have at very least an unlisted (not private) Youtube Video. This is critical because producers of festivals (or any other booking) need to have a sample of your best work. YET, keep in mind that sometimes you can’t get video of one of your acts a show, so you will need to make sure you have a great studio version of the act instead.
This template is what I provide to all my students

  • Act Title: Make this typically the same as the name of your MP3 File.
  • Act Length: How long is your act?
  • Act Description: Tell us about the act itself! This is where you sell it. Example: A short description could be: A modern twist on a classic bump and grind style.
  • Act Introduction: What things do you want said? I really like to script my intros, but often they are NEVER used which is frustrating, but you can have a 3×5 card for your host and make sure they have the intro you would prefer in their hand.
  • Act Transition / Outro: What do you want to have said, perhaps you can follow so and so on Instagram at …
  • Music: What are the title(s) of your music?
  • Music Cue: Will you be in position, or is your music to start after intro?
  • Light Cue: This is a compliment to the lighting plan, but often times – You articulate if you start in black out or not, or a gentle rise of lights
  • Lighting Plan: This is the color schematic you want, often times, it is the compliment to the light cue
  • Costume Colors: This is helpful to the lighting person
  • Costume Pieces: How many costume pieces and what are they?
  • Prop Requirements / Placement Plan: If you need to have a diagram in a JPG as well as a written text of your requirements. THIS IS CRITICAL! Don’t think you can just do something. If you need a power source, you better let the producers know you will need to plug something in.
So you were accepted to a festival. Great! Now, you will need to make sure you stay on top of your email, Facebook threads, and any call for general information. Producers hate it when people ghost and then wait until the last moment. It is one thing if you can’t find a document that was shared with you, but just to say, I need XYZ information will pretty much guarantee a producer will swear at their computer screen. Be kind to them, they have a hard job, just as you, but they have tremendous responsibility in making sure that everything runs smoothly and also is a financial success.

Keep in mind that all these things are things I have personally lived through and practice. I practice this methodology for everything from a festival to a traditional show. This allows for organization and productivity, as well as increased bookings.

A great festival list: www.burlesquefests.com