“I like shows with a lot of heart where people go through a journey where they learn a life-changing lesson by the end.”
Major congrats to Tony Award-winning producer Jim Kierstead on the recoupment of Hadestown. Here Jim shares some of his expertise on raising money, connecting with writers and what kinds of shows spark his attention.
How do you prefer to first connect with a writer?
Jim Kierstead: I meet lots of writers and usually it’s by seeing their work presented or being introduced to them by a friend. I rarely can take blind submissions, but if the material really touches me in some way, I will make an exception.
What are the biggest mistakes you see writers make when trying to push their show forward?
Jim Kierstead: I find many do not have a clear way of describing the project to make it interesting. I also find they sometimes give scripts with typos and poor formatting. And the worst thing is when they tell me how great their project is in their pitch… if it’s great, I will figure that out for myself. 🙂
Do producers typically have a preference on cast size?
Jim Kierstead: The smaller the better! I love shows 2 to 4 people in size. Makes it much easier to produce.
What typically is the first thing that attracts you to a show?
Jim Kierstead: I like shows with a lot of heart where people go through a journey where they learn a life-changing lesson by the end. I usually know what I like when I see it.
Do you encourage writers to self-produce?
Jim Kierstead: Sometimes they have to! At least until someone falls in love with their project. I say do whatever you need to do to get people familiar with your show.
Do you accept invitations to readings?
Jim Kierstead: Yes, but I usually go to readings where I know someone involved with the project. At this stage I get too many invites to do everything, which is a shame, but it’s just a fact.
Do you have any preferences or opinions on adaptations vs. jukebox musicals vs. original musicals?
Jim Kierstead: I personally like original work or work that brings something new to an old story. Jukebox musicals aren’t my favorite, but audiences sure like them!
“I personally like original work or work that brings something new to an old story.”
Should writers be required to raise money?
Jim Kierstead: I don’t think they should be required to raise money, but they surely should help in the process if they can. Many writers have friends who support their work so bringing those people to the table is super helpful.
How do you feel about Crowdfunding projects?
Jim Kierstead: I think crowdfunding is a nice idea….anything that raises money is a good idea. Sometimes, though, if the funds need to be substantial, it becomes difficult to maintain crowdfunding because they tend to usually be smaller amounts. So I shy away from them in general. From the side of investing/contributing, it’s sometimes fun to see what people are up to and helping worthy causes.
Any other tips and suggestions you have on getting a producer’s attention?
Jim Kierstead: Have a show that I’m interested in and you’ve got my attention. It’s communicating the idea clearly and concisely that is most important.
Special thanks to Jim Kierstead for taking the time to share his insights and tips!
Jim Kierstead is an Emmy, Olivier, and three-time Tony Award-winning producer of the Broadway, touring, Toronto, and London productions of Kinky Boots, the revival of Pippin, and Hadestown. He is currently represented on Broadway as a co-producer of Tony-nominated Ain’t Too Proud and Waitress, as well as The Inheritance. In addition, he has been a co-producer of 20 Broadway productions including The Visit, You Can’t Take It With You, Indecent, The Great Comet (all Tony nominated), Be More Chill, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Pretty Woman, Side Show, It Shoulda Been You, M. Butterfly, Rocky, among others.
Off-Broadway projects include Unexpected Joy, Yank! (Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Nominees), Bright Colors and Bold Patterns, and Thrill Me – The Leopold & Loeb Story (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Nominees). He has produced London productions including Waitress, Dreamgirls, Unexpected Joy, Yank!, Thrill Me, Night of the Living Dead, and Aspects of Love.
Film/TV projects include the Emmy winning TV series The Bay, Indoor Boys, After Forever, Ace, Between Love and Goodbye, Kiss Me, Kill Me, and Wakefield starring Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner, and a new series Mulligan. Upcoming projects include Sparkler and Cover.
Jim is on the Board of Directors of The York Theatre Company, The Abingdon Theatre Company, and The New York Theatre Barn. www.kiersteadproductions.com