7 Ways Improv Festivals Need to Step Up Their Game to Get Submissions

I’ve been lucky enough to travel to a ton of festivals over the past several years. They have all, for the most part, been great. Also, helping run this site with Bill Binder I also get to see how many festivals there are in the world now and interact with them on a daily basis. Currently listed on our site is 118 improv festivals. Some major cities have two or more festivals now. Holy crap right? What does this mean? It means that more then ever you will be competing for submissions. It may be easier to get local teams, but getting teams from out of town is becoming harder and harder. Here are 7 ways you can step up your game to keep the submissions rolling in and attracting troupes to your festival.

  1. Make it even more inexpensive for Improvisors – They are mostly coming for free, paying for transportation, hotel, food. A good example is The Detroit Improv Festival and The Phoenix Improv Festival. Both festivals help ease the pocket pain of improvisors. DIF offers food for performers during the entire fest with free BBQ’s and food in their greenroom for performers to eat between workshops and shows. PIF gives each team a free night for hotel the night they are performing. This is incredible and very generous, but the reasons these two festivals are hugely popular when it comes to submissions. Word of mouth in the improv world is king!
  2. Try to schedule your festivals better – Look at your region. When are other festivals running? Maybe spread it out so you’re not crossing over each other or running submissions at the same time. This could bring your submissions down as you’ll be competing for them.
  3. Do something new and different – Is your festival getting tired? Are you just doing the same thing every year? Giving out the same gift bags? Shirts? Buttons? Maybe look to spice it up with something new or even in the way you format your festival. You don’t want to just attract new teams all the time, but maybe bring back teams that are amazing and do well at your fest. You don’t have to do much to adjust things just a bit every year. Look if it’s not broken don’t fix it. But enhance it. Don’t let it become stale water.
  4. Listen to your troupes – If you’re not sending out a post festival survey you’re doing yourself the biggest disservice. It hurts to read these sometimes because of how much work you put in to this and for the most part you aren’t getting paid probably. But you still are running a festival and you have a responsibility to the people who come to it because they’re paying to come. Sometimes your troupes may be pointing out a big flaw or even a minor one that can cause big problems. You can’t please everyone, but if you get the same note three times, it needs to be addressed. You should have a post festival pow-wow where you go over the positives and negatives of your festival with your board, fest commission or whatever you call it.
  5. What else do you have to offer? Sell your town or city. What can you offer them to do? The Alaska State Improv Festival offers Whale watching, The Red Rocks Improv Festival offers hikes in Zion National Park. These are huge things that bring tons of improvisors from around the country to come to these remote festivals. For how remote these festivals are they get good submissions. Even if you’re not a remote festival you have a big city to show off, find deals, get discounts, do what you can to attract troupes. Make your festival a vacation destination. Also, don’t just offer workshops. Have parties, conference style meetings add value to your festival in an inexpensive way. Some festival even split the door with their troupes. Paying your troupes is a great way to get more submissions.
  6. Make a more specific festival – If you are in a town or city that has multiple festivals or are in a region where you have a bunch, consider doing a more specific festival. A genre improv festival, musical improv festival, trio festival etc. This may pull you away from the pack a bit.
  7. Travel to festivals yourself – If you’re a festival producer you have to go to other festivals and theaters. See what they’re doing, how they’re run, network. You can also see acts perform and invite them to come to your festival. You get a live view of what’s going on. Sometimes better then watching little videos on your computer. 😉

That’s it for now gang! I hope this helps. If a small festival in Cedar City, Utah or one in the Last Frontier of Alaska can attract troupes so can you. I can say the festivals listed in this blog follow these 7 steps for sure and I know that’s why they do well. If you feel like you can add to this please do so in the comments.

The Rubric

Looking Into a Festival Producer’s Mind, or How Do They Decide Who to Choose?

THE RUBRIC: Looking Into a Festival Producer’s Mind, or How Do They Decide Who to Choose?

In the years I’ve produced the Alaska State Improv Festival (AS IF), I’ve heard performers ask “What can I do to improve my submission?” I’ve also heard my fellow producers bemoan that their 1 to 5 judging scale leads to a massive swath of “3” scores from their reviewers, making it impossible to figure out whether an ensemble is in the 25th percentile or the 75th percentile of the submission pool. More rarely, I hear of a rubric that takes a background in advanced statistics to comprehend where even the person creating it can only hope that it reflects more than a mathematical curiosity.

We do things a little differently in Alaska. The way we review submissions has made it much easier for our production team to determine where in the pool each ensemble fits. By describing the AS IF way, I hope that it helps performers understand what goes on in the mind of a producer. I also hope it helps other producers create a meaningful rubric for their own submission review processes.

Our Rubric:

The AS IF production team has always valued variety as well as skill. This became central to our scoring rubric which is divided into four parts, each scored on a 1 to 5 scale (minimum score of 4; maximum score of 20).

Originality – Does the show contain original elements? If we read the description of your show and say, “We’ve never seen that before. This sounds great!” then you’ve done well on originality.

Execution of Concept – Does the show deliver on its intended premise? If the show is described as an improvised detective show in the style of Columbo but the video contains a montage of disconnected scenes, then you probably lost almost all of these points.

Marketability – Can we describe your show to a lay person in one or two sentences and get them excited to see it? Think of a show like Jill Bernard’s Drum Machine – It’s a one-woman improvised musical based on a historical event. Her accompanist is the Zoomtronic 123 drum machine. Two sentences, you know the gist of the show, and you want to buy a ticket.

Skill – Regardless of whether the show was original or delivered on its promise, was it skillfully performed?

What’s The Reasoning Behind the Rubric?

We decided early that we wanted to provide not only quality shows, but to a broad spectrum of shows to introduce our audience to what improv can be.

Instead of asking “On a scale of 1 to 5, how were they?” the four parts of the rubric force the reviewers to consider more deeply what the show’s strengths and weaknesses, and whether the show is a fit for AS IF.

How Does It Work in the Real World?

Our results have been remarkably consistent. Groups that have received scores above 15 have proven to be exceptional additions to the festival. Groups in the 13 to 15 range have mostly been either placed on the waitlist or accepted as “last group in.” A couple of these groups have underwhelmed, but several have flashed brilliance that was not seen on the submission video. Groups who score under 13 are generally not considered for inclusion

Most importantly, we have been able to retain a consistently high bar for the festival. The sets at the festival are of high quality, yet are quite varied in style, composition, geography, etc., and the whole package reflects the overall vision of AS IF.

Anything Else?

The numbers don’t tell the whole tale. There are times when a producer makes a choice that goes against the numbers. This can happen based on personal knowledge of the performers, a reference from a trusted insider, a desire to not have too many of a particular type of show, or just a gut instinct regarding whether the submission video reflects the ensemble’s ceiling or their floor. If you are a producer, you have a right and a responsibility to look beyond the numbers to include the acts that best represent the festival’s vision.

If you are a performer who is caught on the wrong end of a producer’s decision, please understand that the number of submissions often greatly exceeds the number of available slots and that in a different pool of submissions you may have made the cut. If there is a festival you have targeted and you have not been accepted, don’t presume that’s the end of the story. Submit with another video, submit with a different ensemble, ask the producer where the submission fell short – and be ready to take the hard note.

So that’s a look inside the head of a producer heading into the submission period. Alaska State Improv Festival is in its open submission period through the end of September, and we hope to see many of you join us in Alaska next April!


Eric Caldwell is the Producer of the Alaska State Improv Festival, entering its fifth year in 2017.

Site Update: Instructor Submissions Now Available

Having the instant submission tool for improv troupes has been great. I’ve been coding away to make that same functionality available to instructors. And it’s finally online!

Starting today, any festival that uses the instant submission tool on our site can also elect to take submissions for instructors as well.

How it works

A more detailed walkthrough will come soon, but the quick answer is this:

  • If you’re a festival producer. You are offered a checkbox when creating a new event to accept instructor submissions.
  • If you’re an instructor (and you have an instructor profile on the site), you’ll see a button like the picture below. Just click it. That’s it.
  • Capture

    How it looks

    Festival producers will already be familiar with the visual layout of the submission review page. It’s modeled after the troupe submission review page. In fact, you don’t even have to go anywhere new. It’s added as a tab to your review page.

    You will actually be presented with two lists. The first looks like this.
    Capture

    This is a list of instructors who have submitted to teach at your festival. Although instructors are not required to submit a troupe if they are submitting as an instructor, it is useful information for producers. So any troupes the instructors perform in which have submitted to the festival are listed below their names. Clicking on their names will take you directly to their teaching profile and workshop lists.

    The second list is a passive list. This is a list of instructors who have not specifically submitted to your festival, but are members of troupes who have submitted to perform. Having this information can be very helpful to producers when knowing who might be coming to the festival anyway.

    Capture

    What does it cost?

    Nothing. Producers can use this tool at their leisure and instructors can submit to any festival using the tool for free.

    What doesn’t it do?

    A few things. There aren’t as many options as the troupe submission tool, because it’s not really clear which of those features will be useful. Right now, it’s pretty much just a list. I’m very open to new features being added to this as time goes one.

    Loading quickly. It doesn’t do that. I know. More than any other page on the site right now, it’s a bit of a memory hog. It will load slowly the first time you load it. I’m working on that.

    Notify producers. Right now, producers won’t get notified every time an instructor submits. This is a relatively minor thing to be added, but I’m going to wait a few weeks to work out any potential bugs people may find. I don’t want producers to get flooded with bogus messages due to a bug somewhere. Messaging will be here before March.

    Why is it only for festivals?

    Don’t worry. There is another tool coming soon which will help facilitate getting instructors and theatre companies talking. In the mean time, I hope people keep reaching out to each other through their respective teacher and theatre profile pages.

    What should I know to use this tool responsibly?

    As a producer. If you have a general model for how instructors will be paid, it’s helpful to put that info up front. It’s not binding at this stage of course, but it helps instructors know which festivals they can submit to in a sustainable way. You can also check their booking information on their own instructor page to get a feel for their expectations. It’s best to have both parties familiar with the expectations of the other so there are no surprises down the road.

    As an instructor, look for festivals which accept instructors. But if they elected not to, they probably have a reason. You probably don’t want to email them to try to get them to change their minds.

    And that’s about it for now. There will be changes to this tool as with all tools. But it’s up now. Hopefully this will get some awesome workshops at festivals.


    Currently Bill is an instructor at The Torch Theatre and producer for the Phoenix Improv Festival.

    Do’s and Don’ts Part 2: Festival Submission Packets

    Looking to make a great submission packet? Ever since co-creating NIN over two years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to see some really good troupe submissions and some really bad ones. I’ve heard and interviewed many festival producers over the last two years and have chatted with them at festivals and here are some Do’s and Don’ts regarding your festival submission packet.

    DO

    1. Have a full un-edited improv show. This is a no brainer you’d think. Not just 5 or 10 minutes of a show but a full show. Most festivals book you a 25 to 30 minute slot so they need to see your whole show so they know what they’re buying. If you don’t have a video you won’t be accepted. Unless you’ve made special arraignments with the festival organizer then you may get in, but if they don’t know you you’ll be passed up.

    2. Make sure your video is clear and you can hear it. You won’t believe how many videos we see that are grainy or you can’t hear it or it’s really bad audio. Also make sure you tape at an angle you can see the whole stage. You’d be surprised at how the Bermuda triangle gets improvisors and you can’t see them perform. Imagine you have to watch 100 videos. What do you think you’re going to do when this one comes up…NEXT! It doesn’t have to be produced with multiple camera angles, we don’t want that, but it should be clear and easy to listen, see and hear.

    3. Fill out the application completely! If you’re on NIN we guide you through that process, but if your a non-member going through a google form fill it out. Festival producers don’t want to chase you down for information and they will most likely pass you up. If they are asking for it, they want the information for a reason.

    4. Submit early. A lot of times it’s cheaper and festivals don’t usually get a ton of submissions at the beginning so that may benefit you and give you a little more attention.

    DON’T

    1. Be vague – When filling out your troupe synopsis or your bio don’t just put “We are hilarious” or something weird that doesn’t make sense like “We are funnier then a unicorn,” yes this is for real! We understand you’re being witty, but I can’t sell that to an audience and I still don’t know what you do. Are you trying to outwit a Unicorn? Pretend you’re writing a bio to someone who has never seen your show or an improv show ever. Here is an example of a great troupe Bio from The Bearded Men out of Minnesota:

    The Bearded Men began performing together in 2006. They’ve been fortunate to have trained with some of the most talented names in improv, including Jill Bernard, Matt Donnelly, Kevin Mullaney, Joe Bill, 3 for All, and more. They travel as often as possible to national festivals and anywhere else that will have them. In 2014 they formed a second group based in Los Angeles, Bearded Men West. 

    The Beards perform short and long form improv. However, they primarily focus on narrative based long form improv they call, Epic Adventures, many times layering on a theme.

    Since 2011, Bearded Men Improv has had a weekly show at HUGE Improv Theater in Minneapolis and in 2014 Bearded Men West began performing weekly, currently at the Impro Lab. They are grateful to have such awesome and supportive places to perform regularly.

    Simple, to the point and an outside audience can get it. Remember you’re not just promoting yourself to a festival producer and committee you’re promoting yourself to a potential audience. Make it easy for a festival producer to know who you are.

    2. Be lazy – Take it seriously put time and thought into your submission as team. How are you going to sell yourself? If you’re a troupe have a logo, have a troupe photo. Nowadays this is easier then ever so there is really no excuse. You don’t want to make a bad impression. Your submission is your first look into your troupe. A festival organizer will see this and take you more seriously and if they’re on the fence about you, this may put you over the top. Here’s an example of a great submission packet from our friends at Switch Committee out of Chicago. If you put some love into it you may just get some love back. These guys book festivals!

    3. Let your Show Bio and Show Description be the same thing. Don’t just copy and past your bio and your show description have them be different. A bio is the history of your troupe, when you were formed, what theater you come from, maybe a little info on what you do improv-wise and maybe even what festivals you have done. A show description is just that a detailed description of your show. “A montage that is different” is too vague. Also, 1,000 other teams to that too. How are you different? Explain it. Here is an example of a good show description:

    Hot Codlins out of NYC

    One troupe, 5 ladies, dozens of characters — Hot Codlins came together over a shared love of telling stories.  You want femme fatales? Greasy gangsters?  Weird aliens and wacky rom-com sidekicks?  We got ’em all.  We do long-form, character-based improv that plays in, out, and around genres and styles of film, tv, and theater.

    4. Don’t submit as show that you’re not going to bring. If you’re video is of a Harold and you decide to do a montage at the festival you could potentially risk losing the relationship you have with that festival. When they’re booking shows and putting you in their schedule they are being very strategic about how they’re doing that. And if they wanted a Harold in that spot and you are them and you don’t deliver. Yikes. That’s very unprofessional. So do the form you’ve promised. Also, make sure you don’t submit your team and then come with completely different cast. The people in the video submission are the ones the festival organizers expect to come. If for some reason your accepted and your troupe members back out notify the festival organizer immediately and go from there. But this again, depending on when you contact them could risk you’re troupe giving them a huge headache and not coming. If you do it within the first week or so of being accepted you are probably still okay.

    So there you go. This should help guide you of what to do and what not to do when it comes to a festival packet. I hope this has helped and if you’re not a member already become one for free at nationalimprovnetwork.com. We can help you make a great submission.

    Nick Armstrong

    Nick is Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for adults in California and Pennsylvania. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network and performer and teacher at iO West as well as member of The Sunday Company at The Groundlings. He has also taught many workshops around the country.

     

    The Do’s and Don’ts of Getting In and Attending Improv Festivals

    So, it’s festival season, there are a lot to submit to now so I thought I’d write some do’s and don’ts about trying to get into a festival and what to do when you get into one.

    Do –

    1. Have a great unedited video! A lot of festivals want to see what they’re getting and they want to see your show. Tape a bunch of your shows and take one that you think represents your show the best. It’s better to have a few to choose from. Taping just one rarely works out. Also, if you do a festival and they tape your show get it from them.

    2. Fill out all the information. Whether your a member on NIN or a Non-Member filling out their application. Fill it all in! They are asking for all the information for a reason. Don’t make them work harder to find it, because they have 100 other teams submitting that have it all filled out and you will get passed up.

    3. Put some effort into your submission – Have a professional group photo, a team logo, make it look sexy. You want to make it easy for a festival to promote you. Remember they have to fill your seats so anything you can do to make that easier is amazing to a festival producer. Do you have press clippings? Give that to them too. This shows you care and that you mean business and a festival producer will see that.

    4. Network – Have fun, go to the parties at a festival, thank the volunteers, the producers, the bartender. Go support other improvisors shows. It’s a great way to meet people and I can guarantee you, you will find someone there that does another festival or has been to one and can help you get into more.

    5. Take Workshops – What a great way to get teachers you would not necessarily have in your community. Most of the time the festival is putting up good money to bring some master teachers out and not making a profit off of it. They do it more for you. So take them up on it and trust me you’ll come out a better improvisor. Plus you get to play with people from all over the country and it’s also a great way to network. I’ve met some great people taking workshops in the past

    6. Send a thank you e-mail to the producers after the festival. And if they send out a survey, do it. It helps them tremendously to hear your input.

    7. Wear appropriate clothing – Sometimes you should ask what the attire is at a festival, but really what it comes down to is professionalism. Probably not the best ideas to wear shorts and a t-shirt.

    8. Ask for feedback – Did you not get accepted. It’s okay to e-mail and ask for advice on your submission. Also, reach out to us at NIN and we can always help give you advice on it.

    Don’t –

    1. Back out of a festival once you’ve said yes. Recently, there has been a string of this and I’ve heard gripings. If you say yes then you’re in. You have committed and the festival has already put you on the bill, promoting, made posters, programs etc. By quitting you have cost them money and now time to fill your spot. I can guarantee you will not be invited back and the community is a small one it gets around.

    2. Submit your team of 7 people and show up with 3 or 4 or different improvisors. When you submit your team and they watch the video with those improvisors that’s who they are saying yes to. If you bring a different team of less then what you’ve promised that becomes a huge issue. Festival Producers go through a lot to try and promote a festival, pick teams and fill seats. Your job is to give them what was promised.

    3. Be unprofessional – You’re representing your team and your theater. Show a little pride and make sure you show up to your calltime on time, do the show you promised and respect everyone that worked to get the festival going, don’t be drunk during your show. I know this sounds like common sense but I’ve seen it all.

    So if you want to get into a festival, be invited back or go to more festivals these do’s and don’ts should help guide you on your way through the festival circuit. Just keep in mind, once you’re in a festival you are representing that festival to their audience and community. Happy traveling and submit away!

    To submit to a festival instantly become a member at www.nationalimprovnetwork.com it’s free to join!

    Nick Armstrong

    Nick is Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for adults in California and Pennsylvania. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network and performer and teacher at iO West as well as member of The Sunday Company at The Groundlings. He has also taught many workshops around the country.

     

    That’s Made Up?

    Over a year ago, I went to my very first improv festival – the 12th annual Phoenix Improv Festival, to be exact. I had been doing short form for a little while and knew someone within the Torch Theatre community, which produces the festival. I was anxious to expand my horizons and watch some performances. I don’t have enough time to encapsulate my experience – it changed my life and I spent the next year in the Torch watching shows, training, volunteering and performing.

    One night while sitting in the box office during my volunteer shift, Bill Binder was at the computer and suddenly said, “Hey, you should submit to festivals.” Hah. That’s rich. Me. Wait, he’s not joking.

    So many questions filled my head, “What? Really? Are you sure? Huh? Me? Now? … Really, really?” None of them particularly enlightened, but also none of which unsure of how to go about submitting. You see, I also sat in the meeting during PIF13 that was launching a social network for improvisers – the National Improv Network. I had all the necessary means to successfully submit to a variety of festivals across the country, so really the only question in my head should have been, “Why not?” (This is also what Bill said to me.)

    Cut to my troupe mate Rachel Cepeda and me sitting at a Starbucks madly investigating all the festivals with open submissions that were somewhat nearby. There’s one in Roseville! I have no idea where that is, let’s go there! Hey, this is where Nick Armstrong grew up! (2nd name drop, you’re welcome.)

    And we were accepted.

    And we drove for 13 hours up to Roseville, CA.

    It was awesome.

    We made it in late Saturday evening and went straight to the theatre to catch the last block of shows. The Tower Theatre is a beautiful venue with this awesome stage that has seating on three sides of it like a peninsula in a sea of audience members. And the audience was so excited and supportive; watching such a different array of improvisers was incredible.

    Rachel and I visited a wine tasting Sunday afternoon where we both ended up teaching the people there some improv. For some reason, my explanation of ‘yes and’ was translated to repeating everything I said in a question (i.e.: “You were late to work today.” “I was late to work today? Oh.”) – my instructing needs work, I get it.

    I (and I know Rachel, too) was filled with so many emotions throughout the weekend – anticipation, trepidation, adrenaline, nerves, giddiness, excitement, more nerves – that continued even to right before we got onstage to do our set.

    They No Girls

    They No Girls

    The performance was nothing like I’ve ever done before. It didn’t even feel like a show – it felt like a rehearsal people were watching. They trusted us so implicitly and followed us on our journey. It was without a doubt the best show we have ever performed. It isn’t even comparable to performing in a regular theatre schedule because festival shows have this pure energy that cannot be reproduced in any other environment; you can’t manufacture the thrill an improv community unleashes in getting the rare opportunity to showcase its love to the masses.

    The National Improv Network isn’t going to change the way improv is done – it is changing the way it’s done. I may not fully comprehend but am in no way oblivious to the fact that I would have never performed in the California Improv Festival without NIN. Rachel and I (They No Girls) are the only non-house team at our theatre that has performed in a festival. That is really because people don’t submit. You may still find yourself hindered by agonizing doubt, but you are no longer hindered by lack of resources.

    So if you’re reading this and you’ve never experienced what I’ve experienced, all I have to say to you is this:

    Hey, you should submit to festivals.


    I began my long form improvisation training in the summer of 2013 at The Torch Theatre. I perform now with the newest Torch house team along with other various troupes.

    You can watch Alisha and Rachel’s performance at the California Improv Festival Here

    Spotlight On: The San Francisco Improv Festival

    The San Francisco Improv Festival celebrates it’s 10th Year in September! I was able to do an interview with the Executive Producer of the festival Jamie Wright.

    NA: You guys are celebrating 10 years of the San Francisco Improv Festival. How exciting is that? Tell us a little bit about your history.

    JW: We’re super-excited to have the 10th anniversary of the Fest happening this year. We have a ton of great stuff happening – improvisation is exploding in San Francisco right now and the scene is full of new groups, schools and some new venues that are going to be fantastic. The fest has gone from a 12-week season of improv when it started to the focused, 10-day event of workshops &  shows with some of the best in the biz. We’re also excited about the work we’re doing around improv history via our documentary on SF’s The Committee, their influence, and the story of how they created [the] Harold. This years fest should be huge – we’re bringing back some favorite headliners, looking to get some surprise new ones and we have our most geographically diverse submission pool yet, so we’re really looking forward to putting together our lineup.

    NA: What can improvisors expect from the SFIF this year?

    JW: Probably the biggest difference between this year and years past is the load of workshops we are going to offer. We’re in talks with some fantastic teachers from all over the country & from all the different major national schools, and we’re looking to put together a sampling of what you can learn in SF’s improv scene as well. Also, we’re going to focus a bit more on our post-show hangouts. We’ll have the usual performer prices at our full bar for the immediate post-show schmooze, but we’ll also make sure there’s another place to wander off to for libations at different local joints, most likely in North Beach.

    NA: San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. What attractions can improvisor partake in?

    JW: September is the time of year to be in SF. The summer fog goes away and everyone breaks out their warm weather gear and you see all the local restaurants put out their terraces. There’s the usual run of SF tourist things to do which are all worth a go at least once, but you also have all the major parks in SF (Golden Gate Park & Land’s End are amazing) and you’re an hour’s drive to wine country, a short BART ride to Berkeley & Oakland (SF’s Brooklyn), and the Mission is a foodie’s wet food dream. Though that last part makes it sound way less appetizing than it really is.

    NA: Tell us about the venue improvisors will be performing in.

    JW: All our improvisors get to play in a 200-seat theater sandwiched between downtown, North Beach and the waterfront. It’s a great, professional theater space to work in with a fairly massive stage to play on. We also in talks on having a satellite 80-seat stage about a 5-minute walk away, just up in North Beach, but more on that as it becomes clearer.

    NA: When the festival’s done and people go home what do you hope people will be saying about the festival and the improv community in SF?

    JW: We just want to make sure that people feel like they were taken care of and that they were actually in San Francisco. We’ve all done pile-on shows or revues where we feel like we were just given a slot and expected to fend for ourselves – it gets even weirder when it’s not your town. We want everyone who performs here to have the feeling like they got their due, they had a decent house to perform to in a pro venue, and that they got to meet & mix with a bunch of their fellow improvisors, gathered here in this amazing city from around the country & the world. The SF improv community is really cooking right now and it’s an exciting time to be here – come check it out!

    So what are you waiting for SUBMIT Today! Or visit www.nationalimprovnetwork.com.

    Nick Armstrong

    Nick is Camp Director and Founder of Improv Utopia an improv retreat for adults in California and Pennsylvania. He is also one of the founding members of the National Improv Network and performer and teacher at iO West as well as member of The Sunday Company at The Groundlings.  He has also taught many workshops around the country. We are always looking for better ways to serve the community. Drop us a line and let us know what you want.

    To e-mail nick e-mail nick@nationalimprovnetwork.com. For more information visit: http://www.nickarmstrong.com or http://www.improvutopia.com

    Make My Job Easier! – A Wish List from Marketing

    amazyn-wish-list3We are posting this with permission from Trish Berrong who runs the marketing for the Kansas City Improv Festival. We thought it was pretty helpful. Enjoy and thanks Trish!

    From Trish Berrong:

    I’m not on the selection committee for the Kansas City Improv Festival, but I do the marketing. Here’s the wish-list I sent to the committee last year in selfish hopes of making my job easier: 

    HEADLINERS
    —GOOD: generally recognizable (in the civilian population) names and credentials (SNL, 30 Rock, Daily Show)
    —OK: kinda recognizable names and credentials (UCB, Second City, Groundlings)
    —MEH: obscure names and credentials (anywhere else)

    SHOWS WITH APPEALING, EASY-TO-EXPLAIN HOOKS
    —GOOD: two guys fishing, improvised rap musical
    —OK: improvised [insert genre here]
    —MEH: longform or shortform with no POV

    SETS YOU CAN MAKE SOUND COMPELLING IN ONE SENTENCE OR LESS WITH LITTLE OR NO IMPROV JARGON
    —GOOD: Every show, a new play will be improvised in the style of such great works as ‘Glengarry Glen Ross,’ ‘Speed-the-Plow’ and    ‘House of Games,’ with all the rat-a-tat and grift of its actual predecessors. 
    —MEH: [Troupe name] is a [descriptor] monoscene with [differentiating factor] by [cast description].
    —YAWN: We generally perform Harolds, but recently have been expanding out to new and innovative forms.

    Other things that would make selling a festival easier:
    —Websites vs. Facebook pages
    —Clear, interesting photos that show peoples’ faces and have something going on
    —Submission videos we can easily pull a 1-3 minute, high-quality clip out of for promotion on the website

    And a few other considerations: 
    —Form/style/approach gives us something different from what we have in our city
    —Cast members are also in-demand workshop teachers
    —Set is easy to plug in anywhere in a show (things that make it hard: too dark or low energy, dramatically different vibe, complicated props/tech/set, etc.)
    —Cast seems fun, professional and low-maintenance

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