My dear backers,
It's been quite awhile since you've heard from me. I've been waiting to write until I had some good news to share but I'm afraid if I wait any longer you'll forget what play film I'm even talking about. So here's the scoop, warts and all.
When last we met, NOW Playing had just gotten the green light from Oregon Public Broadcasting for a two-hour special, which we had developed with the fabulous support of the MacArthur Foundation. We were happy. Remember?
The first hard news came in January. PBS was changing its funding strategy to focus almost exclusively on narrative fiction (thanks to Downton Abbey's crazy success). They would not provide funding for NOW Playing nor promise us a prime time slot until they'd seen the finished production. I had been working closely with our PBS affiliate for a year to develop a two-hour special with the understanding that once they signed off we would present it to PBS Nation and hopefully, with a few revisions, receive one third of the budget. Now there was no point in bringing it to PBS national at all and I was left to raise over $1M on my own without the promise of a prime time slot. How could I possibly do that?
I know! I'll go to the MacArthur Foundation, I thought, hopefully. If they've funded the show's development, surely they'll help with the production funds. So I called MacArthur and, BOOM! I hit another wall. They had also just changed their funding strategy and were no longer funding individuals. As of this year they're only providing funds to granting organizations like Sundance and Tribeca. Unfortunately, these organizations don't fund shows like NOW Playing. I'm starting to feel a little defeated.
But, bleak though it seemed, I didn't give up. No sirree! There were promising leads to pursue and the possibility of another production company with more fundraising experience adopting the project. Besides, I thought, with all the wonderful support coming from our community, how could it NOT happen? So I kept peddling hard, steep though the path had become. Meanwhile, with all the money spent, I was now living off savings.
Months passed and all the leads went dry. It looked like it was over. I had taken a big risk, leaving my play consulting practice to work over four years ago and pouring myself into the project heart and soul. Watching it crash was utterly heartbreaking. I felt crushed and ashamed. I didn't want you to know. So I quietly licked my wounds and looked for work.
Then, just as I was about to let go (a.k.a. give up) completely there was a flicker of hope. I met with that seasoned production company with the fundraising chops and they said "THIS PROJECT HAS TO HAPPEN! You've done too much good work and the topic is too important to give up now." Alrighty then! If you say so. It could take awhile and there's no telling what will happen, but we're exploring the possibilities. So the play movie goes on.
While I won't be actively working on the show for a little while, this whole wild rumpus has taught me a lot. At some point I lost my north star - play! I got very serious about the project and it stopped being playful (I know, how ironic!). I agreed to cut content I really cared about and change the show in order to get the green light from PBS. I felt the burden of my responsibility to you, my supporters. I lost the joy behind the project and I believe that that's why the wells dried up inside and out.
Eventually, after a good long cry, I started to play again. I wrote a children's story for grown ups, explored new trails with my dogs, and danced every weekend. That's when the new production company appeared. I'm convinced it wasn't the strategic planning and coaching that got me and the project out of the slump, it was the playing!
So, while we all wait to see what's next for NOW Playing, I'm completely committed to bringing play back to the center of my life. Not only that, but I've decided to dedicate myself to helping other people do the same. I've rebooted my coaching practice, am writing more, and I'm in the beginning stages of creating a virtual play group. As an expression of my appreciation for your support and your patience, I invite you to be part of the first play group for some ridiculously huge discount. If you're interested in learning more about the group or want to know about other play offerings, sign up here and be sure to let me know you're a Kickstarter supporter.
As the saying goes, a tragedy is just a comedy that hasn't ended yet. The play goes on no matter what form it takes. I look forward to sharing some good belly laughs with you one day!
With delight (and de-dark)