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BIZ conference 2016 - RECAP

BIZ of the MUSICAL THEATRE BIZ Conference 2016

July 22, 23, 24

Convention Center at ANC Productions
611 S. Glenwood Place
Burbank, CA 91506

Get Ready for the Spotlight

NMI's sixth biennial event was a conference just for musical theatre writers. There were EIGHT incredible panels, eleven power-networking sessions, and several opportunities to pitch musicals to producers all around the country. It was a jam-packed weekend with producers, directors, writers, entertainment attorneys, money-raisers, dramaturgs and other insider theatre professionals, all ready to rub shoulders with the attendees and answer their questions. For serious musical theatre writers, this was this place to be.

This Conference is now CLOSED.

Enjoy this RECAP of our 2016 BIZ Conference.

Friday, July 22

7:00 pm to 8:00 pm     Opening Schmooze

8:00 pm to 9:30 pm


This fascinating discussion set the stage for the entire weekend as a distinguished panel of theatre practitioners discussed the changing face of theatre in the 21st century. What's next? Broadway is booming; the Road is fantastic...but where do you fit into that? What's the state of regional theatres, and playwrights, and creators of new musicals?

Confirmed Moderator:
          Tim Choy (Owner, Davidson & Choy Publicity)
Confirmed Panelists:
          Padraic Duffy (Managing Director, Sacred Fools Theatre)
          Sheldon Epps (Artistic Director, Pasadena Playhouse)
          John Perrin Flynn (Artistic Director, Rogue Machine)
          Jeff Loeb (Associate General Manager, Pantages Theatre)
          Matt Quinn (Executive Producer/Owner, Combined Artform/Theatre Asylum)

9:30 pm to 10:00 pm     Wine & Cheese Reception

A small part of the delicious opening night spread.

KNOW THE FUTURE: Sheldon Epps (Pasadena Playhouse); Padraic Duffy (Sacred Fools Theatre): Matthew Quinn (Theatre Asylum); John Perrin Flynn (Rogue Machine); Jeff Loeb (Pantages Theatre) and moderator Tim Choy (Davidson & Choy Publicity)

Attendees at the 2015 Conference mingling, breaking ice, exchanging business cards...and sharing cheese and wine.

Getting started with the second day of the conference.

KNOW THE LAW with Gordon P. Firemark (Entertainment Lawyer) and Michael Blaha (Entertainment Lawyer, Producer)

KNOW THE MARKET: Moderator Michael Kerker (ASCAP); Karole Foreman, Katy Sullivan, and Antoinette Abbamonte (Deaf West Theatre)

KNOW THE MARKET: Michael Shepperd (Celebration Theatre); casting director Amy Lieberman; Tim Dang (East West Players)

Conference 2016 Attendees get a chance to introduce themselves and their projects.

KNOW THE FUNDING: Kevin Saunders Hayes (Vox Lumiere); Broadway producer Heather Provost; and Mark Waldman (production counsel, CARRIE THE MUSICAL.

KNOW THE FUNDING: Steve Troop and Erik Przytulski (ALIEN VS. MUSICAL); and moderator John Mitchell (ANP Productions)

KNOW THE WINNERS: Denise Dowse (director); Lou Spisto (producer); and Matt Donnelly (writer) of RECORDED IN HOLLYWOOD.

KNOW THE WINNERS: Brady Schwind (conceiver/director, CARRIE THE MUSICAL); and Theresa Stroll (MY BIG FAT BLONDE MUSICAL).

NMI Artistic Director Elise Dewsberry and Executive Director Scott Guy.

Saturday, July 23

8:30 am to 9:00 am     Breakfast Networking

9:00 am to 10:30 am

Know the LAW

This was a frank, insiders’-only Q&A with entertainment attorneys. Participants were able to ask whatever was on their minds: copyright; obtaining rights to musicalize movies or books or people’s lives; collaboration agreements; licensing agreements; posting your work on the internet, etc. This panel was, as usual, one of our most popular (and…with attorneys’ fees pushing $500-$800 an hour…worth the price of the conference all by itself!).

Confirmed Panelists:
          Michael R.  Blaha (Entertainment Lawyer, Producer)
          Gordon P. Firemark (Entertainment Lawyer)

10:30 am to 11:00 am     Mid-Morning Networking

11:00 am to 12:30 pm

Know the MARKET

HAMILTON's changed everything, right? Hip-hop, multi-racial casting, new audiences! This panel examines diversity in musical theatre: how does it affect you as a writer? Does it affect your choice of topics and themes; does it affect the characters you write; does it affect how your musical will be cast? How can you be a part of making musical theatre reflect the diverse face of the nation?

Confirmed Moderator:
          Michael A. Kerker (ASCAP Director of Musical Theatre)
Confirmed Panelists:
          Antoinette Abbamonte (Actress, Deaf West Theatre)
          Tim Dang (Producing Artistic Director, East West Players)
          Karole Foreman (Writer, The Princess & the Black-Eyed Pea)
          Amy Lieberman (Casting Director)
          Michael Shepperd (Artistic Director, Celebration Theatre)
          Katy Sullivan (Actress, Director)

12:30 pm to 1:30 pm     Network Lunch

1:30 pm to 2:30 pm


This was a great chance for attendees to introduce themselves, and to find out about the other folks they were spending the weekend with. Also, New Musicals Inc. staffers answered questions about the organization running the BIZ Conference. How do we develop musicals? What are we looking for? How can you get involved?

2:30 pm to 3:00 pm     Mid-Afternoon Networking

3:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Know the FUNDING

How do you find money to produce your musical? How do you get a commercial producer involved? Should you invest your own money? What about crowdfunding like Kickstarter and Indiegogo? We covered both traditional and social-media-centric ways of finding funding, getting advice straight from the source: producers, investors, crowdfunders.

Confirmed Moderator:
          John Mitchell (Chief Executive Officer, Art & Commerce Productions Inc.)
Confirmed Panelists:
          Kevin Saunders Hayes (Creator, Vox Lumiere)
          Heather Provost (Broadway, film, and television Producer)
          Erik Przytulski (Co-Creator, Alien V. Musical)
          Steve Troop (Co-Creator, Alien V. Musical)
          Mark Waldman (Production Counsel, Carrie, the musical)

4:00 pm to 4:30 pm     Coffee Networking

4:30 pm to 6:00 pm

Know the WINNERS

Other folks just like you got their musicals produced -- what did THEY do? We heard the inside story from folks who have done it and lived to tell the tale.

Confirmed Moderator:
          Gordon P. Firemark (Entertainment Attorney)
Confirmed Panelists:
          Matt Donnelly (Writer, Recorded in Hollywood)
          Denise Dowse (Director, Recorded in Hollywood)
          Brady Schwind (Director/Conceiver, Carrie)
          Lou Spisto (Executive Producer, Recorded in Hollywood)
          Theresa Stroll (Writer, Performer, My Big Fat Blonde Musical)

6:00 pm to 8:00 pm     DINNER ON YOUR OWN

8:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Concert of Conference Musicals

Two new musicals written by conference participants received staged-reading presentations of excerpts; followed by a feedback session with NMI staffers and guest.

Confirmed Panelists:
          Elise Dewsberry (Artistic Director, New Musicals Inc.)
          Brian Graden (CEO, Brian Graden Media)
          Scott Guy (NMI Executive Director; WMT Lyric Lab Instructor)

Sunday, July 24

9:30 am to 10:00 am     Breakfast Networking

10:00 am to 11:30 am


Where can you find a good idea for a musical? How do you know a good idea when you've found it? What's a BAD idea, and can you recognize a problematic idea before you start? On the assumption you don't control the rights to blockbuster movies or novels, you're always on the lookout for compelling stories and characters which can drive your next musical. NMI's Executive Director Scott Guy took us through a whirlwind of idea-generating techniques and resources, developed through his years as a television writer/producer at Disney, PBS, NBC and Warner Bros.

Confirmed Moderator:
          Scott Guy (NMI Executive Director)

11:30 am to 1:00 pm     Network Lunch

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm


We were thrilled to have with us KEN DAVENPORT for an entire session...Ken's the guy who's breaking new ground with streamcasts like Daddy Long Legs, his amazing social media savvy, and producing credits which include over a dozen Broadway shows, including Deaf West Theatre’s Spring Awakening, Allegiance, The Visit, Kinky Boots, Macbeth, Mothers and Sons, and Godspell, as well as six Off-Broadway shows, including Altar Boyz, The Awesome 80s Prom, That Bachelorette Show, and Daddy Long Legs. Face-to-face with Ken Davenport -- it was a highlight of the weekend!

Confirmed Panelists:
          Ken Davenport (Broadway Producer)

3:00 pm to 3:30 pm     Coffee Networking

3:30 pm to 5:30 pm


Participants heard directly from producers and artistic directors. What are they looking for? How should you approach them? More importantly perhaps, how should you NOT approach them? NOTE: Conference attendees registered (for at least Sunday) were given the opportunity to submit a short pitch about a musical, which was forwarded to the producers in advance. The producers then candidly shared their thoughts about which musicals caught their attention…and why.
BONUS: Everyone registered for the conference (at LEAST for the Sunday session), was entitled to be part of a pitch email that was sent to a long list of national producers of new musicals who had agreed to receive an email pitch of two paragraphs — one about the writing team and one about the project.

Confirmed Moderator:
          Elise Dewsberry (Artistic Director, New Musicals Inc.)
Confirmed Panelists:
          Allison Bibicoff (Director)
          Michael R.  Blaha (Entertainment Attorney)
          Daniel Henning (Artistic Director, The Blank Theatre)
          Michael Michetti (Co-Artistic Director, The Theatre @ Boston Court)

5:30 pm to 6:00 pm     Final Networking Coffee Break

6:00 pm to 7:15 pm


This was a final moment to decompress and have a group discussion about what we learned during the information packed weekend and to ask the question 'what's next for YOU?' Attendees got a chance to ask questions about the logistics of preparing and submitting pitches to go out with the Pitch Email; and any other questions that hadn't yet been answered during the weekend.

7:15 pm to 8:00 pm     Closing Schmooze

More networking to start off Day 3.

KNOW THE RIGHT IDEA: NMI Executive Director and Lyric Lab Creator Scott Guy.

KNOW KEN DAVENPORT: A full session with Broadway producer Ken Davenport, author of the blog THE PRODUCER'S PERSPECTIVE.

There's always time for more networking (and eating!)

KNOW THE PRODUCERS: Michael Blaha (Independent Producer); Allison Bibicoff (director); and moderator Elise Dewsberry (NMI).

KNOW THE PRODUCERS: Daniel Henning (The Blank Theatre); and Michael Michetti (The Theatre@Boston Court).

The 2016 Attendees who made it to the final panel!

Convention Center at ANC Productions
611 S. Glenwood Place
Burbank, CA 91506

The new Convention Center at ANC Productions is an elegant venue in Burbank, removed from the main thoroughfares but just a few short minutes from either the I-5 or 134 freeways.