I love project’s. I love the idea of a new story, a new play, a new film, a new venue coming alive. Artistic projects promise an opportunity to give voice to a group of people, an experience, or a world that has yet to be made known. Whether working on my own products, co-producing another artist’s work, or working as an actress on a production, I have found it critical to evaluate each opportunity so that I feel confident when I say yes. Often, however, we are so busy creating (as we should) that we do not always take the time to establish criteria for the projects that we work on. I created this series of articles: How to Select Your Next Project because I believe that the difference between a successful artist career and an unfulfilled one lies in the ability to decide what to work on. First, what is a project? A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. Just to clarify, on this blog when I discuss a “project”, I am distinguishing from your own “products”. When I am discussing “project selection” I am simply acknowledging that you are not the producer of the final work and that you have a start and an end date. When I discuss “product selection” I am discussing a product that you own and produce and that will be in your artistic portfolio for the rest of your life. Project’s are both time-bound and unique. A project has a definite beginning and end in time, a defined scope and resources and it is unique, in that it is not a routine operation, but rather it is a specific set of operations designed to accomplish a singular goal.
As an artist you will have many exciting opportunities to create new and fresh project’s. This makes our position in society special. We get to meet and collaborate with producers from unique backgrounds. This phenomenon is both exciting and frustrating. It is exciting because choosing the right project, the project that receives wide success, could transform a your career entirely. On the other hand, it is frustrating because there are many opportunities and we know the right one could change our lives. So, time and time again, after the tour is over, after the play closes, after the concert, we are left with the question: what should I do next? Think of project evaluation the same way that you would evaluate a job offer. If you were considering working at your favorite fashion boutique, then you would most likely consider the following: the employer, the department where you would be working and the company’s culture. Project evaluation for artists can be approached in a similar way and I’ll show you how. In this article, I share three things to evaluate when you start the project selection process: the producer (“employer”), the project itself (the department) and the production environment (company culture).
3. PRODUCTION Environment
What is the culture of the project?
The work environment has a significant impact on our performance. The difference between evaluating the producer versus the production environment is about evaluating the entity versus what it will actually be like when you are doing the work within the contract period. I may be producing a film and I may pass your producer evalulation but when you evaluate the production environment you are no longer evaluating me, you are evaluating what you will experience when you are doing the work required to produce the product (I as a producer may not even be present.) When we feel supported, encouraged, and have the opportunity to work in a community of like-minded individuals we can thrive. I personally do not work in environments that are unhealthy for my personal needs. However, I see a lot of artists who remain in toxic environments because they fear that they won’t get opportunities elsewhere. Not only can you get opportunities to work on projects where your humanity is values but should insist upon it. How you define a thriving work environment is up to you but the last step in this process of project evaluation is project environment. Consider each of the following items in your evaluation to get started:
- Location: Where will the project take place? Is it convenient for you?
- Length of project: How long will you be involved in the project? How will this impact your other artistic projects? Life?
- Communication: Do you agree with the style of communication employed by the producer and other members of the project team?
- Contract: Is there a formal contract with clear terms?
- Number of people working on the project: Is this a large or small project? How does the size impact your role in the project?
- You will want to consider the policies and procedures in place to see if they agree with your work style.
Once you have evaluated the producer, the project and the production environment you have a solid understanding of the collaboration environment. There is more to consider so be sure to check out the next article where we will evaluate the project’s impact on your professional development.