We were Creatively Starved
Carly Speno, New York.
What is your Project?
Seeded Productions! A startup Production company aimed at providing a foundation for aspiring artists in New York City. those aspiring to break into the theatre world in New York. A new play, SUCKERS, written by Devin Berg, will be our debut project to officially launch the company! At Seeded Production, “we believe in stories and those brave enough to share them. We believe that when told with truth and authenticity, they hold the capacity for great change — that they contribute to society’s willingness to grow in empathy and compassion. SUCKERS is one of those stories and Devin is one of those storytellers.”
A bit of Carly’s background — Despite studying theatre in college, I wasn’t doing anything performance-related at first when I moved to New York. I had a job working in events and marketing and I loved it, it was great but then I started missing my creative side. One day, my roommate, my neighbor (who are both actors and performers in the city), and I were talking about how hard it is when you first move to the city to break into the industry, especially if you don’t have any qualifications and limited contacts.
Additionally, if you are not in a union or don’t yet have extensive professional experience, it is difficult to find any kind of performing opportunities, as it is such a concentrated industry. We were talking about how we were all feeling creatively starved and how a lot of our friends were feeling that way as well. We then brought a group of our friends together to read SUCKERS aloud for the first time -, six of us huddled in my roommate's bedroom. After we finished, we all agreed this story was important and impactful and needed to be told. So then, we were like, well, how do we do it? That was the initial spark of launching our own production company with a goal of down the line achieving nonprofit status.
Right now it’s our brains, passion, and hearts in it.
Right now it’s our brains, passion and hearts in it. We are using SUCKERS, as the launch of our Seeded Productions — our first time producing a play start to finish.
What was your Inspiration?
Our inspiration behind the name ‘Seeded Productions.’ We spent a lot of time talking about how everyone that comes to the city needs a foundation, somewhere to start, an opportunity to grow and so we played around a lot with different names like rooted, root, rise and random things like that and then came across the name seeded. We just thought it fit and it flowed but still, we were still going through the questions of “is this a good name?” also “is this truly happening?” “is it crazy?”
One morning I was on a run near my neighborhood in Washington Heights and while I was on the run, I passed this window sill that had a planter box in it. Right in the middle of it, was a popsicle stick and on it, was written in Sharpie ‘Seeded’. I took a picture of it and sent it to the group. We took it as a sign! Now, it’s our Instagram profile picture!
What challenges have you faced?
One of the challenges we have had recently was we had the two male actors and the original director pull out last minute. We learned the importance of flexibility and adaptation right off the bat, so we have had to do some shifting around. Co-Founder Leah Beth has stepped up to be a director and we put out an ad asking for more male actors, which we had several submissions for and eventually found the perfect replacements! It all ended up working out.
Is this normal for show biz? I’d say it’s pretty normal — I mean when you get up to like the bigger leagues it shouldn’t happen as much, but sometimes people get hurt or sick and you have to adapt. That’s just live theatre!
What other challenges have you faced? In general, none of us have done this before. I have some background in Business and Marketing and have had some internships and jobs that have helped shape my business mind, but at the same time, none of us have started our own business. we had to rent the venue (a little black box in midtown) ourselves, putting down our own money. We then realized that we needed insurance and had to deal with getting general liability insurance without yet being an LLC or having 501 C status, which was a challenge. So just a lot of little hoops that we’re really just learning along the way. The current challenge is marketing it to the right people, building a social media presence and making sure we’re consistent and you know selling tickets. We want to get industry professionals there if we can but, but are really just focused on filling our house and providing great opportunities for our actors and crew.
What you have found to be your best resources?
Asking for help and not being afraid to accept help where you need it. We have had so many people reach out to us offering support and guidance. It’s been so humbling and overwhelming to realize that people believe in us and want to help us succeed.
Also Indiegogo! We started an Indiegogo campaign to help fundraise for this initial first project. We’ve found that Indiegogo is the best site for artistic projects and is one of the few fundraising sites that allow you to get the funds, even if you do not reach your goal. That was where social media really came into play — we shared it with our families and sent out tons of emails asking for donors, which can be difficult and a little awkward sometimes. Again, We were overwhelmed with the generosity we received back and the enthusiasm that we received. People were really excited and really willing, encouraging and wanting to help.
What advice do you have for your peers?
It’s such a ‘touch-and-go’ and ‘learn as you’re doing it’ process. Asking for help and not being afraid to accept help where you need it. Admitting that you don’t know everything. We admit that we don’t really know what we’re doing but we are going to keep moving forward and figuring it out.
Don’t scare yourself into the future.
Yes, you need to think for the future in terms of planning but I am a big believer in that if it’s meant to be, it will happen. Have faith in the people you are surrounded by and in the bigger picture.
Our goal is to do one to two full-scale productions (plays, musicals, or adaptations) each year, with SUCKERS as the debut. In between, we will put on readings and open mic nights, plus have concerts and produce cabarets.
— Carly Speno
If you are in New York during this time, you should definitely go check out Carly’s first show from August 9–11. If not, you can still support by spreading the word. Below are links to their social pages, email and ticket sales!
Instagram: @seeded.productions https://www.instagram.com/seeded.productions/