Tech Rider Hacking

The Southeast Asian earthquake has slowed down internet communications from Central Asia a great deal so I am behind on emails from North America. A few weeks ago The Rocker was staying at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal and meeting in the top floor of Cirque du Soleil about creating a performance beside the slums of Madras, India, which is cool, but I also learned that Tohu is starting to get other propositions for 2008 so they are urgently asking us to help them help us by providing more precise technical and budgetary information.

TOHU is working on next year’s budgets so they need a Tohu-adapted version of the technical rider or else they’ll have to make the decision based on our inflated “no-risk” outdoor version budget – this could compromise the project.  The technical director who does the feasibility analysis of all projects is about to leave for a three-week vacation and he said that his recommendation will be conditional on a version that specifies the equipment that we are bringing and what Tohu must rent, a set-up and rehearsal schedule, the number of personnel that need international travel, lodging, and per diems.  The problem that I find myself in is that we are waiting still waiting for confirmation from the Taiwan Cultural Foundation about possible show dates prior to TOHU which could help the budget. They say that this is fine – if there is still more financing possible we can just indicate which costs might be covered and the amount that is being sought.

The Rocker confirmed that all the musicians have their own equipment, that we only need one guitar amplifier, that the scaffolding in the original rider can be reduced to a backstage frame that supports the musicians and a few side frames, that the hours of repetition, and montage will be the same as those used for the ENC show, that the lighting, video, and sound would be the same as in the original technical Rider, and that there will be 12 Taiwanese artists coming directly from Taiwan.  For additional funding, he said that in the worst-case scenario, we would get at least a CAD 15,000 grant.  Since all the technicians, and half the performers live in Montreal, the expenses for this Asian-created performance are minimal.  I added that it was wise to base their budget estimate on the ENC show as it is roughly on the same scale with two major differences: live and prerecorded video and a scaffolding backdrop which housing the live band.

I did my best to update and send a Tohu-adapted technical rider their technical director left for vacation.  The biggest questions that still remain in my head are if the 13mX13m footprint of our playing area fits into TOHU and where we can hang the two projection screens that were located on the left and right of the main stage to ensure that there is enough room behind the playing area for our rear-projection screen.

I had asked our designers if I can submit their email addresses to the TOHU technical team since they are all far more qualified to answer their specific questions and because they already have a lot of experience working at TOHU.  I didn’t hear from them in time, however, so I took a risk and included them all in cc: when I sent the rider.

As I feared, The Lighting Designer felt strange seeing our tech rider fly over his heads, but The Rocker explained that between the holidays, the earthquake, and the Tohu vacation, we had very little choice. I hope that the version we sent off will buy us at least a week to create something more finalized with our great technical team.

To prevent this kind of rush and because we do not have a good version of a budget for either our previous show at the Tohu (managed by ENC) or the show in Taiwan (managed by Taiwan Productions), I’m working with The Lawyer to come up with a business model for our show.  So far, we’ve built a “one-shot” budget (costs to arrive, set-up, perform, and leave with no performing dates before or after the contract) assuming an adapted lighting design by The Lighting Designer and The Rigger and a “gala” or corporate event pay scale for the artists since it effectively takes a week of their time (e.g. the Korea May, 2007 and Taipei Summer, 2006 version), in which the promoter pays for transport, lodging, and per diems for performers, technicians, and creative team while we negotiate a fee to cover:

  • Fees for performers, technicians, and creative team.
  • Fixed costs related to each individual performer (insurances, overweight baggage fees)
  • Applicable royalties.
  • Production costs.

For now, The Rocker and I are not including performing or directing fees for ourselves as we considered ourselves salaried by New Circus Asia.  I also left administrative costs empty since I am waiting for The Lawyer to give me her input on what these should be and also about any hidden expenses and risks that we did not consider before.

I also have built a budget that reflects a lower cost-per-performance for a five-show week as part of an extended tour (without a new lighting design and an assistant rigger).  We could use this model if the proposed Vancouver – Montreal – NYC tour works out in 2008.  I suspect that by the end of the week she and I will have worked out a good strategy for price setting.

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