Like most people, producers or otherwise, saying Thank You to someone who has done something for me is second nature. Like most people, I don’t tend to limit this habit to outside my working environment.
The difference is that in show situations, this scales up so that ‘me’ encompasses everything that the production needs. This is not to suggest that a producer owns a project, but that the level of engagement that they have with the whole production means that they can best identify who is doing what – and appreciate it.
This industry is full of people who care enough about what they do to go the extra mile. In some cases the results are obvious and can be seen and congratulated by all. For others working in supportive roles such as stage management this can be hidden. Sometimes the purpose of the extra mile taken is for someone else, an actor or a director usually, to not have to think about it; these are roles which are built on invisible efficiency and acknowledgement of all they do could defeat the object of their doing it.
However, the one person who always has the broadest view of the workings of a production is the producer. They are the people who should see and acknowledge the invisible. There doesn’t have to be a song and dance about it, but a genuine, specific expression of gratitude for something that has been done makes a huge difference to morale and how valued the people you work with feel.
I only truly understood this after experiencing it from the other side. When working as a production manager for Supporting Wall there was rarely a phone call or email that didn’t finish with one or other of the producers thanking me, even if all I’d done was ask a question about planning. At a long get-in, I would find a cup of coffee at my elbow at the moment I I needed it most; I knew the hours that I put in were noticed and appreciated.
Similarly, at the Wirskworth Festival, where I worked with Jagged Fence, as I finished work each evening I would find myself with a gin & tonic in my hand and a warm hug from the producer. The knowledge that the work I was doing was noticed and appreciated always encouraged me to look that little bit harder for solutions or to spend that extra hour to make the shows as good as they could be.
This isn’t to suggest that the producer is the only one invested in the whole production, and so they thank people for creating it. Ideally everyone is invested from the start, but the producers are the ones who understand the value of each contribution. If they express that properly then it increases the chance that everyone else will be as invested in it as they are.
It’s simple, but it makes sense – if people know that they are valued then they will give more.