Can a production meeting actually be productive? Yes, that can happen, things can run smoothly and an agenda can be followed closely. It’s a great feeling to leave the meeting with such a sense of accomplishment.
For a long time I would dread having to go to a production meeting. (C'mon we all have been there at one point or another no matter the reason.) I just wanted to get updates, and receive answers to my questions. I didn't really want to sit through a two hour set design discussion or a lighting conversation that does not pertain to me or that I do not understand. Sometimes I sit there and space out, wanting to scream “have a separate design meeting please”! The main purpose of a production meeting is to get together to discuss updates, schedule stuff, and share some challenges to see if others can be of help. The goal is to make sure that everyone and everything is where it needs to be and that we are all staying on track and accountable for our part of the design of the show, to have a lively discussion and not yell and argue with people who are not stepping up.
You see, theater is my whole life and I am usually working on more than one show at a time. I would rather spend that time researching the props that I need to make or the time era of the show. Production meetings (in community theater anyways) do not need to be 3 hours long! I am all for production meetings if we are getting something accomplished. But I would rather spend the time writing a press release or designing or searching for a prop than sitting through yet another discussion about the location of a wall, or how many steps for proper lighting. Yes, those things are important for the show but not really relevant to my department. What's even worse is when people start arguing and I become so bored, losing interest quickly. At a production meeting I usually just say where I am at and the props that I am still looking for and which projects I could use help on. Anything more specific than that I speak to the director after the meeting or set something up for a different time. Everyone should get equal time in the meeting. I should not have to go home send an email asking questions that were not asked at the meeting because another department took up an hour of the meeting and both my departments got brushed by in less than two minutes.
All of the things above are repairable especially if the person (usually the producer) knows how to stay on top of the agenda. And, after my last couple of production meetings, I have started to see that and my mindset is changing to be more positive. I have left the meetings more excited to work on the show than when I walked into the meeting. Things are getting accomplished and questions are getting answered. I have been feeling energized and excited.
When the whole production team wants to be there and they are just as excited as I am, it really makes a difference. Leaving knowing what your next steps are and that sense of accomplishment makes it so much easier to get things done and look forward towards what is going to come next. If my next few production meetings end up this way as well, I can see my mind being changed about attending production meetings in the future.
Photo: Knox College