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Old 08-14-08, 05:11 PM   #1
Daniel Mooncalf
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Default Renaissance Festivals... (KC in particular)

Rant from a relative noob. Maybe some advice, if you please.

Landing a gig at one of these seems like a very good opportunity.

I have the opportunity, but it is my understanding that the entertainment director is butting heads with the main director as to whether or not they can afford one more act.

They liked my audition. He said he was interested, and has extended his personal deadline to make the decision to book me, because of the budgetting issues. His first deadline, Tuesday, he told me his boss was "somewhat reticent" to book me, and I should give him another 48 hours to work on it for me. He said he appreciated my patience. I called too late, today, I guess, since he was already gone.

I haven't even offered a fee. I contacted him a couple weeks ago, asking if he had a stage for a magician, he said he did, if I offered a variation of what magic shows they have (I do) and if I was reasonable cheap. After mentioning (again) how he needed cheap, I just responded with "I would have no problem coming in at your entry-level rate."

I feel I'm being shrewd enough to keep my pay rate out of the ripoff zone, but it's costing me temporary sanity.

Do you think my response was good enough? I felt somewhat assholistic not dropping a rate, right away.
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Old 08-14-08, 07:55 PM   #2
Steven Ragatz
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Wait it out - if they come back with an offer that you can't refuse, then don't. If they come back with a low-ball number, then ask for the amount that you would need to want to do the gig. They may not have the budget, or they may decide to 'find the budget' if they like you enough.

Good luck either way.

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Old 08-14-08, 10:14 PM   #3
Isabella
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KC has reasonably good hat pass. It will be boiling hot for the first two weeks, and freezing cold for the last two - possibly even snowing.

You may already know this, but renfests are not terribly lucrative compared with other types of festival. Mid-America, who run KC and some other faires, do not have the world's greatest reputation for treating entertainment well, but it very much depends on whom the entertainment director is from year to year.

Beware, the "entry-level" rate is often one that is paid to the local guy who really loves his eight-weeks-a-year-social-life.

That said, I still do a fair number of renfaires, and I love the community and the audiences. And hey, I manage to make some money
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Old 08-15-08, 07:22 AM   #4
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Hat What What What?

Quote:
Originally posted by Isabella

You may already know this, but renfests are not terribly lucrative compared with other types of festival.
If you are only looking at a renaissance festival as a one off thing, then I agree that they do not compare with a big street festival. They last for weeks on end and unlike street festivals the hats tend to be based more on "fans" than the casual "passer by". Also people have had to pay to get in so "bottleing" is a whole differnt ball game.
With that said for some they are very very lucrative. (Don Juan and Miguel, Tortuga Twins, myself etc).
I recieve a quite substantial day rate and make "real" hats on 4 or 5 shows a day. I also have multi-year contracts. Granted I have been doing them for 20 years, but it now only takes two festivals to make my "nut" for the year.
However it takes a long time to build a reputation in the renaissance market (but only one drunken night to ruin it).
There is almost no one that can just walk into ren fests and start making a decent contracted amount. The festivals have to know you in that context and also feel confident that you will fill the seats for everyshow and bring in a fan base. It is a whole other world, but that doesn't mean it cant be VERY lucrative given time.
But with all that said, it isn't for everyone.

As for entry level rate, don't be suprised if the equals 200 bucks a day.
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Last edited by jesus; 08-15-08 at 07:24 AM.
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Old 08-15-08, 11:13 PM   #5
Daniel Mooncalf
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Thank you for your informative responses.

I'm still new enough to be thrilled at $200/day, assuming I could get hats like I do at a local plaza.

I have been given the impression (as you may know) that tips were the only money the entertainers got.

For one, because a lot of them say such, and another performer, it seems, was placed on a stage for tips only (he was horrible, and made mention that some OTHER festival actually gives you money ON TOP of tips!).

I guess my last question, would be how the contracts are written up, and how you are paid? Lump sum before the festival, after, or weekly? Or does it differ?
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Old 08-15-08, 11:40 PM   #6
Isabella
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Generally ren festivals pay weekly or biweekly. They will write a contract for you that will require you to appear at promotional events (the newer you are, the lamer the event, try to get them to send you on TV/Radio/newspaper instead of school s and nursing homes that are actually free shows) and do things like walk in the parade every day.

In my previous experience contracting with renfests, they often write in that if the fair closes due to weather you don't get paid (or if it closes before a certain time you get half pay). Especially if you are getting a lower daily rate, you may want to negotiate that out. Also, you may want to try and negotiate some extras like not being scheduled opposite the joust. You may not get these things, but it's worth asking

As with all contracts, just because it's what they hand you doesn't mean it's what you have to sign.

I agree with Geoff - there is money to be made, and lots of it, but it takes longevity to make it happen. I also do well at renfaires, and while my group's only been around for five years, I did renfaires with another group for ten years before that, and it helped a lot. It's also a place where you can do well with t-shirt/cd/dvd sales, especially if you have a pop culture tie-in or have built a fan base.
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