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Tim Johanson - The Accidental Producer Interview

Theatre producer Tim Johanson has written a new book, The Accidental Producer, which is a complete guide for new producers in the industry. Featuring interviews with industry specialists, The Accidental Producer provides guidance for those getting started in the industry and those further along their journey, for dedicated and hyphenate producers alike, recognising that many are also writers, directors, actors and creatives as well. 

We caught up with Tim to discuss the role of a producer and the book in more detail.

When did you know you wanted to become a producer?
Quite early on. I loved the theatre but never wanted to be on stage. I was active backstage whilst I was at school, but I didn't particularly love that either, I just knew I loved being around the theatre. I remember exactly where I was when I first heard about 'a producer', talking to a friend on the phone whilst working in a warehouse, I couldn't believe that it was a job! And since then I've never wanted to do anything else.

How did you go about pursuing a career as a producer?
I met writers and directors and took their ideas and tried to make them happen. And on the side I had jobs that earned me money. I worked on the Olivier Awards for six years, which was a great way of being paid for a few months whilst working in the industry, and leaving the rest of the year for producing.

For those who don’t know, what does the role of a producer entail?
Taking responsibility for the show. Including raising the money. It also often involves doing the administration, but in some circumstances that is delegated to someone else.

What’s been your proudest moment of your career to date?
I'm in the middle of my proudest moment. A show I've worked on for six years called Two Strangers (Carry A Cake Across New York), which is transferring to the West End, which will be my proper West End debut. To see something that's taken so much work get to its destination is extremely satisfying.

How do you approach the challenges you face as a producer?
I ask for help a lot. I try to be humble about what I don't know, and go and find out the answer. 

How do you view the state of the theatre industry in 2024?
Big question. I don't feel well placed to talk about the wider industry, but it is so good seeing all these original British musicals getting a shot in the West End. Six, Operation Mincemeat, Two Strangers, Standing At The Sky's Edge...and there's more to come. That little bit of the industry is flourishing.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to someone looking to start in the industry?
The play's the thing. Not a hugely original piece of advice... if the script isn't good enough, you'll never make a good show. So make sure what you work on is good enough on the page before you commit the time and money to getting it on stage.

When did you decide to write the book?
I didn't really. I have a lot of coffees with people asking for help in getting their shows on, and found myself repeating what I was saying quite a lot. I started a word document one day, which became a long word document...and then suddenly it was a book! I still can't quite believe it.

What keeps you inspired?
The talent of writers. Across theatre, TV, film, the ability of writers to tell stories constantly astounds me.

And the big final question, if you were a biscuit, what biscuit would you be and why?
I'm gluten-free so it would have to be something I can eat. Does a flapjack count?! Or does that mean 
I'm eating myself... I'm possibly over-thinking this!

The Accidental Producer is available online from book sellers including Waterstones, Amazon, Bloomsbury and other retailers.

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