5 Money, Time Saving and Stress Reducing Hints for Fringe Show Production

It can be massively stressful producing your own show so I’ve compiled a list of 5 common problems that can cause you grief, suggested possible solutions and included some money-saving tips.

Printing costs.

As mentioned in the main article “How To Produce a Free Festival Show” the Free Festival recommend using Tenfold for your printing needs. The fringe deals that Tenfold do are great and they have an excellent customer service policy. The price and packages vary each year but the basic package is usually 100 posters and 5000 flyers. Last year it was about £120. Tenfold use a local delivery firm in Edinburgh to get stuff to the venues and they very diligently make sure everything gets to the right place in plenty of time.

That said the package has never been quite right for me. I still have about 50 posters from my one man show in 2007 sitting under a set of drawers somewhere – I can’t bring myself to recycle them.

Poster Printing Costs.

For the last few years I’ve used Fileprint, their A3 posters cost about 50p each. Fileprint produce a different product to full colour poster printing. The kind of posters you buy from HMV or Ikea is what I call proper poster printing. Tenfold produce proper posters. The product you get from Fileprint is more like a high quality printout from a desktop printer. The quality isn’t as good but as most of the venues are not that well-lit, it’s difficult to tell the difference.

Picnic Posters on display in Venue

Flyer Printing Costs.

For the past 2 years I’ve used a company called 1-2 Print and it’s cost £43.70 for 5000 flyers, delivered to the venue. Again there is a difference to the Tenfold product. Tenfold flyers are 300gsm in weight. The 1-2 Print product is 250gsm in weight, so it’s slightly thinner, but still thick enough to stand up in a display stand and more than good enough.

The product I use is listed on their site under Flyers, A6 in size and 250gsm, art paper print, glossy.

I also recommend you go to their website first and download their template files for either Photoshop, Illustrator or In Design and supply them to your designer. They have a slightly different specifications from other printers so using the colour settings in the templates gets you the best quality reproduction.

Potentially this is a saving here of about £60 if you have around 50 posters printed for your show. Money put to better use during the festival.

Now this is where we can do both do each other a favour. If you order flyers from 1-2 Print and you use this reference code J0B9BP, you can get both of us a discount on our orders. I’m doing my own show this year in both Brighton and Edinburgh so helping cut my costs in any way would be great.

Sending and Receiving Artwork files.

Files for artwork are often too big to email. There are various services you can use to get around this problem but I’d recommend Dropbox, as it allows you do other things as well. It’s a free service that gives you up to 2GB of space on the web to use securely. So when it comes time to transfer your artwork to the printers, you simply give them the URL of your file and they can download it to their machine. No unnecessary clicks, no adverts.

The advantage of Dropbox over some of the other services is it automatically backs up all files in the Dropbox folder on your computer for you. So any time you edit a document it quietly works away on the back ground copying the file to the internet for you as a back up. You’ll never lose any files and it saves messing about with USB sticks.

It also, and this is the really helpful part when it comes to designing artwork it means that if you are in a compilation show, or have an agent or just helpful friends, all of you can look at a live version of your poster as it’s being edited, and make changes to the document, for example, if you need to alter dates or a web address. Also handy if you’re working on scripts with partners who are in different cities or even countries.

If you sign up using the Dropbox links in this article we both get an extra 250MB of storage space. Or if you just sign up, install it and never use it I’ll still get the 250MB which quite frankly will be very helpful to me. In 2010 I took nearly 3000 photos at the fringe then in September had an incident with the laptop they were all stored on and nearly lost all of them –  If this ever happens to you I’d recommend a program called Recuva. So more on-line back up space for me would be very helpful. Again if these articles have helped you out in any way please sign up .

Previews shows.

Shows need to be in front of audience before you get to Edinburgh it’s that simple. The more you do the show the better you become at doing it and you need to hit the ground running with a good show when you start. So previewing your show is essential. Problem is each year more and more shows decide to go to Edinburgh and it’s difficult to get decent preview space.

Be cautious of promoters who are running a solid week or two weeks of previews.  The deal is usually a door split between you and them. Quite often they offered to advertise the show for you. Although this is true it usually means they’ve just produced one massive poster with all the shows on over those two weeks, and usually the only place it’s up is the bar itself. They think they’re on to a winner because they’re going to get money from each show they’ve booked in. The venue think they are on to a winner because they’re going to sell drinks to everyone that watches a show. In reality it’s one of the hardest times of year to get an audience in for comedy so if you get any audience at all, you probably won’t recoup the costs involved in getting there. Assuming the show goes ahead which a lot cases they usually don’t. So you can be out time and money. I’d only take these gigs if they’re fairly local to you.

Also be wary of promoters who are just after a cheap night of comedy. I found myself in a venue one year that had never run a comedy show before let alone previews, which really need to be done in front of savvy comedy audiences. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, for me or the other act that was on. Both of us had horrible deaths. I had no problem at any other preview and received good feedback from the show. The other guy was nominated for the Perrier award that year. It was nothing to do with out shows we were just simply in front of the wrong crowd.

To get round this I suggest you find some people in the same boat as your self, and organise a preview show each. This would work really well with three of you. Each agree to organise a preview somewhere. Book a room over a pub, different towns, then invite as many people as possible by any means and each do 30 minutes each of your show. This way you get 3 previews with a reasonable chance of getting an audience at each of them.


Find people to share with who are there for either the full run or most of it. Although there is always an element of friends and acquaintances asking to sleep on your sofa, and that is part of the fun of the festival, guests who are there for one or two nights are often disruptive and noisy when they come in and are very good at leaving you with tidying and washing up to do when they leave. So don’t fill you place up with different guests every night it can get massively stressful and annoying. Your flat needs to be relaxing and an escape from the festival.

From 2004 to 2007 The Great Big Comedy Picnic had a flat that we used to rent out accommodation in to friends and acquaintances. This wasn’t for profit this was simply a way of paying for the place. It’s not something I’d do any more. The problem is that sometimes people who you only know in passing can turn out to be a real pain in the arse, particularly, when they’re drunk. In 2007 we had someone staying the flat for a short period who kept starting arguments when they were pissed, and generally kept turning the atmosphere uncomfortable. You need to avoid situations like that it’s stressful as hell.

Another piece of advice is make sure you  turn your phone to silent when you go to bed, so if any of the drunken bastards you’re sharing with lock themselves out you don’t get disturbed in the night. It also means you get to listen to “I can’t get in…” voice-mails when you’re up and comfortable refreshed enough to enjoy the desperation in their voices.

Those are the best tips I can think of at the moment.

2 thoughts on “5 Money, Time Saving and Stress Reducing Hints for Fringe Show Production

  1. Hello Ian – Lee (Tenfold) here. Great article and good to read some feedback on our products and services, as well as some balanced arguments on the pros and cons of differing suppliers.

    If you don’t mind, I would just like to add a few things, as we’ve been working pretty hard over the last 12 months to improve our service to fringe performers. For 2011, we will have more scalable print packages. This means an option of having fewer posters but traded up for more flyers. We will also have a smaller package deal on offer, similar to our current Brighton Fringe deal (£99). We are well known for our customer service policy of being friendly and helpful with panicky first-timers; patient with wonky artwork and know most of our regular customers by name.

    One KEY difference is in our delivery method. We used to send our Edinburgh print using nextday couriers, but this was massively problematic. Deliveries tended to be made in the morning to closed pubs and clubs, or signed for by cleaners and stashed in a cellar. The result was chaos, with print orbiting Edinburgh and disgruntled performers chasing it.

    In 2009 made the decision to scrap this system and replace it with a much better but way more expensive delivery method. All print is delivered to Edinburgh to a central warehouse, and then delivered by Edinburgh same-day couriers, on a designated delivery day (in consultation with the Laughing Horse / Free Festival) to venues which are open and expecting the print. In 2011, we had only one misdelivery in over 400 orders, which was easily fixed. We’re always contactable, always in contact with Alex Petty (LH/FF) and we can reach each van driver within minutes. We have huge control now – the system works. As far as I know, this is unique within the industry. This cost does make us less competitive than other print firms. But you get what you pay for.

    In terms of materials, we print flyers on 300gsm as this is industry standard flyer weight. We offered a 130gsm budget paper last year, but demand was very low. 250gsm may be marginally cheaper but we prefer to offer a higher quality product. We could print on gloss, but silk looks better. All of our materials are also printed on FSC accredited paper, so it is sustainably sourced. Again, this was my decision, but we are bearing these costs. It’s purely an ethical choice on my part.

    I don’t know what the average flyer / poster prices will be like this year, but ours are nearly finished. We’re buying paper now to avoid passing on yet another paper price rise due in Apr/May/June. I fully expect prices to be 10%-20% higher across all suppliers this year due to higher raw material costs.

    I hope this gives you an insight into our company, process and ethics. I understand that money talks and budgets get squeezed, but we are quite different to 1-2 print. We’re positioned as specialist fringe printers and not a cheap online printer.

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