WHAT OR WHO DO YOU FIND INSPIRING?
I find inspiration everywhere. My close friends and family. Physical, existential comedians like Steve Martin, Bill Murray, and my local hero Robin Williams. “Visceralists” as I like to call them: Theatre director Emma Rice, filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson, Simone and Coltrane, Enrst and Van Gough. Pop auteurs like Joss Whedon and JJ Abrams. Nature. Travel. (I just went to Bali in search of artistic and cultural inspiration for my current project, Peter Pan atop Mt. Tamalpais. It was incredible.) Kind, funny, daring, selfless people. Atticus Finch. Any non-celebrity that Ellen brings on her show. I’ll catch clips on Hulu and bawl my eyes out. Great way to start the day.
HOW DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR CREATIVE PROFESSION?
I think I’ve always been a compulsive creator. As a kid, I would craft elaborate board games and hand make menus for dinner. We had a big toy chest where we would store old Halloween costumes, and I would often construct massive sets out of the living room furniture and direct my brothers in whatever musical stories it made sense for both The Cowardly Lion and Frankenstein’s Monster to star in. Today, I’m the Creative Director of Boat Ashore Productions, producing and directing theatre, film, and large-scale events. “Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore” was the song my Mom would sing me to sleep as a kid, so the name is a constant reminder of how I got here, and why I do what I do.
WHAT IS THE TOUGHEST THING YOU HAVE BEEN THROUGH PROFESSIONALLY?
I worked on two big projects in my 20’s where I was not compensated appropriately after making verbal agreements. On a tangible level, that taught me the importance of written contracts of course. But on a personal level, it taught me that our time and talents have value, and it is in the interest of everybody that we honor that. I’ve always believed that every big challenge provides even greater opportunity. I’m so excited about Peter Pan. Directing a massive production outdoors during the day in a nearly 4,000-seat venue on National Park land is certainly a challenge. But where else could Peter fly through the trees to Neverland? Where else could we stage an immersive, 360º, 35-cast member battle sequence? It's been a great challenge, and I can’t wait for people to see it.
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE BEEN INSTRUMENTAL TO YOUR SUCCESS?
My parents and my brothers. My mother taught me to be cerebral, inquisitive and mischievous, while my father taught me to be physical, outgoing and kind. They came to as many shows as they could, the good and the bad, and they cheered and provided constructive criticism all the same. My brothers, who are not in the Arts, taught me not to be so insular, to find inspiration and cultivate new audiences outside of the norm. I wouldn’t be anywhere without all of my incredible collaborators over the years, from Producer Kate Cannova to Writer Elspeth Keller Scott to Choreographer Nicole Helfer. Lastly, my mentors - In my early 20’s, casting director Michael Donovan and my college director Kelly Ward were instrumental to my growth as an artist.
WHY DO YOU LOVE ADHESIVE?
Cultivating and connecting communities has always been at the forefront of what I do, and I love that Adhesive shares that vision. The first Adhesive event I went to was about a year ago in Brooklyn, and the last one I went to was a couple weeks ago in San Francisco. I’ve loved meeting creative people from different industries. I’ve met writers, photographers, illustrators, and filmmakers. It’s a privilege to get to know them and their work. I brought one of my best friends, event planner Jesse Tombs from Alison Events, to the last Adhesive event. He met Shabnam, who works for Scribe Winery in Sonoma, where Jesse has done events. So she invited him to the winery that weekend, by Monday he was an official Scribe club member, and I look forward to seeing what collaborations may come in the future. Adhesive is a great collective of good, fun, talented people.
Full Name: Michael Schwartz
Profession: Director & Producer
Industry: Theatre, Film, & Events
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