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The Difference Between Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off Broadway

Many consider New York City to be the Cultural Capital of the World — there are countless things to do for both tourists and native New Yorkers alike. But nearly everyone visiting the Big Apple makes sure they catch a show. While Broadway is obviously the flashiest of the options out there, there are also Off-Broadway and even Off-Off-Broadway productions. But what do these labels mean exactly?

The answer is surprisingly simple. What gives a show its designation as Broadway, Off-Broadway, or Off-Off-Broadway isn’t its production value or budget, or a measure of its success. It’s actually mostly related to a show’s seating capacity!



Off-Off-Broadway theatres have 99 seats or less, so are obviously smaller venues than their more well known cousins. There are around 120 Off-Off-Broadway theaters in New York City at any given time, with many located in the city’s more artistic neighborhoods, like the West Village.

Often these shows will have cheaper ticket prices, and closer access to the actors after a performance. Because it’s easier to take financial chances with smaller productions, Off-Off-Broadway shows are also more likely to be avant-garde or experimental than more mainstream venues. They can be more traditional plays and musicals however, and give theatre-goers a healthy amount of options throughout the year.

An example of an Off-Off-Broadway production is Benten Kozo, directed by Jim Simpson, an Obie award-winning production that ran for over six months.

Some Off-Off-Broadway theatres:
HERE Arts Center, The Kraine Theater, La MaMa E.T.C.


Off-Broadway theatres can be significantly larger than on Off-Off-Broadway, and can hold up to to 499 seats. With fantastic original stories, musical revivals, and even performance art shows, many shows that begin on Off-Broadway can jump to Broadway if successful enough and warrants larger audience capacity — a famous example being historical musical, Hamilton.

Well-known stage performers can also be prominent in the Off-Broadway scene, not just limiting themselves to larger Broadway shows. Many performers tend to go back to the intimacy of a smaller theatre where an audience can be engaged more intimately with a production and its cast. There are roughly 85 Off-Broadway theatres in Manhattan.

Stomp is an enormously popular production that began in the United Kingdom and has been running in the East Village’s Orpheum Theatre for years, and is a unique example of the varied types of shows you can catch on Off-Broadway.

Some Off-Broadway theatres:
Cherry Lane Theatre, SoHo Playhouse, Minetta Lane Theatre

Theatre Ballet

Broadway shows have the strictest guidelines to earn their moniker. In addition to having 500 seats or greater, they must be located in the Theatre District (around Times Square in Midtown, Manhattan) as well as in venues certified by The Broadway League, the trade association for the Broadway industry.

Because of their prime locations, Broadway shows have a greater chance to attract tourists and other theatre-goers, and as such, have long since been known to have much larger budgets and production values than other musicals and stage shows in New York City. Similarly, they can also attract larger stars, as well as adaptations of famous films and other works whose rights may be expensive to procure.

Examples of famous Broadway shows are nearly countless, with The Phantom of the Opera being the longest running show on Broadway to date.

Some Broadway theatres:
Gershwin Theatre, Winter Garden Theatre, Ambassador Theatre

Micro-Budget Filmmaking: Are You Making These 5 Mistakes?

A little while back, we covered some of the finest indie movies ever to be produced on a tiny budget—superb features like The Castle and Primer which managed to push boundaries despite not having cash on their side (and you wouldn’t know it to look at them.)

But even still, some of those movies had budgets that, while miniscule by industry standards, had a couple of million to play with. We’re guessing you don’t have that luxury, so today we’ll be looking at:

Super Micro-Budget Filmmaking: 5 Mistakes to Avoid

1. Not Scheduling Properly

It goes without saying that on every production, no matter how small, scheduling is absolutely paramount… but probably not for the reason you think.

If you’re on a micro-budget, chances are that you and the team are making the film purely for the artistic endeavor. But artistic endeavor doesn’t pay the rent, and everyone involved is probably working jobs on the side in order to get by.

You don’t necessarily have to demand their time, but if you ever want to get the film in the can, it’ll behoove everyone to have a shared spreadsheet where they can list the hours they’ll be free to work on the project… and you can spot those golden windows where all the stars align.

2. Picking a Great – but Impractical – Script

Found an amazing screenplay that will blow everyone’s minds?


Does it feature an outer space sequence that’ll change the face of sci-fi cinema forever, or a prison break scene that’ll have the viewer right on the edge of their seats?

Skip it. Your budget does not allow for such special effects or exotic shot locations; sounds obvious, but a surprising amount of low-budget filmmakers adopt a “we’ll cross that bridge later” attitude and invariably come unstuck halfway through the production.

3. Not Using All Resources Available

Budget filmmaking is two parts talent and one part ingenuity (and maybe even the other way around.) Spotting problems to solve in the first place is a good skill to hone, and the same goes for the financial aspect—if you’re not looking for ways to increase your budget and use it well, you’re selling yourself short.

Seek out every avenue for grants, tax breaks, and subsidies (even if filling out endless applications is a dull task.) Call in every favor you’ve garnered over the course of your entire life. And always see if there’s a way to use equipment for free (or at least cheap) rather than having to purchase it with your limited cash—if you’re in filmmaking school, use the equipment that’s freely available; if you’re in a big city, put a call out on Craigslist asking if anyone can loan you equipment for a small daily fee.

The opportunities are endless once you start looking for them.

4. Putting All Focus on Video Quality

All of the aforementioned examples of micro-budget filmmaking have one thing in common: they’re not stellar by any stretch of the imagination when it comes to video quality, but none of them cut corners when it comes to audio.

As covered in our earlier guide to production essentials, audio quality is the most common thing that amateurs seem to scrimp on… and the one thing that, in turn, is the mark of an amateur.

5. Forgetting to Budget for Marketing

We know. Marketing is the not-so-fun part of filmmaking and can be just as expensive as the production itself, so it can be difficult to reserve cash for the job… but if you don’t, all your hard work will be for naught. After all, there’s no point busting a gut to make a micro-budget movie only to have nobody see it.

And don’t just make the common mistake of plucking a figure out of the air; carefully detail all entry fees for contests and festivals you’ll want to apply for ahead of time, as well as the costs of getting it listed on streaming services.

Got any of your own stories from the field or budgeting warnings to other filmmakers? Share with the group down in the comments below!

Fast Forward Film Festival

Fast Forward Film Festival

The Fast Forward Film Festival (FFFF) invites New York Film Academy filmmakers from the Rochester, New York area to submit to the inaugural Fast Forward Film Festival. For this first year, the Fast Forward Film Festival is only accepting submissions from filmmakers in the greater Rochester area with short films under 5 minutes. If you are from the area, this is a terrific opportunity to expose your student shorts to your local community.

Entries must be submitted through the Fast Forward Film Festival website by 11:59PM EST on February 27, 2015.

Final selections will be announced by early April, 2015. All submissions will be considered for each of the categories, and the 3 winning film selections will be screened at the festival.

“Embracing the short film format, FFFF challenges filmmakers to utilize the power of visual storytelling to convey the urgency of our environmental problems. Shorts are a liberating form that allow for greater experimentation and give voice to both aspiring and veteran filmmakers. By focusing creativity into films under five minutes in length, FFFF films will become an important communication tool to inspire change, connect people and build an environmentally concerned community.”

Judging the short films will be a jury composed of the following four distinguished professionals:

  • Jack Garner, nationally renowned film critic and author of From My Seat on the Aisle: Movies and Memories
  • Deborah Dickson, Academy Award nominee
  • Todd McGrain, independent filmmaker and The Lost Bird Project co-founder and winner of the 2014 Audubon Award for Art Inspiring Conservation
  • Enid Cardinal, RIT’s Senior Sustainability Advisor to the President. Selected entries will be shown at the Little Theatre and George Eastman House during Earth Week 2015.

The festival will award filmmakers for the following three categories:

  1. Most inspiring, compelling, and engaging
  2. Most unique perspective
  3. Strongest call to action.

Winners will receive $1,000 cash awards. Awards of $250 will also be given to Honorable Mentions in each of these three categories.

REEL Recovery Film Festival

REEL Recovery Film Festival

Located in nine cities around the Unites States, the REEL Recovery Film Festival, presented by Writers In Treatment, is now entering its 6th year. The multi-day event showcases filmmakers who make honest films about addiction, alcoholism, behavioral disorders, treatment and recovery. The festival is a celebration of film, the arts, writing and creativity.

On the whole, W.I.T.’s primary goal is to save lives through promoting and providing treatment as the best first step solution for Addiction, Alcoholism and other Self-Destructive behaviors. They also offer Educational, Prevention and Awareness Programs through their W.I.T. Author/Outreach Series. Similar to Betty Ford’s mission to bring addiction out of the closet twenty-eight years ago, the Writers In Treatment collective will work to bring recovery out of the closet now and forever.

Screenings typically encompass an eclectic array of contemporary and classic films, documentaries and shorts from American and international, first-time filmmakers and industry veterans.

For New York Film Academy students in New York City, the 3rd annual NYC REEL Recovery Film Festival will take place at Quad Cinema (34 W. 13th Street, NYC, NY 10011) from September 26th to October 2nd.