- Swiss Army Knives: Sparking Positive Change with Kat Reinbold
Swiss Army Knives: Sparking Positive Change with Kat Reinbold
Written by Rich Procter
What are the core qualities of a BRC “Swiss Army Knife”? Our “knives” are efficient and effective at dealing with a wide variety of challenges. They are creative: they expect the unexpected and understand that “All Life is Plan B.” They are team players, embracing the idea that “All of us are better than one of us.” And they approach every project with a “Beginner’s Mind”: recognizing the project as a unique opportunity to achieve the client’s desired result by awakening the best in people. Kat Reinbold brings all these qualities to her job as Creative Producer. I recently spent a golden hour in conversation with Kat.
An early education in storytelling
Kat pursued a TRIPLE major in college (English, Theater, French) and then got a master’s degree in Early & Medieval Literature…which, believe it or not, was her portal into the world of immersive storytelling. “It was an age of verbal storytellers; at that time there were very few people who could read and write. Storytelling was the way to educate and inspire others – to teach them who they were as people and who they could be. I studied Beowulf and fell in love with Chaucer, who used snarky humor to entertain people (and give a little well-deserved criticism). It’s the same today: we tell stories to enchant and inspire people, and to spark positive change.”
She then went on to Cal Arts for a double MFA in producing and production management. “I did a Production Management internship at the Williamstown Theater Festival that started with a flood and ended with everything behind schedule, complete craziness. I was beginning to question a life in theater when I heard about BRC. I had never stopped to consider that there was an entire industry that designs experiences! You mean I could help create a unique kind of immersive theater with reasonable budgets, longer schedules and projects that would delight people for decades? I knew I needed to get a foot in the door.”
I asked Kat what a Creative Producer does, and what she likes best about the job.
“The projects BRC does are very complex, with lots of moving parts. My job is to keep our team focused to ensure our clients are delighted with our work. We begin by listening deeply to the client. We find that “big idea” spark of inspiration in the concept phase and share it with the client, explore it, grow it, and discover the best way to share it as a story, with our guests at the center of the adventure.
As for what I like best about the job, two things. First, the team. I couldn’t ask for better people to inspire me every day, and even when we’re driving each other nuts (which is often) we do it with love because we all want so much to do something memorable. Second, the variety of creative opportunities. Today, it’s a museum. Tomorrow, a stadium tour. The next day, it’s a distillery tour or a show for a music festival.”
I wondered if Kat had a favorite project in her BRC creative portfolio.
“Museum of the Bible was a kind of dream come true. I got to use my background in literature and Biblical studies. It was also deeply personal for me because we were asked to explore the significance of the Judaic tradition in Christianity, something my family grew up celebrating. Our team had the opportunity to tell the stories of the Bible in a way that speak to ALL people of any or no faith tradition. It’s not this dusty tome full of rules. It’s a living, breathing document that tells a story that’s still ongoing today. That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I’m thrilled that it’s proving to be such a profound experience for so many people.”
I asked Kat what she’s learned as a Creative Producer at BRC, and what she tells young people who are thinking of exploring careers in this field.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned, and it’s something I’m reminded of on a daily basis, is that I don’t have to have an answer to every problem right away. I used to feel I was letting the team and the client down if I didn’t have an answer, but I’ve discovered the opposite is true. It’s always hard to admit, “I don’t know,” but now I take the time to explore the problem and discuss it with my colleagues. This is the process that produces the best results. And this has something to do with my advice to young people: Admitting you don’t something requires humility, and that’s the quality that best serves people new to this field. Swallow your pride. Listen. Learn. Ask questions. Start at the bottom, serve the team, serve the client, show up on time and do breakthrough work. The fun of the job is lifetime learning: you basically get paid to get a Ph. D in storytelling!”
Finally, what’s in store for the “New Roaring 20s” now that things are re-opening?
“I think people are ready to be with people. We’re social animals: we want to come together and experience life together. I think we’ll keep some of the best elements of digital and virtual experiences, but they’ll complement in-person experiences. There’s just nothing like coming together with other people and taking an immersive narrative journey. And the job of creating those narrative journeys is wonderful.”
Kat Reinbold has one more quality that amplifies every other virtue of a “Swiss Army Knife”: enthusiasm. What a pleasure to spend an hour with her sharing her experience at BRC!