Audiovisual Cultures episode 110 – Diversity in Tech and Media with Damion Taylor automated transcript

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and though you're very welcome and see another audio visual cultures this is a podcast where we hope can poke and the Nixon crannies of media arts and all things cultural production I'm your host Paula Blair and I am really delighted to present this conversation today with Damian Taylor he does lots of software's loads again in this episode me and the team and has been using his vast experience and the technology industries to find creative solutions three storytelling to address gaps in representation and media and tech industries and you'll hear a love bite this in the episodes were gonna talk about Damien's podcasting particularly his series tak which of which he is the creator and co writer and we're gonna talk about aids Ludovic different experiences and it's a really lovely conversation I know you'll get a lot idea for this ninety S. so before I pass over to the my past self and Damien a massive sign Kate are amazing patrons over it PhD on dot com forward slash AP cultures for supporting the podcast it really means a lot that you keep supporting the show and may making asked if anyone else listening is interested and getting some extra content on some early releases we've called a special behind the scenes here and there's by PT Sierra which would just help maintain the podcast and help keep improving everything and give me something for it to work that IT making this show because I don't have ads on the show and I'm to turn amends to keep it that way however I am very happy T. T. and kind thoughts with us our podcasts so if anyone's listening and you're interested in that sort of thing yep I've got a little thirty second ads so %HESITATION just separate and see one of your shows and I'm very happy to do the same on a more fun notes I don't do it very often because it's a bit scary but I occasionally that casts a cast on the lead X. for the show and I think I have started to enjoy concentrating more on what countries were being unloaded and and Belgium keeps coming back on top by I don't know what it is but hello Belgium Bonjour you're so welcome I love the people there listening to the show or at least I'm hoping it's whether you're listening or not who knows that you're consistently coming right up of the UK and the U. S. so %HESITATION well done yay I'm just so excited to have you on board space to get in touch I'd love to hear people %HESITATION lesson from and to learn about why you're listening %HESITATION that would be amazing I'm gonna stop bothering you because I just enjoy it so much chatting with Tammy and I really enjoy listening to his podcast C. makes another podcast called professional confessions I really recommend because we talk about it it's come up in the podcast before that we've dealt way stocks are twenty hole and Rachel Breck we've talks about a toxic workplaces and abuse in workplaces and that sort of thing before so professional confessions is actually a really pretty helpful podcast listen to there's only a few episodes so far it's pretty quite a so please stay make sure you go in like in the show notes below where third links for all of these things for night enjoy this time with Damien he's brilliant Damien Taylor here so welcome J. audio visual cultures I've been really excited to talk she said Jeremy attend school and talks last week and your exactly Hey I wanna talk say on the spot so if you're so welcome thank you for joining me I thank you so much I'm so flattered I was really excited yeah so if it's okay can I start by asking you hi are you are you doing okay and where a bite sorry of course of course I'm doing great I'm enjoying this unseasonably warm fall that we're having and I'm going to Los Angeles so very odd Paul it's been it's forty degrees today eighty degrees tomorrow and Ben Rainey and the sun is out you're melting so these are but I'm enjoying it approximations okay he had over in the stylist rose of autumn where I am and you cast upon talking very cold I'm very dark so yeah and some enjoying the brightness of your screen while my son darkness so damn man I have been really enjoying lasting three year different call casts and read now on all your work thank you Jenna cross different media you have a real emphasis on addressing the lack of diversity across different media I'm sure we'll talk about it a lot of those issues we can I assign a lot of talk for people and pets so I'm really keen to hear about your your faction scripted podcasting as well as your nonfiction podcast saying I am missing a lot see professional confessions and I %HESITATION there when he was Olivier I don't race some really really getting a lot of thoughts but first seat would you be happy to describe your style and give us an overview of he Damien Taylor is what you're all about aids and the kinds of things that you're working on sure it's funny so I'm probably the most bizarre creative you'll ever need to so I I started off doing medicine and science and for my career yeah and so coming into I've always played in both creative and very scientific spaces and most people don't do that and I I get bored if I don't have both of those elements going on in my life at some point and so I have always approach everything from this perspective when I worked for major studios and when I work at studios I'm usually the date a guy who's building the strategy for which films to redo what audiences we want to go to what channels you want to use but by that same token I was moonlighting as a photographer and editor of the magazine currently working in studios and so I've always played in both of those counts and I take it awhile but I've been able to bring both of those things to bear into my creativity now I I can use data to help inform my created and that's really it's not that I'm not paint by numbers sort of creativity I have an idea but I never really fully know if it's something that's interesting to anyone else or is it just something that I can see and so I usually use data and test it out and see does anybody else like this depending on the the response then I'll try your choice which projects they work on first and yeah so I have to say geek with a creative soul I love flat nerves are very very welcome on this that's a good place to be yeah because I think on your website is that you say scientific methods for content it's not the kind of thing %HESITATION gotten into yeah yeah that's definitely their probes I take for a lot of the creative is finding out why do people like it that's the thing that really makes me happy even in my career I've always always been around sort of taking things apart checking out what makes it work and so getting to the crux of what discipline enjoyed about this movie this TV show this short video this photography whatever it is and then deconstructing that sometimes taking out everything that's of course was just distilling it down to about one thing classrooms into making my life so much simpler because I realize that a lot of extra layers did you and it feels very bind up and technology as well and hi much of part of our lives signee technology is and I think we're talking very modern technology and computers to digital and extra absolutely definitely I mean it's when I think about what a lot of people have told me throughout my career especially other creative sense I always go to my god I don't like to use data battle his way my creativity and I actually disagree with that very strong because our god is data it's a small data sets in a combination of all of our experiences and the things that we've learned and it impacts or they have or haven't had and we take that I mean we formulate that ones in district work based on all those experiences and so what I like to do is take my seat well I have the small dataset which is my experience how universal is that experience or is there a bigger audience if I just look at it as a way of supplementing that instinct that we have which is in essence a collection of data points collected throughout life hi are you in what ways are you channeling that and then into your more creative like pets night because I'm probably thinking mostly your podcast tak which which is in its second season and I saw today that there is work under way on an animated pilot for the past two weeks very excited yeah I've never been in the role of animation I've always wanted to but now finally get your enemies this is super exciting tech which is probably the perfect example of this is unique process that I I I like to use for creativity yet it was an idea that I had so going back to my main you're done I love fantasy club started by and I wouldn't able I was also watching I don't remember as I was watching something it may have been a doctor who episode or something in my head wanted to figure out I wonder if there's a way to make something that's both sides by fantasy I would be the perfect series for me and just through that process in my head I came up with which is to control technology would be and thus the idea was born but I didn't know if I was the only person who bought %HESITATION it was you know something more universal so that when I actually remember I I talked to a couple for you're working on a production together and I dropped the idea just kind of casually Hey you know what I just think it would be kind of cool yeah vehicle one was over okay I'm gonna ask a couple more people and they they kind of said the same thing and I figured well I should probably do some more testing because this is also my circle of friends and we all seem to think so and so I actually did I went to our guide to Facebook pages and we have one that's all of our content I went to the digital compendium H. and I could have been added Jack I had some help design a poster for a whole lot line and everything in a campaign as it was coming out tomorrow coming soon check out tech which I see if you want to be interested and literally overnight our page went from nine hundred dollars to eleven thousand and what happened and the people I love this is would be great register something so we decided to check which and it was initially I wanted to do an animated from the start the brand of music label partner who was going to work with us and for me music is really really important through everything I mean it's it's a big part of my creative process even in doing photography I usually start with music and the sound can be removed and then how do I bring that to light is only so I could use a cable is a perfect partner for doing this and then call me laid off eighty percent of the team and had no more money in my business partner and I and the writing team we're just trying to figure out what what do you do if no one's paying for this podcast we don't need much money to do it we can reroute the scripts and so that's what we did it started building it out that way and then we realized it was a perfect way to hone the story and tested out and build an audience before we did anything animated anyway I'm not was so such a frequent process I think most radio so many shows that way sank off the US television shows they started off as a radio serials so yeah that really works I mean if it's not broke why fix it we could go exactly and it is very visual when you're listening to it I find I was listening to the some of this is this morning and I think between both the speech and music you're seeing a world your world is kind of coming to life in your minds you know so I think it is really a access you you're ready picturing the characters I think because sorry I forgot the name of your narrator he's he's reading the stories okay okay and then not set and she's great at performing their dialogue of the character she noticed you so you start to actually flashlight these different people here and having conversations and things you know so it does feel very good you know and the artwork for it is very sad that so you can start to imagine it maybe as an animation so that's ready to go it was amazing I remember we were looking for voice over talent and I was thinking of going after all these actors and we're gonna have to do this big production %HESITATION and writing partner trade well why don't we just have a narrator leader like an audio drama comes on board with that because for me it meant it was cheaper to make and so I was really excited and I started looking I couldn't find anyone J. that happen to be one of my grade school friends her husband's cousin and she's all over my my my husband's cousin is staying with us for a couple weeks and she does voice over do you want to talk to her in my head I was thinking chore okay your husband's cousin and I spoke to her and she said just send me the first two days of the script and I just read them into recording for you for free that we can get a sense for my boys Asian so I did it and she read it and she brought all the characters to life in the sounded like different people even though it was just her voice in that moment I said forget it I'm not talking to anyone else no more auditions you have it this is great she's been amazing she's been such an amazing part of it she remembered around the writing process just to how would we bring this to life what do you think about this she has such amazing insight and I really like that we can now collaborate as a team hold their purses for segmenting and passing things off %HESITATION that finds underfoot systems a great process I mean it's one of those things are sometimes nepotism con work which is really wrong %HESITATION no I somebody so good and she's a singer choose at some point I'd love to into this year is but she's just so professional in such a brought recommendations and tricks that I never even thought of to bring and %HESITATION and she even made suggestions and really early on she was so incredibly respectful she said well I know that these are your words and it's really important so I don't overstep my bounds if it's okay with you can I make a suggestion and she was very accurate said no it should be completely fine but I've course you would let me know how and she's been amazing just hoping to stay grounded and even rising to the challenge right through a couple extra characters I I think one time I did for like five characters in the same scene and she's all you for doing that to you but I really enjoyed it because now I have these characters and their goal is not different in this scene because I'm the only person hello this is that it be helpful then if we can't actually tell people what we're talking about we're talking about the story this is true so tech which is a story about two twins local emerging Matthew who discover that their families it's been thought that their family just doesn't help matters that are kind of magical and then they discovered that that's not actually the fulfillment of a prophecy it's unlocked and their twenty first birthday where they discover that they can control nature like other which is but they can also control manipulate technology and so it's interesting to see their journey going from accepting the fact that they were critical magical does J. accepting the fact that now that they are the super powerful which is that kind of outside everyone and how they deal with that struggle but it's also interesting that what we'll see later is and this is way later in the this year's that there's this interesting conversation of is technology so different from each artist major different from technology to Berkshire becomes something that's different select biotechnology for example it will start to look at that it just it really fun and I'm white and I suppose I need there's a little touch of family drama and they're lots of family drama brothers and sisters by being that he is just so I'll holdings today goes with a during life out and at the same time by the way you happen to have these new powers and get I suppose that mode of storytelling I mean you told us about the creative process and I was quite she acts by our circumstances and lately but also are there any other E. Ms waste that method of storytelling is there anything else you're trying to address through the tech quick stories yeah that's what I do this I'm trying to do this with all of the stories and series that we bring out is I really want to be able to highlight diverse voices but not in a way that so egregious and I think other even creates more division so often I think you'll like it what happens is you'll get something in it if the main character is black it's going to be named black something so you know I mean my opinion is we have our eyes we know that we don't need you to tell us right instead of focusing on the universal nature of our community the job that they're expressed an ad experiences are different but the underlying reactions and emotions are the things that we all share I think a lot of times it doesn't happen it's I wanted to make sure that I could do that my story so what you'll see is intact which you don't hear anything about their race specially the first season we didn't even put visuals relate to them on purpose so that people can imagine how they wanted them to be but we included total himself or realistic to life so you would know what this character is going through so if you were somebody who had a similar experience you would know that if you're someone who didn't you wouldn't be locked out you wouldn't feel it you couldn't understand what was happening I think a great example is low in the arcade he's playing there's two this won't give anything away for you wouldn't listen but there are two guys at his school who have been picking on him for ever and so they're they're just basically believing him and she has a big Afro and throwing things in it I can imagine who's ever had a big curly Afro knows about happens or someone tries to cut your hair right it's something that subliminal it's not saying Hey this kid but it's saying that this is something that happens in life but the thing that everyone can identify what is being picked up yeah and that's the universal experience and we can identify it doesn't matter what color you are what you look like everyone has had that experience at some point and so I want to be able to draw on those experiences that we can all relate to %HESITATION some more than others in the specifics of it but really it capitalize on what the emotion as I tried to use this data to draw that out yes Sir any nice example would you like to receive updates links and special offers straight to your inbox and visit audio visual cultures tower presto com to sign up to our mailing list he mentioned this while working on digital compendium and they say you have a magazine that's not right yeah yeah so that's that magazine is slowly becoming the ground for that the series that we have coming out so right now there's tech which and there are two more stories are going to be coming out next year under it one of them is called incubus curse it's about a guy who goes to college and he's kind of really smart run of the mill but very average and for the most part forgettable she's mistaken identity gets in Kirsten he's turned into an interest or not he has to deal with the sudden really strong urges that happened in college sort of heightened college sexuality exploration but then also the fact that now he's visible because of it this new change in his life he suddenly really busy how does he handle that scenario what is it due to his life around him in other words I'm really excited about it's called muses I've been really big into Greek mythology there's a podcast called let's talk about minutes baby it's amazing it's amazing I love live she's that she's a host and she talked about a lot of Greek mythology and which is also really fun to hear me criminology is really misogynistic regardless specially zoos are not good people but it's still really fun to listen to your %HESITATION but in that %HESITATION I was postulating around uses what if there is no one knows how many pieces are ready or sometimes you're thirty sometimes there's not this exact number and I took that to like its most extreme logical conclusion what if there was an incident number they were everywhere and what is their ability to inspire actually allowed them to control and manipulate your animals so there's a story about uses about a woman who's a reporter who is following a senator around and discovers senators actually using that most if not all people in power users and they were just leveraging that to control him out into her mission to sort of expose it and let the world know what's going on is that I think that is really fun because it's really grounded you don't have like these big super powers of people their influence is I can make you do what I want I speak into your I sing a song you feel inspired or created motions and you answer her question suppose it actually puts her at in peril and so she finds herself running for her life and hiding out at the risk of just trying to tell him and what's really going on but that would still but and still he is the creator of those send your writing is that right do you have other production roles with those so yes I am the creator of them I'm writing I have a writing partner who's writing tech which with me I haven't found a writing partner from users that I really would like to find one I've had people who speak in Celtic but I'm also I don't want to be that person who has the respect I can write from this woman's perspective I can do it anyone else can that's not my experience so I want to be able to let a real experience %HESITATION through somebody who can really speak to it because what I'd be looking at from the outside in I want someone who can actually convey the nuances I don't have access to so when I opened it to find one and then into this curse I'm writing as well I do the production of the podcast yeah I love finding new music that's my favorite okay so for me think tank has been attacked which it is it is very electronic you know that the music and the sign design and that's one of those where what a sign design what is music you know it kind they slipped over one another car that I find so what do you eat you know for the music while involvement he has for detecting for you know what's going on there for years so it's it's funny it's it's usually sometimes music has been chosen before any work has ever been written I think we spoke about this a little bit earlier how just hearing something and understanding that this will be a motion you create an image in your head and so %HESITATION usually they seem to check which for example that haven't happened yet with them their third season out and I could use it for them already just because I I know that emotion I can feel it I can see in my head I happen to have been listening to Spotify or something and that song happened to fit really well with that visual that I had in my head he told that story and so that's going to but I usually really try to on the the more guttural emotion the music first and so for something called tech which it seems weird if I went in with like all of actual music it felt like it needed to have something that was a little bit more chaotic can that fits today's world where there's something always vying for your attention which is why I will help you know sound and music and sound that's how I felt actually when I was listening to and I focus I think this is deliberate where I did it you know because I find myself listening to the music and happened to really concentrate to listen to the voice again you know it this it's going back and forth and I thought this is what our rights are like you know Instagram Twitter whatever you know she expected and you know do your actual job all right %HESITATION that sort of thing that's important for check with your specially there tiger I want the music so if you never hear what Caitlyn is staying the music is telling the same story so you are really missing anything and so I wanted to make sure I have there are a couple of times where I usually find music without lyrics there couple times right looks to be in on purpose because the lyrics tell the story as well so let me be really quiet in the background then it'll slowly builds overtake the voice but it's because now they're competing and the one thing that's interesting is working with music you can hear multiple things going on at the same time it was just a bunch of people speaking you didn't get it but if it's music it certainly makes sense you can comprehend all the lines are conversations that are going on so I do have a purpose to let the music tell the story in a way that I don't think that we can do in normal speech %HESITATION we can't be as dramatic or as a motive in normal speech as we can and use again so I I I do that on purpose in some people it's it's too much and it's overwhelming and I I realize that I think the visual series will make that easier for those people looking for the people who are interested and want to it I think it'll it's it's a fun challenge I think it be an interesting experiments teach us a lesson ten a completely desensitized environment you know in the dark eyes closed and just the next nine yes so that's a challenge anybody's last name go and try and be with tax question not why and I think I will try that because I did find myself struggling to concentrate when I was listening tests it's funny I do that that's actually after we get to the final okay I'll do that and I realized that if I don't have something else in front of me it's a lot easier for me to listen to it and there been times right before I go to bed or %HESITATION listen %HESITATION Justin see what if I were someone else listening to this and have nothing else around what we eat can I find a gift will be pulled into the story though even though I wrote it I know the story when I remove all the other distractions around me it it helps it's a little bit of an experiment but I'm enjoying it that's gates at skip practice to be self critical as well and to try and imagine yourself as the complete the claim that Snapchat as well that's brilliant yeah I was gonna ask you as well because your studio Prometheus digital studio is that right and the name send I decide that that makes sense now that you've set up a lady and Prometheus and so your company I mean if I understand correctly you're using that company to try it said read the address of water gaps in representation across the board and it's not just race and not just standard but things like testability and you know social class and and all sorts of things to talk hi do we work together to tackle these things across cultural production media production police are said sayings you're so busy you've got all these different things go at is that something you'd like to set up special interest as well maybe just the role of that company and your role in that company and the broader ians and high you're going to buy no so one of the answers all the state has to be these podcasts but you know are there other things as well yes %HESITATION previous is it's sort of the bread and butter that forms the podcast and we have some a lot of consulting clients work with advertisers cetera and a lot of the of the conversation that you there and a lot of artists that we have %HESITATION all turn it around integrity and I and I know that a lot of people have this thing and it makes a diverse city and everyone has their own interpretation of it was actually fun to talk to because what you'll find out and we've done this exercise some people mean gender some people meet race race and gender some people get everything and so there's a lot of misunderstanding around it because everyone is defined it differently but assumes that we ought to say and what we really want to do it for me kisses to help address that in a way that's authentic but not through the lens you are so under represented or you are you drew the short straw we wanted to really do you from the lands let's remind ourselves of our common humanity I think we've become so accustomed to data and stats and numbers even more than we think I mean my company by definition is a data company and my goal in that though is to bring humanity back into it because so often we hear people talking about fifty percent of people in there just a number or just that they don't understand that you have to get behind it and so the way that we interpret our data is we have that number what does that mean for actual people what are the people behind it feeling how are they interacting what does that mean for daily lives and that's really the the lens through which we like to look at everything we do so instead of coming in just give me the number that you know like thirty percent your audience is women at thirty percent of your audience is women who have this preference or live this lifestyle or facing this challenge or whatever it is so that we can start to understand that these are people are not just numbers part of the way that we do that in is even how we addressed the audience we started to move away from demographics being focal point because demographics is usually just a short cut to get to a behavior or preference or something that you want to understand what people say oh yeah we want to target man for this series of this blah blah blah what they really want is they want people who exhibit these behaviors are like these types of things %HESITATION who do you have this preference and so we really try to get people to focus on that because in doing bad what you see is you start to understand your audience your consumer as a person and not as a stain or objects that you can move around right and you start to see more respect towards the people that were speaking to and so I think that's always been a really big part of how I looked at data especially when it comes up audience and consumers and Hey being told that that's not right there's a short cut to it and so I started a company because I was tired of waiting for other people to do if I want to see change I'm actually part of the problem I don't actually make a concerted effort to be the chain seven asking for so that's how Prometheus was born we'd love to be part of the conversation with AP cultures called on Instagram Facebook and Twitter and we also have discord just coming up and when your plane to bite people having different definitions of what what do we mean by diversity and I think there's I think we're experiencing certainly in the U. K. we're experiencing quite a lot of push back on the idea of woke tests so you're promoting you know any kind of can we just have any other kind of human being day's best thing that's you know I mean I love white man they're great it's a lot of them are not full but sometimes it's just it's a bit boring obscene O. comunque maps just anybody else or changing this thing but then you can get told off for B. and J. woke up bite stuff and that's a bit of a problem and so it's there so many tensions are Rhines trying to say even the playing field for people but also trying not to alienate the people who feel like they're having something right away from them when I say if we even the playing field we all when we all do you better everybody gets left it up to you I think a lot of people don't realize you man suffer because as of yet Cherokee as well if we sort the beat Cherokee we sort everybody for example many other examples D. N. kind tear any challenges Anne Heche back any toppling dying you know what are your experiences and trying to take a major names I do and I I mean I think part of the reason you touched on it as well as that people feel threatened right right now everyone is making a white man that big bad that's not fair right it's not like you guys out to get your that's not the case and I think the other thing is so I'm part of this group called the multicultural insights collective and so we do research around how can you be more effective at diversity in the first project that we're doing right now is called words matter what is the language that we use that we can make sure that we're talking about in a way that's inclusive but also that resonates across the board right that everyone can get sick we can align with us is a lot of the focus that we talk about they'll take a word and it means one thing to someone else and it becomes pejorative to a different group and serves you immediately create tension what I've discovered throughout that is a lot of even the most vocal critics of wokeness or diversity really when you get down to support it but what they're not supporting it is a fact they've been demonized right and so there's a there's a defense mechanism that's activated at that point right and there's there's also a fear of what you're taking away from me %HESITATION versus the reality of what what do we all gain and we talk to my other podcast professional compassion which is totally not scripted and it's it's very serious but the goal it out when it was really we did that because I realized that a lot of the conversations we had were people misunderstanding each other we're talking past each other and then there's also the piece of people activating about things but nothing ever really happening and I didn't want people who had really genuine intentions were afraid because he didn't want to be labeled as well or did not make a mistake and there's a service chamber on not knowing or asking the question how wonderful is there a way that I can help mitigate that so we created a podcast where people could not in this week share their experiences so when they don't have to have the same ticket ask the question I can bring on an expert could arrive there's no way I could get expert in all of these things right but I had to bring on an expert who can speak to that give a solution for what's something that you can do to you don't have to wait for your government or your job or whatever sixty you can just do today to help increase diversity and not lose your shirt on it right and that I think is really bad and seems to be helpful in communicating the fact that becoming more diverse that diversity is not a zero sum game you give up something I get something which on both sides I think you'll find a lot of people into treating it that way that they want people talking about humanism or black lives matter I just want the right to be in a presser myself and I'm like that's not that's not diverse I just basically put it so when you talk through the podcast we've been able to speak to a specially that notion zero sum game it's hard to break that down and kind of include everyone and point out that we can't have true adversity to be honest and last white men are also part of that conversation when my gas which was really it I think probably one of my favorite but also one of my more difficult episodes we talked to about their own handwritten express I see him but he's he's a white guy who wrote a book called lightning go from fragile to agile and I didn't realize until we had that conversation how uncomfortable it was for me to talk about a white man right got something done before and I realized in order for us to have that conversation I had did you willing to be open and receptive and listen but I also had to be willing to be vulnerable in a sense to express areas where it would for me it's a challenge but I think in doing that and having that conversation I think that will be okay great what was that we actually have to be brave enough to just have a conversation to begin and give each other room to make mistakes so often I think the problem with this is that we don't give people room to make mistakes no one's going to be perfect going to make mistakes and %HESITATION I think that'll get pushed back at someone else like it he tried there's are damned if they do they're damned if they don't so why pardon and it feels that I've seen it mostly on Twitter for people's responses can be and century you know they're explosive amount doesn't help when somebody's genuinely go and %HESITATION I've just heard about this what's going on and they want to learn and I think people should be supported and learning a night completely understands people's frustration with well it's not my job to educate you he you know I'm exhausted as a woman I've done not hello and I think you know it I've had experiences that may be you know at least call can't say what a black person may have experienced space oppression in certain circumstances so it hasn't happened to me as a white person but it something similar happened to me as a woman for example your accent test them you know I'm a northern Irish person in England so I I get bother if I open my mice you know so it might be small but I understand some things and I think when you can appeal to someone's understanding is you're talking about aids but it's having the environment that's safe enough to do that and I think social media has not helped in a way and it had a cage help it has to call raising to help because it has the power to create a lot of the problems in the first and I think you know and heart X. lights how far we have actually come in we haven't come far enough of course but we have come quite far and you're seeing big cultural institutions began to acknowledge their colonial past sins just be blown to bits because at the time from Asian I suppose coming back circled say Dada you know which information these things happen you know and if we don't say yes these things happens because we're not gonna get anywhere for everybody just because Bob so sorry here some money to make up for what your ancestors suffers you know it's not really going to be helpful but if we go this happens I'm get educated and that's try to do better for Austin for future generation I mean that's kind of high I feel about it I don't know what you're feeling about it as yeah I I agree I mean he recently come to the conclusion that yes we want our governments are our institutions or companies to have a bigger role but until that happens it's really important for us to embrace what we can control you should influence and if I'm able to work with %HESITATION speech to or one person two people have at least done what's within my power to do I may not be a big network but the network that I do have I can make an impact on I think it's good started taking perspective more it would really be helpful in understanding it I go back to my mother my grandmother you know certainly now that I'm an adult so why is right my mom used to always say to my grandmother deal with people where they are not where you want them to be of that section and it's it's something that's really hard but it I find myself having to remind myself of that not everyone is where you think they should be or not everybody's had the experience or the information that you do so instead of trying to shun them for not being where you are I understand that we deal with them where they are if they don't know it's okay to say I'm not in a place where I can educate your top my top but I'll tell you how I learned about your culture and maybe you can do the same right and leave it at that it's a way to allow them to make a mistake if it allowed them to me to ask that question but it also doesn't penalize him for having to ask a question and trying to learn yeah that's an excellent point I think that's because not everybody has the privilege of education so they might have privileges and they'll resent those things being called privileges because they don't feel very privileged and so I just say you know you have to make them on on where they are at that moment you know what's going on in their life they don't have the vocabulary that some of the rest of this might have because we are actively can shaming knowledge on these things and trying to just reprogram the brand I'm not sort of thing because we all have our prejudices we all grow up by Sam and we all think of some other kind of person as the enemy and it's a long reconditioning and read learning things and I'm learning things say wise up from not go north and holy and have either just tryin I'm rosary life the same as we are so some ready wonderful quite fair and I think you know that's a really really important one is the scale just be kind to yourself and if you can just talk to one person and say them why did you why did you do that are you homophobic you know just kind it gently talk to somebody you care by I know we a year say F. R. sehr and just have a child to buy what was out on the bike why did you show I thought at that person %HESITATION you know going on there yeah and just hear the story and then realized that a lot of the time it's something going on within themselves so they're angry if I eat and not necessarily the stranger exists over there exactly and I think it's it's interesting because that's where I am well not recently but I just over my life I increasingly see the power of media and having that conversation as well because a lot of times you may not have exposure to set group right that you don't understand them so you don't have anyone to refer back to or even to talk to and I remember I I was living in but when I lived in Spain it happened a little bit when I was in South America that was particularly poignant where I have a friend and I were going to subway we were going to meet some friends of his and this gentleman sat across from us and he heard us speaking writing me never in Chile were all speaking Spanish our actions were in Chile and %HESITATION so my friends from Porto Rico and I'm from LA but both have very Caribbean accent so he stopped us and he asked where you guys from and it's over from support returning to Los Angeles there's no way you can get from a senseless are you from Brazil sounds yes or no you're not white so where are you from leaving where is your family from and I told my parents are also born in Los Angeles and right at least one of my grandparents was but they're all just from Los Angeles and she kept saying nope that can't be right and she stayed on the subway he passed to stop state on the subway really and then we got off the subway or walking across a bunch he followed us and asking no you can't I've never seen a black person from Los Angeles they're surfers and their yeah all of these things you're not a basketball player are you around for them no I'm not actually sure business school both of them no one I'm from Los Angeles thank you must be games I've seen Danish people on TV you were black so you must be a he just kept going to everywhere he seen black people can be from African Jamaican and no I'm not in all his references are from what he'd seen in media and I realize that several times I have that sort of experience for people equate to what they see on television or radio station on social media and they assume this must be the world and so I started doing some research on just media in general and from its inception radio TV and newspaper media industry has been very self aware of it influence you get half over diversity and how people perceive each other and very pointedly has chosen not to or do you do it in a way that's divisive but gets industry more modern their riveting studies from even just the thirties and the forties are around yeah and in doing that I realized that while a lot of people think it's just hard it's just you know entertainment but actually it does more than not because it does create a cultural and societal reference point for people yeah I think that's important and it allows us to have some of these conversations about actually having them sometimes not so interesting that's just reminded me that because that you know I grew up in at an incredibly white yes and it was during that conflict in Northern Ireland as well so there was very little migration actually coming in well any that there was and the ninety days Hong Kong was still still belongs to Britain says Hong Kong but other than that you didn't really see very often unless it was a soldier or something you didn't really see but he did sometimes but very very rarely %HESITATION so I was very naive and and I probably had a lot of those beliefs says similar to that man I don't think I'd have stocks somebody say makes yeah I just remember one of my favorite films when I was a teenager it was empire records and it saddens go and then I grew up on a read loads of stuff at night watches his things I read those are things that are set and some friends asco and it's clear capital there's loads of different kinds of communities they're slot since led the team depot there's loads of African Americans there and then you go back to the sound and you go where's all that gay and not to white people all white kids had %HESITATION normative quite rich my name gosh and this is the nineties you know this is a boss like you know the fifties or anything I mean their sons in the fifties and you've got more African American characters in yesterday and they kneel roles but they're they're me and it was quite a shock and also meant so much to me as a as a teenager and then learning a bite there ray ensure that was going on and and maybe psych class and allowing kids like me elsewhere in the world to grow up believing that San Francisco was just fell of white people that is a real problem and it has been quite a shock when you do you learn about those things and not everybody does learn those things I don't you know I did a film degree so you know I I started to learn about those things but most people here generally aren't going to be so not so interesting that example but that sounds actually quite scary and I think that's where the idea of you for me at least starting to realize that there are certain privileges that I have right it's heteronormative male going someplace with a friend some guy following us not not much of a threat there two of us and one of you and so physically we don't have that fear of him attacking right and if you did they're still two of us to just one okay so there's something different I mean it was night or another country and I doubt I did never crossed my mind right I just thought he was like a sliding and knowing and I did you go away we're gonna go visit some friends and even though the last episode of professional confession I spoke about that a little bit where I realized I had actually been sort of on the receiving end of discrimination and completely threw me for a loop because it came from a woman Jewish woman and it's not a place right specter just yet and it's not a wall that I realized I found myself in the thought is that you know well I am a black males of course that was going to be the area where I would get discrimination but using the mail is on the part of it with a discrimination complaint with the black and so this time it wasn't a black man is described it was not something that should interfere with it said we need to realize that I had to have some level of privilege because I've never had that experience I'm used to I can hear certain questions right I can do something and it's never been a I've never had anyone talk about how it worked these men are useless or like you can't really trust them so having that experience was really useful in making me even more empathetic but also realizing that I can't clean the victim there all the time right there even in being a black male I still have because I'm male their rooms in conversations that I've brought into that women don't get pulled into and so coming to that conclusion was actually it was kind of a challenge to be Frank I couldn't say that oh no no no no but I'm always with the idea of intersectional there are multiple societal factors at play really did stand out so I am not even creating tech which end users and a series of recruiting I want to make sure that not being so full of hubris and the notion I can tell every story and really allow someone else to tell their own story right because it my perspective on it is my perspective but it may not be accurate do more harm than good but I really value tie lessons about episodes of professional confessions and I really value G. being so open because I don't think that's an easy thing for a man to talk about actually because it's something I have encountered I am have a former life as an academic and thought kind of delaying is quite right and a lot of institutions the worst Belize I've had to have been women and that's the sort of people he not and I'm malicious way I don't think they even realize they're doing a lot of the time but the the latter up after them because I think well and I try to get this taken away from the night and I can't help anybody else up because then they'll be better to me and you know so it's IBM started again but I really value to talking about that because I witnessed it happening she male colleagues by the CM senior women colleagues who were J. E. repelling me the repelling man who were my peers as well I think unless we talk about these things and an open way on is difficult and it's difficult for some people they hear a smile next you know I find it really difficult because you know sacrificed feminism you're not supposed to be negative about women but actually there's a lot of women night they're here not feminists even if they think they are you know and your sexuality again the ex what flavor is your M. S. M. and unfortunately I mean I can't speak said the individual that you're talking about I don't know what their context as but I have been quite church women who think that the way to even things always is to J. St man today Walkman have historically been doing to women all this time and now some high balance it all right but it was like you mentioned earlier you just become a carbon copy of the oppressor you know each just may fade and spot Preston he's a processor and that's not helping anyone I really valued you going through your own story and being ready open it but I think that's ready for yes an important and hopefully will encourage other people to do the same thank you know that that means a lot because honestly I I spoke to your team and I was really nervous about releasing that episode it's a really personal experience first and I also didn't want to come across isn't he being negative toward women in two minutes okay that wasn't the intention it was really easy for me to highlight that it helped make me more empathetic and I realized that in that situation there are temporary privilege but I also realized that not everyone is immune from bias sees and prejudice that I really wanted to communicate that and hopes I was really glad to get a positive response from it because I was so nervous okay okay I'm going to publish but it turned out well so I'm not actually I figured it was something that could hopefully help someone else yeah I think so I definitely got a lot I'd it's listening takes I recognized so much of what you were talking about H. me whether they ever hear it or not but I know if individual man that I'm friends waste you would benefit from this things yet so I'm going to pass it on you know just in case yes at con even if it's just you're not alone man you know this is happening to other people yeah thank you that I I think it's it's important I mean so much of the work is sadly just starting the conversation brought to light now and no one knows and I think the one good thing that happened with the pandemic and Andy ups follow black lives matter which has been around for awhile or certainly the people felt empowered to verbalize to express things that have been sort of laid under the surface for so long and they felt that they were just needs to suffer in silence and deal with it because that's just the way of the world and then once people started expressing and sharing it realized that it wasn't just in the world there are other people sitting and suffer in silence as well with a slightly different circumstance they were also doing it so it brings it back to the highlighting the fact that there are differences yes what you need at the end of the day that the commonality of the human experience as we have in the outnumber those those differences that we've been focusing on yeah sure well demand I'm wary of keeping a much longer and %HESITATION you've been so wonderful can you point people towards where to find out more about you eight website socials that sort of thing yes definitely %HESITATION so you can go to Prometheus digital studio dot com and we have a drop down menu for contents you can hear both of our podcasts that are active right now digital compendium podcast that's our our brand but you'll see tech which and professional compassion those in that you are working on and it will be added to that where you can find us on Instagram and Facebook digital underscore compendium or Prometheus digital either one is great and feel free to reach out to this messages we reply love to have conversations with people I think it really helps keep us grounded and we don't get too full of ourselves and plus it's fun to learn from other people well I really hope we can keep in touch I just figured I fear any advance speaking CA and I really enjoyed your company I'd love to hear more about your life in Chile I'm a little bit faster generate love to go there some day research it was fun it was really really great we should definitely do something about that and I I was actually working in media there and I ended up somehow on a news talk shows when I was there we were we were touring and TV station and they ended up pulling my classmates on air and here is it was really funny but yeah there's definitely a lot of media interesting yes okay thanks so much demand aspen just sum up that pleasure thank you so much for everything you're doing thank you so much for having me Paul I really appreciate that this is a great conversation hopefully we can reach and we'll try to get in sooner I love that you're welcome back anytime and you get your other podcasts fired up let's have a big chunk is definitely definitely thank you so much

Audiovisual Cultures 100 – Audio Production with Beau L’Amour automated transcript

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this is audiovisual cultures the podcast that explores different areas of the arts and cultural production with me paula blair visit forward slash av cultures to find out more and to join the pod well hello it’s great to be with you for another audio visual cultures i’m paula blair and we’re looking mainly today audio production and we might get into some other areas with my very special guest beau lamour i am really excited bo to have you on the show today and you to hear all about your amazing career that you’re having and have had and will continue to have in many different areas um but but i think most uh most prominently in audio drama production um so boa very warm welcome to you thank you very much so how are you doing today are you having a hot one over in la today it’s gonna get there it was it was pretty it was pretty warm here where where i am yesterday about 90. so uh that’s not bad it has to get i grew up in the uh when i was very young i spent a lot of time in the um coachella valley down in palm springs so it takes a lot of heat to make me unhappy okay that’s really cool to know um brilliant well thank you so much for for joining me today and we’ve got quite a big time difference so i’m really grateful for you accommodating that as well um so bo would you be happy to give us a bit of an overview on your work so far your career because you’ve done loads of different things but would you be happy to just give us a few pointers um i started out wanting to be a filmmaker um i went to the california institute of the arts i studied film uh with alexander mckendrick who is a uh uh you know a scotsman and uh was a terrific teacher a bit hard to take personally but he was uh he was an amazing amazing teacher and so he sort of he sort of gave me a grounding in traditional traditional film and i also studied with there with ed emsweller who was actually the man who invented um digital cinema he did the first piece of digital animation ever in the world and um and so uh i got out of cal arts i went to work in the film business i have worked intermittently in the film business over over many years um in the mid-1980s this is a few years after i got out of school uh then i have to back up a little bit my father is uh at least in the united states a very well-known novelist he passed away about 30 years ago but he wrote 90 novels and about 200 short stories and in the mid 1980s when he was still alive uh his publisher bantam books which is now penguin random house started a program of doing audio publishing and dad was always very popular and uh bantam like to kind of practice on things or experiment utilizing his work and his fan base because they always knew they wouldn’t fail too horribly um if they if they went out to those fans they would get a good trial run on whatever they did and so they decided they wanted to start with their audio publishing program um using his material and he was a little bit reticent and they wanted to start small so they wanted to start with short stories and he sort of said well my old short stories are not maybe not my best foot forward and uh what do you think if we created a little more production value than just that and did them like uh like old-time radio drama and they liked that idea and we went through a certain amount of teething problems when they first started off they were just going to take a story and being a publisher they were very literal about their literature and they just wanted to take a story and uh you know take each line from the story and assign a character’s line you know to that character and then any narration was assigned to the narrator and they did a couple of those as sort of a beta test and when my father heard them he wasn’t very happy with it he came to me and he said you know i don’t think they’ve got very good actors and would you go find out go to new york find out what’s going on see if you can get better actors well i went to new york and i found out what was going on and um i realized that the actors were terrific i mean a lot of them are people that you see in movies every day these days you know they were just starting their career in those days doing uh broadway or advertising or whatever and they would come in and do our our shows but what was happening was is the the people who are doing it at the order of of the publisher were just transcribing the story and prose is not drama and so we had to create you know we had to create scripts with scenes that actors could play they could actually dig their teeth into and do their job in prose if you write every line of dialogue it’s incredibly boring um on the other hand in drama you have to have every line of dialogue because the actor sort of stair steps their way into their dramatic performance their their the moments build based on what the lines and the intentions are and so uh i started writing scripts and i went out to ucla and a couple of other theater groups around los angeles and i collected a kind of a cadre of writers and uh we we all started creating audio scripts which none of us really knew how to do we were all film and theater people and and so we we kind of figured it out as we went along and ultimately we did about 60 plus um dramatized audios the early ones we did were about an hour so there were 60 page scripts that ran ran an hour we produced six of those a year for quite a few years and uh then the program slowly started scaling down but as it did i loving to do it produced a few more shows that were uh two and three hours long and were when i we did those especially the early shows we did them in a very kind of old-time radio format so the actors were all there at the same time the show was recorded pretty much in order there was a sound effects man who came in with a whole bunch of great old vintage sort of sound effects props and he had he had this vest that he had all kinds of stuff hanging from and he used coconuts for horse hooves and he was quite good at it they were it was remarkably convincing sometimes and um and all that stuff was recorded all at the same time and then it was cut uh you know quite because a lot of it was on one track you couldn’t do an awful lot of editing and in a scene there might be two or three edits sort of jumping from one take or another that were one was better than another and um and then throughout that program and definitely those last two long shows um i produced some shows with my own group of people on the west coast and we worked very much more like a film and this is more of what we’ll be talking about as we go along um we worked much more like a film production so uh every actor had their own track we did a lot of cutting the sound effects were all done in post-production and generally in the in the field was really you know with the real things and um and so it was much more like doing the uh the post-production on a movie because that’s what we knew how to do and um and so the last show that we did was in 2015. it was called the diamond of giroux and uh i i don’t know that they’ll be um anymore i’ve kind of moved on to other things but i’m more than happy to tell anyone anything i know at any time brilliant that’s amazing thank you yeah it’s really fascinating i was reading on the website to say uh you know that background of um getting started from your father’s work that’s just so fascinating um and either just eventually there becomes a blend when you’re editing so much to the extent that you’re actually becoming a co-author and you how was that experience i mean it must have been a lot to carry personally but also you know um you know professionally what’s that done for you as well do you think well particularly doing this in the audio was just an amazing training ground um and it it allowed me to look at a story and kind of what i i’m an old hot rodder so i say like lift up the hood and see what’s see what’s actually underneath underneath there and you know sometimes a story is uh not necessarily what the audience or the author thinks it is the wonderful thing about pros is that everybody experiences it’s just code you know it’s just letters of the alphabet and everyone experiences it differently um i’ve even caught myself i this is a remarkable thing about reading prose but i’m going to use an example about script writing i’ve even caught myself working on movie scripts where i realized that in my imagination a character entered a building that looked one way but when they were exiting in the building it looked a different way in my imagination this isn’t really coming across in the script but i would catch myself doing that and i’ll go oh my gosh you know if i’m doing that with my own work how in the world are different people taking prose writing and interpreting it differently and so the wonderful thing about reading a novel or a short story is you the reader turn it into the ultimate experience for you those characters look and act the way that your subconscious would like them to those locations look the way your subconscious would like them to and as soon as you start taking that stuff more literally so the next step literally would be like an audio drama the step after that would be a movie so in one where you hear it the other one where you hear it and see it and the director and everybody engaged in the production um starts locking down what those imaginary experiences are that changes the story quite a bit for a lot of people and of course successful filmmakers successful directors successful writers in those other areas the reason they’re successful is they find a way of creating the thing that is most palatable to most people when they interpret that experience um and so you know when you lift up the hood on a story it’s um i was working on a a mini series adaptation for one of my dad’s novels that was never made but it i it had been this wonderful adventure story kind of kipling-esque of a young kid in the american west and he eventually goes to europe and then comes home it was a wonderful story but i realized it starts off with his mother abandoning him his mother is a prostitute in the west and she abandons him to sort of seek her fortune in other things she can’t have a kid hanging around okay and he’s he’s fobbed off on this gambler who becomes sort of a pseudo father for him and later it turns out that his his real father has left him some things and by the end of the story the mother who abandoned him is now relatively wealthy and successful and but she’s trying to get this stuff that the father left him from him and the gambler um is a man who’s doesn’t trust anyone and he has only very limited relationships with women and things like this and i i just realized oh my god this is all about the relationship of the women this is all about the impact of all of these different kinds of women on these on these people and um ultimately the young hero meets this woman who’s very very dynamic and a little bit of a tomboy you know she’s exactly the opposite of her kind of of his kind of femme fatale mother and um i don’t think my father ever realized that it was all about sort of looking at all these different incarnations of what a female character could be but that’s what it is and you don’t really have a choice on the first page his mother abandons him okay it’s gonna be about his mother okay you know it’s just that’s it and um and so you when you start taking what’s in a story uh literally and like instead of like looking at the individual characters in the individual sentences if you take the individual individual actions seriously and take them as the code um which is what you have to do in drama um it definitely leads you to think about stories in a different way that’s so fascinating um just those the the machinations of storytelling like um how those how you see how the same story then crosses different media that’s really fascinating when you start to adapt it so it’s really interesting that you’re talking about realizing what the story actually is not just the narrative not just the plot but what the story is and what story is being told but then it’s translating it across you know from a novel to as a teleplay you uh an audio production that sort of thing so you must have tremendous experience now in that adaptation process and um is that something you’d like to talk about a bit as well you know just um absolutely i mean i certainly haven’t done this as much as some you know hopefully you’ll be able to recruit some wonderful executive producer you know for television or something like that and get somebody who’s really had an experience you know had the experience of doing it over and over i’ve written screenplays i’ve produced movies but i mean at a very minimal level and you know what you do have on your hands today with me is somebody who’s thought about it a lot and thought about it very personally because i’m working with my father’s work and so my approach is always one of gotta make this work but also got to be respectful um you know it’s not just another job so there’s a lot to get into there and um you know something we thought we might talk about as well is writing specifically for audio drama and how that differs from writing for say live action television or film or writing for uh new writing for print production you know and that sort of thing so is there are there things that you’ve learned in writing for audio so we we got some hints of some things you know and thinking about sound design and where that might come in and how actors need to speak and maybe interact with each other it’s it’s different um are there any things is there anything there that you think might be quite useful for people i’m not sure because i don’t think there are tremendous differences okay now let me explain that a little bit sure i started out looking at film i started out studying film but i became a relatively good writer doing audios and one of the things that the audios forced me to do was to really really work with the characters and uh work work everything out through characterization and so there is nothing wrong with that in film there is nothing in that that you shouldn’t be doing in film it just audio forced me away from what at the time was a a skill set of visual storytelling and and forced me to go somewhere else so i actually think that the two things are quite complimentary um obviously you you know you want to do as much interaction in character interplay in audio you know as you can and audio always has the problem of portraying action so i’m just gonna i’m gonna back up a little bit we started as i said just a few moments ago transcribing short stories so that meant we started the process even though we changed things very much along the way we started the process using a narrator um there are lots of people who do audio production who think using a narrator is cheating and that the entire story should be played out in in dialogue um i find that to be one of two things either incredibly hard and i have only been able in my own writing i’ve only been able to kind of do it once okay or it’s incredibly bad so you know the dialogue is always trying to tell the audience what they ought to be seeing and that puts an incredible amount of i keep saying incredible but that keeps putting a lot of emphasis on things that are other than the characterization the characters all have this second agenda which is the writer’s agenda which is to tell you what they ought to be seeing i hate the writer’s agenda if you see the writer’s agenda in the writing i think it stinks and um i all i want to do is see that you see what the character wants and that’s it and so the easiest way of doing that is to remove the writer’s agenda completely and just give it to a narrator okay so i have worked with i did one story where none of the scenes had a narrator um but there was a narrator that came on between certain scenes that was kind of like a historian and he kind of kind of got you to the next place where you could experience the next scene or the next series of scenes so he he bridged those gaps and i think there might have been one or two sentences of this is what you’re seeing in that in that whole show and uh that was about as good as i’ve ever done now granted i’m also working with westerns and adventure stories and all kinds of things that have to do with the visual physical physical world so there are plenty of other options in audio you know for different kinds of stories that might be less narrator specific um then i did a show that was a first person narrator and i really liked doing this a lot and so it was kind of a it was kind of a audio noir or you know roma noir story about a guy who gets himself in all kinds of trouble you could kind of see it as a minor alfred hitchcock movie or something like that and in that case the main character the protagonist or sort of anti-hero character is telling you the story but the way it was written and the way it was played it’s an excuse okay i’m going to tell you this story you really have to understand i’m not a bad guy okay this is this is this is what happened okay and so the narrator is all uh you know basically he’s telling you this story and all the scenes are flashbacks or flash into the thing that he’s telling you and and he’s trying to express himself and explain himself and then we did uh we did a i did another one that was kind of a hybrid and that was like uh a narrator that told you the action that was going on in the story but was often also kind of the historical guy and those sections were kind of in a very sort of 19th century language um and um and then i’ve done just a whole bunch of them that were kind of traditional traditional narrator and you always try and find a voice for the narrator that isn’t just the facts um but so the you know a difference from film is you mess around with a narrator a bit like a novel and in fact i think in a novel a lot of times i probably respect the sort of novelist like my dad who got out of the way of his audience and just gave you it was quite minimalist and not trying to push a bunch of style down your throat the idea was that his voice would disappear into your imagination and um when you’re doing an audio that doesn’t really work all that well and so sometimes having a particular goal for the narrator a particular way that the narrator presents information is important it’s also very important i’m going to jump around a little bit here but it’s also very important for directing narrators because directing narration is awful directing an actor you know you can say you know he’s talking about something else but you can say get her to give you the shoes you know and that’s his subtext and that’s his doable action that’s what he’s trying to do and so the actor’s like oh okay whatever i’m doing i’m trying to get her to give me the shoes um it’s really hard to come up with that kind of stuff for a narrator you know you’re basically saying tell the story well duh the guy knows that having a particular style or like with the first person narrator you know um explain yourself you know make people understand that you’re not a bad guy all right well that helps a lot when you’re working with a narrator so audio can have a little more of a narrator type thing audio might work out more things in scenes that have dialogue than not but they’re still they’re pretty similar i’d say i bring a lot of my audio skills to film and uh you know maybe that’s one of the reasons i haven’t worked in film all that much i don’t know but there you go yeah uh it’s so interesting um hearing your thoughts on on the narrator um and narrative point of view because i think certainly in film even when there is no literal narrator of the film there is an implied narrator in the film itself you know so like you were saying it’s in the visual aspects it’s how a certain scene is framed you know how yeah you know how the actors are blocks or whatever you how it’s lit all of these things can communicate what point of view an implied narrator is coming from and so all of the things that you’re saying there about how to get that into audio production when it’s things you can’t see but you’re trying to put it in the mind’s eye say of the listener that’s really really fascinating so um you know it’d be quite interesting to try and probe that a little bit more if we can if we can dig in it but we might get there through some other ways as well well the first thing that popped into mind just as you were saying that doesn’t have anything to do with my work and i do a film and i was thinking about well so how does that work and the first thing that i thought of was horror movies and horror movies are uh an interesting point of view they they alternate between a voyeurs point of view which is quite pulled back okay so that you know a little more than the characters and then of course if something’s going to scare you you jump into the character’s point of view um but uh that was the only thing that just popped into my mind as you were as you were talking and uh and please ask me some questions yeah no it’s a useful example i think um so i mean i suppose then it’s um as you were saying when you’re trying to get actors to maybe convey it maybe in the way that they say things or the way they’re carrying their voice for example um you know so then you know it’s those directing techniques because you’ve written undirected for quite a few audio productions together and you know that communication with actors you know how do you how do you decide right this is how i want you to set the line or you is there i suppose like with any kind of production is there a is there a dialogue then between you and the actors of you how do they think their character should be and how much autonomy do they have and is it a negotiation between you all or do you have a very set vision you know how does that work when you’re working with them okay so first of all that starts with writing and one of the things one of the things that doing the audios allowed me to learn one of the just incredible gifts in my life was that i could take a script um to in the in the early days i could take a script to new york i could watch 60 or 80 actors audition on scenes from that script and then i and then the script would be produced but watching a whole bunch of different actors play the same scenes was incredibly educational and the first thing that i realized was if you hand a scene to 60 actors and 45 or 50 of them do it poorly it’s not them it’s you and you need to write a better seat okay you need to make their intentions clearer in their actions and their lines you need to make the words more purely appropriate to their character and you need to give them the a logical build from one emotional moment to the next and um and then if you can get 45 or 50 of them to do it you know it’s never going to be your ultimate expectation but if you can get 45 or 50 of them to do it and you’re sitting there going huh okay you know if we printed that if that was if that was what we ended up with i could live with that and then as a writer you did your work so the first thing to do is direct through good writing and um that means the director has to do less and less once i and then you’re and then you’re casting and so the next the next step of directing is is picking who those actors are going to be and i like to pick interesting people luckily you know we’ve always had a wide assortment of people that we could cast i live in los angeles the the last show that we did we cast um you know through the internet which i hadn’t done before and um it was we had 2500 submissions and i mean you know we we ended up reading 400 people and it took a week it was harder than doing the show um and uh i you know i look for actors that have an imagination when you when you watch them doing what they’re doing is like is there some sense that they actually see or feel or imagine in the environment that they’re in um and actors that can work in front of a microphone but they still can use they still use their body they still you see muscles firing you see things like that because this uh an actor organizes a lot i mean unconsciously an actor organizes a lot of their thoughts and their feelings and how they work on the character by how they move and when we’re doing audio there’s almost no blocking and so uh they you you strip away this incredibly valuable way of remembering what you want to do with a scene and knowing what your intention is and things like this the the blocking is a mnemonic for for all that stuff and and so you’re going to force them to work in front of a microphone i like to give them a lot more room to move around than i used to but pretend we’re working just in front of a microphone and so when you see you know when the uh you know when the heroine of the story says no wait and then the idea in the story is that she mounts up her horse and you know you you’re looking at the back of the actress and you see the muscles in her back like twitch and her leg move a little bit and stuff like that it’s like oh yeah that’s the one you want you know it’s like because she’s getting on that horse um you know you look for people that have a very vibrant imagination um i also just tend to look for people who are fun fun to work with because i’m gonna have to work for with them for a day or a week or whatever i’m gonna do and it shouldn’t be boring and it would be nice if you know maybe i was friends with them for some time to come and uh there’s just you know there’s just things like that i tend to look for people who speak multiple languages don’t know why they just tend to be interesting people and they’ve got uh you know like that uh like that wonderful science fiction film that came out a couple years ago where the language like reprograms your sense of time okay

languages do uh program different things in your mind and so i kind of look for that although i have no real good explanation for why i like that and um if an actor is a good actor i mean just coming back to one of the earlier things if an actor is a good actor and you see on their resume that they have and of course resumes are padded with all kinds of idiotic stuff but you you see and can’t believe um on their resume that they uh that they have a background in dance or martial arts or or something like that those are also again you wouldn’t think of that for audio necessarily but the thing in my interpretation of it um you you don’t actually go away from the physical because you’re not utilizing it you go deep into the physical because you can’t do as much with it and and so so the next step to directing would be would be getting a good getting a good cast and getting people that when they came in seem to have they seem to understand the character or to actually just be that person um once i’m in the studio uh i don’t talk to now prior to going in the studio i’ll take my script and uh every single line and every single intention in the script i go to the back of the previous page and i write down the doable actions okay so this is sandy meisner acting 101 okay so i studied acting for a long long time i’m a terrible actor it doesn’t mean i don’t i don’t know what the actors are doing and uh i write down you know i think like okay so what is the actor trying to accomplish in the scene okay does that change at some point and then with every line how is that line attempting what exactly is it doing to attempt to get to that goal okay and i write that down and i write down any subtext that i can think of um and i don’t talk to the actor about this but if they start to get lost i can look at that line just track right over and go do this you know like i was saying get her to give you the shoes whatever whatever it is and um uh and then we don’t do any rehearsal or anything like that because things have changed a little bit but after a phono code we were always union productions so after phono code tells you that your rehearsal time costs the same as your recording time and so my feeling is i’m just a raw material guy all i want i want to get as many takes as i can i want to get as many interpretations as i can i do a ton of stuff in the editing room and so my feeling was it we couldn’t afford to do enough rehearsal to make rehearsal worthwhile so my feeling is is we just we go in the studio and we i just let it rip now once in a while the act sometimes the actor will sort of say you know what’s my general background what am i what am i doing i had uh i did one uh show with a really wonderful actor who’s i think he went on to teach at yale or something like that um and you know he said so you know what’s the background of my character and i said well you know i i cast you intentionally like really well this guy so this story takes place during the 1880s but this is an older man who is a who was a mountain man i go you you know um you’re an old hippie you know you’re a transcendentalist you know kind of walden pond guy who went west and lived with the indians and things like this and so you know he’s you but if you look at the generations if you go back and track the history of it there were people like that and they were that same generation in a previous incarnation you know and so in that case i was sort of telling him how i wanted him to approach the character but i was also just saying you know i cast you right you don’t even have to approach the character you are that guy um and uh so sometimes you have a conversation like that uh which is which is useful but a lot of times i won’t you know i won’t talk to them too much about it other than to other than to make them feel better about that kind of stuff if i’ve done my job right and then you know we’ll record a few and a lot of times so i also like writing scenes with three four five six seven characters um this is kind of the super bowl of writing two characters is easy um the more characters up to a point the more characters uh the more productive a scene can be and the more quickly it can move through information so if you have two characters and they have to emotionally stair step to get to a particular emotional point what can happen if you have three characters is one character goes here another character goes here the third character goes here okay and then whoa you’re already up there you know and um and so having a bunch of characters is a riot but it’s it’s hard to manage as a traffic pattern with actors and as a director and everybody’s got to know what they’re doing and when they break in and when they don’t break in and how they manage it so a lot of times we’ll do a couple of takes just to get things settled that’s the rehearsal um then uh i’ll record a few and i’ll give people pointers a little bit oh i want a little more of this i want a little more of that and um and then i generally will stop recording the whole scene say it’s a three four five page scene and i’ll break it into pieces it might be by the page it might be beats the kind or sections that kind of straddle a beat to kind of begin a little bit before a certain moment in the in the scene and end a little bit afterwards so that we can we know we can cut in there and um and i’ll do those smaller pieces and this is important because the in doing audio the actors we generally work through so many pages in a day that you can’t really ask your actors to memorize the script and you know we’ll do 20 pages a day and uh if you’re doing a movie or a television show or something you might be doing anywhere between 2 and 10 pages a day with 10 pages if you’re doing a 10-page day it’s usually a lot of action and nobody has to remember the lines um so uh

will you know they’re constantly looking down at their script and kind of picking that up and so what happens is in editorial you can hear i can hear i look away from each other it’s like that focus characterization just drops okay when they go back to the page so the idea is get enough takes so that the moment they look at the page is different in as many of the different takes as possible so you’ve got that focus for the whole scene but you got to do a bunch of them to get that um and uh and then a lot of times what i’ll do is i’ll go in and if i’m unhappy with an area uh i will change a few words or i’ll try and find words that the actor is more comfortable with um and uh words that have maybe uh an emotional meaning to that actor that that the original didn’t and i didn’t realize it um and i don’t really recognize these things i just i just change them and see if it works and uh and then when i’m really kind of getting the last few things generally what i’ll do is if i’m working with one actor i’ll push the other actor aside and i’ll play that part and when i when i do that i will give a performance that pushes the actor that i’m working with in certain directions and um you know that will steer their their performance to give me various things but i’m just collecting tons and tons and tons of data i don’t know what i want i don’t know you know if i see something show up in the scene that looks particularly good um i will then start once i’ve got the whole thing i will go and i will chase that thing because it’s like i don’t want to give that just because there was a moment of it doesn’t mean i want to give it up if i’ve still got time on the clock for that scene before i start running over time i’ll go chase that particular idea if i can and and try and get some more of that i also look for if you do a lot of takes like this you know so i mean this a lot of takes might be somewhere between uh six for something that’s fairly simple and i mean in a scene that’s got a lot of people and we break it down into a lot of little sections we might go 70 80 80 takes and um they go very it’s not like a taking film they go very fast i mean everybody ends one and they start another sometimes they’ll just go to the cast i’ll just go go for three we’re just going to roll we’re going to roll right through and you’re just going to finish it and as soon as you want to start again just start again and the the gold that i’m looking for is if i’ve got different versions of the take and it’s good to start with this kind of calmer one but end with this heightened one okay getting the piece that allows me to jump from interpretation to interpretation you know i don’t always get it exactly where i want it but getting it somewhere in there is suit that’s just wonderful when that happens because then i then i have this huge range of stuff that i can activate rather than being locked in in one interpretation um so there that’s wow i’ll shut up for a minute now that’s fascinating um i uh i’m i’m really into uh certain animations and i love watching videos of the voice actors playing their characters because they really do become their character so often you know it’s so cool watching that um so yeah i definitely get where you’re coming from i imagine there must be studies of that where the kineticism and the body actually does come through the voice you know it really must stay so that’s really cool to hear your experience of witnessing that as a director and a writer i’ll give you an example in that area if you’d like sure um uh in an early show that i directed um i had a guy who was going into a building and uh he was supposed to walk up onto the stair of the building and there’s a guy he knows there and he he’s going to walk in the building his motivation to get into the building he walks past the guy and as he walks past the guy who turns to him he goes jim okay and goes in just ign kind of curt acknowledgement oh my god we started recording that it was just like jim jim jim jim and i mean it was it was endless and we never got what we were looking for and finally in desperation i took the actor and i just moved him back about four steps and i just said walk past the microphone and when you get to the microphone just turn to the microphone nod and say jim okay and then keep going okay and bam one take perfect okay so the movement clarified it i also had you know i worked with a wonderful young actor a few years ago who had started out as a dancer and um his performances were kind of dull until he came on to the thing he just he would just like jump up and down in between takes and he which and he wasn’t it wasn’t even movement that had anything to do with the performance he just would kind of jump up and down and sort of dance around and do stuff and then he’d settle down at the microphone and it was great um so the lack of motion in audio is often a problem there was a there was i believe it was a vividly uh uh bolivian director um about 30 or 40 years ago who came to the united states and did some work with lucasfilm but but radio drama work with lucasfilm and he’d done an awful lot of radio in bolivia and he blocked everything like a play and he had big like those big old dolly mounted microphones that would carry the uh that would you know follow the actors around like they were in a movie and um i don’t know that listening to that stuff my memory of that stuff isn’t like oh my gosh those performances were exceptional but it was it was another way of working things out that i think worked very well i think that all brings us really nicely onto thinking about the technology behind all of this and those sorts of techniques where the microphones are almost being used a bit more like cameras or a bit more like um how microphones would follow the actors on the camera in in movie making as well um and i imagine that today it’s much easier to do repeated takes because you’ve got the digital technology and you can do it fairly endlessly whereas before maybe on tape but it’s not just so easy i imagine very similar to how i film it’s not just so easy to do endless texts yeah expensive yeah so um so i was wondering is it because i mean we we got in touch really because i had seen a post of yours on the audio drama hub on facebook and um and a shout out to jack bowman who has been on the podcast before he’s an audio drama producer here in the uk and he he introduced me to that group as well and so that’s why i’ve been seeing all your amazing posts about this and you posted about you know actually innovating certain technologies you know and and coming up with things to solve problems um so i was i’m really very interested to hear more about that you know so it’s not that you’ve been actually developing stories and storytelling and all of those sorts of methods but actually the technology to produce them as well and i’d love to hear more about that if you’re happy too oh yeah i have to say i’m i’m fantastically lucky in that uh i i’m pretty good with the theory of things but not so good with the practice and so i i have um a producer editor who is amazing at figuring out ways of executing the crazy ideas that i come up with and i had he’s passed away a few years ago but i had this wonderful wonderful engineer which you i believe you saw the post on and um and he could just not only was he terrific at regarding things but he could just build devices that i imagined or i needed to have so the particular thing that we were talking about i have to give you a little bit of background so i like working in stereo i like doing as much with the stereo space as i possibly can and um one of the hardest things was to figure you know do i want to block factors around in the stereo space and then somehow block the production or the creation of sound effects in some way that tracks them and when you put all of the stuff in the same recording will like line up and sound like it’s at the same spot this is a nightmare okay and uh very difficult to do and of course the more you utilize the stereo space the more difficult it is and i like to get really clean dialogue tracks i like to not worry about anything but the voices when i’m in the studio that’s the only thing i want to deal with and so uh i ended up you know i record all my voices mono but on individual tracks they can be panned around the stereo proscenium um and placed with both panning and uh you know so panning and volume um and uh and a little bit of reverb to create you know are they further back are they closer to you things like that um but then how to make the sound effects follow them and so i was talking to howard our engineer and there’s some kind of a joke it’s only funny to engineers and i don’t really understand it but they would make this joke about a monophonic pan pot okay meaning some somehow that you would pan something from left to right in mono which of course you can’t do and he i had heard him say that a couple of times and i was like howard um we’ve worked with ms technology which i’ll explain explain in a second and i want you to i want you to build me a monophonic pan-pod and and so he did and

he drove away wow in utah and about three months later he came back with this device okay so this is the panner and over here we’ve got one of the one of the knobs is the volume which you know basically does your in and out and this does your back and forth and okay now i’ll explain how this thing works and we don’t use that any longer that’s old tape analog technology we’ve got our own version in digital in the digital world now so we record our sound effects in a technique that is called ms okay for mid side and in this particular interpretation you have a the mid mic is a cardioid or hypercardioid mic that basically records forward and then you use a figure eight mic which is not a stereo mic but it has a positively and negatively phased lobe that go out to the sides okay and when you interface the mid plus the side and the mid minus the side okay you get left and right in fact almost every microphone that’s out there that allows you to switch how wide the pattern is is an ms is secretly an ms microphone with a switch that either adds more side or subtracts side and um and thus it gives you a narrower view you know for you know not so much side or a wide view for a lot of side and a lot of ms microphones are intended to be decoded at you know into left right stereo at the moment that you’re recording well the thing that i realized i’m not unique in this i’m just cut off from other people in the audio business and so i i feel like these things are my own idea because they are but i’m sure they’re not very unique um uh i’d sort of say well why do code in the field why why decode that at all until the last moment that you have to um just keep it mid-side and then as you turn up and down the side channel you get more or less environment so you can choose the size of the space sort of that you’re not the side of space that you’re in you know it doesn’t make it sound it does make it sound bigger it uh

it doesn’t really make it react like it’s a different sound but you get a you know you get more of it and then uh if you control the volume of the mid channel you get something that seems closer to you or further away from you and then why not put that mid channel on a pan pod okay and now you can pan it back and forth within the within the scene and why not automate that pan pot so that during the scene or in the old days before automation we could hand move the center so that something can actually move during the scene all right so we can kind of automate all these different all these different movements so we began recording our sound effects in mid-side and leaving them that way bringing them into our post-production and now we can we can record every sound effect we wanted just kind of right in front of the microphone and then we could decide where we were going to place it and how it was going to move and do all these other things in post and um and so

we later i mean just to go on one more level we later changed it to what we call mso technique which is mid-side and

i’ve so microphones here so you would take we use these sennheiser mkh uh microphones and so we have the uh the figure eight microphone okay which we would mount in a holder like this and then we have a cardioid microphone which we would mount you know so that the mid the figure eight does the sides and this does the center all right and then we will put those those will be mounted on a on a tripod to record our effects and then mount it down near the ground so it gets a good acoustic coupling with the ground we would have a uh microphone the advantage of an omni-directional microphone is it records a lot lower frequencies if you think of this in this microphone matrix you think about it as a as part of a speaker this is like the microphone for the subwoofer okay it’s like a special low frequency mic or the mic that’s going to record the lowest frequencies you can record for the subwoofer and so we roll off that low mic at about 300 or less and so it’s just just taking in the the lower stuff and the other microphones handle the other things the first time we experimented with that we did a recording of a land rover driving over a kind of a rough road and we were sitting there in our studio and it was like the thing drew drove through the back wall i mean it was amazing having that just a little bit of extra low frequencies it was terrific you know now we’ve got sound effects that we can move around so when i do um you know we do things like we’ll we do all of our foley in the actual environments we don’t use a fully stage so i’m very i’m very lucky my family has a ranch in southwestern colorado and it has uh it has several old houses on it and each one was built at a different time and each one has different floors and different doors and different banisters and things like this and um and so we’ve got all these different floors we can record and things it’s like having a foley stage but it’s all the actual places in actual acoustic environments you’re not having to fake anything it actually sounds like a room um and it’s kind of isolated from that you know you’re not hearing too many other things and and so uh you know we would go in and we would do when we would do foley which is your you know like your footsteps and all these things that are physical handling of things um to get footsteps we would do we would have what we call a foley series and that would be we would do a walk up to the microphone walk away from the microphone stand in front of the microphone walk in place and there are kind of techniques to do this which i won’t get into that’s really key but um you know there’s ways of making it sound better and better we get little this is so useful in creating great performances little adjustment of the feet like a little scratch or a little creak on a board or something like this same thing with a chair if you’re sitting here my chair will make a little bit of noise um if you get the idea that someone moved in their chair you can add that to the performance like maybe they’re a little uncomfortable or maybe they’re getting ready to get up or something like that super super i mean it can make or break an actor’s performance having those wonderful sound effects and so we would just do these various things in front of our microphone array and and then we could place the stuff where we wanted later now in general we would also do things that were not just like right there in front of the mic if we kind of knew that certain things were going to happen and we would use them in a particular way we weren’t going to paint ourselves into a corner um but uh it was an incredibly productive manner you know now we do now we do it all with automation in a digital audio workstation and um uh it it made things you know in the in the midst of a very laborious process it made things go you know very quickly and um ms has been a has been a godsend to us and we figured out some extra ways of using it so that was you know that was one kind of innovative um innovative thing that we did it’s also fascinating just from my film theory background and i you know i i i so often associate things like proximity with camera and lenses and and all that and it’s just so great to learn more about how that works with sound as well it’s so cool well here’s another thing and this gets i know i talk to people in the in the audio drama business about this and it just seems to put them to sleep but it’s so important and it has a lot to do with what you’re talking about um when you’re doing any kind of a recording it’s incredibly important to understand and i learned all of this from working in the film business it’s incredibly important to understand the size of the venue that you’re working in and um in a in a feature film you’re working in a giant venue and you can play the soundtrack very very loud because you’re you’re filling up a big space but because you can play it very loud that also means you can play things very softly because you have this difference because the top goes up so high you get extra bottom you know the bottom is much lower so you get this extra bottom and that gives you a sense of space and depth that when you are working in a smaller venue like all of our stuff is engineered to play well in a car okay so small and kind of a loud environment so we end up compressing things quite a bit so that you can hear the fainter sounds you know and the louder sounds don’t overwhelm you and so knowing the size of your space is is terribly important and um and then choosing a playback volume when you’re editing and mixing and that reflects that space all right so if you’re going to be working in a relatively small space you don’t have a particularly high playback volume what that forces you to do is take all the lower sounds and mix them up hotter so that you can hear them now you’ve got compression without ever using a compressor you know a lot of times we will edit at higher volume and then mix at lower volume and so we have we have a specific volume that we use when we’re editing 79 db at the editor’s years and then we will mix at 77 or so um for the car and so what ends up happening is the the show has this sense of space and particularly like the diamond of jeru takes place in the jungles of borneo and we went to all kinds of trouble to build these really thick environments i mean we probably spent as much time creating the multi-level ambience as we did doing all the sound effects and it was just glorious while we were editing we went to mix it

you know it just became smaller and more you know less good but that’s where our audience is so that’s what we have to do so it is you know it is important to know the size and space that you’re working in just like if you make a feature film you can present some you can present a scene that’s a great deal darker than you can on television because you know that audience is watching it in the dark you know and so any amount of light will be useful if you think somebody’s going to be watching it in a bright living room you have some other things you have to take into consideration it’s the same it’s the same set of problems and it’s worked out the same you know the same way gosh that’s so cool to learn about thank you um great so uh you mentioned there the diamond of jeru and you’ve worked on quite a lot of ones and i guess i gather that was really quite a massive production for you that one yeah yeah and do you want to do do you want to talk a bit about that one um and any of the other work that you’ve been doing because that was something adapted from your father’s work was yeah well you’re going to love this because it’s written it’s right up all of your your theory alleys

the diamond of drew was written in the late 40s or early 50s by my dad it was a short story um he sent it off to his agent who was not able to sell it it wasn’t particularly good certainly not one of his better efforts and just because he was working on other things when it didn’t sell he threw it in a box and it went in the back of a closet and it didn’t get published and after he died we were putting uh i was putting the book of his short stories together and i thought okay i’ll i’ll stick this in the book of short stories i’m not that happy with it i’m not quite sure what i’m going to do and then the editor got back to me and they’ve done what they call cast off on the page the page count and it wasn’t um the book wasn’t long enough and it wasn’t long enough with the diamond really in there and that was the only reason i’d stuck it i was kind of desperate it’s the only reason i’d stuck it in there as i knew i was a little light and so it came back that it wasn’t you know the book wasn’t long enough and i thought okay that i like that story but it really needs some work so i did what we call in the film business a page one re-write and i thought i’m going to take this 20-page short story i’m going to turn it into an page novella and i’m really going to expand on it and you know and uh turn it into what as much that i can make it into the ultimate version of what my dad was trying to what my dad was trying to accomplish i didn’t know anything about borneo i didn’t know anything about this luckily i ran across somebody who knew a bunch and gave me some research things and i was able to you know i was able to pull something together that worked that worked pretty good first person story uh you know kind of uh people going upriver to a diamond prospecting in in borneo a man and his wife doing it sort of for fun and getting in all kinds of trouble and the hero is the guy who kind of has to go after them and save them and uh so there it gets published book comes out it’s relatively popular um a few years later a friend a friend of mine is on the uh he’s on a plane coming back from morocco where he’s looking for um locations for a kind of a biblical movie with and he’s traveling with an executive at uh usa network and they’re talking and in those days usa seemed to have the idea that what they really wanted to do was uh a couple of movies in every genre and so she told my buddy mike joyce uh she said you know we really want to do kind of an indiana jones sort of classic adventure story and and mike was like well i know where to find that so he got off he got off the plane and he called me up and he goes does your dad have anything and after i thought about it and thought about the kind of budgets that they had available and things like that and i came back and i said well the diamond of jeru is probably the one that is most is most reasonable it doesn’t need an awful lot more than sort of jungle and a little town on their on the river and then the big the big problems are taken care of and um so uh we agreed that that we would try and do that and they bought it and and i’m just gonna i’m gonna keep going with this dramatic story here for a second because it’s something you’ll appreciate um this is what breaking into the movie business actually looks like you hear people talking about their br the way they break in and they’re always like saying well i think this particular you hear these stories here in hollywood it’s like this actor is looking for this kind of story or this kind of stuff and that kind of stuff and it’s always third hand and it’s always like the pile of gold at the end of the rainbow it’s always complete complete idiocy um but in this case they bought the thing in late november the entirety of hollywood shuts down between thanksgiving and about a week after new year’s i mean nothing moves okay um there’s no traffic i’m joking but i mean it’s just like nothing goes on and it was just before that and i thought i want to write this thing but you know every network has got their flavor of the month writers and i wasn’t the flavor of the month writer for anybody and so i thought well i know a couple of other things in may i think in june and july of that year there was going to be a

a writer’s strike possibly an actor strike both contracts were coming up and i thought you know if they don’t get this thing made before summer it’s over it’s not going to happen because things that get delayed in hollywood just die and so they bought the dumb thing right at a tricky critical point maybe they shouldn’t have even been acquiring any new material until they knew what was going to be able to happen so there when they come back they’re going to be desperate for a script or they just wasted the option right so i just went crazy and i wrote this script in like a month and turned it in and they were unhappy that one of their producers they you know as soon as they start as soon as the powers that be start to see power congealing in any place other than themselves they’re not very happy with that and so they weren’t very happy with it but they also realized exactly what i had said that that you know they had this looming deadline all right so that’s what breaking in looks like in hollywood recognizing certain conditions that that make you know make your thing work um that are actual conditions that are that are really legitimate and hard not the rumor that somebody might want something like this anyway um you know by april we were making the movie in australia and um it was a lot of fun it was definitely one of the most i’ve only worked on kind of movies of the week which is kind of like the bargain basement of the movie business and um it was definitely the most creative of all of those experiences and it and it was very hard and it was a lot of it was a lot of fun and it was a lot of different it was also as every movie is incredibly disappointing and all kinds of you know terrible things happened to my script and at the same time my script was turned into this this physical reality that was very exciting and and really wonderful and we got done with it and random house was asking me to do one more audio production and i thought well i’m sick of westerns i’ve done you know 59 58 westerns and i want to do something but i want to have a soundscape that is really distinct and you know i started thinking well the mid 20th century in borneo is pretty distinct and and it’s not what i’ve been doing and so uh i rewrote it again now i’m gonna go back and say a couple other things about this when i wrote that when i took the novella and i turned it into a screenplay i went from the first person of the the guide the guy that goes after the man and woman to uh rescue them and i added a bunch of scenes with the man and woman okay so it expanded to this uh to to cover almost in first-person way or at least more closely this second group of characters when i did the audio um i started realizing start realizing i realized halfway through making the movie that uh the borneo native characters are really fascinating and that i had in many ways kind of neglected them and i wanted to spend more time with them and so when i did the audio the story grew again and included the story of those characters to the point where you actually recognize that everything that everybody’s doing hinged off of a particular moment before any of these people ever arrived in borneo that just had to do with the dayak or native characters and um so uh it the story the story grew and encompassed more points of view each time um of course when we got around to making the audio you know we had all kinds of fun because we got to we hired nate we had native guys who came from borneo we had they we had a bunch of other actors also playing uh characters from borneo and the guys who were actually from borneo taught all those guys melee so there’s all kinds of times in the story when they’re talking in melee and so they got like language language school and uh we had all kinds of australian actors and british actors and uh you know it was it was a it was a an accent fest and it was a lot of fun what a story um what journey that one story has had as well it’s amazing like every production format possible yeah yeah but i love that i love that idea that you expanded it and um went in and gave more space to those more native characters and it’s really interesting to see that happening more in general now i think um because uh you know they’ve been so neglected i think just very generally and to to just uh counteract that a bit and give them more space that’s really great to hear um you gave me the web address for all of that so i’m gonna have that in our show notes forever so that people can go and check all of that out because you’ve got really detailed notes on everything it’s a really thorough website for so i really will just encourage yeah a lot of videos a lot of photographs um yeah there’s a lot of material there yeah great so i really urge anybody who’s listening or listening to or watching this go and check that out the diamond of jury it’s really fascinating production story i think um so gosh that’s a lot i feel like i feel like we’re only starting to scratch the surface with everything that we’ve talked about um and i mean i’d really love for for you to come on again sometime and to get into some detail uh on some other things um is there anything that you’re working on at the moment that you would like everybody to know about the thing that’s most exciting that i’m working on at the moment has nothing to do with film or audio um

uh i’m going back into a lot of my dad’s uh materials and i’ve created this program called louis lower series called louis lamour’s lost treasures and so uh we produced um two books uh full of stories that my dad didn’t finish there’s actually a few in there that he did finish but have are unpublished as of today but most of them are are unfinished and i take his notes and his correspondence and other things that i know about what was going on and i try and kind of explain to the reader where this story fit in his career and what he was trying to accomplish what the rest of the story would have been like and uh it’s kind of you know it’s a book for a fan uh of louis lamour to to see all the other kinds of things that he wanted to do in his life because many of these things were genres that he did not uh sell a lot of stories in and things like that um some of them were ideas that he had that were just too weird to you know too wild to sort of actually be able to be something that uh he finished you know the the in any author’s life their most ambitious work is the work they don’t finish because it was too ambitious and uh so there’s a lot of very interesting things in there it’s also uh these books and there’s some other pieces of this which i’ll explain in a second um all of this work is also a pretty good kind of history lesson on uh how writers worked in the paperback book business that you know started just before or during world war ii and it’s still with us but probably hit its peak in the late 80s or early 90s and um so it’s a whole kind of it’s a whole kind of literary era and it’s a it’s a look from the inside from the from an author’s career kind of looking looking out at everything that was going on at that time so the other thing that i’ve done besides these two books of unfinished work is i’ve gone into a bunch of my dad’s older finished novels and done the same thing added this kind of bonus features in the back that talk about the story behind the story what was going on you know i just did one for uh kiowa trail that uh explains that although it never went anywhere as a film that story was actually my dad wrote that for catherine hepburn wow because they had had a long uh kind of acquaintance with one another talking about trying to work in this film and talking about trying to work in that film she even tried to get him involved in writing the sequel to rooster cogburn which was the she did with john wayne in the 70s and um and so they they weren’t close friends but they they knew and respected one another very much and so you know knowing that story is kind of the interesting backstory to kiowa trail and where it came from there’s a another one called caligan which is all about us just driving around the desert looking for the locations you know it’s really it’s really kind of a down and down in the dirt four-wheel drive you know kind of like uh uh investiga location uh expedition um so they’re all different and it’s kind of a almost like a random access uh biography of my father’s um uh professional life it doesn’t go into a lot of personal into a lot of personal details it’s really it’s about the writing it’s about the literary industry and things like that and so that’s the uh i’m hopefully within the next six months or so i’ll kind of wrap that program up i’ve been working on it for about four years and uh and so that’s that’s my my big project for the moment amazing yeah really important to have all that history preserved that’s great fantastic work um bo is there anywhere where people can find more about you on the internet do you have your own website that people can look at i do it’s probably not the greatest thing in the world but bo okay where you can go but just also looking around on and all of its associated there’s a whole kind of constellation of blue more websites and you know that’s the kind of stuff that i’ve been doing for the last 35 years you know well before my dad uh my dad passed away you know i was already kind of uh working on all kinds of stuff around the perimeter of his of his career and uh and so you know that you can get a pretty good idea of the things that i’ve done yeah it seems that you’re very much an archivist as well in the history and you’ve got an awful lot of things going on there i’ve had to become this i didn’t really start out life uh you know um start out life looking to be an archivist i’m sort of uh you know i’m sort of a a motorhead that that ended up getting tossed all of this all of this paperwork and um and so uh you know if i’m if i’m not like got the hood up on my car i’ve got the hood up on all the paperwork yeah this has been so informative and yeah i really hope that we can keep in touch and um i’m i’ve so enjoyed learning so much from you about all of this and i look forward to learning more um i think once you when if you get through your dad’s stuff you’ll have so much more to say about all those technologies and to do that history as well because it’s all so important i think and um it’s part of such a big network of so many things you know it’s it’s really amazing everything that you’ve been working on and it’s been such a pleasure talking to you today a pleasure talking to you if i can ever help you with anything that doesn’t have anything to do with me i’m certainly willing to do that too so well i’m a super nervous at all yeah that’s really generous yeah i’m super super nervous at all less total amateur so take any help that’s offered well you’re doing a great job and it’s amazing through people like you the kind of information that’s getting out into the world it’s really it’s really i mean i wish i was 20 years old and trying to learn everything about all the things that i know a little bit about now because i just can’t even imagine how deep i could go if i you just get on the internet and start following all kinds of different podcasts and stuff oh yeah it’s overwhelming but yes it is it’s important i think all of us are contributing to yeah preserving that logging it and keeping it in posterity hopefully so yeah thank you so so much for steph really enjoyed it

this is a cozy people production with me paula blair the music is common ground by airton used under a 3.0 non-commercial creative commons license and is available at if you’ve enjoyed this episode please give us a good reading subscribe and recommend audiovisual cultures to your friend all of our contact details socials information ways to listen and our mailing list sign up can be found on our website linked in the show notes thank you so much for listening and supporting take care and i’ll catch you next time


Audiovisual Cultures episode 79 – Circles with Brendon Connelly automated transcript

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hello and welcome to audiovisual cultures with me paula blair hot off the heels of speaking with podcast producer jack boom and last time this time i’m really delighted to be speaking with brandon conley who is a fiction writer specializing in fiction for audio and we’re going to talk to him about circles which is a drama that we mentioned with jack last time that jack directed and brandon has created it and written it and executive produced it so before we speak to brandon huge thanks to all our lovely lovely supporters on forward slash av cultures for all your support it means so much and it really helps us keep going and make improvements to the podcast if you would like to try and join the pod and get involved with the membership and support us do check out that page and if you stay to the end i’ll give you a couple other ways you can support if you’re not too sure about a regular membership uh you can also get in touch with us on social media with av cultures on facebook and twitter and av cultures pod on instagram and there’s always loads of updates and extra links and lots of cards with promotional stuff for all the episodes in between so do check out our socials and let us know how you’re finding the episodes on those so um i had a really lovely time speaking with brandon it’s been really interesting learning loads more about audio production in general and specifically in podcasting and um i really hope you get something out of this i think this is going to be a really emerging just field of of work and area for people to engage with and think more about so um yeah i hope you get as much out of this as i did i really really enjoyed this and you will too so i’m really delighted to welcome to the podcast brendan conley and brandon is going to very kindly talk to us about a current audio fiction that he has released at the moment um but brandon first of all could we just outline would you say that you’re an audio fiction writer or is that just one string to your bow it’s one string i think it’s the string i’m leaning into and playing most heavily at the moment i tend to think of it as audio drama more than audio fiction if there’s a distinction i think audio fiction perhaps to me implies prose or or something closer to an audio book i think i’m much more interested and i hope we get to talk about why i’m much more interested in something closer to full cast drama or whether it’s full cost but something that’s dramatizes a sort of a digest rather than is a narration i think okay that’s a really interesting distinction and hopefully as we talk about circles your current project decide at the moment that’ll become a lot clearer so would you be happy then to tell us about circles i’ve been really enjoying listening to it and just as we’re recording this there’s one episode left to go so i haven’t heard all of it yet but i’m up to date with it and um it’s uh quite uh for me anyway it’s a really interesting mystery that’s slowly unfolding itself and it’s got these horror inflections but uh how would you describe it i think that’s all fair it can’t be separated from the circumstances of its birth i think um i think the key thing to say about circles is how it came into the world i know a chat for jack bowman who has quite a long history of producing audio drama and at the start of the lockdown for uh the pandemic measure lockdown when the british government put us into lockdown i’d already been in lockdown personally for a little while as somebody who who was concerned about health risks earlier in march i went into lockdown when the government put everybody into lockdown jack was looking for a project that he could do i think the mission from jack’s point of view was to say creativity isn’t truncated you know we’re not handcuffed by by the circumstance and he described it as a sort of an avengers assemble project where people from the world of audio drama would come together and pull their effort and jack’s first project actually became an interview podcast not dissimilar to this but i said to him let’s pretend we can still make audio drama we can still make audio drama i pitched an idea to him i think at the time was what i thought was maybe the limit of what would be easily attainable okay so i think the idea came out of the idea that if the actors are all isolated let’s make sure we build the isolation into the narrative the means of production with the actors thrown to the four wins as it were we were in five separate cities the people making circles in case there’s any sort of audio artifact that arises out of this circumstance let’s make sure that it’s part of the narrative and actually one of the things i learned is that’s not actually going to be a problem it’s quite easy and in fact i think paulo i think people could listen to some of your earlier conversations and not always be sure whether you were sitting in the same room as somebody or or speaking you know i think i think that there are some giveaways but there are there are sometimes the audio capacity of these communication systems we use sometimes the illusion is good enough and if you lean into it with a bit of mixing and the right post production then then you evaporate that entirely and we can record two people months weeks days apart on the opposite sides of the world and make them so that they’re having conversations and i should have known this because this is what has been happening in cinema and audio drama for decades right of course henry in a razor head walks through a door when he comes out the door on the other side he’s one city and four years later right i mean that’s just just a circumstance where that film was made and yet the continuity of its editing completely pulls the wall over our eyes why would it be any different in audio but i built into the to the concept of circles this sense of isolation which led to me saying well what’s a narrative hook that reads like a pitch like what’s something you put a poster that’s box to isolation and i thought why why does this happen and there’s a lot of tropes you know bunkers and and space stations and all sorts of sorts of angles and the one to me that seemed the closest i suppose really the one that just resonated the most to my experience was staying at home in a protective circle and i thought you know when we heard mantras like to stay home protect the nhs save lives this sort of seemed like a magical mantra in some some way there was an element of magical thinking to it as sensible as i think the the practice of people genuinely following lockdown as sensible as that practice actually is i think that it does resonate with this with this little magical thinking so the idea i came up with was ritual magical circles the the witchcraft circle the wicked circle of salt or chalk that keeps forces at bay and if you stay inside then you’re protected that was the starting point um once i had that i knew okay i’m playing in the um slight supernatural sort of pool lots of ideas came to mind and as a lifelong fan of scooby-doo yeah and i hope we can speak about why as well it felt like a sort of a scooby or a buffy the vampire sort of sort of trouble i’ve often thought about you know as an adult who grew up watching scooby doo watching these teenagers and how they’re perpetually teenagers and the series keep getting rebooted and they keep getting you know redesigned and the reset button hit over and over again they’re perpetually teenagers what happens if you’re a teenager who stares into the abyss really right i mean whatever what would happen if a teenager actually spent there spent their time mucking around with these things so sort of one foot in it being a sort of a scooby-doo genre piece and another sort of foot in this sort of slightly more contemplative sort of i won’t say realistic that’s not what i was saying but sort of considering a story that talks about something a bit more emotionally matured i suppose really than the scooby-doo stories you know reflecting on on them from all these years i i spent with them i thought okay i’m going to make this about a bunch of friends who meddled with a demon and meddled the word that’s the scooby-doo word meddled with these forces when they were teenagers and now 10 years later they’ve gone on with their lives and they’re not friends anymore i think that’s the normal experience so what happens when you if i woke up tomorrow and i had to do something very high pressure with the people i know as teenagers um what what would the fallout of that be really so that’s what circles circles is so it’s characters connecting a long way away their means of communication and therefore the format of the thing is a series of phone calls i think that speaks a little bit to what i was saying earlier about the the idea to do something that’s um non-narrative and representative in the sense that for naturalism to what we’re listening to in the sense that we’re not being told we’re being shown if i play the audio of a telephone call you are in a very sympathetic position to the person who was on one end of the telephone call so your experience of listening to circles whenever you listen to a phone call you as the listener as much as possible i think enough for it to be hopefully very engaging and a bit transporting you’re in the position of one of those two characters and we sit in a cinema and we sit in a big dark room collectively with large numbers of people eating popcorn watching a series of images that rapidly change their point of view and time is alive and all sorts of stuff happens and yet we get engrossed and we we feel that we’re the characters and sometimes we we’re transported to those usages so i think experience suggests you don’t have to go as far as we did with circles to draw an audience into your narrative right it doesn’t need to be as one-to-one and yet we could do something that was that one-to-one that i wanted to

yes because i suppose that that’s the way of our lives so that it has been this year where we’ve had to rely on technology more than ever for connection but we’re still in a way it can make us more aware of our distance from one another yeah and i think that’s really coming across in circles is you can you know you really get the feeling that they are all spread out across time and space they’re not even always in the same time zone even isn’t that right they’re all in different parts it’s absolutely true and it’s sometimes sort of specified really where they say you know i must be early where you are or something like that there’s a little hidden set of there’s a lot of hidden codes and patterns in circles actually there’s an awful lot of um nothing’s an accident i enjoyed a lot creating a lot of extra symbols in there really and i think one of them is to do with where they are in the sort of law of ritual circles very often they’re associated with compass points and um each of the four characters is associated with a different compass point the symbolism that has been associated with those compass points in folklore we have woven into those characters and that can be on a very simple level like uh the north is associated with with having a plan and being the person to be followed in the way that the compass needle points north and then it’s also associated with the element of earth therefore naomi is naomi atkins and a very simple level atkins relates to adam maid of earth and red earth and there are associations there but she stood quite down to to her one in some respects but she’s also the one with the plan so this has become a sort of an organizing principle for the for the four characters in the way that they um have different narrative functions actually and that’s barely specified but if you were to go back and listen again you would actually see there are some references to it and geography is woven into it a little bit and one of the mysteries one of the clues actually hinges on where somebody is actually because you don’t know where they are when you’re speaking to them on the phone necessarily um and where physically somebody is is associated with their compass point it’s associated with their various elemental associations and the illusions around that that we we worked in and this is dazzlingly pretentious for what is essentially a sort of a a scooby-doo on ours but i think there’s a level in which organizing principles make sure characters don’t wander into one another’s lines from a writer’s point of view that’s a very practical way of um keeping things things straight once you know who they are and what they want you can build these organizing principles that also then sort of maintain the distinction between those in the way that they’re presented and therefore i think it reads unconsciously clearly that makes sense it reaches very consciously clearly in one way but you don’t portray it with various elements that are less obvious underneath and i think another thing is it’s fun to have puzzles in things oh yeah so so if somebody who who likes puzzles an awful lot i hope that there’s some people listening to who who enjoy sifting through these these little jigsaw pieces i think i certainly am yes because i listen to the third episode and that’s where things start to become revealed a little bit but you’re still not 100 sure oh is that you start to question things a bit and you do pick up on right so that’s the kind of location that it sounds like that person is in but is that really what’s going on and because we can’t see anybody where are they really and you know there’s this mystery about being able to get hold of one person and it’s really unclear whose voice that was and you know there are those clues and i think that it’s all in the sound design really isn’t it it’s so layered we have to be very careful with the sound design yeah actually um very careful it everybody was recorded kind of clear and then everything was everything was created around that to ensure uh we had full control of what the eq what the what the room ballot sounded like what space they were in and sometimes it’s very simple as in a conversation making sure that they’re differentiated across channels so if someone’s listening in stereo it’s a little easier to pull them apart but in a way that’s the audio version of the over-the-shoulder shot in cinema really it gives you a sort of sense of geography of where people are we come off of the starting block straight away with somebody saying something about where they are that i want you to question and i don’t really want to to dig into why but all will be revealed i mean the whole running time of the whole thing’s about 100 and uh it’s less than 100 no it’s not it’s much less than that actually in the edited version it’s less than 80 minutes so we’ve come in at something that’s about 80 minutes so it’s it’s like a short feature length thing but we’ve broken it into episodes and we’re using episodic structure very much as part of the storytelling and there’s there’s a lot of cliffhanger mechanics and this is this episode and this is this episode so the first episode is very much introducing you know it’s very much an introductory set of information really and to give us stakes and tell us who everybody is the second one is the mystery episode in which everybody is being a detective on some level the third one is about giving a different perspective and looking at something from a different angle and then the fourth one is it’s kind of the horror episode actually really that’s where we we’ve we’ve decided to to deliver on the premise i think you should have an obligation that the point i sort of said we’ve got a demon involved we had to decide what we were going to do with that and for it to have any emotional weight it had to mean something so i had to decide what it meant really what it was the various meanings of this demon are different depending on which of the four characters we’re dealing with but they all have this i suppose it’s an encounter everything that rode for away from damascus event i suppose really in their teenage years where they where they encountered something that was transformative right and it changed their relationships slowly but lastingly we’ve got a character who found faith as a result of this which has an atheist was difficult to write but something that i i wanted to write responsibly we found a character who wanted to effectively crack the science of it really um and that it was quite easy for that valmer character really to become the protagonist as being the one i could identify with the most we had someone who tried to push it down yeah and to to live a hedonistic life and to have a life of pleasure really and we had a dog who who we can only suppose right and that to me was obviously an inevitable part of the scooby-doo pattern so having a character like a dog whose reaction to something you know is unknowable to us just gives us a talking a sort of a contrast point a sort of control group for everybody else’s feeling uh but once you do bring it bring a demon into it you’ve got to decide whether you’re gonna gonna use that you know in a horror way and we decided to and we we we think that it’s very intimate having something in your ears like i was saying before really and i think there’s some scope to be a little unnerving when you’re that close to someone yeah and i think more than audio visual stuff pure audio stuff is actually more inside your head i think really i think our sense of vision is better at distancing what we’re looking at than our sense of auditory perception i think also with headphones and if people take our encouragement to listen loud the service away from you we are is on your shoulder at any moment to resist the fun you can have in trying to unnerve people when you’ve got the potential there how could we resist i’ve been listening with headphones um through an app on my phone yes i think when you have it turned up light especially that’s when you can really pick up on is there something going on in the bottom layer of the side what is that is that just me and you start to even i was starting to question am i is it my tinnitus is it what what is it that i’m hearing at the minute because there’s something quite creepy going on and um you know or you really pick up on i noticed and i think it was the third episode but i think there’s a shift in the point of audition where there’s a phone call between two of the characters and it switches from you being with one of them to being with the other one yeah and that was really noticeable i think because it’s in your ears yes and you really notice that difference in the voice quality that you it’s an auditory through the looking glass moment yeah really definitely yeah um it does happen in multiple episodes actually which is interesting to me that you’ve noticed it less often than i think you experienced it yeah i think it was just um maybe i was more distracted with the first couple maybe i was listening more intently possibly in the third episode because i think that was the one for me where i thought okay everything’s unraveling now this is brilliant you know and that really maybe that was the one that really hooked me in right so maybe i was concentrating more it was possibly that um so i think it’s one where you you need to really actually actively listen and i probably maybe i’m guilty of not doing it i think i think it’s encouraged and i think it’s quite easy i think it’s quite easy to i mean obviously synchrony between our our vision and our audition is essential right from an evolutionary point of view synchronicity between them has become crucial and part of the way that we process them and we’re giving you just one of these things so if you’re paying attention to something with your eyes i think it could be proven to shift what you’re hearing and vice versa um uh the mcgurk effect i think you may be aware of the mcgurk effect where you watch someone there saying da da da da and you can put it with lips that are saying it changes actually what you hear that’s a very sort of a clear representation of how this works walter merch the film editor talks about synchronizing footsteps for people walking and he says if you synchronize badly with one person it feels off it synchronizes badly with two people and it feels off but once you’ve got two and a half people once you’ve got five feet moving you can kind of put the footsteps anywhere and we can’t track it unless they’re all working simultaneously right they’re all in rhythm that might as well just be one person walking but if you’ve got five different intervals as it were really we can’t synchronize the audio with it and therefore you can just cheat as a form editor and just put it anywhere being aware of this i think it’s it’s a real challenge we face in audio drama actually is getting people to listen under the most conducive circumstances and i think that’s another thing that’s happened this year and i think there’s a real boom in audiences of audio drama as we approached the start of the year and in fact into this year and as people stopped commuting it’s really hit audience numbers first of all because uh when you’re working at home or something there’s nothing stopping you having i don’t know brooklyn 911 running on the television in the background or whatever whereas that’s a sort of a bit of a harder thing to have on your commute or you know you’re not as likely to to look at it so there are sort of um audience spaces that we’ve we’ve lost a lot of really but i think of people on their commute and how you know you get sort of highway hypnosis right you will go blind to your circumstances and you can get lost in what you’re listening to and that would have been ideal for us so i do recommend people listen probably in bed with their eyes closed we’re headphones on would be ideal actually that would be would be great i mean if anyone’s got a floatation tank go ahead but um the more you can uh remove other of a stimulus i think the less the less you’re doing two things at once and you know i think there is a lot of people scrolling through twitter while they’re watching television these days and things like that and i think that that’s her tv a lot and i think it’s it’s impacted on the way people engage with it in a way that i think it would shape what we’ve seen in future actually and i think um we’ll see more even more drama that’s designed to be casually you know with greater redundancy of plot points and greater redundancy of narration and greater redundancy of repeated stressed information so that people can um look at their phone while they’re watching it i think we’re just shifting towards that as a taste through our behaviors and um that’s sad but that’s not really something we can do we can’t monopolize your visual space through your ears so we sort of do need you to meet us in the middle a little bit really yeah it takes a great deal of imagination i mean i was i’m finding listening to it it’s sparking my imagination quite a bit you know you’re hearing somebody describing their location and you may be hearing those elements of it so you may be hearing a little bit of wind so there it seems like there’s trees rustling and they might be outside but you’re not 100 sure or you’re hearing somebody rustling through drawers and slamming them shots so it seems like they’re in a bedroom but they’re not necessarily and it’s so that you so you you’re imagining it visually so in a way it is playing out a bit like a film or television if you imagine it in your mind and then you can also think about well i can decide what these characters look like or um what their location looks like or whatever you know so in a way it frees it up quite a bit but yes it does take that concentration and i think it’s really interesting how the shape of the drama because it has done this non-linear thing of the third episode has actually gone back in time and i think that really grabbed my attention and it made me stop what i was doing and just listen so maybe there’s something in that maybe there’s yeah because i think culturally we have got very used to i have to do all the things all the time and we’re too busy and now in this a lot of us are in now these different tiers and stages of lockdown but it feels like a post locked down proper era and we’re back to you know we’ve forgotten all the things that we learned about stopping and slowing down and we’re going back to i have to do all the things all the time again and to just take the time to properly listen to something is you know it’s really valuable and so in a way i would recommend this series because it isn’t long it isn’t really that long at all it’s not a huge investment of time and you might get more out of it than a tv program that’s been you know not had as much thought or care necessarily and um might stop you in your tracks so if that’s something it can achieve then that’s a great thing hopefully

i hope ultimately it achieves the same thing that any drama does really which is that there’s some sort of engagement and that it resonates yeah and then we are building to a sort of a point i don’t feel like i’m i’m there to lecture and it’s not it’s not a new point we’ve got our own take on it but it’s not it’s not that i have some great revelation into the human condition we’ve millennia of dramas that that have covered similar ground people say stories are empathy machines right and i think i think that one of the things we’re talking about here again and again and again paula is about how this is about empathy really because i think audio is really good for it for the reasons we talked about so this story ultimately is about sort of living through some sort of simulated human experiences really there’s no way of putting it and i think that ultimately by the end of the fourth episode what i would like to happen is a sense of a good story in a truly aristotelian sort of sense of it really and i am going off the chance of my pretension about this you do how much i’m i’m fully aware of this but if at the end if people have sort of cared a bit about the stakes i think we’ve done our job and i think that some of the playing around we’ve done along the way works to that end and that’s why it’s there but it is interesting that there’s a lot of shifting of perspective whether it’s moving from one end of a phone call to another or people talking about a phone call to somebody who is not in that call or moving back in time so we hear a call a second time i don’t really want to give away too much but i think actually ultimately what we’re going to have to do to really maybe we shouldn’t do it i’m tempted to do a fifth episode which is non-narrative and non-fiction which is basically totally pulling back the curtain and explaining all the mechanics of the thing in the sense that there are quite a lot of puzzles in here yeah and i think it’s probably going to be fun to give people the answers because they’re not all narrative puzzles so i i’ll say no to anybody who’s listening to this now the names are not accidents so the surnames like atkins of course have some sort but the first names of these characters are all five letters long and there’s a reason for that looking at them reveals something but that’s not the way people normally engage in things like this this is an entirely sort of um ancillary sort of like set of meanings and hopefully pledges in there but i think because it’s short enough that you can listen a few times or you could listen to this sort of uh final behind-the-scenes commentary as it were and go back and listen again i think it might be worth it actually and also because i think i think the means of distribution through podcasts are such that um you’ll have people subscribe to your feed for a while but i think you can lose them they can clear up and tidy up after a point and things like that it’s not like we’re the bbc and we’ll always be there and we can come back you know the bbc took extenders off there for several months they can come back and the bbc is still there we would have to reconnect to an audience too we came back after several months so i think we might do something like that to keep the communication alive while we try and work out what if anything we’ll do next actually yeah because it is a complete and discreet story in four episodes but the nature of publishing anything in the way you know if you’re not disney if you don’t have if you don’t have some sort of pre-installed distribution network you’re starting from zero every time we’ve had small thousands of people listening to this thing which suggests that if there were going to be a hundred episodes of it we would be able to grow quite a good audience by the end but across the space of effectively three weeks and i think actually it’s less than three weeks it’s the release schedule for the whole thing because you know we’re playing with halloween season right that’s the rules that we’re trying to fit into everybody’s october mindset we don’t have long to reach people um so i have been thinking it’s a strange responsibility to feel i have as a sort of a storyteller really but i’ve been thinking about well how do we keep the audience engaged after the story is finished so we might do something like that yeah i mean i suppose even from a production point of view um because i think they no i don’t want to make too many assumptions but the average rear for example are that’s me from my phone background but the average listener the average audience member they don’t necessarily know how much goes into production of anything like this and if you asked any listener for example they might just think oh it’s just a bunch of actors and they talk into a microphone and then somebody patches it together and then they put it out and it’s so much more complicated than that so even from that production point of view and the amount of planning and the amount of planning of the puzzles that you’ve done might be interesting just to in that sense to reveal behind the curtains so just to show right it’s a it’s a big patchwork of a puzzle but also there’s all of these different elements to putting it together and and designing it and making sure it works so um like certainly from that point of view i’d be really fascinated to hear more about that end of things um and i’m a bit of a puzzler myself as well and you know maybe not a lifelong scooby-doo fan but certainly a childhood one it makes you smile when you hear those scooby-doo like references and the way they talk about frankie the dog and also there are some buffy references throughout as well and you know and there’s one character called the other a dork you know for being so into buffet and um there are quite a lot of us out there who are very proud dorks so

well they definitely are in this conversation right now i think um the dog frankie actually instantly is named after frank welker who has voiced scooby-doo for a long time now so it’s our our master to screw current voice actor um scooby’s original voice actor was called don and i think that’s a bit of a loaded name at the moment so we went with frankie instead um but but thinking of dons i think that speaks to why i’m really fond of scooby-doo it’s always been the series about how people manufacture fear and every episode in classic scooby-doo was normally somebody greedy but certainly some certainly somebody created a culture of fear and a bunch of kids who at the time when it when when the series was conceived you know were a little bit post woodstock or whatever but they certainly weren’t they certainly there was something lightly counter-cultural about them about them debunking fear monkeys i think that resonates actually it was a young show right and i think it spoke for something that still goes on a sort of a sort of um yeah sort of a manufacturing of consent through enemy through making monsters you won’t find anyone as overly invested in scooby-doo as me but i think the best episodes really do do do something about that and i think for years scooby-doo was rubbish right i mean essentially it was just bad craftsmanship in terms of its polish and in terms of structure because because our hands were tied because they had these these incredibly tight schedules just the high water marks of craft in it are amazing so casey kasem’s original voice performance of shaggy still everyone sort of has some connection to that and the beautifully painted backdrops go far beyond what you would expect to commercialize to be able to do on the schedule they were working on the good bits of it are really good the shining elements really do stand out and then about 10 years ago there was a show called mystery incorporated which was a sort of another reboot scooby-doo i think the scripts were kind of up to the task for the first time then actually and since then it’s actually been quite solid be cool scooby-doo which came afterwards is very comedic but much more tightly written than than it was before and the animation style is very different than we used to lots of good work from the crafts people on it notwithstanding the very disappointing messy sort of corporately butchered feature film of earlier this year scoob i think we’re going through a sort of a golden age of scooby-doo i think what happened with scoob scoop the feature film of scoob was given the responsibility of launching what they thought was going to be like a hanna-barbera movie universe because that’s a new paradigm right thank you marvel and they were really pushed to distort their film outside of any sort of practical story shape to sort of serve that function and it just collapses i i say the new scoob movie is very comparable to the late 60s scooby-doo cartoons in that essentially it’s rubbish but the really good things are really good it just makes me think of all the backdrops that repeat constantly but why throw them away you’re right they’re gorgeous they they’re they’re beautifully painted and designed and everything and um and the thrill of it when you’re i’m just thinking of watching episodes as a kid and the thrill of it is can you guess which of the two other characters

sometimes three bothered to be fair yeah yeah occasionally there are three cups under which the ball might be hidden and there were plenty of times when you didn’t get it right you know it had you guessing if you look at ag for christie a lot of agatha christie is guess which of these people is the murderer and you’ve got a sort of a small group of people but the best ag for christy is you’re asking the wrong question so at the risk of spoiling murder on the orient express the solution isn’t which of these is the murderers what’s wrong with that question i think that scooby-doo’s never had never once in the history of scooby-doo has there been this complete rug pull twist actually and that would be my ambition as a scooby-doo writer so if anybody from uh from boulevard is listening right now i would love to come in and do a scooby-doo that just completely like has a total and like chamberlain twilight’s own twist or whatever in which the audience’s perception is totally rearranged because there’s no sort of murder mystery in circles the elements of mystery that are in there it’s not such a straight-up guessing game right it’s not which of these two did it it’s what’s going on here then and i think some of it’s quite easy to pin down i think that we’re quite fair because in a sort of lag of a christy sense i think that it’s not fun if you don’t put all the clues in plain sight there is a formula there that if you can just look at it in the correct angle you’ll crack it so yes i’m looking forward to things being revealed but i don’t i really don’t know i’ve got ideas i’ve got questions but i don’t know the answer so that’s a quite exciting moment to be in um i’m thinking as well that just to think back to you were saying about it’s of the time that it’s come out of it’s it’s really very much a lockdown creative project and you were saying about you the manufacturer of fear and you know there’s such a fine line at the moment between being scared of something and is there a point where you could be too scared or is there a point where you’re not scared enough and that idea of this unseen threat and you know you’re being told by somebody who seems to be in control this is what you have to do and you’ll be safe but is it enough you know or is it too much and i suppose that’s that’s where i’m uh trying to tease things out at the moment do you have any thoughts on that brandon is there anything you can tell us are they doing spoilers or what do you think i think you’ve just asked all the questions that we’re asking there really paula i think you’ve come on board with our ideas and i think that as i said it was born very much from circumstance i think that what we conclude resonates with my feelings about our circumstance i suppose this isn’t a show about lockdown this isn’t show it’s a show a mid lockdown it’s a show that happens in it and therefore it can’t help but comment on it and obviously it’s where it came from but i think ultimately what it’s about is about that question of how do you relate to the people that how do you heal how do you put old relationships back together again did you put old relationships back together again and if you have to how do you do that and it’s about forgiveness i suppose really and it’s about it’s about old friends and it’s about these very simple emotional ideas really it’s that’s very much where it ends is about we started the story with four friends hitting the ground running because there’s a fire that needs to be effectively right there’s a panic on and we end with what happens because they’ve done this what we’ve got here is essentially is imagine you um you were staying with with old friends at the time of the lockdown and you were just ready to leave but you couldn’t you know what did the next couple of days look like how do you reconcile your old relationships in that space do you know what i mean it’s that it’s closer to that if if it’s really about locked down at all it’s about you know not everybody’s though will resonate with elements of buddhist experience it’s not the universal lockdown story i suppose but i think hopefully we can all think about relationships we’ve had we don’t have any more old relationships we’re trying to maintain how relationships change over time our regrets from when we were younger how we live with them now how choices we make now are informed by choices we made a long time ago and that can be as simple as this you know the road tour from damascus thing i was talking about well we have epiphanies or i’m not one to necessarily believe i think it makes good drama that there’s a single clear cause and effect between an event happens and life changes i think normally it requires a little more accretion than that real trauma has to happen which is why you know we’re operating on such a bright cartoon scale i suppose really whatever happened to them has to happen has to be big enough that it feels like it would have this effect and i suppose just to to think about well what it was that i had actually happened in the past there is this that you do have this um isn’t it like a comic strip of the in a prequel when i saw that i thought gosh that’s a bit scooby-doo isn’t it so i’m really glad you didn’t talk all of that because i wasn’t sure about bringing that up before but um but that prequel bit does tell a bit of that story of why it is they’re doing what they’re doing in the present and um so why did you decide to do it in a comic form i think it’s impossible to pull it off but we gave it a go anyway and i think there’s a there’s a stylistic change between when they were teams and now they’re grown up if you look at the difference between scooby-doo and buffy they’re very similar but they’re not the same are they right and scooby-doo’s sort of um more naive i suppose so this sort of nostalgic aesthetic of the comic strip sort of speaks to that really they were young it is in the style it is evoking the genre of what happened to them for one of a better way of describing it um these events that happened to it it really is supposed to say it really is to post on the level all these sort of kids on but this sort of the subgenre i think goes by the handle of kids on bikes these kids on bike stories like stranger things or i suppose in some way e.t these sort of um suburban nostalgic today people feel very nostalgic about sort of stories that’s our backstory here so we’re going to tell a less naive but still sort of hopefully very story driven second chapter that comes out of that that’s the main reason it’s like that but also when we put together the sort of visual materials we’re going to use to introduce circles to people what was missing was the characters and some sort of sense sense of who our cast was i tried to sort of balance that because i’ve done all the social most of the social medias that have been invented by me they’re not executed by me i didn’t illustrate the comic i didn’t design the beautiful graphic design says that there’s a chat called happy toast great name he did our comic and there’s a guy called ryan field who did our graphics incredibly talented people but the briefs came from from me so if you look at our very moody circles artwork it’s actually one of the rules was you can only use the colors in this painted scooby-doo backdrop right so so there were sort of coats even sort of in terms of palette and things like that but nowhere were there characters nowhere with this was there some sense of this is going to be a story about some people it was just telling you genre really it was just saying slightly creepy all the message it was giving you is like this is going to be a bit moody so we sort of wanted to put something out there that said this has characters in it it really is simple as that that this is a story about people and relationships so i think under the circumstances it was only really possible to do that in a visual if we’re going to in any visual way as a comic strip really so i think that was important to making it seem like a good idea but it’s a problem because the style of chapter zero isn’t really the style of the main story we’ve had to try and sell the point that 10 years later things are serious because they’re not particularly serious in the hanna-barbera style if you if you know what i mean i mean frankie is anthropomorphized to the same extent as scooby and that enough to pull you out of the sort of empathy driven world rules we were trying to use in the main drama so it’s nostalgic it’s a nostalgic flashback it’s a look back at youth and i think that’s why we’ve done it that way and it is a very much a message of this is who they were before this thing happened and this is who they are now and um it makes that clear

i hope so is there anything more you would like to say about circles um or would you like to think about anything more broadly i mean i mean how would you i’m quite interested to ask because i think it’s very lean uh at the moment or pro probably in general but how do you get something like this funded how do you get something like this pulled together especially in this climate you know would you you don’t actually pull i think the answer to that question and i think under the circumstances of its production it happened this was made i mean it’s not really my part to speak about i’ll tell you what i can when this was pictures and everybody come together to be creative there wasn’t a check involved in that and everybody everybody volunteered everybody donated their time and yet i think i can say because the press release is going out today we gave everybody part ownership of it and what has happened our little independent show has now attracted a podcast network who have actually added it to their slave shows and today the announcement will go out so people will be listening to it and it’ll have a little promotion for one of their other shows on the front but what that means is that a little revenue will make its way to the actors oh that’s brilliant news producers and so on so you know in a sort of on a royalty basis effectively and i think that’s beautiful i think that’s really a good outcome my only rule was that advertising didn’t the show didn’t stop halfway through for an advertising break if they wanted to put a short promo at the start for something and they wanted to put a short promo at the end for something i think that was great but disrupting the narrative once it was was rolling i think was not going to work we’ve been quite clever in that our sort of narrator voice who reads our credits we provided him to the network to do the voice for the promotion feels sort of cogent with what we’ve we’ve done keep the mood going i think it’s not unfair to think if you’re going to the cinema there might be some trailers before before the movie and the secret is paula you’ve got a little button on your podcast machine that skips you forward 25 seconds or whatever it is you know and and i shouldn’t be saying this but there’s certainly no real-time media rather than print media where it’s so easy to skip the commercials i think that’s a happy outcome for our cast who did this to be part of of a project of people being creative at a time when when because audio drums normally made in studios and nobody was going into studios and it was quite a creative undertaking i think um the way jack puts it five cities into three time zones on two continents all linked simultaneously working together to produce this thing and that meant every actor also had to be their own sound engineer and they had to make sure that they were getting clear audio and that’s a bit of responsibility for them that they don’t normally have and a little bit of technical know-how that they had to acquire just to make it happen that they’re rewarded artists should be paid for their work i mean yeah oh that’s good news really good news it’s such a tough climber anyway most things like this are sort of post funded really by things like patreon or kofi or something like that and i think that the people i know who have some success there are three models for this actually there’s the huge company somebody like gimlet who makes these huge expensive hollywood star sort of audio drama productions kind of as ip farms really so that they then then sell the tv rights to amazon on netflix for x squadillion dollars um so something like homecoming started with catherine kina as a podcast and then became julia roberts and later janelle monae on amazon and their business model is to create a brand and sell the ip and that’s the exact opposite end of the spectrum of what we can do though it could it’s not impossible it could happen to anybody but we when you come with catherine keen are attached you have amazon’s attention then there’s the one that’s sort of the ongoing series where people run patrons or or something like crowdfunding kickstarters or things like that to get things done and actually our protagonist tal they uh do lots of these their career really is as a combined actor and sound designer editor on a number of podcasts for which they create revenue through patreon and kofi and so on and they’re quite successful because they’re good for tell i have some friends who have had the success of making a little money to go back into the pot to fund the next thing that way but also apply for grants particularly in the uk there’s quite a few arts grants if you can demonstrate some capability to pull this off then i think you’re likely to get support and then the last way of doing it is just selling these things i don’t think people quite realize there are ways to produce something to put on audible no matter who you are now it’s quite easy to create something and distribute it as a podcast everybody in their dog has a podcast these days right but actually it’s quite easy to get things on audible now it’s much less discoverable and audible again is very much about what title of hodder and stalton paid tens of thousands to put on the front page right or whatever but if one were to go and search on audible under my name they’d find something under there that generates revenue per purchase there’s a royalty scheme there’s a kind of a sort of a similar to sort of kindle self-publishing way into the audible system that i think people don’t know about we’ve not talked at all about about my project that’s on audible but it’s not something i self-initiated it’s a sort of a project i came in on as a writer somebody else’s project to bring a bit of story shape and structure to and to work it out but what’s been interesting is looking at the numbers is that despite it being a much more direct financial model in that people have to purchase your product and you will be get a revenue share it’s much less likely to actually generate revenue in the long run because it’s much harder to build an audience for the thing and that’s the sort of space where huge publishers and big brands and stars kind of have a monopoly i think it’s much easier when you’re giving something away for people to take a punt on something actually yeah there’s nothing to lose perhaps 20 minutes not even 20 minutes in the case of episode one that’s exactly it yeah yeah you can and you can i think you know after a few minutes whether you want to stay with something or not generally do give it those almost 20 minutes so people i’ll say that one of my regrets about circles is i think we fall into a bit of a trap that netflix fall into actually regularly often there’s a temptation where you have a big story beat or a big turning point in your story that would be a good cliffhanger i’ll put that at the end of the episode and so we build towards the end of the first episode being quite big and i think in respect i’d bring that forward quite a long way in the episode actually and restructure so that that we leave off on a different cliff hanger i would break the story in different places and like pace up the front of it and it does start immediate and we do hit the ground running and i think the first episode there’s a lot of working out where we are but i think that what happens at the end of the first episode people like that so much that i would like to bring it forward so that everyone gets to know that that’s part of the deal you sort of learn what the show is by the end of the first episode and i think we could have done a better job in teaching them a bit more quickly i think well um but maybe 16 minutes isn’t too long i don’t know that’s not i mean that’s still shorter than an average episode of a television program say your cliffhanger was 16 minutes into a 22-minute tv show that’s still a big moment isn’t it i loved the good place the tv showed a good place and one of the things i really liked the good place is it got to its block points a couple of beats ahead of schedule every time yeah i was thinking about the good place actually when you were saying about the cliffhanger i was thinking about that exactly because they just hit a big cliffhanger in the middle of an episode sometimes or the whole end of the first season and you think oh oh gosh that’s everything you know or um the seeds of it are planted so early on about what’s actually happening so um i was thinking that as well in retrospect i wish i wish i thought more about the good place when we were making circles to be honest actually because i think their little band of four people thrown together in a natural circumstances is closer to what we’re doing than i even thought of whereas each of their seasons sort of ended with a with a reboot had a new season in mind we really are wrapping things up at the end of the fourth one but i think i think it’s always possible to tell a second story i mean if someone said to me what’s the sequel to casablanca i know people be very skeptical about it but i believe that there is a good story to be told it might take a long time and a lot of work to work out what it is you have to be quite self-aware of all the problems that you could be getting into and you have to trust that an audience won’t just immediately put their defenses up just because you’re sequel to casablanca but i believe that there’s a great story that can be told probably subsequently to any story because anything can be the foundation for a story and similarly i think when it comes to adaptation when people talk about fidelity and adaptation i think it’s a bit of a red herring really i think if someone said to me adapt this jane austen book or this stephen king or something i would totally treat it like a piece of clay or a first draft that i can change in any way to get to telling a story that i believe in and can tell well myself i don’t think i can tell someone else’s story as well as i can tell my own so if i have to change things then i think i would i think that’s too much concern with fidelity when it comes to adaptation and i don’t know why i think people fetishize continuity in canon and that’s something that i’ve tried to weaponize in circles a little bit part of the game is what riff on scooby is this or what riff on buffy is this or how can that knowledge help us here or what continuity of cannon is at work here what did they just say her boyfriend’s name is hang on what did they say her boyfriend’s name is this time and so on and things like that so maybe that was a bit of a smoking gun there but things like like that are hopefully weaponized the peripheral little bits of additional information the stuff that would be in those star wars extended universe novels that i heard drag through the mud on one of your podcasts maybe that’s not fair but um but that’s all the material how can you use that and that was something i was thinking about a little bit on this story okay that’s really fascinating stuff yeah a lot to think about there um okay then is there anything else you you feel like you would really like to cover that we haven’t got to so far the only thing i say is i think you can probably tell any story in any medium if you’re prepared to change the story to work in that medium yeah but when you’re doing something in audio i think you kind of have to grasp it i’ve written a few audio things before a few produced audio things before and a lot of unproduced audio things before and yet i think there’s still a lot of learning to be done but i think you know like if i want to tell you how to cook pancakes paula i’m not going to do it for sculpture garden i’m going to write a recipe on a piece of paper and while i could do it with a sculpture garden and you walk around in each sculpture quite literally is a figurative representation of the steps and you can see an egg cracking in the air and the yolk’s frozen is it coming into the bowl or whatever i can quite clearly relate to you in a way that you can decode but it’s not very practical how are you going to consult that when you’re standing in your kitchen with the ingredients right i think you know without getting into the mcluhan the medium is the message i think choose the medium that suits the message really but i did that sort of backwards here i had to choose a message i think suited the medium and i think it did come out of the idea of getting in people’s ears and being on the phone and and i think this is this is about phone calls and i think an awful lot of audio drama is really disguised prose a lot of it is captain’s log or or sort of variations on on that i’m not interested in that personally very much as much as i have written a couple i’m always looking for ways to use audio in which it doesn’t get in the way which is not an obstacle to the storytelling i think that was one of the things that shaped circles more powerfully than anything else in what way does the audio not get in the way in what way does it best benefit us i did a shortcut the hypnotist in which i wanted to dramatize lots of events purely in audio and i thought well i need a device through which somebody’s going to be giving an account and i thought the trope of hypnotic regression works that way so what you’re literally listening to is a drama of two people sitting in a room and yet you get their subjective impressions of something that happened a long time before recounted for you so it was about finding audio devices to tell the story i think that’s still quite untapped and i’m quite excited to hear what people do and i’m excited myself to explore more ways of doing this i think certainly if the world does need to change at least for another couple of years that’s a really exciting testing ground for working in audio and actually re-privileging audio over the visual as well so i mean because it’s because podcasting it’s not the same as radio but they do have parallels and similarities i’m just thinking back to other radio dramas that i’ve heard you know on radio 4 and things and i think you’re on to something with it feels like well maybe it’s an adaptation of prose where they’ve lifted out the dialogue and fleshed it out a bit and used that to describe what people are doing but i think that’s the difference with circles there’s so much going on in the soundscape that i can hear what people are doing and then that helps me see it so yes i think there’s definitely something to especially with the technologies that we’ve got and if you’re saying that i mean the actors themselves using whatever they’ve got in their houses for example you know that’s it shows you what we can do more on the hoof even more than before never mind just in a recording studio there’s a combination of means of creating the soundscape in circles and sometimes you’ll hear an actor literally interacting with an object and sometimes you’ll hear effectively completely artificial sound design and sometimes it’s somewhere in the middle it’s a bit foley that was laid in afterwards this was all done quite carefully to create the final end result and i will say i think we went a bit wider the mark a couple of times and i think there’s a couple of sound effects in the first episode that are a little close they’re a bit too bold they’re not quite natural enough really i think they don’t we didn’t quite weave them into a tapestry not for any lack of skill on the part of our sound editor but because it was a very difficult ask our sort of shaggy character jeff we were trying to evoke his shagginess a little bit and i think we went a little cartoon in some ways a little bit with him but by the time you get to the fourth episode some of the audio in there is so incredibly complicated i don’t think anyone will ever really know what is the sound of an actor moving in space or what’s laid on them and in fact you kind of can’t tell and we’ve sort of officialized some stuff for reasons to do with the narrative and things like that that it was quite a complicated undertaking of which you know i lit the touch paper and sort of told people what they had to do and i just had to sit back and listen to them do it and be grateful that they did it and again during the whole production i just sat there and listened i was there for all of the recording sessions listening in as a voyeur really because once the scripts were delivered there wasn’t much left me to apart from the occasional notes and it is fascinating to see that the many levels of production and post-production that go into something like this cinema is my first love really moving image storytelling i i’m sort of past making a distinction between tv and cinema now really i think the fundamental language is the same but the minute i’m really intrigued in sort of trying to do some stuff in audio where i think there’s just so many people rushing to do it the way that they know that it can be do something that’s already been done i don’t i just want to try and try some stuff that’s not quite being done so i’m going to probably you’ll be you’ll be hearing some failures over the next couple of years paula as i said failure’s good though that’s that’s the testing ground isn’t it i mean scientific works because things fail so that’s we need to experiment we need to be allowed to feel that’s what the arts should be allowed to do as much as science i think that would be that’s the plan yeah but i really look forward to hearing all your failures and your successes from the coming years i’m sure there will be many successes um because if circles is anything to go by then it’s really exciting to see what else you can come up with and to really start to pave the way in what can make audio fiction and us but i suppose audio script writing really distinctive from the likes of audiobooks or just telling a story or not just telling a certain video telling a story in a in an oral storytelling tradition or something yeah actually using you know well i’m telling stories through people making sounds whether it’s with their mouths or stuff they’re doing or whatever but actually using sound as the medium creating a living real-time i think is the thing that’s the game here and i think bypassing the eyes learning to lean in doing a little bit of visualization or encouraging a bit of visualization and again the audience have to meet us halfway and i would say paula if your game when you’ve got all four episodes give it a go maybe just somewhere you’re not looking at anything right and try and see what that experience might be for you because though we can’t expect anyone to do that i’m quite sure that it’s it’s a better experience for the listener if that’s the case and there’s nothing we can do about that you know we can’t mandate that your headphones only work when you’ve got a blindfold on right it doesn’t it doesn’t work like that but um it does do the story the world of good i think if you imagine yourself sitting in a room in the dark just like these other people that you’re with then you might feel like you’re part of the drama actually you may feel like you’re on the end of these phone calls or bearing witness to these phone calls in a closer way than if you’re like i was saying yesterday banging around in the kitchen while trying to and not really concentrating properly alexander mckendrick the great filmmaker the ealing filmmaker was a film teacher and when he talked to his students about choosing where to put the camera he talked about this sort of imaginary winged invisible creature and that the camera would represent its point of view and i would say the closer you can be to being some sort of disembodied presence floating in the phone lines when you’re listening to circles the closer you can come to embodying that like you are a spirit in the phone wires just listening to this stuff the closer you are to the best circles experience we have to bring something as well to share in the process i think yeah sorry we tried to make as little of that as possible you know but but like reading a book you’ve got to read it well that’s it you have to bring something i mean even i mean the film critic mark carmod says the film is only what you bring to it as well so it’s with anything that we engage in any work of culture that we engage in we have to do some of the work that’s just how it is so the story happens in your head exactly every time it’s an individual experience for everyone who engages so that’s that’s just how it is and it’s a great privilege to get as close to people’s heads as audio allows you to i think really and i think that that’s why it’s quite an exciting medium i think and we’ve just been doing that for a very long time now so we’ve i feel like i’ve been sitting on your listener’s shoulder for quite some time

that’s fine yes i won’t take up any of your time but you’ve been so generous with talking us through circles and all your brilliant ideas and everything brandon it’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you this morning not at all i’ve enjoyed it great i just want to really encourage people to really give circles a good go wherever you pick up your podcasts and really actively listen to it this has been audiovisual cultures with me paula blair and my very special guest brendan conley the music is common ground by our tone licensed under a 3.0 non-commercial creative commons attribution and is available at the podcast is released every other wednesday please do rate share and subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts and do remember that if you need transcriptions the best thing to do is find my youtube channel if you search for pea blair that’s the best thing to do it’s linked on all of our social media as well and you can get the auto-generated captions they’re not perfect but they’re the best we can do at the minute for transcriptions and you can also see some of the full recordings of the episodes there as well uh huge thanks to all our members as we said before at patreon and if you feel like you would really like to support the podcast but you’re not sure about a membership do go to buy me a forward slash p e a blair and you can just drop me a fiver there because everything really helps if you get something out of this it helps us keep going it helps improving um and it just means we can get going for a bit longer hopefully um so yes thank you so much for listening it’s been lovely to have you it’s been lovely to have brandon on this one i’m learning so much about the wealth of our audio production landscape lately and um yeah so it’s just a really exciting time and hopefully we’ll see loads more brilliant things to come so thanks for listening take care of yourselves be excellent to each other and i will catch you next time you


Audiovisual Cultures episode 78 – Audio Production with Jack Bowman automated transcript

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hello and welcome to audiovisual cultures podcast with me paula blair i’m really delighted this time to be joined by audio drama and podcast producer jack bowman and he’s going to tell us all about his pretty extensive career in all things audio production so i’m really really looking forward to this one thank you so much to all our amazing patrons all our lovely lovely members on forward slash av cultures your support is so very valued if you would like to join the membership if you’d like to join the pod you can check that page out and look around our tiers the different things that are on offer for each tier what benefits you get and have a think for as little as a pound a month you can access loads of extra stuff so please do check it out because it really helps the podcast keep going and keep improving and all that sort of stuff so um as well as that just before we talk to jack uh just thanks as well for everybody who’s been engaging on social media and even if you’re not following but you find us and you’re engaging somehow hello and welcome please give us a follow you can check us out on uh on facebook and twitter as av cultures or instagram as av cultures pod and i’ll be back at the end with some other ways of being part of the conversation getting in touch always looking for guests really happy to hear from from people and a big thanks to jack as well because he reached out using which is a website where podcasters and podcast guests can find each other it’s a bit like a dating site but for nerdy like being on podcasts so if you’re one of those people uh please do get in touch it’d be lovely to hear from you i’m really open to all sorts of ideas anything that could be vaguely in the ballpark of audio and or visual culture i would love to hear from you so i really do hope to hear from you soon okay so i’ll be back at the end with a few more bits and pieces but for now please do enjoy this chat with jack i’d really love to welcome audio drama and podcast producer jack vogman hello jack how are you doing this evening i’m really well thank you how are you doing i’m fine thanks yeah so jack you have got a really extensive career in audio production in many different roles and hopefully we’ll we’ll unpack quite a lot of that as we chat tonight but um i was wondering if you would be able to just give us a bit of an overview of your career and anything you want to highlight any specialisms you want to focus on okay so i graduated um from university in 2000 and i started a career as an actor um 20 years ago now and from there um i had i actually had two three good years working um as work began to dry up someone recommended to me i was a stage actor primarily and someone said uh you know if things aren’t going your you know things aren’t going your own way make your own work so okay cool we thought all right i’ll do that and i went off to write my uh writer stage play uh for me a little two-hander called frozen which ended up being performed at the et cetera theater in north london in camden and at the same time the day job was working at the london dungeon which had a phenomenal actors company at the time a lot of really talented people in there like matt berry was there and ben whitehead and also in that company at the time was um mario ranika temple who was a massive massive fan of voice acting and audio plays um and she came to see the play and she had had this idea about us you know as a little collective just kind of getting together creating our own content and just putting it on the internet through a website for people to download through mp3 and this was the exciting new medium as it was then known at the time as online radio yeah that’s how far back it goes and and and then in the year or two basically we were creating scripted podcast content uh which people could come to the wireless theater was the company still is and people could come to that website pull down his plays and walk away and that was my first foray basically falling into writing so i ended up doing adapting that first stage play for them uh a few months later we got a call from timothy west of pinellas scales they were looking to do something with the company so i was asked to pitch and write a bespoke piece for two of the biggest theatrical actors in the land no pressure second second play second play as a writer um and then from there um it just fell into a groove of uh writing little bits of pieces for them 3d horrify and that’s when we uh got we pulled an old idea of mine at the draw which was uh spring hill saga which i’ve actually written back in 2000 so i’ve been sitting there for a few years along the way um because my acting career had a little bit of a jump start again didn’t last long and the answer would be obvious in a second was uh i was doing a play and we were all having such a terrible time i literally just turned around and said you know what i think i could direct better than we’ve been directed right now uh three weeks later he popped a script and we in box to direct spook squad with uh david benson in it so literally it was like okay challenge accepted there’s your script off so i had to learn how to cast schedule um find the time to you know learn on a job and how to direct play and then that was my first foray into learning how to work with engineers editors post-production sound design um at which point uh spring hill started became a thing and that’s where then was effectively a joint producer so i it seems like i kept getting moved sideways and up a little bit along the way um so that started basically yeah i went from actor who just wrote on the side to audio producer in about three and a half years and every every step of the way learning on the job because i hadn’t gone through any formal training or any sort of media courses or anything like that no broadcast training and that was ten years uh at wireless and then we got to 2017 when they asked me to move over to work audible uk which was studio managing and producing some of the long-form multicast dramas like murder on the orion express and the darkwater bride and arabian arabian nights and towards the end of 2018 this is where um this kind of probably gets relevant for anyone interested in podcasting um i got a phone call from uh dagas media fred greenhouse and the uh late great bill dufrese and they like started telling me about how the podcast market in the us has started to explode and there was a massive upswing of interest in scripted podcast uh drama and fred fred had been doing it as long as i had he actually started at the same time and bill dufrese was a veteran working with like people with dirt mags right back to the you know like i think the early 1990s of bbc radio 4. so they they all they had a kind of understanding of the culture of audio storytelling here in the uk and originally we were looking at an idea about how we could team up and do something together but what eventually ended up happening was that i joined daggers for two years and we were developing um and we still are we would have had a series uh in production this year and not the dreaded bug got in the way um but uh yeah there was a case of actually then moving into kind of international uh production and how to coordinate projects between two continents and different time zones so we produced a pilot there um and that led on they were impressed enough with the the draft uh fred and i had worked together on this pilot called wholesale solution and they were impressed enough to say look uh you’ve actually been off this rather exciting gig to create a trans media storytelling experience called uh expeditionary force home front uh which was actually gonna be uh it’s a book series and the books are narrated by the great rc bray um but what they wanted to do was insert an audio drama between two of the books so we spent about a year working on that um and that did incredibly incredibly well and that’s roughly the point where then um bbc studios then approached me and i became a production consultant for them uh for nine months as a joke i did nine months and four months contract and just uh just somehow i’ve ended up you know going from just not just like a me a producer but um someone who’s been thrust into the heart of all these different networks and platforms and the scripted podcast space and you know the advances and changes that are going on so it’s it it’s you know not quite sure how but i kind of ended up in this very blessed position where um you know i get called on by a lot of companies to help their scripted audio content do a lot of matchmaking between content creators and platforms now as well so um i’ve sort of ended up uh being a consultant and particularly for the us as well so you know no no it believes me the future historians this is recorded in the year 2020 and for the record i got to the us twice this year so um so yeah that’s that’s kind of like you know every everything i’ve kind of done along the way and just just to say it’s it’s pretty much in the last 15 years uh in america let’s say oh you’re a podcasting veteran it’s like i’ve just been doing it a long time and learning as i go and just just watching how the the market is changing and particularly how scripted podcast fiction is now becoming its own thing which is the most exciting thing thank you for that overview that’s brilliant jack um yeah there’s a lot there to try and try to get into but yeah i was really wondering about that media landscape and there’s a lot of scholarship now trying to figure out where does podcasting belong is it something with radio is it between radio and tv and film or those kinds of things but it was really interesting about you mentioning transmedia projects and you know um i was watching a lot of the trailers almost for the audio plays that you’ve been doing and then there’s something slightly cinematic about those but it’s really just for the the teaser trailer you know and yeah so i was wondering if you had any observations about because you’ve been with podcasting before it was even called that you know really from the start you know what what observations you had about the media itself is that the polite way of saying i’m old not at all not at all so um yeah so i think one of the things that we we worked out quite early on and i was quite passionate about was uh because we initially had this label of online radio and a lot of our media tradition in the uk in particular was because of bbc content you know that has carried on whereas in the us kind of scripted uh dramatized radio fell away the end of the 1970s um because of you know that association that this kind of form of storytelling is the kind of thing you would hear on radio 4. i think it has taken an awful long time for people to realize that um podcasting is a different form of storytelling it’s not just a different form of delivery for the audio content so um i use uh an example that um if you if you were to put out a radio plate as a producer you were desperate for one letter to come in to the bbc or um cbc or wherever and it’s the listener who says i was in a hurry i drove to the supermarket and uh i had to be in that store by eight o’clock i turned on the radio and i listened to that play and i couldn’t get out of the car until it was finished we all know this story right now with podcasting you know that means that basically what that listener is saying is that whether it be music or scripted uh dramatization or radio plays um they’re effectively got a bias to treat the sound they’re listening to as um as potentially as wallpaper is noise rather than something to engage with the big difference with what uh scripted audio podcasting is that the second any listener picture podcast 99 of the time they’re going to use a pair of headphones they are challenging you to get into their ears and into that uh that imagination of this and that is where i think the last year or two you start to see people wake up and realize that it’s not just a different delivery method it’s a different form of storytelling and in my book yes you could say is it is it radio well i say some of the traditions for the storytelling yes come from radio is it between pog is it you know between audio and television i don’t think so and there’s a i think i’ve got a a good business argument why it’s not okay if you look at what’s happening in the us i think what it is is it’s a complete inverse of the old radio play it’s something that demands to be intimate listen to immersive um and you know with with some some radio and you know some radio plays and some audio performances it’s pushing the story out at you but i think a brilliant podcast story is actually saying come here it’s it it i think it goes back to sort of our campfire tradition that makes sense of like i’m going to tell you a little story now and i think that’s starting to make people realize that they need to you know rethink things like sound design the way the story is structured um because you know it’s taken a long time for people to realize that you know particularly they come from a radio background that an episode doesn’t have to be say for example 22 minutes and 14 seconds long because that’s a radio four slot and it can be as immersive and as expansive as you need it to be but it’s hard the story the storytelling has to put you in the middle of it so that’s that’s why i would argue podcasting has and you know someone is listening to this uh podcast now even though this is uh you know conversational podcast it’s not scripted in any way they are demanding that we engage them enough yeah to be to be pulled in um and that that’s what i think it is and i tell you why i don’t think it sits between podcasts uh sits between being something that’s almost television or almost film at the minute there’s a lot of experiments going on in the american market where people are going oh we’ve got this tv show we can’t quite get it off the ground or we don’t want to spend three four million dollars developing it so we’ll turn it into a podcast we’ll just put some sound effects on it and push it out and that doesn’t work so that tells you that the language uh of television cannot easily convert to audio if you just like dramatize the scripts and put some bells and whistles on top so it is its own unique its own unique art form in that way so yes there’s plenty of crossover and i think the one the one point where that is valid is there i certainly think because of the way podcast storytelling works you’ve got to remember it’s in its infancy as well there are things we can draw from film production which are valid there are things we can draw from television production which are valid because it’s all very very experimental right now but in terms of what it is it’s absolutely 100 its own form of storytelling

that’s a fantastic answer thanks yes um that’s because i’m old um not at all um no i was just thinking because we’ve we’ve had oral forms of storytelling for longer than we’ve had written language so it makes sense that we would keep circling back to those forms in some way and now that we can make them in this way and circulate them and it can be pretty instant you know we can they can just be released as soon as they’re ready pretty much and almost anybody can hear them you know there’s something really special about that i think yes i mean that’s the thing i always this is another thing as well like um with television or film or theater you know you always wanted to play to the crowd or play to the gallery or play to the largest possible audience or demographic with podcasting what you’re actually doing is you are after a listener a single listener who connects with your material what hopefully will happen is that you’ll have one million a listeners if that makes sense that you know there’s there’s a million individuals out there who are individually connected with the storytelling and um that that’s a really lovely thing when it happens but you know as a you know it literally just does demand focus on one person to listen and be engaged rather than say this is this is something you know six people could listen to at the same time or something like that in a in a room i think one thing i like about audio whether it’s radio or podcasting is i can do something you know i can i can be doing something else you know so i’m listening and i’m concentrating and i’m engaged but i can be doing something else that doesn’t take much concentration you know so i can do embroidery or something like that because that’s what i’m into um but do you know what i mean so it’s something you can be doing actively something else with your hands while you’re going what’s gonna happen next you know and and that’s the other thing to say as well it’s the headphones that i think are are that link i mean um there’s you know there’s a few podcasts that i have sort of played over over my speaker just because i couldn’t find my headphones and i’m desperate to listen to them uh i was like that with uh the missing crypto queen sounds which uh non-fiction if you haven’t listened to that one do it’s just like a stun a stunning uh piece of uh journalism and the dropout actually as well which again is a non-fiction but when i when it comes to my scripted content i need to put these headphones on and direct just you know i’ve been listening to sam at my dirt mags recently and it’s just like headphones on in the dark take me into this story because you can almost see it the the the signs and the design design of it i was listening to quite a few samples of of you of work that you’ve been involved with on your website today and i was listening to i listened to the first episode of the spring heal saga and you know and yeah i could it was the signs of 1837 london were just making me see in my mind those things you know and almost smell it you know and it transports you and your imagination actually opens up from just that one sense all your other senses start kicking into action which is really fascinating it is because like when we started spring here you know we were having a conversation just in the cafe before the first recording session and this is where like um my tradition as a kid was like my dad played me the jeff wayward worlds um and he played me journey into space which is a old bbc classic it was the last radio program in the uk to get higher uh higher audience figures than television

and i had kind of been turned on to that kind of audio storytelling as a kid anyway but uh along the way uh you know i started to absorb the work of dirk mags who basically has he’s been making you know podcast level drama since the 1990s so he was you know he was you know years and years ahead of curve in terms of the way he did sound design and telling stories and audio movies um and i remember just sitting there saying um i think i think we should try dirk mags this and we just went hell forever but what i find fascinating about your comment is that you know something like an audio movie like spring hill is incredibly laid so there’s les you know it’s not just one level of atmos sometimes it can be six or seven then we have the dialogue and how that is all treated and edited and tightened and paced up to remove what i call um you know sort of traditional radio rhythm which they don’t normally pace up the actors words or dialogue in a radio play because it’s kind of recorded you know as it is it’s always recorded live and then treated afterwards um and that leads to what i call radio rhythm where there’s a line and then the next line and then the next one there’s always a second delay because that’s the actors working through the cans and that’s the brain receiving what they’re listening to um yeah so spring here we did all that type but you know and then we had layers of spot effects and like you know scrapes and you know whatever it whatever it takes you know it’s just all that you know in the real world that would be that but what i find fascinating is that by giving you more i think you’re kind of implying it’s actually freeing up your imagination rather than us quite as as loading that with more owl more arrow whimper it’s kind of letting your brain go to places that um you know you see what i’m trying to say it’s like you’re trying to get you know you’re saying you could almost smell it you know all we did was you know break various sound designers along the way by adding 600 more layers to each scene

but i i find it fascinating that um you know that you know we kind of just we really made a beeline to sort of homage that great work and um and that’s kind of the response from a listener point of view that’s that’s that’s fascinating for me okay um yeah and i i i thought it might be interesting to ask you about genre as well because you seem to a lot of your projects seem to go for mystery and possibly murder mystery and with an element of the supernatural would that be fair to say yes uh well i mean i always joke it’s like uh you know where where’s the explosions where’s the monsters and uh where’s the running around uh but i mean that that’s that’s part of i think the tradition of the kind of stuff i absorbed when growing up so like um you know you know a typical british kid growing up of course you know it was a lawyer you had to watch doctor who yeah um you know i was introduced to things like jerry anderson even even before you know way before jerry anderson became cool again in the 90s i knew jerry anderson well uh star trek um you know all these kind of generous stuff x-files not actually weirdly masses of horror um but now you got me wondering where the murder mystery started i mean my mom was a little colombo okay so maybe maybe that’s where the the mystery stuff comes from um but you know it’s at the end yeah i’d say it’s fair that i do gravitate towards a lot of a lot of genre-based um content simply because it’s it’s what i love doing and it’s the kind of stuff i enjoy yeah and and as i say write what you know and uh to be fair after frozen i didn’t have many more domestic kitchen sink dramas left for me so um you know and also strangely enough i mean some of the horror commissions that um i did things like intruder and autopsy i was actually asked to write rather than being my own idea so uh i mean what i mean by that is that a company called 3d horrify said writing some scripts that have got to be scary but just pitch ideas and um i think that’s probably what gave me the reputation for being a horror person is doing those autopsies become quite cold i found out i didn’t know this but because i wrote it under a pen name um i was speaking to another podcast a couple of weeks ago and they said oh you wrote the autopsy and i said yes is that a thing do people like it oh yeah it’s good all right okay um so yeah i think that’s where the like the the association of me doing horror comes from is that spell where i was churning out a lot of those but the thing is you need you need stakes you need jeopardy in any storytelling so you know and you know in genre the stakes tend to be higher therefore more frightening so there’s always going to be shades of the mysteries are going to be incredibly mysterious the horrors are going to be potentially incredibly horrifying but hopefully that means that hopefully that means that the thrills are particularly thrilling so yeah fingers crossed yeah and i think as well um because because you’re not seeing anything and you’re left with your imagination of what people characters might be saying or not saying or what shadows are falling it’s it might be even scarier than what a horror film say doesn’t show you for example because it’s your own imagination and that can be a very scary place absolutely i mean like i i i keep meaning to write a blog and i’ve probably got to do it this sunday yeah before the last episode of circles comes out but i i was massively blown away by a film by scott derrickson and uh cargill robert c robert cargill called sinister with ethan hawke and that is like uh i i’ve got to know cargill since he’s such a cool dude he’s like bill and ted in one person it just just is so bodaciously wonderful and yeah so like he did they did this film called sinister and what blew me away was the fact that it was absolutely terrifying it was all about what wasn’t seen and the use of sound and the use of jump scares is so restrained in that and it’s terrifying for it and uh it was like i i said to him i was like you know you know you why were you pulling your punches and it came out this big r rated movie it was like horror horror horror and he said well we kind of got screwed by the mpaa because what we were going for was a pg-13 horror like poltergeist so we removed all the gore all the violence and we just relied on you know cutting away in jumps and uh cutting away in sounds you know to scare you and the mpa just went this is terrifying and slapped an and i just went something there isn’t there there’s more about the the horror of what your imagination can do if you’re just pulling pulling those levers um you know things like patterns repetition um we play with this recently in uh with circles where um some some of the listeners have started to clock some think we’ve left in the soundscape okay um and i’m not going to spoil it because we haven’t seen last night yet but someone someone’s like going what’s that because we were just sitting there and i was doing like the the final tweaks on it and we’re listening no we just need you know you just need to put something in there that puts put your your brain just a little bit off

so but um yeah i mean it’s it’s it’s sound does a lot more for your imagination you know you sit in bed one night and you hear a tap in your bedroom see it started already yeah you know you know people don’t like creaky houses that’s just science that’s just the house cooling down at the end of the day yeah yeah but it’s creepy can you hear a creak or a thud or a scrape or you know what i mean i think i think one of the thing is it’s someone said something cool which is uh technically we all live uh we all live in the past because it the time it takes for our brain to process what we see but sound is almost instant yeah yeah and i think i think that’s another thing as well that when there’s a creepy sound it’s just ahead of your eye and then you’re looking for that threat yeah and your body’s reacting before you’ve identified what’s gone on yeah interesting yes and there’s another sorry just following on there’s another great example from the commentary on the you see what i’m talking about so you can learn things from film and i think it’s when tom skerritt gets killed by spoilers for a 40 year old movie uh tom skerritt gets killed by the alien and he he looks up and he’s terrified yeah as it leaps down and kills him and he says oh i played that wrong because the first thing that happens when you see something terrifying is not to be scared is that you’re bored because or is your brain’s default moment of i’ve got no idea because you can you can have a winning lottery ticket but you’re not going to jump out you know or is this this zone you go into so one of the things i’m always like particularly when doing horror or you know looking at those big big scary moments is don’t go straight into the fear because you you’ve got your brain is working out fight or flight or freeze the script is going to tell you what that reaction is for the character but you need that moment because then you know otherwise it’s gonna you know that note of using or in times of extreme fear and stress has probably been the most invaluable thing when approaching horror work which is just get that moment where your brain is locked and if you get that then i think you can take you can take your listener anywhere right gosh yeah i’m just thinking because i listened to the first episode of circles today as well and um it’s really fascinating how it’s done because you’re left wondering all the time what’s going on what are they scared of what is this thing and it’s revealed to you quite slowly and it just unfolds gradually through this series of phone calls and um so i mean would you would you like to just outline circles because that’s what you’ve got oh you re you know that’s that’s current it’s happening right now sure so circles is um a project we took during the global lockdown it’s a four-part mini horror series podcast event for halloween spooky and it’s about a group of friends who have to take refuge in chalk circles because they they took on uh when they were kids they took on a demon 15 years ago and due to circumstances beyond the control that demon is back so their their only line of defense is to all sit in chalk circles and talk to each other over their cell phones and their mobiles and uh from there there’s a classic game of cat and mouse because if they’re in if they’re inside the safe space how how does that demon get them and that that that’s what’s unfolding it’s uh it’s it’s a great mystery in like who who you can trust where the threat is coming from how it’s going to get to them and uh you know first clues unfold probably at the end of part one with the cliffhanger uh which you know i i when i heard that the post-production i got chills as long as yeah but i thought is it just me but um like a lot of people literally lost over uh cliffhanger sort of thing okay all right i think i think we’re okay now we’re on good grounds here yeah it definitely had that effect on me as well today because i’ve i listened to it and i thought i don’t don’t know about this i’ll do i’ll give it away i’ll give it a go share and then got just more and more oh this is quite creepy and then yes by the end of the episode i thought okay that’s yeah okay that’s that’s the thing because we we’re not going for uh we’re not going like that it’s just all about you know we’re saying come inside inside come inside the circle come listen to this podcast in your ears but what it’s a you know what it’s actually doing it’s not betraying that trust it’s yeah the the script that uh brendan put together with his writer’s room um i’ve been working with brendan for a year now on another pilot he’s got and he pitched me this idea and just within seconds of when we’ve got to do this yeah i i can hit this is the thing i can i could see and i could see how it was going to sound it’s paradoxical that’s kind of how my brain works i kind of see sound it’s my weird superpower what good that is for saving the world i do not know but i could instantly see the podcast and it was like yeah i said yes because the next challenge was with no studios or no setup or anything like that it was like i i while they were busy writing the script and i said yes let’s do it i was literally running around calling up colleagues saying how do we do this so there was about three weeks of research going back and forth between two colleagues in the us and peers and all over the shop um and yeah i ended up working out okay production wise um because we we actually did that across two continents and three time zones life with the actors wow uh and the uk actors were working in the dark whereas one of our cast was working in the california sunshine so it’s like how do you invite cora with that around um no it’s like we we never betray through you know because all the actors work together live yeah you get that you get that spontaneity and that was actually very good for controlling that creepiness because we can control the pace we can just oscillate things and that i think shows that we we don’t you know do anything cheap with it we don’t make it go all quiet and do a a big jump scare or anything like that we’re absolutely relying on the performances and the realism which the cars give to to unnerve you and there was a lot of notes about or as well so particularly the end of episode one um yeah yeah brilliant great stuff and um yeah so uh and i mean it is it is maybe it’s pretty on the nose just how relevant it is this year because the i mean the strap line is stay safe stay inside and of course there’s um a very big parallel with the messaging we’ve had in the uk about coronavirus of um stay home stay safe and that kind of thing so just this idea that if you stay in a particular confined space it won’t get you so um but it might get you though it’s a scary thing yeah that’s that’s that’s the thing because like uh this was like brendan’s artistic response to what was going on it’s really good yeah and uh yeah though i care there’s a lot of you know stay and say uh stop stay inside stay safe or stay in your circle um you know we’re now using the phrase bubbles stay in your bubble um like brenda was like why can’t i said circle but you know point taken is that that you know it’s like this whole uh you know you’re right it’s all about characters locking themselves in for safety but they’re not safe you know so you know where does it go from there that’s it yeah that’s it great um yeah and so it’d be if you’re happy to be nice to then uh think about the spring heel saga as well because i’ve got really into that now too and um so just for listeners are you happy to just outline that story as well because that was when you co-wrote wasn’t it under your yes we yeah yeah with robert valentine uh so we still so originally i had that idea in 2000 um this is a fun fact i was given one of those great big books of the unexplained okay you know where um uh you know like what are grey aliens and what’s what’s well um and my dad bought that for me and i i was devouring that and going through and there were two entries that really really fascinated me one was about the uh the one talk project in the us which is a huge urban legend in itself and i was going around saying what about this montauk thing and i said everyone said no there’s there’s no creative mileage in that at all hashtag stranger things and the second one was i found um spring hill saga uh sorry i found spring hill jack and that’s uh they said because i was a i’m a south london south london lad uh and uh in london through and through and what fascinated me about this was this was an entry about a mysterious entity known as spring hill jack who stalked the streets of london he had a 70-year reign of terror from 1837 right really up until his last proper selecting which was 1901 and i never heard of him so i delved down and i wrote this idea and i sketched out what i thought would be sort of a very exciting itv 9 p.m um show kind of x-file you know x-files meets the predator kind of thing and i quickly realized that i was insane and no one was going to give that kind of show to a 21 year old so i put it in the drawer and uh a few years later i was having a meal with uh with rob and he’d read the treatment back in 2001 and he said uh why don’t we just stick that out and see if wireless would take a look at it so we went back and we we re re-jigged the whole thing from top to bottom but kept the core idea which is basically um spring hill jack is on the loose and a police officer is out to capture him so it literally becomes a man and his monster trying to it literally becomes a man and a monster who then their dynamic and uh it’s a nine part we turned it into a nine part um podcast series uh which spans the entire victorian era and beyond just uh telling uh using some of the key events from uh from the spring hill jack legend but fictionalizing them to allow this character jonah smith played by christopher finney to go on the journey of trying to capture this monster and yeah we spent oh gosh i think two years on and off in production and you know we made it quite difficult for ourselves with the sound design um you know it took six years to make nine episodes which uh it was all for a long time um like you know we maybe we could have made things easier for ourselves but um you know we we wanted to stand by making it sort of bells and whistles kind of uh audio audio movie experience and um yeah so we did that for six years on and off and um strangely enough it actually broke into america which was um amazing but the problem was the podcast market just wasn’t as like it’s not the beast that it is right now okay um i always joke that basically if you can imagine there were 10 podcast listeners in the world spring hill got to eight of them but the problem is that you’re still only talking about you know it being a relatively small number of people but i mean it was reaching 50 countries worldwide and uh you know people really actually latched on to enjoy it and they they were very very tolerant of us taking a long time with the episodes bless them and yeah um you know it was like a massive education in you know teaching me how to all the things i’ve talked about that was the one that i think taught me you know the writing the editing the studio managing the casting the producing the post-production file delivery you know some really exciting and glamorous things and some really dull and tedious things and some really pointless obvious things that people sometimes miss and yeah that when we came out of that that sort of completed my journey from uh struggling actor to audio producer yeah okay great um yeah because the the nice thing about that actually i suppose both of those dramas that we’ve been talking about is the range of accents in them but particularly in spring hill saga because you’ve got a range across the london accents and it’s just a and again you can almost see what kind of clothes people were would have been wearing because of how their voices sound you know whether they’re very high class or they’re working class and on all sorts of stuff and are those things going to have to be decided in advance because um people people like even their jaws drop or they cry for me when we say by the time we got to the end of series three i think we’ve used 65 actors across the nine episodes um they’re never doing that again um that said he was in the studio doing the 74 actor piece today um it’s 11 episodes so that’s okay um no so like what you have to be very very clear and very particular and making sure it’s keeping within period and you know there are obviously certain characters like lord wayland played by julian glover who are very you know he hit game of thrones just well we’re not saying we helped get cast in game of thrones but um it was just before he did game of thrones but you know he plays that high status aloofness so well and it’s not necessarily just uh about accent it’s also about the attitude you’re bringing so you’ve got uh uh smith our hero and uh his uh police his police partner hooks is also cockney but they have very different attitudes and that’s reflected so they’re not just two companies bouncing off each other so like um sadly like a east end gangster movie they’ve all got individual uh you know quirks and and mannerisms within that their personalities which uh help the voice and the second thing i think we learned very early on which was really useful was you have lots of um supporting roles there are literally one or two lines that come on and they come off and it’s one of the best pieces of advice i think going to pass on if there are any actors listening if you get a line that’s two three parts long just work out what their job is work out an archetype and go with that have you listened to episode three no yes no okay that’s right so this is this is not a spoiler but they run into um a farmer and the actor who plays him said oh yeah how do you want to do this and we just went west country because that is an accent associated with farming and that actually literally has four lines so play at west country we establish he’s got a horse he’s got a car he’s a farmer they’re in farmland he does west country does it does it make any sense that there’s a west country farmer in south london before it was a metropolis probably not but the thing is it’s that shortcut just to get through yeah through that moment so it’s about sometimes making some clever choices um that you’re you’re going for the type of character rather than the accent is for differentiation if that makes sense when i when i talk to drama students i always say um like you when you put your reels together i’ll go through a big long list of things i want and at the end of it i’ll say and what’s the one thing i haven’t mentioned and they go accents because these types of stories are not accent showcases they’re not um they’re not there to put as many different voices so you know oh you know this character’s scottish so i know who so i know who john is and therefore we’ll have to have someone who plays irish because that will differentiate it from no it’s um it’s it’s about making really sound dramatic choices for your casting and your performance and the attitude um and you know the human brain is very sophisticated we can tell you know sound is the first sense that we’re born with um so you know it’s the first one we use and it’s the last one we use um so our areas are actually pretty fine-tuned that you know if you if you can’t fight you’ve got different swagger different attitudes and the actors are directed in a way that helps break it just just differentiate and oscillate it the human is going to get it and you’ve got to trust that your listener has you know really you know we trust that they’ve got good ears yeah no they do have very nuanced soundscapes the all the shows i’ve listened to so far and it is it can just be very slight differences between two actors that are using a very similar accent you know a very working class uh cockney accent and that just the different ways the two actors are using their voice you can tell who’s who you know i find and it’s just that nuance is really important so that’s really um fascinating to hear about i was wondering as well because uh they’re so layered uh if you had any insider or anything about the technical side of these things you know so the actual recording and editing processes or even just some of the basics you know just a little bit of behind the scenes for us for sure so uh yes i i don’t do any engineering to my shame and i i should learn um i don’t do any engineering and i don’t uh really do i do have my own equipment for recording and i’ve got portable equipment but um yes uh i have done some um i mean i’ve done a fair chunk of post-production so you know when you’re the basics you’re looking to build up in any scene are starting with your dialogue once that is cut then do they require because remember you have to remember if you’re treating like three dimensional sounds because it’s not binaural but if you know what i mean for it to be a scripted podcast it’s then about voice placement so how is the eq you know first of all are they in a big room small room uh then it’s about distance so it’s a character walking into a room if so how do you make it sound like their voice is carried because most actors uh i i don’t go with the bbs the bbc approach is to use uh basically one stereo pair mic in the middle of a room and the actors move around it okay and that’s what creates say the the room sound which is where people pull away from the microphones whereas i like to keep my actors on where i can create that artificially because then that’s another thing you can help control the pace of say say if you wanted actor to come into the room faster um so you’ll be looking at all your placements and speed about how close they come into the year um then after that you’re going to be once you’ve got the eqs right on the voice and the placement and the pace you’ll then be looking to add the atmos so you know on the outside inside um hopefully what should have happened was that if uh your script has said like for example they’re in the middle of a disco show in the middle or like a nightclub do you remember nightclubs um or a pub if you remember those um that you know they would have noticed that okay so is it a quite public pub all right loud pub so the actors should have pitched their voices up okay so if that work has been done in the um in the recording by the actors vocal performance then you can start to look at in the atmos so that’ll be a basic track where say it’s your pub setting you might have some uh wild track of a pub uh if you’re listening to this and you want to start an experiment with it there’s a great uh website called free sound okay which literally gives away sounds up they’ve got tens of thousands if not more sound samples and atlases and stuff like that um which you can you know you can pull down you pull down your tracks and have a little play with them so you mix in your atmos which is your general general layer of sound and then next thing is do you require spot effects um so we’re in a pub so maybe we have a pint or a wine glass and the wine glass is going up and down and we’re drinking it again the the drinking side of the performance the slurping because everything everything is enhanced in audio isn’t it

um you know the actors will have taken care of that but do you actually need the sound of the glass being put down on the table because uh you might you might not have done foley at the time foliage sound effects will work live with the actors and again that’s a very very bbc thing but you might be you know if you’re listening to this and you want to experiment you just might start with a couple of actors recording their dialogue on a mic and you have to build all this up artificially so um and then it’s like uh is the character going to leave the room so to do you know and start thinking about the physicality of it it’s like uh does a chair scrape as they stand up and a big one that always gets debated i know it drives me into my head is it do you then start to layer on things like uh footprints uh footsteps uh actors walking in actors walking out i know there’s it’s a love hate relationship with certain audio uh drama producers about whether you include them or not um so so you’re looking there atmos dialogue spots being spot spot effects being your basics when it comes to podcast storytelling it’s there about i think enhancing those layers so um there’s a good example i think in uh season three of the spring hill saga and i won’t say who those characters are uh but there’s a scene where two characters are having a standoff or one is really angry at the other he’s really mad but he’s cool as a cucumber to the surface you can tear in the performance that he’s mad not letting the rage get to him um and the atmosphere does its job and you know the wind is blowing and it sounds ominous ominous wind um but in the distance in the the final polish i mixed in an alley cat in the background and that alley cat is uh just doing that cat thing and crying out in pain and it’s just push right right the subtle layer of the sound design but what that’s cat is reflecting is the inner anguish of the character so this is where i talk about it start with podcast storytelling it’s about finding sound that can sort of emotionally and immersively reflect what is going on both inside and outside of a scene um and then you might like with the uh like say with the atmosphere in the pub for example you’ve got your general chatter going into the background but if things gets uh like a little bit tense between your two characters we’re following another thing i might do is actually go back and i might find some uh you know lower baritone pop muttering which is obviously a sort series and you blend that into the scene so you just add a little bit of bass quite organically as if the the atmos is organically responding to the emotions within the scene or it could be that things it’s like things are getting quite heated and maybe just subtly there’s a broken glass behind the bar someone drops a glass and you’re using that i mean it’s like um finding ways to do that but not say like oh this is an ominous alone oh there’s a thunderstorm in the back yeah yeah yeah you can find little this is where i say like little paint strokes like this and that’s what makes podcast storytelling it’s where you thought about the fact that uh to reflect that a moment emotionally they’re in the scout soundscape i had uh this touch which is almost imperceptible um particularly after everything gets squished down to mp3 format from web but um you know something like those little touches there where you’re building a living organic universe around your characters that is serving the story and it’s serving the needs of the wants of the characters and the needs of the wants of the listener at the same time um and that’s where the path to my handless lies because then when you get to that though it’s like okay so uh right what if that character was playing with the beer mat and you’re adding the tapping of the beer oh okay maybe they have a packet of peanuts now um

what will start to happen is once you uh avoid anyone if you’re going down this part of this um you start to immerse yourself and the better the sound design gets and the more specific the more inspiration begins to open up that hang on you know do i need uh um someone calling time in the background or do i need someone getting angry with the jig box and giving it a slap you know something

it can get insane but you know when you’re looking at that you’re probably potentially looking at something that’s going to have around 30 to 35 layers of sound um which you know you’ll be probably running through you know if you can’t afford something like pro tools or say that you might be doing on audacity or or reaper and that’s that’s all purely valid the choice of a daw is always personal it’s what people like and with what they can get on with as long as you’re always bouncing to what at the end most most eaws are fine some of them if you bounce that file straight to mp3 like audacity can go a bit squiffy it’s always about to have and it’s the format you want as well um so you you know you’ll be building these layers and then you know get a decent pair of headphones like a sennheiser or something like that that you’re listening in you know um for you know you’re listening to things like artifacts on the track those little clicks uh little those little dots you suddenly see that can uh you know just destroy your sound quality in a split second you know that artifacts are as bad as a dodgy accent uh they they instantly throw you out so trying to keep that sound as clean as possible and then you put it all together and you end up with like 35 50 tracks of your uh of your audio movie masterpiece and then bounce it down to wav um always be editing in mono as well um unless you have a particular reason and this is another thing to do as well with the immersiveness of it is that you can always be playing with stereo but i think a mistake we made very early on was we got carried away so there was a lot of hard panning so some sound being left here something you’re right completely um and that’s that’s not a valid way to go because someone might have if you have apple headphones for example one side is always going to carve out before the other um so you potentially end up with sometimes uh half of your information getting lost if you do hard panning so i always recommend you know do use left or right but sit on the you know you know sit some of it in the center just in case and then before you bounce it down because you’ve listened to your really super posh headphones

the last thing i always do uh is i always then go and find i have a pair of headphones from the pound shop um or you know and i i plug it in and i listening on that because because you’ve got to remember not everyone is going to own a pair of sennheisers they’re going to probably own a pair of white apple headphones or they’re going to you know or they’ve lost those are broken they’ve gone to the pound shop so you’ve always got to be uh technically conscious of what you’re listening or how your listener is going to hear it um so you bounce that down and you’ve got a beautiful wave and then once it’s in wave you can then bounce the wave down into mp3 but where possible um you know stick with at least 48 000 megahertz this year this year bitrate sample um we have moved in the last 10 years from 44 100 up to 48 so i can assume it’s only going to be a matter of time before we start sliding up the scale um because spring hill is done in 44 100. um whereas circles is now done in 48 and i think you can probably hear the difference in this in the sound you know we talked a lot about kind of future proofing that show back then right and the conclusion we quite correctly came to was um this is something worth bearing in mind if you’re gonna make audio drama or any podcast it’s like the conclusion we came to is well that that that bit rate is okay because the human ear is never gonna get any better and the human ear says that’s fine here we go that makes sense all right we’ll go with that logic um what of course we overlooked and is that it’s not the human ear that gets better it’s the playback devices yeah the speakers are getting better the headphones are getting better etc so um there’s a series i’m currently producing at the minute in la and i believe they’re mixing it in 128 right just to try and keep that um that potential future proofing moving forward uh that means masses of issue with storage for sure yes it’s a lot of space um but you know uh you know just just being aware of you know what was acceptable was a bit great because you can accidentally through the aw do something beautiful and mix it down 22 000. it’s very easy to do um actually if you do want a quick shortcut if you’re not sure how to use uh like say a telephone filter um and you have a scene on a telephone uh any any professional is gonna kill me but for someone who wants to learn how to hear what they’re looking for record some dialogue clean mix it down in uh 11 500 i think it’s exactly mix it down export it as that then play it back and you get telephone quality without even trying quick money saving tip for you there if you learn how to do telephone without playing with eq um yeah so uh you know and again a lot of it is experimenting because it’s subjective artistic and creative choices like you know what sounds what sounds right to you in terms of um you know you want something to be over the phone um you know does it sound too phony or is it is it a phony phone or is it say you know do you listen to that goal it sounds a bit like radio and i think what you have to do is absolutely on the one hand first of all absolutely trust that if it sounds doesn’t sound right for you it’s not going to sound right for your listener that’s but on the other hand

here i am quoting tv tropes there’s also an aspect where reality is unrealistic and that’s where again what we have to acknowledge is the um work that’s come before us in sound design which is where you know uh in real life uh a gun sounds like a firecracker yeah not like you hear on television or um for example um

rats don’t squeak all right they they don’t squeak um so rat squeaks generally tend to be uh bat noises that are used or you know uh so you know a punch doesn’t sound you know noise so there is there is an aspect where you have to um you do have to cheat and you do kind of have to respect the sounds we’re conditioned to accept but at the same time you know hopefully you blend these in so a punch that doesn’t sound like a punch but it sounds like what you expect to punch the sound like works which is literally a rubber mallet a rubber mallet in the cabbage versus getting something right which can be infamousable like just it’s just the sound of a telephone filter and you listen to the way the voice sounds through the eq or the way it’s been bouncing and go it doesn’t sound telephony enough

so yeah i mean that’s that’s that’s kind of a you know a little little insight into what goes on in post-production and i mean i could do two three hours on that it’s you know at the end of the day you’re always trying to search you’re trying to serve the story so story is designed for the ears yeah so you’ve got to respect what your ear is liking and disliking and you’ve got to respect what your ear is telling you it’s engaging with and what’s throwing you out because the odds are the best advice i can give is when you’re in post-production and you’re playing around if your ear throws you out it’s going to throw your listener’s ear out so again this is where madness lies but it’s just about getting it right so it’s serious yeah that’s so informative jack thank you so much um i think just i don’t want to take up too much more of your time i think um just on the back of that i was wondering if you had any um advice quite generally for people who might be maybe starting out but also maybe who have been trying for a while and maybe struggling and because you’ve got so much industry experience if you had any just tips or pointers for people who might hear this who think i’m i’m really trying hard but i feel like i’m not getting anywhere or i’m really keen to start out on this but it sounds really overwhelming and hard you know what kind of thing would you say okay uh first of all is um like the joke i make is i’ve been doing this for 15 years and it’s pretty much been 14 years of muddling along and getting by and now it’s been 14 months of absolute insanity um because it’s now starting to be taken seriously so that’s that’s the first point is like if you’ve been here for a while don’t give up hope people are starting to notice we are an amazing form of storytelling if you’re just starting out welcome to the club but for everyone everyone in all this i’ll let you into a little secret from the very very top previous spotifiers all the way down to uh like the smallest indie who started yesterday good for you enjoy the journey come visit me on my website i’m happy to help um the thing is right now we’re so new the one thing is we are we have never been and we’re not yet is monetized we’re not because we are we’re independent audio we’re not publicly publicly funded we’re independent creators there’s no commercial model for there to be us making a piece of drama that makes a piece of money for example because of that i’ll tell you right now from the top to the bottom nobody knows what they’re doing they’re all trying to figure it out yeah and in that chaos a lot of like in america and uh someone said this is the world west and i went no this is the second world west the first wild west was 2006 where we started out and nobody was taking it seriously for a long long time enjoying the work but not taking it seriously as a medium so hang in there because things are starting to happen from us what you need to be doing is if you like if you if you’re starting tomorrow you know okay all right do you have a professional studio set up no okay well grab your smartphones record voice memos um get a free piece of editing software like audacity or reaper go to the free sound project maybe script yourself a three minute podcast a microcast uh maybe it’s seven minutes long but start start small just give yourself seven minutes to because the thing is there isn’t at the minute any sort of training course to teach you how to do these things yes there are so several unique um unique elements that get taught in isolation um at various various colleges and universities but a lot of the people in the field are self-taught um so you know right right settle in the script find uh you can probably find one on uh you know at least 10 podcasts in your favorite genre with your favorite topic uh to have a listen to and start breaking down you know when you’re listening to it what you like about it what you don’t like about it um one thing i i love and again it’s a hate thing for me recommended this is a book uh by blake snyder called save the cat okay and basically what he did is simplified um storytelling um because so you’ve got the uh

the seven basic the seven basic plots which is like considered the the the the holy grail of uh story and plotting and uh and writing um but uh uh save the cat just condenses it down and makes it a really light read and changes the changes there the tropes around to make them uh they get modernize them and make them more relatable so um i i always recommend that book for anyone who wants to be writing just have a look at that and it will just teach you a few of the bare bones basics for just zeroing in on what story is stuff like that if you’re doing that alongside listening to the podcast you like you should be able to begin to identify the storytelling and then from there um you know when you’re getting getting your actors together or they’re sending you voice memos which you probably will be in this current climate i mean good good bit of advice if you can’t be with your actors ask them to do their lines sort of uh five or six different ways okay so these five or six different takes you do five or six different takes and they’ll start that will help uh start to teach you uh like take selection howard’s put together if we go from um wide light is like this next lens like that next slides like this doesn’t sound again it’s throwing your ear out so you know you start to you can start to um learn how to take select how you know is it you know looking looking to find the naturalism in performance so when you’re not getting it what you should end up doing is kind of teaching yourself how to direct going oh i wish why didn’t if they’d only done it that way and that that’s actually switching on your brain to like if you were working with that to say i like that could you do it like this okay if that makes sense yeah uh and that will start to train you to to learn to work with with uh with the with the actors and then you’ve got the performances that will teach you post-production and you’ll find a daw digital audio workspace that you’re happy with and stuff like that so that’s that’s what to do if you’re starting out if if if uh you’ve been in this game a while it’s getting a bit dispiriting don’t worry trust me um 15 years and like i said it’s only been the last 14 months where things have uh started starting to change quite dramatically and yes you’re probably seeing these big things like uh like blackouts and and the homecoming happen and leaked television and the limetown but um just remember those the creators of those shows they all started in the same place and the best thing you can do is just keep building not only do you uh do great work the one thing i will take away from working at wireless was that um uh you know mary always said you live or die by the quality of your work so make sure you are doing good work you know and if that means you’ve got to keep learning and practicing and experimenting to find your style and your voice it’s like being the author of a book you will find your voice if you keep working at it

aside from living you know just just making sure that the quality of your work is good the uh the next important thing is i think to cultivate your fan base um work on you know there’s a big generation uh generational difference between those of us who started in podcasting in 2006 and those who sort of came a little bit later like uh the the things like the wooden overcoats um and the orphans like david and uh wk barnes and uh zachary’s shows where they were we didn’t have social media we started broadcasting it it was my space yeah yeah do you remember um but they uh you know they were very they came they those podcasts were born into a very social media savvy world and they are absolutely brilliant at building fan bases and um cultivating fan support because we do live in this is the thing to remember if like you’re getting two three thousand listeners podcast series don’t be dispirited we do have an industry-wide problem with the medium which is discoverability because nobody knows how to discover your podcast nobody knows that you mean a lot of the time it’s an uphill battle because like uh heard a phrase of the radio today pushing water uphill that’s what it’s like to get a podcast out there particularly in the independent sector because there’s there’s no magic algorithm there’s no like netflix in code for like saying oh you like the wooden overcoats come and try this podcast um so that that’s the second thing and so don’t be dispirited because it’s it’s not your fault that people may have discovered your podcast it’s the thought of the podcast ecosystem um that hasn’t been fixed yet so i i will make a prediction that two to three years from now because you know i’ve had some conversations with uh people in america and europe etc they all now agree that the scripted podcast fiction space is the next thing that needs to happen it has to happen but the two fundamental challenges are discoverability and monetization now best friend in the world if uh you know if i was good at monetization i would have made money on my podcast right now and you know a lot of independent creators of uh they just want to tell good stories that’s what drives them we we don’t know how to fix that problem i have a feeling given what’s going on the top end of the us right now one of those big three players will find a way to fix it the other side is discoverability and i’ve got feeling one of those three players will fix it because there’s now too much going on in the us market for this just to still be random if that makes sense if they want you uh to sit down and watch the next big television show they go out their way to make sure you know that television show exists so there’s no way that they’re going to have this market where it’s like a gold mine for new ideas new ip you know especially since locked down more celebrities have wanted to get involved casting on the scripted and unscripted so you know now now that turning point has been reached where big to is talent all want their own podcast series it’s only going to be a matter of time before the pressure is there is fix that problem

so i can see two to three years from now that um we’re going to be at a point where one of those two problems gets solved and if you’re making content just hang in there because once it’s cracked for one per once it’s cracked for one podcast it’s going to crack it for the entire ecosystem i hope so me too because it’s like people people say have you heard this podcast i didn’t even know it existed do you know what i mean exactly it’s it’s really infuriating that um i know a lot of good content goes by and sometimes i catch up with i mean this is a really good example but i love cinemasins okay uh a fascinating thing again if you’re interested in storytelling watching them nitpick everything apart yeah even something like citizen kane yeah okay you know i now actually want to write that’s a cinema scene delete um but you know they turned around last year and said oh did you know we’ve got a podcast you have a podcast okay and it started in 2016. right now so it’s three years that one of my favorite youtube channels and i didn’t know um so you know it’s it’s it’s a strange old time but i mean the best thing you can be doing right now despite these problems as i said is just make really good quality work yeah um because that is the thing you know there’s you know if you were like um an indie film director and you made a hit low budget movie then let’s take scott derrickson for example with sinister he’s in like he makes a really great with uh with cargo and makes a really great low budget horror indeed and then he’s moved up and given a big studio movie and eventually he’s there then directing doctor strange and then working on that as a team doing doctor strange for marvel um so you can see there’s a logical progression there the thing with scripted podcast and storytelling is all you can do at this stage is literally just make sure your last podcast series is high quality work because it’s not necessarily about being a commercial here mass audience etc like that it’s got to be quality storytelling and to use that terrible phrase that’s what you’ve got to leverage moving forward so um just just make sure you’re doing great work good storytelling using the medium um you know pushing yourself to to tell that story to immerse and entertain and you know get as in you know make it as uh as an engaging and internal process between fred greenham should say the the the theatre of your mind you know um and that that is what will help you step up because if you just keep making series after series which is good and a great listener experience in the podcast space you don’t necessarily need to worry about something being a huge hit because people understand that kind of model doesn’t exist yet two three years from now it might but just just be really focusing on telling great stories yeah oh that’s brilliant advice um is there anything else that you would like to say that you feel we haven’t covered yet um well good question uh because i talk a lot as you can tell so um no i mean like i could say just just remember this this is a it’s 20 20 right now and i genuinely think this decade ahead particularly for scripted audio fiction is is going to be the game changer okay um another thing to bear in mind is that the i i’ve done a couple of talks uh for podfest this year and the last one i did was the fact that uh there’s all this terribleness going around the whole world right now you know with all this distress and worry and fear so a couple of things come out of that which is one um you know it film television theater is all you know at standstill groundswell hall and a bottleneck right now so audio drama is now becoming a very very good place to find the entertainment um but my i think the best advice you can give if you’re looking to create audio content from this point here on in i’m going to say one word and it might seem counterproductive to where we’re all at right now fun make it enjoyable because um we hadn’t like said we had a series fred and i we did the pilot on wholesale solution and we built the writer’s room on the 15th of march lockdown start i then flew back from florida lockdown started in the uk nine days later um and then after that we had a regroup and we went we think the world is just too depressing for a dystopian science fiction horror series and that was a big moment we were sitting again yeah i think it’s time for uh it’s time you know for some fun because it’s got to the point i think where this experience is

right now in the world it you know people

you know they don’t want more misery yeah piled on top of misery with their entertainment so um i’ve done a complete pivot on what i’m putting forward to make okay make it fun i think i think people will come out this year and people will start enjoying comedies and wanting things that are a bit more i’ll be actually you know as rob used to say a great barometer of culture uh how culture is feeling is about how in tune a bond movie is right with its audience at a time so to die another day for example came out i was in production during 9 11. okay so when that came out it was all about super villains and windsurfing and it fell out and then that’s the same year that uh 24 came out yeah and i’ll be very curious to see how um no time to die lands with audiences now because it’s probably going to be a little bit gritty very serious daniel craig one movie yeah because that’s where they are the grittiness serious and just just just watch that one see how that one’s received when they finally release that film next year and they can’t current climate i think i think you’ll see that basically the next bond will actually be closer to roger moore that’s like this one that’s my top prediction there a bit more spike who love me rather than the living daylights so fun keep that in mind yeah i i really hope you’re right yes we need more joy i think it will come because i think this year is like it’s just accelerated the the the pain and the misery a little bit and uh you know i’m not saying we’re out of the woods yet with where we’re at uh as a planet or individual societies uh wherever we are but um i i do think there’s going to be a a swing towards um needing lighter entertainment so and i don’t mean that as in variety what i mean is it’s you know we will steer away from dystopia which we’ve had years of we’ll stay away from grim end of the world kind of stuff uh because you know we we’ve had a dress rehearsal for once yeah you know um yeah somehow where we’re at a year from now which we shall see yeah yeah well it’s been an absolute pleasure jack thank you so very much no worries it’s been it’s been lovely to talk and um just just one last thing to say if anyone is interested in following up uh you can go to my website yeah contact form i’m always happy to give advice to anyone who’s looking at their scripted podcast uh sector um and that’s and go to the contact form and that goes straight to me ignore the thing about um agents it does come to me it’s just if someone says to me work i send it on um but yes if anyone’s looking for advice or guidance or any help uh more than happy to to just have a conversation and the more people we get into audio fiction in the podcasting space the better so hey let’s make that happen yeah and it is a friendly bunch as well i think we all like to try and help each other because we’re all struggling a bit no matter where in the strata you are we’re all trying to i i feel like we’re all trying to pull each other up so absolutely because like um as a friend a friend of uh bill dufrese came over to the uk uh joe dooley and he said to me uh rising tide lifts all boats yes that is absolutely true and that plays into the fact if you look at the work say that ella watts has been doing for the last two years and like getting the community sort of mobilized and that’s that’s a nice thing to remember as well that uh yes people are you know we we’re we’re in industry but we’re still quite at that community level and i you know i’ve been talking to various networks and commissioners and quite a few of them as i’ve said on the qt it’s like um you know what we’ve got to figure this out because we love it and i don’t care if we’re arrival to that network but you know we can actually just sort of softly alive for five or six years and then you know once it’s all fixed then we can be bloodthirsty

and you’ve got to think about it if the networks are thinking about it at that level yeah then we absolutely should be reflecting that as a as a community that’s it of a podcast creatives um yeah we’ve got to look we do have to look out for each other because like say it can feel trust me i know that for many many years you’d throw podcasts out you wouldn’t even know if you connected with an audience we didn’t we didn’t know if spring hill was connecting for people for a long uh with people for a long long time so you know um just you know that’s that’s the other thing it can feel quite lonely but you know we we’re fast becoming a community we’re fast you know organized you know and that community is now becoming global which is lovely um so the get-togethers that oh i i missed it there was a monthly get-together ella used to organize uh in south london um you know we i i miss that physical community but we’re all still there we’re all still at touch of a button so um you know stick together keep keep an eye on each other’s backs and and do great work and help each other by the end that’s so lovely it’s the perfect place to leave it

so you mentioned your website do you have any socials or anything you want to just point out yeah yeah sure um i’m i’m on i’m on linkedin you can find me there on twitter at real jack bowman and if you’re interested in listening to circles you can find that on twitter uh which is here circles it’s on instagram as well that’s where social media left behind instant right now uh instagram it’s here circles twitter it’s here circles and if you want to find that on facebook it’s circle’s podcast okay and it’s highly recommended thank you thanks very much yeah serious finale this sunday yes yes brilliant okay thank you jack that’s great no worries thank you very much

this has been a cozy pea pod production with me paula blair and my very special guest jack bowman the music has been common ground by airton licensed under a 3.0 non-commercial attribution and it’s available for download from do check out that website it’s got loads of cool stuff and all of the other stuff has been done by me i’ve been editing and we’re doing the recordings and all of that stuff and if you would like to support the podcast but you’re not too sure about a membership you can drop me a fiver at buy me a coffee dot com forward slash bea blair because that just goes towards all of the work that i’m doing with the podcasts and writing and other bits and pieces as well and it’s hugely hugely appreciated all your support and as well as the social media that i gave out earlier in the episode you can get in touch by emailing audiovisualcultures if you want to chat about being a guest on the show or if you’ve got an idea for a show that you’d like to run past me something you’d like to hear us do we’re really grateful if you don’t want to give money but if you want to gift something so if you want to send me a dvd to watch or you want to um send me a link to a film that you want me to see or whatever it happens to be uh just just just give me a shout that way or you can find us on the socials uh so yes huge thanks for listening huge thanks for engaging do keep it up it just means so much and i hope these episodes have been really really useful it’s been amazing hearing about people’s experiences with their lockdown creativity as well so if you have a story you don’t have to be a professional just get in touch because it’s all part of that fabric that network of just cultural production and that’s what i’m really really interested in and that we can all learn from together okay so take care of yourselves be excellent to each other as always and i will catch you next time you