transcript

Audiovisual Cultures episode 112 – Mercury Theatre Podcast with John Badger automated transcript

hello and welcome to audio visual cultures the podcast explores different areas of moving image and audio based production with me Paul up there I'm delighted to be speaking this time with John Bottcher of mercury theater podcast and audio drama anthology of stories written and directed by John we'll be talking about those aspects as well as sign design and working with voice actors as well as the storytelling process for thirty minute standalone dramas across different genres huge thanks to our listeners and our marvelous patrons over at Petri on dot com forward slash AP cultures if you would like to see the full video recording of my chat with John sign up to our behind the scenes here your support means I can make continual improvement state issue and it gives me such a basic knowing the work is being acknowledged and valued and appreciated another way to help is sharing this episode with your friends and spacing Assabet on social media thank you so much and enjoy this episode John Thatcher it is great to me she I am really looking forward to learning more about mercury theater podcast but first of all I have very warm welcome to the official cultures I feel the heat from here even though we have the the snow coming soon it is nice to be warmly welcomed I appreciate that's nice cast John hi are you to say and where but sorry I am fantastic and partially because I live in North Carolina and the United States of America we succeeded we won right but now it's a it's a beautiful location like %HESITATION I'm in the the Blue Ridge mountains so I get the the view of the mountains and we're about to get snow like I said and it's just I really like I've lived all over the US and I finally found somewhere that I can call home %HESITATION so nice to hear the snowflake a not so nice right to stars I've interviewed a few audio drama producers before and that's something I'm really enjoying learning a lot more bites so it's pretty great to have you on you know I've been learning a lot of fights the processes of writing audio dramas and the processes of directing them and that in particular I've been really enjoying expanding my knowledge on sign design I think that's a really fascinating part of this I've got a background in some studies and found analysis and that is her relation and not subject area is sign design focusing on audience Humm has such a lovely way of learning much more about it you know so that's something I would love to get in to it he later but can I just firstly Askey state campus and move if you give us some details about each mercury theater podcast and your work making it absolutely it's one of one of my favorite topics of all time so I I'm not not shy mercury theater podcast is an anthological audio drama so anthology meaning that every episode in and of itself is a story so your no matter where you start listening in mercury theater podcast you can start one that I made last month or one that I made last year and you're going to get just as much out of it as anybody else would because the story is depending on the episode it might be thirty minutes long and you start the story in the beginning of the episode and eat the story ends at the end of the by mercury theater podcast is completely done by us and the only exception is I get I get my sound effects from online for the most part but I just got myself a microphone so that I can make some of the some of the Foley artistry and I can do that on my own and it's a nice shot gun Mike can I get so ecstatic about some of the equipment that we buy and mercury theater podcast is completely done remotely in their heads I'll be over here and we'll meet on discord and we'll watch the the other actors and will recorder selves individually and will go through the episode so we'll spend a couple hours recording an episode and because were on discord and were able to record in real time that makes it so it's a much better final product because most of acting is reacting and with such a way that a lot of audio dramas are created they're not done as much in response they're just reading their lines and then they're sending in all of their lines and then somebody has to chop it up and then they get certain it's cohesive as much as possible you know one might have more of a route read and then another one might have more of a an emphatic read so you're having these different conversations that yes they work on paper but they don't actually work in feeling like it's a conversation so with discord it makes it so that I'm able to have everybody will react to one another and it makes for a much better final product if if I don't say so myself in there pretty crisp I have to say I've been listening and the sign is really crashed at you've got different points of audition you've got mace ments coming straight you've got different locations changing locations while people are made things very spaces and having cover and you can really pick up really well so he asked to hang off so you mentioned television or movies and the sound design of that it's very much the same process but as an audio drama the listener only has the ability to base it off of dialogue and sound effects and there is no visual component and that has some drawbacks but at the same time it gives a lot more freedom on my end and on the listeners and I've been finding this to be pretty consistent thing with books for instance so you might read the Harry potter books are you might read the lord of the rings Bucks or anybody and then you watch the movie adaptation of that what you read and once it goes on television on the screen then it confines what your imagination has because you see it you hear it and you know at that point really only you can just imagine what it smells like I guess at that point but with audio drama you don't have to worry about so much the the visual element because the listener gets to design what that circumstance looks like so they're imagination takes another step that they would be able to in a book but they have the sound design that helps them get drawn into the circumstance but they can build whatever else elements yeah and that the love they sing as well as you can decide what people look like because I think with some in television for example diversity can be a big issue and saying C. seventy and when it's full he says and it signed a fax you can imagine more %HESITATION what way will select for example yes so I am actually in the process of auditioning for another series that I'm making but in the process I'm realizing these people have faces right but they only have faces to me as somebody who's working with them now the listener will be able to ultimately listen to the this series and they can figure out whether she has blonde hair or you know if she has her at all there all these different elements that people can design for themselves but with working with social media I'm finding that it's requiring me to get some that visual elements right so I'll have the series but also promote the actors themselves so that might be a little bit disheartened because I mean how many podcasts do you listen to and you just assume what they'll look like or or radio show I don't know if you've ever heard the term a show prairie home companion but that was a show that was on in P. are all the time only every %HESITATION Saturday night right and I've listened to it and I create a mental image of what the main actor garrison Keillor looks like and then I saw a book that he had written on my side the cover photo and I was like oh no it's incredibly disappointed that's the first thing that was the glass shattering moment for me and I was like but it didn't remove that magic of what they are accomplishing it just's an obstacle there is in merry he didn't expect that fiesta go without voice or something we'll also and if I spent a couple years listening to him and I didn't have a face to make a an actual picture then it's it's different but yeah you do the same with a bunch of voice actor it's more with other podcasts and then you realize what they look like then and it kind of breaks that that image for you but you can go back to imagining whatever it is that you wanted them to look like especially as voice actors because they are after all acting in C. mentioned it's an anthology series so every story Stephan mangy find that real challenge writing a different type of story every time no both those are all of that is there are benefits to writing an anthology and that if I just feel like writing something if I just come up with an idea I can make it into an audio drama and I don't have to worry about it lasting a whole season or multiple seasons I can write something and it be thirty pages long and then once that's done it's done so I can have this whole whole process of of going through the wanting to make something to making it putting out there and then going back to something else and if I look at all of I probably have ten different episodes that are in the works of being written right now but I might come up with an idea tonight and then write an entire episode before I put any of those other ten out because it's something that I can do whenever I want to but the drawbacks there are drawbacks to writing an anthology in that the listener can get engaged with the storyline for that thirty minutes of an episode by day you don't feel attached to that character or any of those characters right so I'm in the process of creating a series that isn't a logical you can listen to episode one two three four five and on on and then every episode you don't know this but you're becoming more attached to the characters and then when a character does something that you disagree with you can be disappointed it with that person right but with an anthology and only thirty minutes minutes investment your not as inclined to be disappointed so there are drawbacks to writing an anthology but it's certainly not the ability or the inability to come up with more stories I'm not short on content it's just a I'm short on time that's what I'm short on answers saying do you think it's a grind for experimentation because maybe more so so than in traditional tax publishing you have a bit of the way to the I suppose make some mistakes or things if you realize that things maybe don't work so well and then you can figure out how to you it just sayings or tweak things or you think will my strength sinus pain this is part of it these are parts where right I need to hone my skills in these parts you know it's different aspects of that you do you think that you have that freedom of experimentation a bit more if I didn't listeners don't go back to episode one of mercury theater podcast so I've actually been referring to mercury theater podcast as my playground and I can do that experimentation at first I didn't know what I was doing at all I really just wanted to get into voice acting and I figured making a podcast would be an opportunity to do that and if any listeners have been have listened to mercury theater podcast all knows that you probably don't even recognize my voice at all and is because I'm not on here as much and the reason why is because I found that my passions actually were more in tune with the stuff that I wanted to pawn off on other people like the directing and the writing and the sound design all of these things that I got really excited about and the voice acting is something that you know I will make an appearance every so often I'm kind of like I refer to myself as sometimes the the Stan Lee of audio drama in the end and I'll show up every so often yeah the experimentation is something that if it wasn't for experimentation I certainly wouldn't be where I am now and working on a series as well and because I've been able to experiment with mercury theater podcast I can find out what my capacity is what I can and cannot do now I can put this into an audio drama series and have have it so that you're not going to have a really big difference between episode one and episode three which with mercury theater podcast you would be able to notice the night and day difference between episode one and episode three but between the episodes my ten and thirteen there isn't as much of a of a jump because I'm down I'm now to the point where I can hone my skills you mentioned there that because you try and keep them quite tight to thirty minutes and they're different story every time there's not necessarily that much space to flush out your characters it's not something you work on with the voice actors a senior you you write what needs to happen for your lost and to they help you flashlight the characterizations but Mario I did some work for you the characters aren't incredibly fleshed out but with the episodes that have fewer characters you can get to you understand their reasoning more so I have an episode that I'm recording tomorrow that it's just two people and those two people you get to understand where they stand with their perspectives right and there's an episode of one that I actually am I'm still very proud of one of the first ones that I was really proud of was D. N. for Denver International Airport and that was a really fun one and the reason why one of the reasons why is because there are essentially two characters and one leads the other one and explains a bunch of stuff and you get to understand what what's going on so with the voice actors will do essentially a cold read and get to find out what their characters are doing what they're trying to accomplish but as I don't go so far as to say okay this is who your character is this is your motivation not all the time so now there are certain times when I will say for a certain scene okay so your character is being elusive so be elusive but at the same time like telling whatever right so it's seen my scene at that point but where is the series and this is one of the most exciting parts about making the other series is that we'll go through the entire first season and everybody will understand who their character is and what their goal is and you know they'll have those character arcs that I I don't have the ability to with the anthology if you're enjoying the show and would like more information straight to your inbox head over to audio visual culture style wordpress dot com linked in the show notes and sign up to our mailing list I was wondering as well abrasion on rent the kids from the episodes I've listened to you and then scrolling dying three a lot of them you're touching on a lot of different genres I think you know there's some crime there's mystery there's smithy thriller there's historical drama you know there's lots of different kinds of stories being told is it again an exploration of what's your water the possibilities of genre and what you can accomplish and not in thirty minutes you know what how do you feel about that so for me I really enjoyed being able to do that because it is whatever it is that I I want to at the present time but with you know a lot of anthologies they'll stay thematic rain so they might have a horror theme so all of the stories are different but they still fall on that or aspect same with with any theme for an anthology but with mercury theater podcast it's just completely different every time and some more listeners might not love an episode right but they'll be able to skip off to the next episode and really enjoyed that episode now for me I'm just writing whatever comes to my mind right so I'm using this again as my playground and getting familiar with the process but at the same time also figuring out what it is that I enjoy writing and I do have some very old time radio investigation kind of episodes or some you know like you said there are all these different themes bye I'm finding that I enjoy a certain type of writing but at the same time I'm not held to like I would you can't put mercury theater podcast in a box that's one of the things that I like about it but the same time I know that there are probably listeners who listen to the F. as in not knowing what they're going to get they find that they're not as inclined to listen to the next episode I mean at the end of the day it's my podcast and that is the bottom line of indie podcasting is I can do whatever I want that's the point of this yeah that's really really interesting because I don't know how much freedom writers here maybe in more industrial settings in terms of writing for media and somebody so for television example there may be just hired they have to do it I have to J. M. so it's really ready and saying that you've called freedom to make this decisions but also it's the creative impulse really I think is what you're exploring as well and also from the from the sound designer perspective I'm actually giving myself an extra challenge as opposed to making it somatic say for instance television show so %HESITATION have you seen the show house no but I know of it okay and I just picked house out of it as in no reason there is for instance they have their set right at the studio they have their status and then they can go there are several different levels to the set but how much it costs to actually produce it is much lower because they only have to work within that set right not every so often they'll go off location and then go do something else but that's a very far and few between but with you know to a much smaller extent with sound design so with sound design I have to create a scene right for the listener so I might have like birds chirping in this outdoor setting but I'm I also have another setting where there is a vacuum cleaner running in and I have all these different sound effects but if I have a series then I don't have to work so much on the bird sound effects I can just work on the vacuum cleaner sound effects because every so often you're going to run into that vacuum cleaner like as you're going through I'm just again pulling things out of the hat but that sound is lying is much much more freeing with mercury theater podcast but it's also something that you have to do a lot more investigation to get those sound effects and everything and that's one of the things that I'm excited and and I also bummed about with universe twenty five the upcoming series is that I I can have some consistency and I don't have to draw from all of these different places for all of the sound effects it's going to be something that there's going to be this it's the matic I know I totally just ramble there but you know it was great because %HESITATION that's the sort of thing I mean really open to learn about it actually because when you're when you're saying that I think especially with the location changes because I listen to your most recent episode and it's a bit of a murder mystery and Sam you know their investigators Sir there's that scene where two investigators I think are having a conversation as they walked through a corridor so it's quite accurately and there's actually six steps and then they answer the office of another character and then suddenly date signed as much more soft and there's no wacko anymore you know so it's small things like that help you imagine they're setting and help you visualize right the kind of the location you know as you're you're not saying very clunky dialogue of going well let's just go into this room nice LA and adding the signed a fax do you got for you which is a very show don't tell thing and send them that as well so it's a very lesson don't tell saying it as what you're doing in your sign design I love that show don't tell I'm I know that that's you know you didn't just make that up but that's so so very much what I do I do if you listen to the audio dramas of yester year right now I know that in the U. K. they have they've consistently haggling BBC four has been the audio dramas right and you guys never stopped we kind of jealous of that but with audio dramas there are a lot of that say oh he has a gun or there's one I think it's from the show %HESITATION have gun will travel which is one of those really old shows but they're supposedly in the scene there are people in a car and they're being haunted by some woman right or like chase by someone then and one guy says he's when is that ever going to be dialogue at least in real life like winds anybody going to say that and I try to make sure that everything that is said in mercury theater podcast is stuff that's likely to actually be sad sometimes in that same episode there is like for instance the one of the girls vapes right and you hear it by this then he refers to like don't paper on me right this is stuff like there's no audio cue but there's also that dialogue reinforcement of what it is that you just heard but it's not Hey I see that vaping your hand you should probably put that in your pocket it's dialogue that I I intend to make so that it sounds as realistic as possible there's nothing worse than audio drama than having to link having made get yourself re engaged to audio drama that because they're saying stuff that just wouldn't actually be set in war I love this so that he can see and creates M. some eight takes as well and some just chatter amongst your cast out with you and your cast and the production process and it's quite revealing but it's also quite fun why why do you say to those going back a little bit and the couple minutes of and that is that there is at the end of in the credits right all of the people say their own name and their character and you get to hear what their voice actually sounds like because sometimes they'll do something that that is totally different than their actual voice it's far and few between but it is fun to listen to so going back to the episode B. E. N. that one there is a voice actor Angelo Cruz who has an on Nazeem voice what an amazing voice he plays the role of probably somebody it middle aged man he's twenty one one in the episode but he has such a deep veering crest vocal it sounds amazing but when he says has so and so I'm Angelo careers and then you hear what they actually sound like great and then going into our takes the reason why I did that was actually partially because one I wanted people to know what they sounded like but also it's an homage to the show let's pretend that was also an anthology back in the day I listen to that as a kid absolutely love that and they would say I I always remember civil trend was one of the the consistent voice actors on there so they would say there is their name but with the out takes I enjoyed out takes and I just find highlights within that and I'm already having to work with those outtakes regardless so I figured I just put them at the back of this the episode and then find my favorite ones and then put those in there the favorite ones that I can put on there yeah okay %HESITATION mercury theater podcast is actually designed to be listened to by children in addition to their parents I say that it's it's written or created for adults and then edited with kids in mind right I found that family friendly usually means that it's for the kids but parents might find something that might be enjoyable about it and I kind of went the other way around and made it so that kids can listen to it and not be offended but it's really to get the adults happy about it there's some people who just don't like swearing and a lot of stuff they rely heavily on swearing as the way that they put out stuff but I I don't like to do that not with our universe twenty five is gonna be a little bit different in that regard it's going to be much more adult centered so university five what might people be able to expect from not woody planning for that one then can you tell us yet yeah there are some friends who thousand years in the future these friends find an artifact that was from a thousand years prior which if you do the math it's about right about now it was it was left by Dave finds that it goes against what they have come to understand as reality and they use this artifact and try to spread the information that the artifact represents that's kind of a jumping off point it's gonna be a lot of fun some people think of it as probably science fiction but it's not really meant to be science fiction it's kind of just I've been trying to put some what it's like and I realize that really I can't find a whole lot of stuff that it's very much like now like Fahrenheit four fifty one is a book that I've been told might have some similarities and there are some other %HESITATION have you ever seen breaking bad okay right yeah it'll have some breaking bad element to it but in that group getting attached to the characters right and then you're wondering at what point do they devolved into when you stop being their friend right and there's a lot of emotional investment that I'm I'm hoping to accomplish with this but at the same time you know asking questions that people are dealing with today and I'll have to leave it at that there's just so much the that's going on with it I'm so excited about it but I don't really know how to I haven't actually tried to put it into words in that concise elevator pitch what it is but I don't have to yeah yeah so do you have an idea when you'll be able to release that one then so we're in the casting process right now and because it's going to be a lot easier to actually create the sound design it'll be a lot faster of a process but at the same time I'll still be putting out mercury theater podcast and have to record it can and doing all of the recording next month but with the snow storm it might actually put us into March and it'll probably be out in may I'm thinking but don't hold me to it could come out in August or November is a well whenever whenever it's ready weekend read twenty two we can based whatever every great I'll really yeah well good luck with the production of it signs and treating thanks if nothing else it will be intriguing I'm loving the writing of it partially because it is a series right and I can go from episode one that'll be pretty mild and then index celebrates as the series goes on but at the same time I can write stuff and I can write theory into stuff that happened or will happen with the environment with the characters and their stuff that still I wrote something a couple days ago and like that would be amazing you know because I've already written it but I realize that their stuff that has the potential of being before all of it even starts that would completely change the environment that's going on so I kind of accidentally blow my own mind maybe the listener won't be as excited when they find out about it but you know for me as a as a writer it's so fun to be able to excite myself and to find find stuff that still still really interesting and %HESITATION with mercury theater podcast it's only thirty minutes and now granted if you look at the thirty minute episode of mercury theater podcast and sometimes is like twenty three minutes or whatever for each minute of final product you're looking at about a page of dialogue but with with a screenplay for a movie it's actually going to be kind of the same but most of the only probably half of the writing is actually into explanation as to the screen like where the camera is like it's panning over the city scape or whatever I don't have that ability as an audio drama creator so if you actually put the dialogue of my episodes to the dialogue of a movie it's certainly not one to one and it's much higher be much closer to like %HESITATION probably a fifty minute creation as far as dialogue to like if it was a movie it would be about the equivalent of fifty minutes but it's something that I found interesting when I was a I don't know if you ever do this but if you look at the screen play of a moving as you're watching the movie and like reading along with the dialogue and seeing all of the stuff I was surprised at how short those water and I have now written with universe twenty five something that's longer than this and it's actually going to be probably two and a half hours of season one that's a fun thing to be able to look at before I actually put people in front of a microphone something to look forward to then on the on the audio drama sphere and we're curious if I cast it's a monthly afterwards so %HESITATION keep mind listening to that of course I do enjoy the variety of not have to say you're really getting into the different stories I was just thinking as she heard her talking there is files that you know you mentioned that you record everything remote they so I mean that's has worked right fairly well over the past couple of years I'm guessing this is something he started during this some strange time that we've been in for the past couple of years purposes something you retain before I did actually started this during Copeland so I was actually my %HESITATION my wife was on was on holiday as you would say and she was across the country visiting family and I was bored and I figured I could just redesign my my spare bedroom so I did that and she came home and she was not happy nobody's ever in here by R. awhile for sure he has so I made it so there is a soundproofed areas that I'd be able to do recordings that's not where I am right now but it's it's over there I should probably be more respectful of people every so often %HESITATION and do that yeah so I did that but with with the other voice actors most of them actually are in theater and they were kind of missing the that theater experience so I kind of unintentionally made myself a conduit that people could actually find themselves doing something that they enjoy doing and it's a lot of fun to actually make an episode of mercury theater podcast but you know that's one of the things that I'm going to be changing with universe twenty five is that I'll actually have that one and that one will be in person as opposed to being virtual and that's going to be I'm so excited about that process because it'll be more of the same but at the same time it's something that's different and people can respond to each other's like visual element even though the listener isn't going to see that visual they're going to hear there's more excitement when people are standing up in front of a microphone as opposed to sitting down in front of a microphone and to break that glass people might have so mercury theater podcast is mostly acted sitting down and I want people to get when physical grain so instead of a running scene that sounds like this they'll actually get involved in the long run in place without lifting their feet if that doesn't get confusing too much in that physical element is going to put it to yet another level and funny enough so mercury theater podcast has been I don't know if you're familiar with the audio verse awards but a bunch of audio dramas will submit an apposite of various two audio verse awards and then they will don't judge it right there were over seventeen hundred applicants for this year in audio first awards and we actually got nominated amongst the top ten for vocal directing gradient yes and I again that goes back to people having somebody to respond to if you listen to a bunch of audio dramas you'll realize that the conversation is stilted and I try to eliminate that as much as possible but if I can do that with being virtual how much more so can I do being in person so I'm excited about that the funny thing is I have no no directing experience whatsoever before all of this well take it yeah episode one hundred of our podcast was wastes both of them more and he said an audio drama producer right now away and does a lot of Toorak saying I'd recommend seat actually to listen said my top with him because he talks a lot about exactly what you just been talking about it and working in space with doctors so that they're actually standing around in a circle and they're interacting with each other and trying to get performances side of people actually getting in T. embody that performance you actually walk across and then shut something up that guy because it's not coming up with you pretending to date just actually doing it you know what that sort of stuff so he's really a sell to us and she's very very experience so that men actually should write a book and I've seen a lot of his post so we're in actually a couple of the same groups on Facebook he puts out a lot of information essentially the the author of today's audio dramas KC Wayland wrote the book bombs always beep and that guy is amazing well as I actually had the ability to have a conversation with KC Wayland and there's an episode of us talking it's just that being willing to learn and being willing to change your actions accordingly because sometimes somebody will get a bad habit and then they'll stick to it and if somebody is able to say Hey you should probably do this maybe do that and then if you do that then you have the potential of growing violence the best way to make no progress is by doing the exact same thing that you've been doing I've read bombs always beat cover to cover probably three times it has a bunch of highlighting and a bunch of notes that I've put on there I actually need to read it again because I've gotten to add another level and it's something that no matter where you are in the production you can always learn more from it his book was actually probably an eighth the size that it probably should be because there's so much more information that could be given but I can't imagine somebody would want one backhand but being like it's a really really good resource but Bo Lamar should should write one as well yeah really informative there's a lot of free tickets this was an advice you can take it as a price and and not upset it did for them and I just mine's just filled with and pets not to hate this creates a be a lovely saying it's something else that's never gonna happen I don't think that if the I love the idea to stay if you ever K. it would be the like says life recordings I think with mercury theater GM he ever thought of thoughts that may be a far off future saying you are you can have a say in a pub or something or I remember I said that if an audience even a small one and have your actors in the same place yes and because I know they're all all over the place but just sent in a dream scenario you know base it's a fun thing to say would be to have like a life audience I receive with your actors a very fun yeah so I mentioned home companion little bit of go home companion was one of those shows that I believe they traveled and they would go to different theaters and they would have their performance and every week is something different but they had some of this definitely some of the same elements and there's one this gauge that they were just there to go back to and I was Dino are private right I really really enjoyed that because you get the sound effects and everything like the shoes the people walking there was somebody that was a Foley artist he had issues in his hands and he was making those walking sound effects and then you have on the door creaking and all that stuff all of that stuff is on stage and there are these these voice actors who are doing all this stuff every week if I could I absolutely would the problem is there isn't enough time in the day to get all of the stuff that I want done so an episode of mercury theater podcast if you go back far enough you can like D. N. or Nikki sketch and those those episodes really early on those were actually taking me about a hundred twenty hours to produce in sound design that's not even including the acting and the writing that was just the sound design it's a lot of time now and this time M. as progress as I've honed my skills I can now get an episode thirty minute episode done in about thirty hours so if you think about that I'm touched me about an hour and minutes which is still kind of a lot but in addition to that I'm also doing the universe twenty five which is a series of %HESITATION now tack on another I think it's going to be about eight episodes in tack on another eight episodes or sounds a hundred fifty pages or something yeah it's a hundred fifty pages to add on to that put in a live setting there is not enough time in the world take him to get all that stuff done but if I had my what I I've heard referred to as my druthers right if I had my druthers I would actually get to the point where I I can pass mercury theater podcast on to somebody else and say this is yours take care of it right I would still have some say in say maybe try something different or whatever but I definitely would see myself having hands off thing with that but fixating on stuff like universe twenty five and potentially going into live I've definitely even scouted out a really small community theater I was like Hey that would be a place that if once a month or something that I would have like an audience and have people interacting with the voices that would be a lot of fun yeah nice maybe some day yes there is a there is not enough time in the world I just I'm just I just had a little Mandarin my imagination there no I love it and this is actually a conversation that I've heard and I've had this now on a on a few occasions and it's because it is a really good idea it's just it's the implementation and right getting all those elements to work and currently in this environment there's fully artistry that I want to do I want to make it so crowd work but the problem with the crowd work right now in this world is it's hard to do because one you're either risking people's health more two you're getting the muffled masking and everything or you know go the step further and goes for a third and then you have maybe a hundred people in front of a hundred different microphones are one microphone and just have them kind of cycle through but that's not going to have the same element that a crowd would you're getting just that really small again going back to acting and reacting in a crowd of people are using other people as they're gauge for how excited or how mellow they need to be if I had a crowd I would be able to do that but want to get rid of this whole code thing I mean I and then be able to get people back into our room and not have to worry about masks muffling the sound that they would be giving otherwise it occurs to me that I hadn't asked G. as there is significance to the mercury theatre %HESITATION I was a really big fan of old time radio most of everything they do one way or another is an homage to previous endeavors and Orson Welles have you ever heard war of the worlds the audio production so that was done by Orson Welles and now is mercury theatre on air so he had his theater which was mercury theatre and then they would also do the audio dramas so it's an homage to Orson Welles and his works very nice love it is there anything we haven't touched on that you ready open to talk about eight I want to talk about all things I could DO IT %HESITATION drama for ever and ever and ever and still want to go to the next person and still do the same thing I love the whole process just everything that's involved with that but now I think that all of the %HESITATION all of the stuff we went over do you have any other people's idea dramas that you listen to that you think people should know about anything oh my goodness yes okay kind of self serving but if you go into mercury theater podcast and go into the with the extrapolations their interviews that I've had with a bunch of audio drama creators I have spoken to like I said to KC Wayland I spoken to governor eller Vienna he created while three fifty nine and unseen but it's the any audio dramas I'm the most excited about because it's people who are like me who don't have they're not working with the highest names impacting right SO Casey Whalen he cheats he's able to work with Laurence Fishburne and with lavar Burton and all of these other actors that the in the drama of creators aren't able to but they're putting out stuff that they're extremely passionate about and the first one that comes to mind is the vanishing act and that's amazing definitely an adult audience but fun adult audience that's amazing then the call of the void that's the audio drama as well and I've spoken to both the producers from both of those and there are a few more I actually have on my website a list of audio dramas that people should listen to you and they are definitely among them but I love audio dramas people because they're excited about being able to put out something that I'm also excited about putting them but they have their own unique styles and you know with the vanishing act that was done mostly remotely for the second season but for the first season they put it or or the second half of the first season they did remotely but they still did it in such a way where is kind of live by it they have theater backgrounds and then call of the void they actually know the vanishing acts people and I did not know this but as they meet all of their %HESITATION stuff they did kind of that's what I was telling you is stilted and and you know they would have their their dialogue and then somebody else is dialogue just keep on putting that but they did it in such a way that they were able to have somebody respond to them right so they were able to use the other people's mannerisms so that it that it was all cohesive and all these different directing processes that are that are going on right now with you because of it being a thing it's really creative how how people are coming out with content and not losing what they built okay great just some not then so those are a few things we can put in the show notes and links take you wanna say about your website and any socials you want to point people towards sure so first and foremost the website and all of the socials and everything and you can contact me if you wanted to %HESITATION via email that's on there so me personally I'm John S. badger on Twitter or I am all the socials you can find mercury theater podcast on Twitter Facebook just it's actually a really big time stock is all the socials I I'm sure you can use all about it it's like somebody else will get on there for fun and I'm just on there to to get the word out let people understand what it is that I'm I'm doing but at the same time not being like a salesman right it's five but yeah %HESITATION mercury theater podcast dot com mercury's deter deter spelled either way I got both of the domains and things it is spelled are easy if you were wondering about the actual spelling I did it the right way yeah they say it's a thought okay %HESITATION very casual John Barger and has been such a pleasure I've really enjoyed our conversation I hope you got something out of it SO I'll spend really great to see your enthusiasm is welcoming sherry Spencer enjoyable yeah the enthusiasm isn't something that's going away anytime soon I got into this about a year and a half ago and got really excited about it and as time has progressed I've only got more excited about it it's just now I'm figuring out a lot more of the old one people don't like to geek out a whole lot but still like okay it's a podcast but it's not it's it's an audio drama it's like yeah yeah is on a whole other level podcasts can be pretty accurate to me have to force was pretty good ones this one this is a great way yeah it's putting thirty hours of post production and to adjust to admins on the facts and everything just take people out of their head space and put them into a storyline ends thank you so much for sharing all of that with this this is exactly the place to come if you want to get going to bite stuff we love a whole heap a kicking I John audio visual culture so you're welcome back anytime thank here it's been an absolute pleasure really has been
transcript

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
transcript

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 patreon.com 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 ccmixter.org 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 coffee.com 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