While the show went through many twists and turns in the writing process, fans might be surprised to learn that some of those twists had a lot to do with variables in the real world. For example, many of the cast members are public school teachers in Baltimore City. We (meaning myself as the writer and main actor and my colleagues) have tried very hard to make our schedules flexible so we could record after a long day of dealing with middle school students. Sometimes, these schedules wouldn’t work and the availability (or lack thereof) of some of the actors forced me to re-write parts of the storyline all together -sometimes midway in the production of an episode. But, of course, I’m a well seasoned writer and these bumps actually made me think of more creative ways to make the story stay in rhythm.
But now that Season 1 is complete, I can honestly say much was learned from both the writing aspect and the production. Season 1 was way over budget and I blame my lack of experience in the production side of things for this. Next season, there will be less of a need to spend so much money on things I can do myself. Plus the publishing company that finances this show has put a cap on the budget for next season. Anyway, as the season progressed, there was more of a conscientious effort to streamline the production for a finer quality sound. The equipment wasn’t any different; the finesse in the production improved.
I’m certain Season 2 will be much more action packed and intense because there is so much conflict that needs to be resolved. Plus, I will spend a great deal of time over the summer planning the next two seasons and get a jump start on the production long before the next school year begins. You see, we can’t do Season 2 right now because the school year is about to end and we (meaning most of the cast) won’t have access to everything needed to produce the show. We want to preserve the environment as much as possible so when September rolls around, it’ll be like Season 1 -only we’ll be better prepared and more experienced. But like every school year, teachers move around and I am praying everyone stays at the same school when the fall session begins. If not, that would present a little problem in accessibility to some of the characters and thus I’ll have to work around that. Not to mention there will be more students who will want to be part of the show (as many have expressed great interest) and that will also be something to consider. The more staff and students participate, the cheaper the production because it’s essentially an after school project and there’s less money involved -just what’s spent on pizza and sound effects.
I don’t want fans to think I’m being cheap. On the contrary, the less money spent on actors, the more can be spent on the production -and that’s really what’s at the heart of this project. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be paid actors in the show -of course there will be. In spite of having a company finance the show, the truth is it isn’t a very large company and money is tight. Professionals and semi-professionals will likely join our cast because let’s face it -when you pay for an actor, you generally get good stuff. I literally had to shelve characters on the show because the (free) actors were so bad. Anyway, the storyline for Season 2 is quite ambitious, so there will be many late nights editing and fine-tuning every second and every sound effect. That’s really where my focus will be on. Oh yeah, and I’ll be finishing the novel while all of this is going on.
Well, the completion of the first episode was much like climbing a steep hill. It was enjoyable and I really had to learn how things worked in a production of this sort, but I had some interesting teachers. I listened to a lot of other radio theatre shows. I especially appreciate those really old mystery shows on CBS radio. Just fascinating that in the age before mass television, there was radio and people really had to use their imaginations. There is something romantic about this idea.
I listened to the original “War of the Worlds” on a radio theatre program and I was blown away by how it gripped me. If you tell a good story the right way, people will simply hang on every word. I certainly did. And I realized if I was going to produce a show that would hold people’s attention, then there are certain triggers I absolutely had to include because our modern brains are expecting them. For example, intense booms, sci-fi sound effects that give a larger than life atmosphere. What really helps “sell” the story, in my opinion, is the delivery. That’s why I love working with Sergei Brahznikov, the narrator. There is just something about the way that man talks that makes this story all the more interesting. It’s hard to explain. But if you listen, you’ll understand what I mean.
What struck me as disappointing was the lack of interest from people that have known me and have worked with me over the years. It’s like “yeah yeah yeah” -I don’t think they believed I could actually produce this show in the way I described it. I have a pretty good feeling more people will come around now because it’s really hard to resist. And with the state of affairs, politically speaking, everyone has an opinion they feel is justified -and probably will want some of it to filter into this storyline. Ha.
And speaking of politics… Someone asked me if this story is directly related to our current political climate. My response was a resounding duh. It presents an alternative future that is purely fiction -let’s not forget that. However, once you start to wrap your head around King Asilas and what makes the man tick, you might wonder if what he does is all that crazy. But I always caution people when they really entertain the notion of having a king versus a president. Personally, democracy is by far a more inclusive system of government that really has made great strides over the generations. Kingdoms in history have not always fared so well for the common citizen. There has to come a point where you say, “Ok, beyond that cliff, we fall to our deaths.” It’s not like in the cartoons where Wiley Coyote falls over the cliff and in the next frame he is whole again trying something else. If we go over the cliff, we will break apart as a nation and there may be no going back. And many people believe we are staring over the cliff right now. Perhaps that is why this story is so compelling and interesting.
Most of the cast of the show are public school teachers in Baltimore, Maryland. We cast voice actors from around the country to help us out, but the core of the group works in the same building. Even the character Abigail is played by a student at Fallstaff Elementary Middle School. So, when you listen to the show, you might think, “Hey, not bad for a group of folks that deal with the stresses of being public school teachers.”
Ha. We love this. We are having so much fun with this show. We hope you enjoy the story and stay with us until the season is complete. Then, it will lead everyone right up to the publication of the novel “The Rise of King Asilas.” Just epic. Anyway, here is a short video on us talking about the show. Thanks for tuning in and following us.