Pre-Production Week One: 14/02/2018 

26th January 2018: This lesson was a general introduction to what Sound Drama is. The class discussed the essence of audio drama and how it’s brought about in varying forms e.g. Podcasts, Radio Broadcasts, Audio Books and much more. There was also great emphasis on the fact that audio drama takes place within the mind and can be manipulated however production intends it, even if it means exaggerated sign-posting, as heard in the audio drama in class where the husband walks in from a hard day’s work and we hear his footsteps and once his wife greets him in the house with a drink we hear the exaggerated sip.

We talked about what is expected of us during this module – considering the function of each role throughout this project:

  1. Producer – This role takes responsibility for production as a whole, and is responsible for delivering the audio.
  2. Director – This role is responsible for artistic decisions, and for casting. Works with the actors in the studio or on location and for selecting music.
  3. Studio Manager – This role is responsible for the technical delivery of the production and runs the recording and editing sessions. They are also responsible for sourcing props and sound effects.
  4. Script Editor – This role is responsible for the script and liaising with writer. The script editor should discuss the interpretation of the script with the director and will also be responsible for any research.
  5. Production Co-ordinator – This role is responsible for co-ordinating the recording, edits the schedules, manages the arrangements for each actor, books the room or studio and books recording equipment.  They also perform any music or text clearances and also liaises with other groups.

Just to give us an idea of how much goes into the production of this project, in groups we were expected to put together a three-minute audio drama. There were some in the groups that had great development within sound design so got slightly carried away with what they envisioned without seeking the advice of the group, but I guess this was what was yet to come whilst working in groups and trying to manage everyone’s creativity fairly. After listening to all of the play-backs we were encouraged to pay close attention to the use of the microphone and how closeness and distance can have a major impact in the way a story is told.

2nd February 2018: This week we divided into groups for our project which I decided to perform the role of the director as I feel like (on the day of recording in particular) it would be a great learning experience as I have always been the ‘assistant’, therefore it would be good to assume somewhat of a leadership role.

After the division of groups, I found myself with an al radio student production team:

Producer – Natalie Malcolm

Script Editor – Ellen King

Studio Manager – Simon Walcott

Adam Berks – Production Co-ordinator

And obviously myself as the director. We all decided on a name for each of the groups and decided to call ourselves T-Rex. As a class, we all got to delve into each script together, giving us all a chance to make a choice (once divided into groups) of what script we like to take on. As a group, we decided on “Theo & Tat Against the World” written by James Mortimer.

2nd February 2018: Today the group planned our means of communication through a Facebook Messenger group chat, just so it was easy to communicate our ideas and meetings. We also decided to just have a read through of the script and have a couple of ideas of sound effects that we may or may not use as well as parts of the script that could potentially be changed for discussion during the next time we meet.

5th February 2018: As of the ending of last week I fell quite ill and it is necessary for me to rest a little, therefore I will not present at the meeting tomorrow. However, I have looked at the script and felt that there was not enough progression in the main characters. I feel like something should have happened between Theo and Kieran or we should have seen the outcome of all three (Paul, Theo & Tat) working together on the Sir Paul script as an ending. All teammates agreed – not so much with the ending as this is where the scripts comedic flare came to play. Then Ellen suggested additional flashbacks between Kieran and Theo defining their relationship and would offer a bit more understanding in the script which once again we all agreed.

6th February 2018: Today’s meeting (although I was not present) was more so about our co-ordination and how much time we all could sync in order to get this project done as we are the first to record and submit. So Natalie (Producer) created an availability table in order to keep track of who was available and at what time etc. She also set a timetable for us to keep up to date with for pre-production, recording and post-production with a few spare days here or there.

7th February 2018:  We all decided that it’d be best to create another group chat to communicate with the team that was due to record thereafter us, in order for us to be able to use the same cast – ‘cross cast’.

9th February 2018: This week the class as a whole spoke about pre-production, casting and acting specifically for radio. So what was expected of each role from the beginning and how to select the right cast members for our performances. After lessons as a group (T-Rex) we did a read through as I wasn’t present for the first meet up, everyone had scripts to annotate. We discussed the flashback transitions to be a TV channel click and also decided to act out scene 5 during next Friday.

13th February 2018: Today we all met up in the library to discuss the official changes that Ellen had updated throughout the script. We all read through the script again and offered our own thoughts and annotated the script. Again We discussed the flashback transitions to be a TV channel click and also decided to act out scene 5 during next Friday.

Pre-Production Week Two: 21/02/2018

16th February 2018: During today’s class, T-Rex got a chance to have a play about in the studio, to be able to put all the theory we had talked about in our lectures into action. We decided in our last meeting to focus on Scene 5. We also got tips from our lecturer Jeremey who reminded us about the use of the microphone, and also SFX and what we will use to perform this if we choose to on the day.

21st February 2018:  Today, Natalie and I were supposed to meet to annotate the script in sections and scan for all actors, though unfortunately due to Natalie’s busy schedule will have to get it done tomorrow as our final recording will be done on Friday.

Studio Week: 28/02/2018

 22nd February 2018: Today Adam contacted all the cast members to get them prepared for tomorrow. Everyone responded apart from Bart. So Adam will try to contact him tomorrow morning.

23rd February 2018: Bart was still uncommunicative so we started to look at our back up cast though Bart eventually showed up.

If I’m honest I was really taken out of my element as a director as mentioned before. I didn’t think it was going to be easy but I also didn’t expect today to be as stressful.

As a group, we all decided to arrive early, 8:30 am to ensure we were all briefed and ready to go. As Natalie and I hadn’t annotated the script together previously we did so once we all met this morning – Yesterday, Adam (Production Co-Ordinator) had sent an email with our daily schedule and 2 scripts: one with directions (the production script) and the other numbered and without directions (the actors script.) I printed everything yesterday for today and also printed a separate production script to add all of my annotations. Around 9:15 am we realised that the recording studio hadn’t been set up the night before (or that morning) so therefore called in the technicians to assist with this.

As scheduled at 9:45 am all cast members one by one began to arrive and we commenced our read through at 10:00 am. Before the read through, admittedly there was a bit of confusion. I was slightly confused with the script in the best way in which to perform scene 4 and had mentioned this to my team beforehand but felt like clarification didn’t take place until it was too late. Therefore, I decided to try doing scene 4 all in one take – which as a team we hadn’t discussed before. I felt that this would have been less confusing for myself, although I didn’t take into account the fact that the scenes would all occur in different places so would need to sound different. After running through this scene chaotically, I decided to return back to the original plan and record scene 4 in sections but leaving the retakes until the end of the recordings. Also, James who played Paul and Bart who played Kieran received an email stating that their roles had been reversed, which us a team had never discussed either – I do believe that this was honestly a genuine mistake by our script editor. Therefore, I apologised on behalf of Ellen and explained what roles they’d be playing (the same as intended) of which they were very professional. After the read through I decided to just go for scene 4, though more confusion played out in regards to the different scripts. I mistakenly printed of a production (non-numbered) script earlier and therefore didn’t have the same script as the cast so was in total confusion as to what pages we were on and where to guide them. After our first change over (between scenes) I felt like I began to grasp the situation a bit more (picking up an actors’ script) offering better direction to the cast members.

Communication thereafter I feel could have been better as at one point I was getting three people communicating with me all at once. I think this contributed to a slightly confused cast and at times caused them to lose sight of who was supposed to be the director. I think if I had been more vocal this may have been avoided.

The end consisted of the recordings of the inner monologues and the necessary retakes, which we managed to do on time and without chaos this time – in my opinion, because we started working as a team. We then thanked the actors for their presence and participating and freed the studio for the next group.

The experience was as I said before a different experience than what I’ve been used to but one thing that I have learnt throughout this process is to not only be more vocal within the role that I’m given but I guess to also take charge. It’ll be good to hear what others took away from the day during our debrief with Jeremey on Friday 9th March.

24th February 2018: Today, Simon (Studio Manager), Natalie (Producer) and I (Director) discussed how editing will take place. I think here is where strong characters in the group became a bit over-powering. I advised Simon that from beginning to end that this process would be a joint effort and that it should be done together in order to relieve stress and pressure however, Simon was adamant that he had a system in place to be able to clip each scene ready for us to make decisions on what takes were most appropriate.

Edit Week: 14/03/2018

1st March 2018: Simon created a spreadsheet allowing us three – Natalie, myself and him to decide on which take was most appropriate and give each clip a rating out of 10 (10 being good and 1 being bad). I managed to get that filled in today and so am just waiting to meet up with the team in order to officially commence piecing it all together. Due to the conditions of the weather from 1 pm today and during the whole day tomorrow 2nd March 2018 lessons will be suspended until the 5th March 2018. Therefore, our meeting with Jeremy I assume will be postponed until the 9th March 2018.

5th March 2018: Today Simon and I arranged to meet 7th at 10 am to start placing each take to fit the story. Natalie won’t be there as she’ll be away but will be available for other days of editing and quick means of contact if need be.

7th March 2018: Simon and I decided to dedicate the entire day to placing each part of every scene. The whole day consisted of working on Scenes 1, 2, 4 and 7 so therefore on the 9th March 2018 we’ll be able to get the rest done. Our method today was Simon editing the sound via Adobe Audition and me giving him creative directions. We did have one or two challenges today in regards to the way in which certain parts sounded e.g. the inner monologues we decided to put a ‘Bitter Hallway’ effect on it to give it an echoing feeling, though listening back to it it just hasn’t quite sounded how we were expecting. Therefore, when we meet up with Jeremey on Friday 9th March 2018 at midday we can question this. We also decided that the intro will be voiced by a female – Ellen (Script Editor).

9th March 2018: Today Simon and I came in a tad bit earlier than our midday meeting with Jeremey to continue editing. At this point, we had scenes 3, 5 and 6 left to do. Once again, it was me offering Simon creative direction and him and I juggling ideas to finalise the end result. Although this is the process I think I’ve enjoyed the most, it is quite a gruelling process so I could start to see us slowly deteriorate towards the last bit of editing during the day but we managed to get it all done. Now Simon will piece everything together and drop it in the shared drive. There were one or two challenges in terms of finding the appropriate sound for the inner monologues but talking to Jeremey today during our meeting he advised to simply work on the rest of the audio which in turn will make the inner monologues seem alien from the rest of the audio, creating the feeling of a voice in your head. During the meeting, we also discussed the final recording on the 23rd February 2018 which I know where I went wrong in both the confusion of characters, the different scripts and mucking up the first take of scene 4.  One thing that was pointed out by Jeremey was the fact that he was looking for me as a director to offer creative direction to each character and allow each of their journeys to develop audibly in different ways. Though what I did was simply to do one take and move onto the next. I think next time this is definitely something I will take into consideration. I also created files on the drive for the intro and outro script, the SFX list and the programme presentation.

10th March 2018: Today Simon and I decided to find an alternative piece of audio for the scene in the bar as the taxi music just didn’t sound appropriate. I also decided to have a transition into the bar scene with quite a loud group chat with a group of guys in a pub/local bar.

13th March 2018: Today we were supposed to meet to finalise everything but unfortunately I couldn’t make in therefore postponed until tomorrow.

14th March 2018: Today Simon and I worked on bettering the sound, from transitions in the bar to TV in Theos’ flat which we decided to use instead of music (it sounded more appropriate) to the dog barks to offer a comedic feel to the piece. Today I also started to complete the music report form as I was waiting for the final mixdown.

Final Submission: 21/03/2018

 

15th March 2018: Today Simon had finalised the final mixdown which in my opinion sounds absolutely superb. I think although there were a few challenges when recording (mic fall-outs, the air conditioning etc.) I’m very proud of what’s been produced and how everything has come together.

16th March: Today is submission day, so I just made sure all paperwork was accurate and sent an email off to j.mortimer@westminster.ac.uk at 14:20 and Simon sent off the audio earlier.

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