Audio drama is a go go. Following a week of familiarising ourselves with audio drama, we started our production. On day one of production, we read through scripts to see what’s what. I am in a group of four called Foursome with Makee Ogbon, Claire, Holly, and, of course, myself.
We swiftly chose to produce Angel Fish. Angel Fish is a drama written by Nadene Ghouri. Detective Temi’s life reaches a difficult time when she has to tackle a traumatic case of the death of a baby as well as handle a relationship with a married policing superior named Michael. She’s pregnant too, to make things worse. Our production will hopefully do Ghouri’s work justice.
Once we decided upon a drama, we picked roles. Audio drama wasn’t something we’d had much previous experience of other than Makee, who we appointed as our producer. Afterwards, we picked other roles with Claire as director, script editor too, Holly as production coordination then myself as studio manager. I decided upon this role because I love putting together. By that I mean taking an idea then making them happen. I know a radio studio very well so wanted to test my skills in a different challenge.
Week one was almost up but next, we printed Angel Fish’s script then got to making notes.
Within week one and two I had a chance to properly read through Angel Fish. What I enjoy most about Angel Fish is it’s relatable yet intriguing storyline featuring an equally intriguing lead character with endless personalities and traits to dig into. What I didn’t like so much about Angel Fish was the fact it was difficult to imagine how it would come to be from reading through it’s script. I expected to start to listen, well by that I mean at least map out a plan in my head, to what Angel Fish would sound like in audio drama form but it wasn’t meant to be. I read Angel Fish a few times before I started to work out what was happening and how it’s would come to live. Even after that I still didn’t understand parts of it including, importantly of course, the ending.
Thankfully though, when we got to our Friday together, we went through it as a group, as a foursome as it were (our group name) so I got to grips with what was happening on this. We made notes, we broke it down bit by bit then started to figure out how it would sound in audio form. Unfortunately, though we hit a problem because our script was changed from when we first look at it. This we were expecting though not so much of a change from the original. Angel Fish was starting to get mapped out. I liked that we had a creative discussion and listened to each other further. From that point on we have all been working individually on Angel Fish’s script to see what we must do next.
In the meantime, I have been listening to an awful lot more audio drama however from indulging in more works of audio fiction I have discovered something. It’s all a bit cliche sometimes. When things happen those producing audio drama don’t leave things unanswered, sometimes in a good way sometimes in a bad way, they just explain everything. They go too far sometimes which makes you want to stop listening. One example is a BBC Radio 4 drama I was listening to called Where This Service Will Separate. Whilst I enjoy this drama’s storyline it had far too much clichés. The worst one comes at the end of one episode in which two characters are separating from each other and the music of East 17 Stay Another Day plays a couple of minutes before the end. I honestly could not believe what I was listening to. This has made me very aware of clichés and steering well clear of them from now on in.
I have been listening to a lot of audio drama. I think it would be silly to plan on producing an audio drama without listening to some beforehand. Upon recommendation, I have been listening to one entitled ‘Oliver: Lagos to London’ which is produced by ConnectFILM then was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Oliver is a modern retelling of Oliver Twist which is set in Nigeria. I had a special reason to listen to this drama in particular as well and that was the fact that our producer Makee was interning on the production of Oliver itself. Really is great to have her on our team. Anyhow, Oliver itself was an interesting listen because, to me at least, it tells the story oh so well and explains every bit in quality details. What I don’t like so much is the sudden often seemingly unedited transitions between scenes which I am lead to believe is an executive decision to take listeners from one place to another in a raw fashion. Instead of doing this I would probably have opted for a sound scared transition from one thing to another. I believe this is something we can do on Angel Fish when we get around to this. As the producer responsible for the technical bits of Angel Fish I am excited to when we get around to editing it to make it sounds as grand as we can do. What I do like
from Oliver is how well the drama is allowed to breathe, by that I mean it’s given time to take pauses which I believe brings everything to life. I know Oliver is an hour-long drama but I believe we can still do bits of this in Angel Fish as we have no duration limit. Making a drama sound realistic is important in any production because I believe this means it’s a lot easier to fall down a rabbit hole with it, you’re much more like to follow a drama’s narrative should it be believable as well as easy to follow.
Back to Angel Fish for a minute. Production was a bit different this week as I wasn’t in. Unfortunately, I managed to give myself some sort of tummy bug, my flatmate Charity too which wasn’t the best plan, so I couldn’t be in this week. What I did do instead was spent more time reading through. My plan when reading was to just properly understand what happens in Angel Fish and I’m happy to report back that I finally did by week three. In the run-up to the full pre-production team we have just been brainstorming ideas, talking about things, trailing scenes out and the like just so we can work out what works and what doesn’t. It’s all a bit of learning curve. I’m looking forward to when we start properly talking through what we will do to bring Angel Fish to life which I’m sure we will do next week when we are all together.
Within week four we had a morning training session on production techniques taught by John Wakefield. This was a brilliant opportunity to work out what works as well as what doesn’t work too. Understand how professional audio dramas are produced will hopefully let us produce Angel Fish in the same fashion. Afterwards, we met as a group to spend the afternoon developing our ideas for Angel Fish in particular working which scenes, we would record along with which or in which order. We read through fully once more amending things even tweaking little script bits. We added a lot of notes as to how to transition between scenes too. On top of this, we finally established to which artistic direction we would take with this script by acting out a lot of scenes to see how things might work out. Next week we plan on beginning a lot of recording of our sounds whether that be backing sounds or sound effects and how we would do that.
This week marked two things. First, we took some time off production to focus on our essay questions then starting to plan them out. Secondly, we marked, we within our production team at least, we had two weeks till we recorded our piece. We, that’s me, Makee along with Holly, spent time together mapping out how we would record our content. We only had an afternoon’s worth of time to record Angel Fish so we planned out which scenes go with which, by that I mean we decided upon each environment how we would record. We bunched our scenes together depending on the environment they were set then made a recording plan of action. In the meantime, away from production work in groups, I have been listening to a ton of audio drama to familiarise myself with the genre further.
This was our pre-production week. And by this, I mean it will go on from Friday beforehand right through to the day of recording. We met up, that’s me, Claire along with Makee, to chat through Angel Fish as a group as well as working out what scene required which sound effects. For example, in some scenes we are situated in a pathology lab, therefore, will need to recreate this with lots of little sound effect to ensure it sounds as convincing as possible for those listening. Once we had sussed this, we look at who had been casted to play which character. I was, safe to say, very happy with who was playing who. Going forward I would like to work on casting actors to roles because I haven’t yet had an opportunity to do such a thing. Casting including holding auditions seems lots of fun. Our recording day was the Friday afterwards and, in the week, leading up to such we will be meeting to discuss some things. As Studio Manager I will be responsible for recording everything records as it should do then ensure we have a recording of everything to edit back afterwards. On the day, I will be noting down editing notes as to how I believe Angel Fish should finally come together.
Time for the day of production. This was the big day of getting all the bits in the can. We didn’t start off to the best of starts but I’m happy about how we, as Radio Foursome, managed to pull things together to record the entirety of Angel Fish. By now getting off to the best of starts, considering our current climate we had an actor or two drop out at the last minute due to virus fears. Luckily though we managed to wangle things together to record everything we needed to. We knew an actor pulled, a well-known one due to play our lead role, a couple of days beforehand, unfortunately, a day before Jeremy regrettable informed us he wasn’t able to secure another actor. I then tried to ask around. I got in touch with a load of my friends who were involved in acting somehow or another however this was all a bit late and I wasn’t able to find something either. I did in the end hear back from a handful of actor’s mind which I will be staying in touch with to hopefully cast for any future drama productions. Never mind though because in the end we rejigged some bits around, putting some of our actors in an additional background extra role too with a different accent to differentiate, then we had a full cast to work with.
Once we had a cast, script, props, people and more we started our recording of Angel Fish. My production day role was as the Studio Manager, therefore, I was responsible for ensuring all our Angel Fish was recorded in good quality as well as our session was organised neatly. On the day, we as a team arrived within ample time to plan everything out step by step and scene by scene. We started by reading through together, working out our final production schedule then printed scrips out. We decided to highlight these ready for our actors to pick up and run with. Little touches like this we put in to make our actors feel as comfortable and as welcome as we could do. Soon as we were finished up with all this pre-production work, we chatted with our actors then started recording.
Recording wise we had a good old time. Whilst we got off to a little bit of shaky start because we most probably because we weren’t used to recording drama though we soon learnt the ropes and got going. I made a system for myself then I followed it to organise all the recordings. By that, I mean I made a load of folders for each scene then clearly recording take by take to ensure our editing process was as straight forward as positive. On top of that, I just was there to guarantee things moved smoothly during our recording and add comments where I could do. At the end of the day, I was very happy with Angel Fish as it came together.
This is the last week. Unfortunately, things are quite how we planned them out to be. We have all the recordings of Angel Fish though now these must be edited down. This is easier said than done because the plans we had to do it in person have to reworked out because we are currently advised (at the time of writing this that is) to stay at home for as long as possible. This means we will most probably not be able to arrange a group editing session. This is upsetting as it would have been nice to collaboratively edit Angel Fish as one together, nevertheless, we will soldier on and produce our audio drama.
We took down countless notes of which scenes, which takes to take as well as what cuts to make, therefore with that in mind editing Angel Fish should not be too difficult. Our next steps will be to put scenes together then add on sound effects including found sound online to build Angel Fish. All that done, Angel Fish will be ready to go and ready to be delivered.
Overall, I have found producing Angel Fish an enjoyable experience because, as I said from day and blog one, it was something I hadn’t had an opportunity to do beforehand. I liked producing Angel Fish even though we faced many challenges along the way that we could of never imagined.