In the 2013 documentary All Ears – Celebrating the Medium of Modern Audio Drama, two of my interviewees were almost completely responsible for my love of audio fiction. Kincaid’s show Edict Zero FIS is a cinematic Sci-fi story which runs as deep as any novel I’ve ever read (without one single bit of narration I should add) and on top of this, the soundscapes that shape the story world in your head are without a doubt the most immersive I’ve ever encountered. An interesting point about the recording on Edict Zero is that, as far as I know, no voice actors appearing in the same scene have ever recorded it ‘as read’ in a studio together. All recording takes place individually, with each actor, in their own facilities. The lines are sent to Kincaid who mixes them together in post-production, this is known as ‘satellite’ or ‘remote’ recording.
Kc Wayland’s We’re Alive is another triumph, though different in many ways. Kc’s long-term vision to bring together a pool of trained actors in a studio environment, combined with what has surely been a gruelling writing, recording, and production schedule for the past five years, has led to four full seasons of consistent and regular shows and over thirty million downloads . This has opened up avenues to create a business model from the show, and it will be interesting to see how that develops over the next few years.
Both shows have certainly reached a cult-status in the world of online modern audio drama, and in the All Ears documentary I was keen to find out more about their respective approaches.
Speaking of the early days, Kc said “Mainly we’ve done pretty well to bring attention to this audio format. It has been a lot of development along the way… we started out pretty small, our numbers were very very small… I mean, if I look at the first couple of months, if not, three quarters of a year in 2009, we were barely scraping by 50-60 downloads a day.”
“It has been a learning curve the entire time. My background for writing and doing all this stuff was all film-based. Most of my techniques were visual based, so I had to… re-learn how to write for strictly audio format.” He goes on to ask “How can you tell something rather than show something?” which is possible in film, but not in audio drama. He also goes on to say that he has borrowed a lot from film, from writing style to formats of the scripts. “It has done nothing but contribute to the overall simplification of what we do.”
Regarding Edict Zero, Jack explained “I take influence from movies and TV shows a bit more now, for this… structurally, than I do from books. And that’s been a transitional process. If you want the listener to imagine something specific, you have to communicate it another way… such as with sound effects, or through dialogue. Characters have to verbalise more… as there’s no internal dialogue.” Jack thought about using monologues but decided against it.
“So maybe a real person wouldn’t say this or that in real life, or declare what they’re doing. But like any other entertainment form… you adapt to what the form offers. You play on its strengths; you circumvent the weaknesses… if we want to call them weaknesses. You do it in a way that people will barely notice.”