I carried out interviews recently on the Audio Drama Production Podcast with Monique Boudreau of Aural Stage Studios and Betsey Palmer of HartLife NPC. The focus was on “building your talent pool, and taking good care of them”.
Most audio drama producers aren’t working with any sort of budget at all when they start out, and there is little prospect of making much anytime soon, due to the way the medium is set up. Does this mean that you should ask your talent to work for free? Certainly there are other ways to reward actors and musicians that extend beyond financial compensation.
Betsey, Production manager at HartLife NTP, creators of the fantastic Our Fair City audio drama, told me “The thing to remember is that if you’re not going to pay people then there are other concessions you’ve got to be willing to make”. She goes on to say that if someone isn’t getting paid, they might expect to have a little more artistic input and little bit more ownership over their part project. Betsey also says it helps if you are consistent and respectful of their time, and good to work with. She revealed that they make it a big priority to provide a safe recording environment for their talent, and they always put on food for everyone when they get together to do the show.
Monique, production manager, writer, and graphic designer at Aural Stage Studios holds similar views. Having recently cast, recorded, and produced their latest drama A Prophet’s Guide locally in Buffalo, NY, Aural Stage have embraced their local arts community, and believe in giving something back, as well as benefiting from it. Monique says that she believes in treating talent as professionals, “to us that means offering monetary compensation, having a flexible schedule to avoid time and commitment conflicts, being prepared with scripts, contracts and equipment, and having food and refreshments available.”
UK-based production house The Wireless Theatre Company are another group with an extremely professional setup and positive attitude towards the talent they work with. Following an interview we carried out with Mariele and David during their live shows at the Edinburgh Festival, I asked if there was a particularly good place to cast productions and find good actors in your local area. Mariele told me they use a website called CastingCallPro and it seems to generate a great response. These are all points to take on board and good advice to work with going forward to create the test recording sessions early next year.