Discussion in 'Fan Productions' started by Wowbagger, Oct 23, 2009.
Quite so. The casting calls for all the radio dramas that I know of ask only for voice samples.
I'm glad you're enjoying it. As I said, I adore that series.
OK, so I listened to both episodes of ST:Unity (US) and the first five episodes of ST: Outpost. I finished designing and printing copies of the annual family photo CD. It was a nice thing to have to listen to while I did what was a mostly mechanical activity. Thanks guys, I've enjoyed what I've heard.
Waitaminnit! Outpost has NINE episodes? I hate falling behind on these things...
Indeed, they're cranking them out..
Excellent point there Kirok, when Johnny Dollar was at it's peak of popularity, they had producers knocking on their door to adapt it for tv... until they looked at Bob Bailey, the man who was the voice of Johnny. He wasn't as tall and good looking as he sounded and so it never made the transition.
In an excellent interview, Vincent Price talks about one of his radio experiences.
They started rehearsing a production with a full cast and the cast members started dropping away for one reason or another. By the time they recorded, all the female parts were played by one woman. Vincent said that when they were recording he had to sit with his back to her because every time she'd switch voices, he'd crack up.
It's a basic fact of radio/audio that male voices are a dime a dozen. Good female voices are much more scarce. My favorite female voice talent of all time is the fabulous June Foray of the Bullwinkle show, who played the dangerously beautiful Natasha Fatale and Rocky the Flying Squirrel. I saw her interviewed in a documentary about Bullwinkle and watching her switch voices between the arch villainess Natasha, the pure as the driven snow Nell Fenwick and Rocky was mind blowing!
Do all of the audio shows have pretty much everyone have announcer voices? While I did enjoy the first five episodes of Outpost, I found that the sixth and seventh got on my nerves. I found the characterizations of the focal characters, the Ferangi in sixth, the Captain in Seventh, just didn't sit well with me. And I have now tried to listen to the eight episode twice and not made it through (I start where I left off). Anyway, I think I personally lack some patience for these shows. The Supervoices is almost as unnerving as the way everyone on certain shows is too good looking.
I think it is worth remembering just who the talents are. They are, for the most part, complete amateurs. Fan produced audio dramas are the equivalent of community theater. (In my case, I come by my "announcer" voice honestly) I think the bottom line is that the best performers will be as good any talents in any paid medium. Julian Bane, whom we have had playing our major antagonist in Excelsior has been extremely well received playing the Doctor in the fan Video drama "Doctor Who: Alternate Empire". The problem is that the gulf between the really good and not as skilled is much greater in the fan genre than it would be in professional productions. If you pick a TV show with a relatively large cast you can pick the actor you think is not so great and chances are they'll be at least as good (if they're not asked to do anything out of their range) as the best of the amateurs in the fan dramas. Listening to a lot of episodes back to back strikes me as too much of what can be a good thing.
Since I decided to NOT write reviews of audio Trek, and I am reviewing fan films, I may, indeed, been overeating. All consumption and no work.
The need to write plot summaries as I watch (helps with the review later) and then to write a review slows me down when I watch films and video. Maybe I need to apply Weight Watcher's Portion Control to my Audio Trek.
I haven't listened to any of them because I was unaware of their existence. What's a good place to start? Are there any set in the TOS era?
^^^There's a whole galaxy of fan productions out there! One set in the TOS era is Star Trek: The Continuing Mission. You can find them here. I would be remiss if I didn't plug the show I work on, Star Trek Excelsior. We set our show in the TNG/DS9/Voyager era. You can find us, here.
Well the urban legend is that workers in chocolate factories are allowed to eat all they want, with the result that employee theft is near zero!
Thanks to this thread, I'm now immersing myself in audio Trek. I had no idea it existed before yesterday. I've been involved in fanfic for maybe 10 years and then found out about fan films through a local news article about Phase II. This time of year, I do a lot of crochet and other crafty stuff, so I was looking for something to keep my ears busy without drawing my eyes away from my work... 1/3 of the way into Outpost now and planning on checking out the others recommended here. Had been planning scripts for a JJverse fanfilm but now I'm thinking audio play might be the way to go... certainly can't afford to build that bridge set...
As a writer, audio dramas represent a challenge, a drama without the video track, as well as an opportunity. As you hinted, there's certainly more chance of getting an audio drama produced than a fanfilm! The bridge set, the costumes, the organisation of getting everybody together in the same time and place!
Mentioning Phase II brings up another point. An audio drama is a great way of adding content to a fan film series, as the guys at Hidden Frontier Productions are trying to do. Probably the fastest producing fan film I know would have been ST Beyond, who were pumping them out on a monthly basis, but for a film with exceptionally high production values like Phase II, the Hidden Frontier family, Farragut, Intrepid etc, it must surely be an irritation having their fans pushing them to release their films when they want to make sure everything is just right. Some - No names, No pack drill - seem to have stalled in a perpetual state of post-production!
What you might call "supporting" content like fan fiction, audio dramas and video vignettes would be a great way of keeping fan interest high and cast and crew committed.
I really like the idea of a fan production being a "fanchise" in itself. If a fan film Producer is worried that it might draw resources from their own efforts, why not make a cooperative agreement with one of the audio drama groups for them to produce an audio drama in their storyline? In fact, why not make it a competition for writers? The audio drama group could challenge the writers during ScriptFrenzy in April to create a three part mini series based on a fan film series with the prize being production of the best. Everyone would be a winner!
Good luck with your writing, Mari!
I have assigned myself the personal mission of telling people who want more production of fan films, even if it's of lower quality that there are literally hundreds of fan films out there of lower quality already... all ready to watch NOW. And, as this thread has demonstrated, there is also audio drama (although I provided the best list of links... giggle) and let me mention prose and comic books. (Then are Operas, music videos, and games...) There are a lot of fan films which have been created and altogether deserted in mid-story. Star Trek: Roddenbury, for example. (Never heard of it? ... don't worry. But you can find it under 'one shot shorts' on my website. But they only produced Part 1 of a multiple part story, unless they just haven't posted the rest on the web.).
That's the story. I agree that many who undertake fan films never make one. Others never make the one their created available for viewing. There is probably more 'unpublished' audio and prose Trek than there is Trek on the web.
Wow. What an interesting discussion. Sorry I'm late to the party.
A lot has been said about why we don't listen to audio...but there is some special charm to audio productions. Why else did the Lone Ranger last so long? The Shadow? These days we are inundated at every turn with media...and audio, in its simplicity, offers a respite from all the other stimuli. Like a book, it has the ability to simulate the mind.
That's not to say that the fan productions out there that are video based are somehow lesser; quite the contrary. There is a place for each and each serves it's purpose.
Much as been said about quality -- both good and bad - regarding acting/performance and of writing of the various productions. What one must realize is that for 99% percent of us, this is only a hobby -- it's not a paying gig where our livelihoods are at stake. We have day jobs -- in fact on our cast/production team, we have two PhDs, a couple of paralegals, a couple of college students, and several of us have to take up the 9-5 grind. These productions offer us a respite from all that. However, that's not to say that we can't or shouldn't improve; but to expect perfection from any fan production is probably setting the bar a little high. The fan productions truly are a labor of love.
Of specific note, I would like to thank the cast and crew of Star Trek: Excelsior - they have been an inspiration for us at Star Trek: Outpost since the beginning. Their support and encouragement has been invaluable! If you haven't been to their site and listened to their program, shame on you. If you have, you know what I'm talking about.
If you haven't taken a listen to all the great audio dramas out there, please do. Share the love...provide your feedback...we look forward to hearing from you!
Star Trek: Outpost
Giant Gnome Productions
Okay, so I've downloaded and listened to all 9 Star Trek: Outpost, & all 12 Starship Excelsior episodes and this is intended as a constructive critique.
I think you have both set up good characters, interesting settings and foundations. You both make good use of your casts, sound effects and music.
Again I want to state that I think you're both doing good work and I will probably keep listening to both, I am only offering to help you improve your series.
So who the hell am I? I've been involved in theater since junior high, I've been in over 20 productions and directed more than a few. I've been a huge consumer of Old Time Radio all my life, and since I started my own production company, I've really studied the forms and methods.
I've made the critique on the TrekBBS before that Trek audio came across more as a full cast audiobook and got criticized for that. Without trying to get bogged down in terms and definitions, I will try to better explain what I mean by siting examples from both series and providing what I feel would have worked better. I'm not suggesting that you go back re-work your episodes, but by example, I hope that you'll understand what I mean.
Where I think you both need work, is writing for audio. Your audience can't see anything you're doing. You have to tell them.
Now I'm not advocating that you go to any ridiculous extreme...
Lorhrok: Mister Rol, what do you think you're doing?
Rol: Are you asking me why this phaser, that I am holding in my right hand, is pointed right at you, and set to kill?
ST:O does not use a narrator and SE uses one in a very limited capacity, and neither of you are really using log entries. This is a production and style choice you both made, and there's nothing wrong with that, but I feel that you both need to let characters describe where they are and what is around them. And now the examples.
ST:O S1Ep4 begins at the holodeck (00:37). We're given the computer's announcement telling us that Lt. Exler is running a program. The door opens and closes (00:58) then there is almost a full minute of near-silence before dialog begins (01:45). It's another minute before we find out she's talking to her grandfather (02:25).
Since we can't watch Renova walk up to the holodeck controls, key in her selection, walk through the door from DS3 onto the "Chicago of the 1930's" streets of her homeworld, dodge around beautiful antique cars, walk past people, paperboys and street vendors in period dress to sit on the stoop of a brownstone while an old man holding groceries walks up; here's what I would suggest to better establish the location and players.
Exler: Computer activate Holodeck program Exler 1.
Computer: Program activated.
Computer: Per standing orders of Doctor Winston, cross-indexing holodeck program Winston-Exler-Tyrellian 3.
SFX (chirps - Holodeck door opens)
Exler: (sigh) Whatever. Grampa?
Grampa: In here, Renova (or term of affection).
SFX (Ambient kitchen sounds)
Grampa: You always have the best timing, just got back from the store myself. Here help me put this away. I had a feeling I'd see you here tonight.
SFX (cabinets open and close as things are put away)
Exler: You always have those feelings.
Grampa: And I'm always right. Half expected to come home and find you sittin' there on my stoop like a lost puppy. And here you are.
Exler: But I like coming here. Being here with you... It's... Comforting.
Grampa: It's living in the past. Pretty young woman like you has better things to do than spend time with an old man like me, Renova. (feh) But it is always a delight to see you. Are you hungry? I was gonna put on a pot of my world famous soup.
Exler: Thanks Grampa. You always did know just what I needed.
Grampa: Now you sit down right here, and tell me what's bothering you.
(Before I move on, I would like to say that Renova is hands down my favorite character of both these series and I encourage you to push her 30's ganster slang and attitude further.)
SE S1Ep4 finds Commander Dovan and Lt. Yubari working through an underground cave system trying to discover the source of "the wasting". This scene pauses so the narrator can step in to provide what our heros are seeing. I don't think that was entirely necessary so here's what I would suggest.
Dovan: We're here.
Yubari: I think I can see some light coming in from the next chamber.
Dovan: I don't know where it's comin' from, we're still half a kilometer beneath the city.
Yubari: Why should I care? It's light isn't it?
Dovan: True... I'm goin' in first. Be ready for anything.
Yubari: I always am.
Dovan: 3... 2... 1... Haaaa! (gasp) Whoa...
Dovan: You'd better come see this.
Yubari: What is it?
Dovan: Careful Lieutenant, this is a pretty short overhang and that first step is a doozie.
Yubari: It's a cavern.
Dovan: You could call it that. But it goes on forever. I've been to the Valles Marineris on Mars and that dwarfs Earths Grand Canyon... but this... It's like God's own cathedral.
Yubari: What... All that twisted metal... is that...
Dovan: Yeah... Starship wreckage and a lot of it. What am I looking at, Lieutenant?
A rough scene change
In SE S2Ep5 An assault team breaches the bridge with phasers blazing... then we have two people having a calm conversation. Back to the assault, then to the captain's yacht.
These kind of quick scene changes work fine on television, but only confuse a listening audience.
I would advise you to stick with the assault team through the general's flash-bang escape. Switch to space dock control with a little more establishing dialog, for example they could start by contacting the captain's yacht as it launches. With space dock control talking to Dovan, this would smooth out the POV transition to the captain's yacht, before switching back to the general's capture.
ST:O S1Ep9 takes us to a version of the famous Star Wars Cantina. I would have preferred a little more color commentary from the cast to help describe the scene and the players. What did the drunkards at the table look like? What were their races?
Far and away the most grievous examples I found were in Star Trek: Unity episode 1. They begin with a narrator who implies that he is a Vulcan medical officer, but he narrates once more before he appears on stage finally, and then, almost 23 minutes into the episode, we learn his name.
The Captain and his chief engineer are talking when an explosion rocks the station. As the ambient audio of warning klaxons and people coughing plays for almost 2 minutes while (I'm guessing) the camera panned around the destruction. This is how you lose your audience. I held on just to see how long it would take to identify the narrator, before I bailed out.
So I hope I haven't torqued anyone off, I'm only trying to point out some of the obstacles in writing for audio. Again I want to say that I think both ST:O and SE are very well written, performed and produced and I will keep listening.
Oh, not in the least torqued off! That's actually really bloody useful, if you'll pardon my language. Sometimes we get a comment like, "Oh, it's an interesting show, but I can never remember who the characters are," and sometimes we get a, "Sometimes it's hard to follow what's going on." We note these comments very well, we're grateful for the people who send them to us, and we do what we can to improve the show based on them, but they are very vague comments. It's tough to figure out exactly what they mean, and what we need to do to correct our presentation.
You've given us extensive, specific examples of where and how Excelsior went wrong, what it means, and how to fix it. That's powerfully valuable advice. Far from torqueing me off, you've done me and my show a great favor.
It's particularly useful because the first example you chose from Excelsior (the entry into the catacomb "cathedral room" in Scene 104-01) is one I grappled with a great deal when I was writing the episode in March '08. I had a great deal of trouble trying to concisely, completely convey the scenery to the listeners, and I was never happy with the way it turned out. Now you've walked through that same thought process, succeeded where I did not, and shown me how to get there.
In short, thanks! And I'm glad you're enjoying our shows! I'm glad to have you listening to Excelsior, and -- if I'm very lucky -- you'll keep right on giving us constructive feedback from here on out!
Excellent stuff Baxart! Thank you for the help. That cavern scene you described really was a breaking point for Excelsior's use of the Narrator device. Your suggestions are going to be a big help. Your advice is extremely timely since we are getting ready to start season 3 and James is very quick to put good suggestions to work. One of the things that has pleased me about Excelsior is that I feel we have shown constant improvement and growth and now with your help, I think we're going to be able to continue that upward trajectory.
Please feel free to join our forum and speak up early and often.
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