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Ans, our most excellent Head of Music, asked if we could compile a document laying out who/what/why, which we could then give to those people who were helping us who haven't heard quite as many Rob Shearman audios as maybe they should have we have.

This seemed like a very good idea, and so x_los wrote a really long thing and I edited it a bit. The result is below, because it may be useful to other people who want to get involved. It answers the following questions (some of which you may know the answers to already):

What is audio drama?
So will Radiosonic productions be like these other audio productions?
What is this “Scream of the Shalka” thing anyway?
Why are we doing this?
How will we market and distribute the series once its done?
What specifically will happen in this series?
What’s the story so far - production wise?
How can I get involved in this Radiosonic thing?

What is audio drama?

Audio drama is a form of play that was originally designed for radio listeners. It used to be enormously popular in the US (think "War of the Worlds"), and is still popular in the UK with major BBC stations still playing hours of radio drama every day. For exhaustive information on the form, check here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_drama

In addition to one-off plays, whole series are developed for radio. There are also radio series of concepts that were initially developed for television and vice versa (see popular BBC TV series ‘Miranda’: originally a popular radio series). Radio plays based on TV concepts can run after that television program stops being made, and/or concurrently with the televised program. Currently the BBC and a licenced company called Big Finish both produce series of "Doctor Who" plays and audiobooks using the original actors from the television show.

The boom of podcasting has made the form 'hip' again in some ways. It's allowed the medium to become more democratic and to speak to wider and different audiences. Turns out video doesn't kill the radio star.

So will Radiosonic productions be like these other audio productions?

Our series will be similar to the ones produced by Big Finish (referred to as BFAs below) and the BBC in terms of technical quality, professionalism, and acting quality (though we don’t have the original actors). Without monetary resources we grudgingly understand that we may have to make certain compromises on these grounds. We have some teething troubles to work through, as any start-up does. But by and large we believe ourselves capable of, and work towards, creating similarly 'BBC gold standard' plays.

Some free (and legally obtained!) examples of BFAs can be found here:
http://bigfinish.com/podcast/Podcast_July_2011_Living_Legend.mp3 (this features the eighth Doctor Paul McGann and his made-for-audio companion, Charley, thwarting some aliens who want to invade just after Italy have won the World Cup - it is hilarious).
http://bigfinish.com/podcast/Podcast_August_Cuddlesome.mp3 (this features the fifth Doctor trying to battle pink vampire hamster-toys. Semi-hilarious - they’ve done better before and since).

What is this “Scream of the Shalka” thing anyway?

"Scream of the Shalka", by Paul Cornell (who would go on to write popular New Who episodes “Father's Day”, “Human Nature” and “Family of Blood”), was a webcast/animated Doctor Who serial produced by the BBC in 2003 (right before they green-lit the new series with Christopher Eccleston). It is both "canonical" (official) and not.

The story featured a ninth Doctor, Master (formerly his arch-nemesis/now live-in... something. Also now a robot), and companion, Alison, played by, respectively, Richard E. Grant, Derek Jacobi, and Sophie Okonedo--some casting you may recognize, if you're familiar with New Who. These characters and their world were never developed beyond their initial debut (baring one short story), but they show immense promise we want to pick up on.

You can watch the (shoddily animated, fair warning) original "Scream of the Shalka" on the BBC site if you’re in the UK, or on YouTube or DailyMotion if you aren’t.

Here’s a link:

Why are we doing this?

Because, as New Who companion Billie Piper once said (repeatedly - to a catchy tune)(she used to be a pop star), we want to.

There are stories we want to tell that Big Finish and the BBC and such never will--stories drawn from a media-fandom sensibility, stories that probably come, in part, from a lot of the writers being women, queer, academics, scattered across the globe, etc. That is not to say we'll sit there producing "Captain Planet" issue!!pieces, just that we have our own narrative concerns, which result in unique, worthy episodes and arcs. With all due respect to Big Finish, who have produced some wonderful plays that are really important to us, not everything they do is gold. And the script editing can be very inconsistent. These problems no doubt relate to understandable production pressures/alternative view points, but we think we can work towards something a bit better, or at least something a bit better for us.

This has been a valuable learning experience--no, for real. We've grown to understand a lot about scripted drama, the logistics of production, etc. We hope that you, too, will learn a lot, and be able to translate your work with us into skill acquisition/development and valuable CV experience. That may sound odd, but if you frame this work as ‘helping to produce an independent radio series’, with all the attendant challenges that implies, rather than as an explicitly fannish project, people interested in your abilities may be remarkably receptive to that.

Everyone who helps us will be credited wherever the audios are linked from/if the platform allows (iTunes are difficult in this way, but we’ll work on it). Let us know if, for any reason, you are not down with this, and how you’d like to be credited--i.e. as sparklevampformeeee09 or as Steve S. Stevens. Because the audios will be distributed over the internet, everyone will automatically get a copy of all the work they do.

Also, this is just fun to do. It's enjoyable to take artistic concepts, play with them, and bring them to fruition in a way that pleases your tastes and reflects your skills. Sure it's work, and elements of the process are frustrating, but we think anything worth doing is a bit challenging, and worth doing well. Otherwise what's the point?

We don't know what will happen next. Worst case scenario: we produce a quality product that we're proud of, and we learn from it. And that's not at all a bad worst case. Pretty good case scenario: the series is very popular and we do another one! Best case/in Faaaaaantasy Land: we get to take our experience and work for a larger production company, or become such a company ourselves!! But again, that is faaaaantasy land, and pretty much we do not expect this, especially not after a single series.

How will we market and distribute the series once its done?

There have been fannish video projects, some audios, and such before, but, while these are are clearly works of love, they can be patchy, difficult to listen to from a technical standpoint, etc. Some of the plots and acting leave a lot to be desired. We want (as much as possible) to hold ourselves to more professional standards.

The other key difference between us and these earlier projects is that our predecessors haven't marketed themselves effectively. We are heavily involved in fandom and didn’t know about most of them until we actively went looking.

We've attempted to correct this tendency via social networking, making efforts to promote ourselves across multiple platforms.

Currently we’re on:
* Livejournal: radio_sonic. (We’re also heavily involved with fandom here. That we’re on Livejournal will only really mean something if your involvement with fandom has brought you into contact with the big platform/gender/fandom culture divide, but it’s very important to us.)
* iTunes: Radiosonic (currently just podcasts. Will be the audios once released)
* Tumblr: radio-sonic
* Facebook: Radiosonic Workshop
* Twitter: @Radiosonic_WS

We made and distributed some lovely flyers (if we do say so ourselves) for the Gallifrey One convention (i.e. the biggest Doctor Who convention there is), and will probably do so again next year. Our main representative at the con scoped out ‘The Competition’ and found it surprisingly thin on the ground.

We've already produced significant 'buzz' material (podcasts about the process, etc.), and generated some interest. We're planning a publicity campaign that will ramp up about 4-6 weeks before our release date, once almost everything is done and we can guarantee our dates. We may ask popular writers (well known by people who are interested in This Sort of Thing) to tweet about us, and popular fandom bloggers to mention us, should they not do so of their own accord.

We aim to be difficult to miss, if this sort of thing is your bag. We’re open to further ideas, so if you have any, please share!

What specifically will happen in this series?

1. The Doctor takes Alison to ancient Egypt to see the pyramids. Between the religious conflicts, plague and alien invasions, she’s had better holidays.
2. After picking up new companion Sigurd (a Viking poet), our heroes get trapped in a TARDIS that is collapsing in on itself. The Doctor tells Alison about the Master’s sinister past, causing her to wonder if the former super villain has really reformed - especially when the Doctor leaves to try and fix the problem and the Master begins acting oddly.
3. The Doctor, Alison and Sigurd land in a scientific facility run by the Draconians, who are observing a mysterious singularity that seems to bend probability around it. Conditions on the station are becoming ever more dangerous and the faction funding the research want to use the singularity for their own dark purposes.
4. Our heroes land in ancient Byzantium and encounter a man who appears to have cracked the secret to Immortality.
5. Team TARDIS land in modern day America and must battle a crazed (hilarious) football cult that seeks to grant the Jayhawks victory in the Sunflower Showdown, at any cost.
6. Someone manages to get a message to the TARDIS - something that should be impossible. The Doctor follows the call to a planet where the people are trying to utilize Cyber conversion machines. Has the Doctor circumvented his captors, or did they intend for him to come here, and if so, why?
7. Still reeling from the events of the previous episode, our heroes land on a TARDIS graveyard... EPIC STUFF HAPPENS.

Clearly some major plot points have been clipped here for the sake of Mystery/Spoilers. The big points of interest are that unlike other Robin Hoods, ours has an English--wait no.

The big points of interest are that we have a tight arc (that sounds rather fruity, sorry about that), a crowded TARDIS (which we *like* as a narrative and character device), character-based writing (sounds wibblier than I mean it to be), strong and careful script oversight, and that our plotting should build soundly into a crescendo-but not one so totalizing it forecloses the possibility of further dramatic development in the same narrative, and/or so off-the-scale!big that stakes become cosmic and arbitrary.

What’s the story so far - production wise?

As of the first week in March:
* All the scripts have been written.
* Three out of seven episodes have been fully/mostly recorded under the supervision of directors.
* Two of seven have gone through a preliminary dialogue mix.
* SFX and Music teams are at work. (New music is being composed and recorded for the series).

We have:
* A core production team of around ten, including executive production team, heads of department, and production assistants
* Up to seven directors
* About ten audio editors
* An ever increasing music team (around ten)
* An ever increasing special effects team (around five)
* A core cast of four. Guest casts that vary in number from episode to episode – the least is five (episode 3), the most around fifteen (episode 5) – and who are located around the world.

In total - we have around sixty people working on this at the moment.

How can I get involved in this Radiosonic thing?
There are some good contact points linked in our LJ profile, or you can just write to us at radiosonicworkshop@gmail.com We’re looking for help in several capacities, from skilled technical work to pairs of willing hands and ears.



Dec. 12th, 2012 03:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your non stop support on a guy like me. Your post helps us a lot. Thanks!

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