It Begins With The Writer

Stack of ScriptsAudio Drama is still alive. While broadcasting has vanished from the American broadcast scene, more channels are available to new radio production teams than ever existed before. In the Golden Age, shows were started because a sponsor was willing to pay for it. The Sponsor wanted mysteries as told by an aging Greek Doctor who played the haromonica while deciding who-done-it, then they went looking for a writer, an actor with a good Greek accent, and a Harmonica player. For the past fifty years radio drama series have started with the writer. One writer wants to do an audio adaptation of a book or short story, or they think it would be a good exercise to write a bunch of episodes for a new series with whatever theme intrigues them. Then that author starts to look for a producer, which does not mean the same thing it means in Movies or Stage, and through that connection a group of actors, and a Director, and the other talents to bring their idea to reality. You may be sitting on a story, or a series, that would find a fresh audience – and an incredible personal satisfaction – with a full audio production. But remember, radio writers have to turn in a script with the limitations of radio drama; the human voice, sound effects, music. You cannot write visual clues - someone has to say they saw it and what they saw.

You cannot say "Jeff sees the aliens in the mirror while shaving."

You only have three tools to tell your and must tell your story

the Human Voice (no matter how electronically altered),
Sound Effects, and
Music.

Some writers from other media have chosen to do some radio drama just to exercise those three muscles and improve their craft. Most people who say they would like to write a radio drama do not want to write a radio drama. They want to have written a radio drama.

Most people will tell you they want to be a writer. They do not want to be a writer. They want to have written, and get all the money and fame and groupies they assume comes with being a writer.

If you are a writer, you cannot stop. You may have gone to therapy and cannot stop. You have been told your marriage was over unless you stopped writing, and you could not stop writing. You have been told to stop because you have no talent, and you could not stop writing. You are a writer and radio drama is another place to write, to finish what you write, to write better, and to learn how to tell your story in a different way.

Look at your file of unfinished manuscripts. Which one of those stories could be told with human voice, music, and sound effects. What idea requires too high a budget for aliens, or monsters, or giant robots, or CGI but could hook into the imagination of your new audience and scare the bejezzus out of 'em.

These days it all starts with the author. You can start with you.

Recording or Performance?

Once the script is ready, or possibly as part of the decision of what to write, is the question "How will this be produced?" Are you going to have this story recorded and mixed in post production, or will it be performed before a live audience with all the music and sound effects performed live at the same time? These will set up the production schedule, the kind of actors who can do that kind of work - recording or live performance.

Who will set the budget, do the bookkeeping, maintain the calendar for the production, duplicate the scripts, set up the Casting session and rehearsal location?

Who will call the actors after they audition and the cast is set?

Who set out the snacks, locks up when your done, and gets copies of the show to each participant? The Producer? An Assistant? The Director? The Writer?

Where will you hold Casting? Where will you have the First Read Through session and the Rehearsals? When do you perform? What do people need know before they try to do their jobs? Since there aren't many radio drama groups around these days.

If you have an established radio group together - USE THEM. But most likely you will have to organize a new group to do make your new script a produced fact. 32:00 Getting a Group Together You have the idea, now, how to get it done.

Don't try to do it all by yourself, no matter how inspired you think you may be. You need a team. You may have to do more than one job to get it made, but do not take on more than two jobs. If you take on too many jobs and you fail, how do you know where you failed?

You can be a writer and a Director. A writer and an actor. A writer and the musician who scores it. A writer and a Director, but do not take on more than two jobs for any one show. Until you've done about twenty shows - then you can try three.

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