It’s not film, by any stretch, and it’s not a book. It’s somewhere in-between. We have to write for people to not see anything…
The Web has opened a great number of possibilities for creative content, and created a completely new medium of the web series, the likes of which this very site reports to you on everyday.
In the form of podcasts, even beyond that of the video-based entertainment we focus on, an entire world that I’ve only recently become familiar with is alive and thriving – audio-based entertainment. Along with audio novels that allow writers to showcase the written word in a medium you can consume while working or driving, creative talents have proven that a medium older than television is still viable in the modern day – that of the radio drama.
Anyone who played or enjoyed the ILoveBees campaign after the fact can attest, radio dramas can craft emotional and explosive stories that, were they in visual form, would have the budget of Inception. Yet with a good sound recording setup, quality actors, great writing and plenty of ingenuity, the story of a zombie apocalypse has unfolded over the course of a year and a half (and is still continuing!) in the form of We’re Alive, a radio drama story of survival.
I have to admit that I am pretty embarrassed that I did not know of this series when it began in May of 2009, and I have been shamed in my family with the knowledge that I dropped the ball as the resident entertainment encyclopedia, and my own personal honor has been sullied. The only salve to this wound is the enjoyment I’ve derived from this fantastic series of lost humanity and perpetual mourning in the face of civilization’s collapse.
To make up for my deficiencies, I come to you hat in hand with an interview from Kc Wayland, writer/director/producer of We’re Alive.
Tubefilter: You’ve been releasing episodes for well over a year and a half (the first dropping on May 4th, 2009). When you first set out to produce the show, how long did you initially expect to go?
Wayland: When we first started working on the show, we knew that this was something that would be for the long haul. We considered doing three or four seasons based on the story we wanted to tell. Since we were going to do casting for actors, they had to know ahead of time that this was something that we would be doing for some time. I don’t think anyone would be able to imagine the series switching actors mid way through.
Tubefilter: One of the most prevalent themes in show appears to be not simply the survival of humankind, but the preservation of the human spirit in the face of horrific violence. Did your experience overseas in the military inform that struggle?
Wayland: Most of the survival stories I’ve encountered revolve around people just trying to find a way to survive and only the mechanics that are involved with how someone would be able to. When we started this series we didn’t want to focus on just that, but also being to remain as human as we are. Even though outside might be hell, people are still going to need that time to relax and unwind. When I came back from a stressful and potentially life threatening mission, I’d flip on our TV and play video games (Tiger Woods Golf 2003 at the time or Grand Theft Auto: Vice City). I’d do this to try and relax and relieve tension. Everyone has their own way of dealing with these sorts of things. If there are pieces of potential hell, you need your own little safe haven in order to maintain your own sanity.
Tubefilter: As your military background has influenced and informed the soldier characters, has there been any other special backgrounds and experiences from your cast and crew that have impacted the storyline?
Wayland:Of course! When we first were putting together the cast, we had an idea of who these people were, but not the clearest of vision. It wasn’t until we met them that we really developed the characters to what they are now. Little bits of them came into the story and combined to make who they are. Riley, was never French in the first draft. Datu was originally a Spanish guy with a different name. Pieces of the actor’s personalities sneak into my head when I’m writing them, and the two become inseparable.
Tubefilter: For a while the show had commercials before and after the episode, but have since gone without. Has the show’s merchandising allowed itself to be self-sustaining at this point?
Wayland: The show is not self-sustaining, yet. But we’re doing much better now that we have added merchandise to the mix and the amount of support we receive from the listeners has allowed us to continue to produce more episodes for free. People have asked us many times of why we haven’t decided to start charging for the episodes. If we start charging, then we would stop growing. In a way, this is our portfolio and the more people listening, the easier it will be for one day turn this into a full time job.
Tubefilter: Since you’ve began, has the process of producing episodes changed at all? Are there any lessons you’ve had to learn the hard way?
Wayland: When we first began We’re Alive, I was working very part time teaching high school. It was barely enough time and pay to keep me afloat, but gave me a lot more time to edit and dedicate to the show. I did a far more editing with the sound design back then.
Now, we have Stage 1 sound designers that take the voice cut and go through its first layer of editing. After that, I get my hands on it for the weekend before it airs and smooth it out and make it match our style. The writing was also a bit different last season as well. I had an assistant writer come on board and write two of the chapters to try and relieve some of the pressure.
What we discovered was the different style and voice the show had. Now, it’s just myself writing the chapters. Other lessons we have learned, for one, listeners aren’t as patient as one would hope they’d be. As we get deeper into the 2nd Season, our bridges in action are used to build plot and characters to set up large portions of the story.
When someone rushes through the whole first season, they get unnerved when they hit a slow point and have to wait a week at a time. Other lessons we’ve learned? The big thing for us is how to create audio drama. There are a lot of people who have dabbled in the process of creating audio dramas and everyone has their own perspective of what works and what doesn’t.
It’s not film, by any stretch, and it’s not a book. It’s somewhere in-between. The craft has been something that we’ve developed along the way. We have to write for people to not see anything, something very foreign to us in the beginning.
Tubefilter: Have other creative opportunities opened up since you’ve began the show?
Wayland: To be honest, not a lot, and I’ve done that on purpose. People have been asking me to assist with various other projects and I’ve had to turn all of them down due to time constraints. I used to be very open to helping people out with scripts or filming, but not anymore. If we start breaking even and start bringing on more staff members and enough of a budget to make this a full time gig, then I might branch out into other areas. We also have the time off in between seasons for us to work on side projects, but even that time seems to be dedicated for We’re Alive.