I have decided to give myself a challenge The challenge is to create a radio play from scratch with no experience and the most basic of tools. The reason I have given myself this challenge is out of necessity. I have been lucky enough to have been asked to create a radio play for the radio station I am volunteering on. It is too good an opportunity to let me let little things like having no budget, no experience, no real equipment or even a script (yet!) stop me from having a go. Actually, I do have experience of writing plays, if not radio plays. I am looking at this as a transferable skill which seems a good enough tactic on my CV. I thought it might prove amusing and possibly informative (although this is far from a how to guide) for me to detail how I go about doing this.
Phase 1 – Assess everything (Or, Assess everything that you know about now and come back to it later when you have found out things you didn’t know you needed to know).
The good thing about starting from a position of no knowledge is that it is inevitable I will make mistakes. As long as I learn from them, I am fine with that. My cunning plan is to learn from my mistakes before I make them on the actual radio play. Let me explain. I am currently trying to figure out how to make the radio play sound like I want it to. My basic problem with radio plays is that they sound ‘fake’. Something about them doesn’t ring true. I know this is an inevitable outcome from the medium itself, but I am wondering if there is a way to play around with it, like a radio equivalent of how hand held cameras are used to give the impression of jagged fast movements. So, I want to find out if I can make the radio play sound like I want it to come out as before I write the entire thing and find out I can’t make it sound right. There is a logic in there somewhere. It might be the pan for gold type of logic, but if you sift long enough, you will find a little gold nugget. Probably.
When not knowing, I am left with experimenting and seeing what does and doesn’t work. Later on tonight I am going to play with the recording equipment and record scenes in different rooms, outside, in a car etc to see what sounds good and what doesn’t. I want to see if I can record it in a way that sounds more realistic. Fingers crossed. I am going to ignore the possibility that it still won’t sound good as I am all about the positive outlook these days and I want to give it a chance to do its funky positive outlook stuff.
I have assessed my budget. It consists of my time and energy and little else. Although, I have heard that the value of my time and energy has recently gone up on the stock market, so you better buy your shares now before they either become too expensive or lose all value. (Note to self – work on self-promotion and don’t use the phrase ‘lose all value’ in relation to myself).
With no money, I am relying on being inventive, which is a fun exercise in its own right. One fun fact that I found out from my research was that even if you buy a sound effect cd, it does not give you copyright to use that sound effect on a radio play. Is it just me, or does this seem a kind of sucky thing to do? You can buy it, but you can’t use it. Ok, I won’t buy it then.
But David, how will you get your sound effects? Where is the ‘fun’ in this exercise? By jimmy by jove, that is indeed a splendid question. Have a badge.
Actually, it is not that inventive. It is damn practical though, and I am fairly certain that practical is just as sexy as inventive. Right? (Sighing voice in my own head – Yes David. Practical is very sexy).Huzzah! I thought so. So, when sound effects are beyond a budget, break out the trusty mobile phone (a modern day version of a swiss army knife) and find the record button. Sound effects ahoy! I am considering (with a fairly unprofessional part of my brain) writing certain scenes just so I can have fun creating the sound effects for them. Might give it a bit of practise first.
Here is something that might prove useful to the reader. I found out that you can use itunes to convert audio files from one format to another. I recorded a 30 secs of background bar noise on Valentines day (I know, I am a romantic soul) and when I went to edit it, it would not go into Audacity (awesome free editing software) as it was. A quick internet search (Google is my friend) and I found out you can convert a wave4 file to an mp3 via itunes. Imagine that! itunes is actually useful for something. I am going to play around more with how sound effects and dialogue work when put together, but I think I can work it out.
With the script, I am on more familiar ground. I have written quite a few plays and with some thought and imagination, I believe I can transfer what I know about stage plays to a radio play. I am by dint of my situation, going to keep the story as simple as I can in terms of not giving myself sweeping battle scenes to try and convey through sound alone. I am thinking about a radio play about the therapist/client relationship (write what you know and all that). I think it will fit well with what I have in mind. There will be more to it than that obviously. As soon as I have written it, I will let you know. Well, not too much. Spoilers need to be avoided.
Apart from all that, I just need to find some actors who will work for free, or at the most tea and biscuits (you will need to provide your own biscuits) and then pray that all the hard work that goes into it doesn’t get ruined by me in the editing process. Or that people actually like the radio play once it is aired. Meh, one step at a time.
That is about it for phase 1. It is a fairly general phase I grant you. I will get into the specifics when I know what they are. Until then…
Take care buddies,