When I was a kid, the first productions I ever produced were audio stories. Back then, I was using tape recorders, the SK-1 Keyboard and homemade sound effects to bring it all to life. I never thought I would get to produce audio stories to share with the public through podcasting.
Obviously, things were going to be easier to manage since I could infuse music and sound effects digitally, but there were going to be some big challenges as well.
Developing the story
Creating a new superhero story was a little intimidating. After all, there are so many great ones in existence. How could I create a unique hero and villain with that in mind? Well, the first thing I wanted to do was not go the typical origin story route.
One way I did this was to tell the story through someone else's eyes. That way, the story wouldn't have to fall into a cookie-cutter origin theme, and it made the hero a little more mysterious in the beginning. The story opens with two internet video guys trying to make a ghost hunting video.
It doesn't work out the way they hoped, but it leads to an accidental viral video when they accidentally caught the mysterious hero in a shot. This fortuitous opportunity inspires them to look for more.
It was important to develop his story as well. I didn't want to create a villain who just wants to "create havoc" or rule the world. It had to be deeper than that.
I was very fortunate to know a very talented graphic artist named Alex Ray to design the logo. All I told him was that I wanted an older hero (late 30s or early 40s) and to design the costume with the Battle of the Planets characters in mind. I also wanted the wings to open up and close. We immediately clicked on the design of costume and logo.
Casting was going to be everything. Audiences can tell whether or not there are experienced actors voicing characters. It would instantly make or break the show's credibility. Fortunately, thanks to my work in the Dallas indie production scene, I had access to talent agents and ways to promote the casting call. Some people were able to email their audition reads to me.
I know Stephanie Nadolny (Dragon Ball Z), and we talked about working together for some time. She was the perfect voice for The Crimson Crane.
I also searched online for actors with websites/demo reels and reached out to them to audition. For the extra or smaller part reads, I reached out to friends or found people on Fiverr.
As luck would have it, a new recording studio (Arcturus Studio) opened up about 20 miles from me. They were only going to charge 50 dollars an hour to record the shows. Once I got everyone scheduled, we worked out a way to get 1-2 episodes done per session. In Season 2, some actors were able to send in their episode reads, and that cut back on studio time. If I needed a re-read or a different take, I could email them.
With this cast, there were few re-reads. They are a very talented group of people.
I knew post-production was going to be a big beast of a project. It would take hours and days to finish an episode. However, it's worth the effort. It was awesome to hear these stories come alive through all aspects of production.
In Season 2, I found a website called Storyblocks.com that made it very easy to get music and sound effects.
Learn more about The Crimson Files on the website
Hear my interview on creativity and fiction podcasting on The Create Art Podcast