SCRIPT: The Dunwich Horror

First, the links:

The full page

Episode 1     Dunwich1

Episode 2     Dunwich2

Episode 3     Dunwich3

Episode 4     Dunwich4

This four-part audio drama is, of course, adapted from the classic H.P. Lovecraft story about a creepy degenerate family in the wilds of New England, who birthed a monster and the possible chaos that such a child of the outside might cause.

It was an exceptionally difficult story to adapt because, structurally, the “story” doesn’t really begin until halfway through, when Wilbur makes his first visit to Miskatonic University.  Everything before that is backstory and foreshadowing.  And while such data is great for tone and creating an unsettling mood, and is really very necessary for the conclusions the characters within the story come to, it is also very dull to front load anything with that much data.  On the other hand, if you leave it out, you lose much of Lovecraft’s atmosphere and get basically “a generic cultist story”, as with the movie adaptation from 1970.

I still feel my version still suffers from heavy data dump, but at least I endeavored to spread it around and bring it in from a variety of sources, so it’s not just one voice all the time.  Plus, I hate losing too much of Lovecraft’s language, since that is one of the key features of his work.

Also vital to the story, for me, were the portrayals of the Whateleys, and (if I do say so myself) my brother and I did a great job as Wilbur and Lavinia.

For writing Lavinia, in particular, I needed to dig really deep to “find” her in the story.  Most adaptations of the story just decide she’s crazy (in that complete loss of faculties fictional Lovecraft way) and let the actress babble and drool.  But Lavinia was never “crazy” – or not any more crazy than she grew up.

Assuming that it was the “mating” that would have pushed her over the edge, her behavior after the birth would have to show the crazy – but in the story itself, people mention how proudly she strutted about town with Wilbur, showing off her baby, and how she looked worried when a jocose fishmonger made some move to go into the sealed part of the house.  Neither being the act of a stereotypically crazy person.

Instead, I found every reference to her and realized she was much more interesting than that.  I took the references to her being a bit of a wild child, left to her own devices, and how she never got taught much, and played with that.  The key, in my head, was to make her someone you could feel pity for, but still would never actually want to be around.

For Wilbur, what I stressed in recording with my brother Danar was that Wilbur sounds and looks like a grownup but is still a child, and we got that petulance and childish tones in there whenever we could.

As a final fun background note, when we had everyone in to record the Dunwich townsfolk, we kept sliding out of the accent and starting again, and the Widow who narrates so much of the town story – but was originally intended to be a male character – came about because Risa could hold the accent better than any of the guys in the room.

Final final – I did a slightly different cover for each episode, slowly shifting the view and making it spookier, and am quite pleased, as they were one of my first really successful gimp compositions.

[All scripts are copyrighted to Julie Hoverson and Wheeality Productions and posting them here is not any sort of waiver of that copyright.  They are posted here for personal use – such as being able to understand the episodes better – only.]

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Published in: on August 13, 2019 at 5:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Type “P” for Plosives

I’ve been listening to a lot of audio dramas recently.

A LOT.

And something I hear in quite a few shows that I want to bring everyone’s attention to – and once you hear it, you’ll never unhear it – is the vanishing of ending plosives.

And what’s that, when it’s at home?

The last sound in a word, the trailing tip of sound – but specifically, the hard consonants like “k”, “t”, and “p” (and to a lesser degree “g”, “d”, b” and even “f”).

A lot of us (me included) use – at some point in the sound cleaning and editing process a noise gate, or some other kind of program that silences everything between words, or blanks out every noise below a certain level, to speed up the cleaning process.

But these tools are very blunt instruments, and the plosives at the end of words can be wiped out with the chaff.  This leave you hearing lines missing a bi_ li_e “the to_ o_ the worl_” (“d” and “f” and a hard “g” like in pig can also be affected).

So what can I do?  I hear you say.  I don’t want to lose the speed that a noise gate gives me.  That would involve a ton of boring manual select and silence bits.

OK, two tricks:

One:  If you hear an occasional lost plosive, you can sometimes copy it from somewhere else.  Find a similar word, from the same voice, and copy the little “dot” of sound that it makes and paste it into the missing spot.  Takes a little practice, but it works for most simple plosives – luckily they tend NOT to be the part of the word that includes inflection, so they won’t vary too much from one instance to another.

Two:  This is a bit more tricky, but more reliable.  When you clean the track and go to use the noise gate, first duplicate the track.  Keep the two tracks together while you edit.  The duplicate track stays “as is” while the other is cleaned.  Any deletions or insertions must go into both tracks, to keep them identical.  That way, when you encounter a missing sound, it can immediately be copied from the unaltered duplicate into the cleaned track.

Once you get used to doing it, it doesn’t even really slow down the process, and if it improves your overall sound at all, it’s worth that little bit of extra work.

Published in: Uncategorized on October 4, 2019 at 10:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Let’s hear it for sound!

Without sound, audio drama is just mime.
Invisible podcast mime.
That being said, there are a lot of ways sound can be bad.

Recently, I’ve been binging a ton of shows, just catching up on everything that’s come out since I went into hibernation (hint: years ago – just look at the last time my show’s main website was updated!), particularly since I have long drives to work at the moment.

And I’ve been hearing a ton of terrible things.

I’m not pointing fingers, but you probably will know who you are, when I address a few things that have been driving me mad.  Consider this an old lady “get off my lawn” rant.

  •  Please put some kind of intro on your show.  With all the people in the world, the odds that I am the only one who will be listening to multiple different shows in a row and HAVE NO CLUE which one is yours, or what new file is starting without some kind of cue, be it the title, the opening music, or something familiar being said.  Something, even a content warning (like I have on Fatal Girl) to cue the listener in.
  • Please, when you first begin making a show, take a look at what volume the majority of shows are coming out at, and export yours at a similar volume.  When I have to crank the volume to hear your super-quiet one-voice production and then the next track suddenly starts with volume loud enough to shatter my car windows – even though it’s actually at normal volume – I am significantly less likely to appreciate the nuance of your program in future.  And if that was in my earbuds?  I might consider murder.
  • Sound within a show should be relatively constant also – again, whether it’s in earbuds or a car speakers, each time the listener has to adjust the volume, that’s a chance to lose that person’s interest – or just piss them off.  I have noticed particularly with shows that want to bleep or redact certain words, the bleep is often INCREDIBLY PAINFULLY loud compared to the voice around it.  Don’t do that, please.  There are many other ways – or other sounds – to make this happen.
    My ears are already pierced.
  • But what if I have quiet scenes and loud scenes?
    …You may ask.
    We’ll be able to tell.  Make the loud scenes a bit less in volume and the quiet ones a bit more.  It’s theater.  We’re paying attention.  We’ll understand that better than having to crank up and down our volumes over and over again.
  • A gap of silence is so cool.
    Said no listener ever.
    If you are leaving a pause for effect, either keep it short – under 5 seconds – or have some kind of background noise or music under it so the listener can tell their speakers are still functioning.
  • Never place anyone or anything 100% to the left or right in your soundscape.  That just makes us feel like one headphone just broke.  And don’t have anything significant rotated too far to either left or right.  Many people listen under “not the best circumstances” – from having only one headphone, to having sound interference – and the harder it is to make out those significant events, the less likely the listener can follow the story.

OK, I feel spent now, like I just chased everyone away with the hose.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

On a completely other topic, I will be very slow getting shows out for a while, since I will be working 6 day weeks at real job for the next couple of months.  Real bills demand it.

I am also putting a lot of time into the @A_D_Infinitum twitter announcement feed – please make sure to follow it and find a lot of these amazing shows I’ve been uncovering.  This is part of a huge plan of mine to take over the world of audio and make it a better place.  And you will all be along for the ride!!!

🙂

–Julie

Published in: Uncategorized on September 13, 2019 at 1:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Agency… not like the FBI

This blog will include some semi-specific spoilers about a movie I just saw, so first let me say I enjoyed “Ready or Not” until I thought twice.

Take a moment, and if you don’t want to have your viewing spoiled by my complaint, come back after you see the movie.

Back?  Ok.

The premise, in case you haven’t seen the ads, is this chick is marrying (modern day) into a super rich family that made their money in publishing games.  Turns out that they made a deal with the devil, and every once in a while, the devil wants something back.

Any time someone marries into the family, they pick a card from the devil box and have to play that game – which might be simple like chess or old maid, or might be (DUN DUN DUN!!!)  Hide & Seek.

If the game comes up Hide & Seek, then the family has to capture and sacrifice the newcomer before dawn, or risk losing everything the devil has given them.

I like the premise.

I like the house.

I like some of the accidental deaths.

I even liked the annoying family members.

So I get to the end and wondered why I felt so lacking – but not for long.

My problem was the “heroine”.

Now, if this was set in the past, I might forgive her for basically not being very active in saving herself, once she found out the game was really deadly.  But not in any time since, say … 1984 when Nancy took steps to kick Freddy’s ass, thus changing the slasher movie genre forever.

The one time this chick – Grace (I had to look up her name) took any action, she failed miserably, and the rest of the time, she just ran, and not well.

I know we all say “it’s more realistic – how many real people would fight back or think of ways to hide”, but it’s a movie – it’s wish fulfillment, and we want the character to have AGENCY.

We want the character to have a hand in what happens to them, to move the story, rather than be moved by it (or the other characters).  A main character may not be the smartest, the fastest, or the most ruthless, but there comes a time when you want to either cheer for them or scream at them for being stupid.

And this was a screaming movie.

Example – she steals a gun from the games room and manages to load it (in one of the more tense scenes in the film) right under the nose of the butler.  She then tries to shoot him, but the bullets aren’t real (they were just for display), and she ends up hitting him with the teapot full of hot tea (good move!) instead.

And then she runs.  Doesn’t grab any of the knives he was just about to pull on her, nothing.   She just drops the gun and runs.

le sigh.

I really wanted to like this.

Published in: Uncategorized on August 29, 2019 at 9:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Music isn’t always sweet….

[Right off, I want to disclaim that I love all the composers working in and around audio dramas, and am not pointing any fingers in any way, shape or form.  Anyone writing prose has the same problems with avoiding being influenced, even subconsciously, and the people doing outright plagiarism are few and far between – I hope.]

Today I want to talk to show producers about protecting yourself when it comes to music and sound effects.

This commentary came about because I was watching a gameplay video on youtube – a bare bones free game, so I was pretty sure they had no licensing budget.

In the game there was a music box.

Which played Music Box Dancer (1974, Frank Mills).

Which is NOT copyright-free.

So my assumption is someone – whether it be the game’s sound effect person, or some person out on the internet “making sound effects” bought a music box and figured that recording the song on the music box would be fair use, and the sound file made its way into the game…

You see where I’m going with this?

That game designer may have used the track in all innocence, assuming that the sound person had secured any needed licensing, but they will probably still be liable for copyright infringement when BMI or whatever licensing company finds out and gets involved.

This is why we all have to pay attention.

Even Josh Woodward – who has a ton of great creative commons music that can be used in podcasts, etc., has at least one piece on his site (www.joshwoodward.com) that is a parody of a famous song, and thus not technically usable in a show.

When in doubt, always check.

If nothing else, it’s also possible that composers can be influenced – completely unconsciously – by existing music, and the outcome might be too much like this or that.

There was this episode of (of all things) The Partridge Family where Keith (the older brother who wrote songs for the band) had composed a song, and the next morning middle brother Danny claimed it was his, and that Keith stole it.  Keith figured out that Danny, half-asleep, had heard it through the vents and believed it was his own song, so that night he played the soundtrack to Gigi or something and Danny came down the next day humming songs from a musical he’d never heard while awake….

All ancient pop culture aside, since we’re all working on a shoestring and don’t have the time or money for lawyers, best to be vigilant.

Published in: Uncategorized on August 1, 2019 at 6:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

SCRIPT: Sword Kvetch

First, the links:

text:  sword kvetch
Listen
Page
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OK, so this one doesn’t have a huge backstory, except for my love for a couple of modern fairy tales books, “Dragon, Dragon” by John Gardner and another book that I think was called The Ugly Princess, but I can’t find on the internet.  Problem is I memorized my favorite stories so long ago (and retold them over and over again to kids I babysat over the years), that the copies are buried deep in my archives.

But one of the stories in the unnamed book was called Petronella, about a princess who sets out to rescue a prince who turns out to be a chump, and I wanted to do something like that, but not quite like that.

I love the way this turned out, and we all had a blast making it.

[All scripts are copyrighted to Julie Hoverson and Wheeality Productions and posting them here is not any sort of waiver of that copyright.  They are posted here for personal use – such as being able to understand the episodes better – only.]

Published in: on July 11, 2019 at 12:21 am  Leave a Comment  

SCRIPT: The Perfect Pigeon

And of course, there’s a little story behind it…

But first:
Script:  the perfect pigeon
Download
Page
19noc_perfect20pigeon_website

I love con artists in fiction.  In real life, they’re generally terrible, swindling people out of their hard earned money, but in stories, they can have hearts of gold and only harm those who deserve it.

For those not familiar with the style of the art for this episode, in the 40s-50s or thereabouts, there was a series of mystery books called “mapbacks” which were printed with a map on the back – either the city of the setting, or the actual scene of the crime.  I attempted to emulate one of those.

Dell Mapbacks: A History

I have ideas for sequels with these characters, but I need a good week of old mystery and caper films and a heavy dose of Lord Peter Wimsey to get myself back in the proper mood.

[All scripts are copyrighted to Julie Hoverson and Wheeality Productions and posting them here is not any sort of waiver of that copyright.  They are posted here for personal use – such as being able to understand the episodes better – only.]

Published in: on July 5, 2019 at 8:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

SCRIPT: Cry Wolf (B&B Investigations 1)

Cry Wolf is the first of four fairy tale based detective stories (so far), where the investigators – the “B&B” – are Beauty and the Beast, aka Donna Bella and Paul Bette.

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download link
Script:  BnB1_CryWolf
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In this case, Mrs. Wolf hires the intrepid gumshoes to clear her dead husband’s name, since the insurance won’t pay off, as he was killed while committing a crime (“but he would never eat a grandma!”).

If you like this case, the other three stories in the series are “The Naked Truth”, “The Close Shave”, and “Pumps and Spectators”.

[All scripts are copyrighted to Julie Hoverson and Wheeality Productions and posting them here is not any sort of waiver of that copyright.  They are posted here for personal use – such as being able to understand the episodes better – only.]

Published in: on June 29, 2019 at 4:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

SCRIPT: The Thrice Tolled Bell

A classic 19 Nocturne Boulevard episode with a great story behind it.  But first, here’s the script and link.

script:  thrice tolled
Listen
episode page

the th8

And now the story….

When I was prepping the first episodes of 19 Nocturne, and networking with the existing audio drama community at the time, the wonderful Bill Hollweg of Brokensea Audio issued a challenge to the community to write a Hammer film homage using no established characters but Dracula and Van Helsing, and include a wooden leg, a broken bell, and the words “It’s never done that before!”

I immediately sat down and wrote this, then decided not to enter it, since I wanted to produce it myself.

Also, when it came to casting, I was looking for my crotchety housekeeper and went to Beverly Poole’s school production (my old high school) of Twelfth Night (I think it was – it was a long time ago) and Molly was in it, using precisely the accent and voice i wanted, so I immediately grabbed Beverly and said “Bring me that girl!!”

I have worked a lot with the various high school classes that have passed through my old alma mater, since there’s nothing like supporting kids in the arts.

[All scripts are copyrighted to Julie Hoverson and Wheeality Productions and posting them here is not any sort of waiver of that copyright.  They are posted here for personal use – such as being able to understand the episodes better – only.]

Published in: on June 28, 2019 at 12:44 am  Leave a Comment  

SCRIPT: A Jury of Her Peers by Susan Glaspell

Here’s the script and links for this episode of 19 Nocturne Boulevard:

Doc:  jury of her peers
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This has a kind of funny history for me.  I was listening to short stories from Librivox, and heard “A Jury of Her Peers” and it instantly started writing itself as a script in my head.  The whole thing was so very perfect and dialog-heavy, and the underlying meaning was so poignant.

It wasn’t until I was either nearly finished or finished with the script that I looked up the story – to see what else Glaspell had written – and found out she had originally written this as a play “Trifles”, then adapted her own stage play into a short story. No wonder it was so perfect.

There are several other adaptations available, both in short films (check youtube for “Trifles”) and audio drama.  I added or changed very little except what I felt would help really get across the time and setting of the story, and thus the possible isolation in a time most people think back on as being exceptionally social (at least, compared to today).

Another Susan Glaspell story that I love a lot is “How the Prince Saw America.”  I would record it, but it makes me all teary and that doesn’t make reading easy.  Here’s the Librivox recording.

[All scripts remain the copyrighted property of Julie Hoverson and are provided for the convenience of our fans.]

Published in: on June 22, 2019 at 7:23 pm  Leave a Comment