The Echo of One Hand Clapping: Notes on Audio Publishing and Production By Brian Price
The best in audio theater is seldom produced by the big publishers. We know that. We’ve known that for years.
The big publishers don’t create new audio theater. They don’t broadcast it. They don’t understand it. They don’t like it and they’d probably prefer that it didn’t exist.
Most likely, those are also huge reasons why small independent audio producers love multi-cast audio theater so much--just because the genre is ignored by the big boys. For as long as I can remember there’s been a loyal crazed crowd out there collecting old-time Jack Benny, The Shadow, and X Minus One shows and listening to classic recorded comedy and science fiction shows from the likes of the Firesign Theatre and Douglas Adams. And all along this crowd has been trying to emulate these favorite shows, writing and producing their own original shows. Learning. Like everything; some were good, some were not so good.
Then along came the Internet and podcasting and these small-time producers found ways around the big publisher gatekeepers and found audiences on the Internet. Most importantly, these small-time producers started cranking out more and more shows. They were practicing.
Over the years there’s always been exceptional programs to listen to, but not a whole bunch, not enough to get libraries and distributors really interested. Well, I’ve returned from the Mark Time Science Fiction Audio Awards in Minneapolis and I’m pleased to announce that suddenly there’s a LOT of great listening available out there.
The small independent producers have been writing and working, and they’ve gotten GOOD.
I think 2011’s Mark Time Awards will be seen as a kind of coming out party for independent multi-cast audio fiction simply because they came out. Six out of the eight award winners showed up on June 30th personally to accept their Mark Time (science fiction) or Ogle (fantasy/horror) plaques. They traveled from near and far.
Domien de Groot and Eline Hoskens flew in from Belgium to collect their Ogle Honorable Mention for the great acting and exquisite soundscape of The Witch Hunters Chronicles (http://whchronicles.wordpress.com). Jack Ward of the Sonic Society arrived from Bedford, Nova Scotia to accept an Honorable Mention for his TwilightZoneesque with-a-twist Soul Survivor (http://www.evicuma.com). Cayenne Chris Conroy walked across his native Minneapolis to get to Bloomington to accept the Gold Ogle for his intensely silly one-man tour de force, Whoever Wishes (http://www.tekdiff.com). The only group unable to make it was Ogle Silver winner Zombiepodcast’s film-like We’re Alive, Chapter 17: There Might Be Others (http://www.zombiepodcast.com) from California.
For the Mark Time Awards Jonathan Mitchell came from New York, NY to collect his Gold for the amazing The Truth: Moon Graffiti based on an actual alternate speech written by William Safire for President Nixon in 1969 in case Apollo 11 crashed landed on the moon--riveting. Fred Greenhalgh showed up from Alfred, Maine to take his Silver for a wild, recorded on location dystopia, The Cleansed: Pilot Episode (http://www.finalrune.com). Samantha Mason and Matthew Boudreau came from Buffalo, NY to receive their Honor Mention for 1918 (http://www.1918show.com) asings the question, what if the Red Baron were an alien? Only South Africa’s Protophonic and Honorable Mention Brad Lansky and the Anti-Starc couldn’t make the party, because they’d already been to the U.S. once this year.
So, all I’m saying is that there was a sizeable gathering (not the size of the ALA, but something) of audio theatre producers in Minneapolis. They are producing exceptional material. They are saying, “Suddenly there's people all over the world producing good stuff. Here we are.”
All these shows are well worth listening to and their CDs and weblinks are well worth making available in library, institution, and distribution collections. And the really good news is that, as far as I can see, lots much good listening is on its way.
Front Row: Kris Markman (judge), Brian Price (judge), Eline Hoskens (Witch Hunter Chronicles), Scott Hickey (The Grist Mill), Samantha Mason (director, 1918), Matthew Boudrean (sound design, 1918). Second Row: Jerry Stearns (judge), Domien de Groot (Witch Hunter Chronicles), Fred Greenhalgh (FinalRune, The Cleansed), Cayenne Chris Conroy (Whoever Wishes, TekDiff). Back Row: Jack Ward (Sonic Society, Soul Survivor), Jeffrey Adams (Icebox Radio Theater), Jonathan Mitchell (The Truth: Moon Graffiti), Sue Grandys (spouse of C. Conroy).
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Front Row: Kris Markman (judge), Brian Price (judge), Eline Hoskens (Witch Hunter Chronicles), Scott Hickey (The Grist Mill), Samantha Mason (director, 1918), Matthew Boudrean (sound design, 1918).
Second Row: Jerry Stearns (judge), Domien de Groot (Witch Hunter Chronicles), Fred Greenhalgh (FinalRune, The Cleansed), Cayenne Chris Conroy (Whoever Wishes, TekDiff).
Back Row: Jack Ward (Sonic Society, Soul Survivor), Jeffrey Adams (Icebox Radio Theater), Jonathan Mitchell (The Truth: Moon Graffiti), Sue Grandys (spouse of C. Conroy).Brian Price