An exciting upcoming podcast event has been announced: this upcoming June, selected podcasters will be invited to PodCamp, “a four(ish) day weekend where hand-picked team of artists, actors and producers come together to write, record, perform and publish a complete podcast along a particular theme.” Podcamp will be an opportunity for podcasters to band together, hone their skills, and make an audio drama together in a short period of time.
While details about Podcamp are still being released, I was happy to discuss Podcamp with one of its creators, Chris O’Keeffe.
What appeals to you about audio for this concept?
Patrick and I have been writing together for years. Some stuff we’ve even gotten launched, like our How to Make a Comic Book
course with Coursera. But we’ve also got a couple dozen graphic novels, screen/teleplays and short stories in various phases of production. For this project, we wanted to do something that was creative but that also we could determine the production timeline and, ultimately, the publishing conditions. No gatekeepers, no commercial stakeholders. Just us and a team other gung-ho creators.
Audio is great for that. Because we tend to work in sci-fi or sci-fi-adjacent genres, a radio drama-style podcast is the perfect playground. As our writers are creating the scenes we can yell out “Gonna need a hyperdrive sound!” or “Find a robot voice filter!” to our production team so they can have it ready when we start recording. One of the things this whole project hinges on is narrative and sound design happening in parallel.
I need to track it down, because I hate not giving credit, but I heard a promo for a podcast the other day with the tagline “Like listening to a movie with the pictures turned off”. Wow! That really nails it, doesn’t it? Now if only I could find that podcast. Maybe your readers know.
Readers, please leave a comment if you know!
Were there any audio dramas that helped inspire Podcamp?
Oh boy. Well, a long time ago in a kid’s bedroom far, far away, I had the “Story of Star Wars” on vinyl, and later, The Star Wars Radio Dramatization on CD. Then, a even later, I got ahold of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio production somehow.
I think the dramatized production of World War Z is nearly perfect. I know it’s more of an “oral history” if you want to be technical, but if one of the purposes of fiction is to transport then I think it succeeds. The way each chapter moves both through time and extends the sphere geographically is a really savvy narrative move.
I think that, for what we’re doing Hello from The Magic Tavern is a touchpoint. The trust that the cast has in one another to go really far out there and try some weird stuff is inspiring. It’s funny, because there are two main types of world-building. You’ve got the Tolkien method, where you’re actually laying bricks, drawing maps, figuring out species’ migration patterns and the family tree of the Istar or whatever (I love Tolkien, by the way), or you have this other method where you kind of push forward with the narrative and, if the new information doesn’t break the world, it becomes canon. I’m reading a lot of Jack Vance right now and he does that. The Magic Tavern cast does that. “Well, Usidore said that flowers are incredibly dangerous in this world so I guess that’s canon now”.
Beyond their commitment to improvisational world-building, the show sounds like a group of friends trying to make each other laugh. Our thing probably won’t be as funny as theirs. But maybe.
Compilation/anthology series like The Truth
are inspiring. I hope writers of all kinds hear something like that and recognize that there are cool opportunities out there for imaginative, self-contained tales. The Message
wasn’t flawless, but it’s always nice to see big investment in this form. Hopefully someone who checks that out will then dive deeper and seek out more obscure storytellers, like this list
from Elena at Bello Collective.
Applications for Podcamp are now open. Currently, Podcamp is looking for any and all contributors to podcasts: actors, writers, editors, producers, musicians, etc. Attendees of Podcamp will be given room and board for the weekend, and hopefully reimbursed for their travel.
More details about Podcamp will be updated as they are released.