Creating Complex Characters with Jenny Turner Hall and Florencia Lozano

Creating Complex Characters with Jenny Turner Hall and Florencia Lozano
Audience
Creating Complex Characters with Jenny Turner Hall and Florencia Lozano

Dec 08 2022 | 00:45:57

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Episode December 08, 2022 00:45:57

Hosted By

Matt Medeiros Stuart Barefoot

Show Notes

On this episode of the Audience podcast, Stuart chats with Jenny Turner Hall and Florencia Lozano about how they created a high-concept podcast with a complex protagonist. With the rise of fiction podcasts, audio fiction, and docuseries, some podcasts now require better stories and compelling characters. How do podcasters achieve that level of storytelling? What are the ins and outs of audio fiction? Jenny and Florencia also talk about A Simple Herstory, “a theatrical and high-concept podcast series about the women who have run for President of the United States.”

If you have any questions about this episode or want to get some of the resources we mentioned, head over to Castos.com/podcast. And as always, if you’re enjoying the show please share it with someone who you think would enjoy it as well. It is your continued support that will help us continue to help others. Thank you so much! Never miss another show by subscribing at castos.com/subscribe.

Today you’ll learn about:

  • The story behind “A Simple Herstory
  • Looking at history and thinking through history critically
  • Choosing a multi-dimentional main character for a complex story
  • Writing complex characters 
    • Crafting characters that are based on actual people
  • Discovery through word-of-mouth
  • Audio fiction audiences
  • The audio fiction community and engagement
  • Welcome to Nightvale and old teleplays
  • How to support audio fiction

Resources/Links:

Florencia Lozano: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0523568/ 

Jenny Turner Hall: https://www.jennyturnerhall.com/ 

“A Simple Herstory: Audio as Theater (ft. Jocelyn Kuritsky)”: https://3clipspodcast.com/a-simpler-herstory-audio-as-theater/ 

Castos Academy: https://academy.castos.com/ 

Castos, private podcast: https://academy.castos.com/privatepodcast/ 

Castos, website: https://castos.com/ 

Castos, YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/castos  

Clubhouse video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8729ZpWpmIw 

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Central characters are what drives virtually every story ever told writ large good stories have compelling characters. That's true across pretty much all mediums and genres, I think. And with the rides of fiction podcast and docu-series podcasters who wanna tell better stories, need interesting characters. Speaker 1 00:00:20 It's about, you know, showing a real person who is flawed and doesn't do what we maybe want them to do, the heroic thing to do. Speaker 0 00:00:30 Next, you'll hear how a team of writers, producers, and actors banded together to create a high concept podcast with a complex protagonist. My name is Stuart, and this is Audience, a Casto original series for podcasters in pursuit of creating better audio and uncovering the business that powers audio creators. Speaking of making better audio, Casto could help with our team of professionals. We could help you make your show add in our suite of integrative tools like Stripe or our private podcasting app. And Casto says everything you need to bring your podcast to life. Learn more by emailing hello casto.com or by clicking on the link in the show notes. Speaker 1 00:01:17 I'm not crazy about people confusing audio fiction or audio plays or, uh, whatever you'd like to call this particular genre fictional podcasting, as you know, hey, it's like a TV show or a movie with your eyes closed, you know, Speaker 0 00:01:37 That's Jenny Turner Hall, an award-winning writer and storyteller who's written some of the world's top fiction podcasts. She co-created, executive produced, and wrote the Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel, a serialized mystery podcast for kids. Her work on that series won a Peabody Award, and she also teamed up with Marvel to write in direct Wastelands Wolverine. While it doesn't get quite the recognition of some of her other work, she also executive produced a series called A Simple Her Story. That title might be a bit misleading, the story's anything but simple. And that's kind of the point. It was created by Jocelyn Kaki, an award-winning actor and creator who founded The Muse Project, an initiative that seeks a spotlight, women theater actors, and a simple, her story does just that. It's about women who have run for president. There's more than a hundred, by the way. The first woman to ever do it was Victoria Woodhall, and she's the central character of Season one. Speaker 0 00:02:37 Victoria Woodhall was a labor and suffragist activist who left behind an important, albeit complex legacy. As it turns out, she also makes for a fascinating protagonist for a simple her story. Another little interesting twist to this is that the series features an all female cast, even in the roles of men to listen to. It feels like part audio drama, part historical fiction, part experimental theater. Really, it's kind of hard to classify. That's not too surprising, considering it was written by Jonathan Goldberg, a playwright who has a reputation for making these well crafted zaney audio dramas. So when Jenny found out about it, she was pretty excited. Speaker 1 00:03:21 I was introduced by a playwright winner. Miller introduced me to Jocelyn Kaki, and she, Jocelyn just had an idea for a podcast series, and she was, that was starting to get, uh, written by Jonathan, and they had been talking about it for quite some time. And Jonathan was in the middle of writing it. And I said, I love the idea for a simple her history, uh, which is, it starts from the premise, which a lot of people are not aware of, that over a hundred people, a hundred over a hundred women have made a run for the presidency and not for the vice presidency, like as part of a ticket, but for the presidency. And most people could only name Hillary Clinton as one of the names you know, of, of women who have run, but it's been a lot more than that. And it even started with a woman who ran for the presidency before women had the right to vote, which is Victoria Woodhall. Speaker 1 00:04:19 That's what the first season of a simple history is about. When Jocelyn told me that over a hundred women had made a run for the presidency, um, that number was very surprising to me. And I saw immediately that this was a part of our American history that we, uh, didn't learn about. And I wanted to know who were these women and what was their deal. I felt like I understood maybe why they didn't capture the nomination, but I didn't understand who they were. Like, what does it take, for instance, to run for the presidency when you're someone who doesn't even have the right to vote? Like, does that make you incredibly courageous or incredibly crazy? And, uh, a simple, her history sort, repos the idea. You could be all those things. It could all be true. It could be someone who's incredibly worthy of the office, intelligent, smart, but also like a little less than ideal as a candidate as well. Speaker 0 00:05:16 I mean, Victoria Woodhall is a, it's, sorry to jump in, but Victoria Woodhall in many ways is a baffling protagonist. I mean, from an optic standpoint, if you're coming at this, of course this is gonna be like, you know, a very, you're talking to a, this is, I'm a guy, so this is just maybe my very elementary thinking of it, but I'm thinking from like, all right, if you're trying to highlight a woman who's run for president and you want that to be seen as a good thing, Victoria Woodhall seems like a peculiar place to Speaker 1 00:05:45 Start. I know Speaker 0 00:05:46 <laugh>, uh, Speaker 1 00:05:47 She Speaker 0 00:05:47 Was just, because I think of like, I would think Shirley Chisholm, maybe Hillary Clinton, but she's kind of a complicated figure. And I know, you know, from what I understand, that's kind of the point, the point Speaker 1 00:05:57 It is the point, you're right, we started with Victoria because, well, one, because she was the first. And so it's fun starting at the beginning, but also, yeah, the point of this series is it's not enough to study, quote women's history and be like, Hey, good for those women. You know, like, they were so gutsy, you know, it's not so, it's not so clean and easy, you know, like we have to celebrate their achievements and look at the whole, they're not good people because they're women. <laugh>, you know, good people are good people for very complicated reasons, and it's not a matter of good or bad either. There's a way to celebrate what she did and also celebrate the entirety of her, of her personality and who she was as a person, you know? And to acknowledge that she was problematic and complicated too, because women are, and so are men, p <laugh>, you know? Speaker 1 00:06:56 And I feel like we have been a little more forgiving in our history of allowing men to be complicated characters, but not our women. And certainly one of the things that got me excited about producing the project, and something that I kept an eye on as I listened to all the cuts and looked at all the scripts and stuff, is it's not, it's certainly not a series just about this part of history that we don't know or about why women win or lose, especially when it comes to presidential races. Although those questions are part of the series, it's a deeper question, which is how do we look at history and through whose lens are we looking at history? You know, whose, whose lens are we looking through? And even in just re remembering something, we're already creating a new version of history, so to speak. Um, everyone has an agenda when they look back. And, um, it's impossible to look back and get, quote, the true story. All we can do is consider all of it, all the layers of the onion. That composite might be a quote, truer version of history than just someone's biography on someone. And even then, is that the truth? It's all worth looking at and examining, but it's also simultaneously an interesting idea of just thinking about our attitude towards history in general and, and maybe thinking of history more critically. Speaker 0 00:08:26 Yeah, I mean, again, I think like it would've been maybe the easy route just to kind of make, you know, like a girl boss show and just be like, yeah, look at her. And yeah, I mean, it would've been cool. I'm sure it would've been inspiring, but to me this was more interesting kind of looking at a person as, as these very, like, multidimensional characters, and you really brought that to life in Speaker 1 00:08:46 The show. Oh, thank you. I feel like we did too. I, I, I'm so glad that you like that aspect of the series, because that's what attracted me to, to it too. That's what I thought was really kind of revolutionary about what was being done. And also, strangely, the most feminist sort of approach that we could have, which is to portray real people and talk about our need to project onto historical characters or onto other women, what we, we need them to be versus the deeper, harder question is we have to be that for ourselves, what we want Victoria to be. We actually have to be ourselves. It's not on Victoria, it's on us, you know, but it's so much easier to blame her. And also it's about, you know, showing a real person who is flawed and doesn't do what we maybe want them to do, the heroic thing to do. Speaker 1 00:09:42 It's also related to how we view failure and history. You know, you could look back and be like, oh God, but all these women, they lost, you know, none of them became president. Or you can look at it as all of these women lost, and this is how much closer we got to it. You know, like there's, there is something really divine. It's not fun failing ever, but there you learn so much more, I think, sometimes from failing than you do, from actually succeeding. So I, I think there's so much to be learned about their failures and bitter lessons sometimes, but it's, it's certainly things that we can really think about and, and get a lot more out of. But all of that, having been said, it would be nice one day for a woman to actually succeed. Speaker 0 00:10:32 So with such a unique character as a protagonist, the show needed someone to play. Victoria Woodhall. Speaker 3 00:10:40 Uh, my name is Florencia Losano. I am an actor, a writer storyteller, really, uh, is the umbrella term I've produced as well in New York City Speaker 0 00:10:53 For more than 20 years. She's been appearing in film and TV as well as on stage. Notably, she had a recurring role in the hit series, one Life to Live and more recently narcs on Netflix. Now with the booming audio industry, she's ventured into podcasting and accepted the lead role of Victoria Woodhall for a simple her story. As I spoke to numerous people involved with this project, one thing that kept coming up was this idea of having a woman play an anti-hero and what it means to play such a complex character who actually lived. Speaker 3 00:11:26 It means embracing all of it, especially the contradictions. Cuz you know, the more I live, the more I realize that's such an inherent part of being a human being is, is, um, is hypocrisies within ourselves and blind spots and contradictions and, uh, saying one thing, doing the other, um, feeling one way vehemently, and then possibly in the next second or 10 years later, coming around to seeing things completely differently. So those contradictions really interest me. Uh, I look for, I look for the places that who we say we are and who we actually are. Uh, there's a gap between the two because I think that's the way human beings oftentimes work. I think sometimes the, the stories we tell about ourselves are aspirational. Like, I want to be this person, so I'm going to, I'm going to tell myself I am this person. I am going to, and we're actually in the shadow of that <laugh> of that ideal falling short of it, always working towards it sometimes. Speaker 3 00:12:43 And then on the other hand, oftentimes the things that we see as our weaknesses or our failings, those are the things people love most about us. You know, um, we're so unable to see ourselves in any sort of objective, holistic way that the cracks in our understanding of ourselves and of who we are trying to be is, um, is something that I'm really interested in. I mean, what's, what's amazing to me is how difficult it actually is to really understand the depth to which we, we allow male characters and humans, not just fictional characters, but, but real people, so much more latitude than, than women. Um, and that's why I, I called you back after our interview cuz I was like, oh my God, I can't believe that I was giving this example of how, you know, bill Clinton, I don't wanna even say God away with, you know, um, the whole Monica Lewinsky thing, which I don't, you know, it's all respect to Monica Lewinsky and I, and I really do. Speaker 3 00:13:58 Um, I do respect, you know, um, how difficult <laugh> how horrifying that must have been for her. I personally didn't, I mean, geez, there's, there's so much to to be said about, about power and, and sexuality and, and, and what happened between, between them. But my point is, people still like Bill Clinton or like, is the wrong word. People still, it didn't, it didn't damn him forever. This, this, this, uh, mistake he made this, this, um, affair he had. Um, and as I was talking about that I didn't even realize that like, oh my God, the whole series herstory was really inspired by Hillary's loss. You know, and when you look at Hillary Clinton, his wife, um, having to navigate that, like think about what she had to navigate during that whole time, um, it, it wasn't something that she did, and yet people were judging her reaction of it, her response to it. Speaker 3 00:15:11 And she is so maligned, she's so hated. I mean, in, in that same way that like Nancy Pelosi is like with a, with a vitriol, with a sort of unnamable, I don't know what it is, but I just, she and I hear this a lot from women too. It's like, there's something about her and it's like, there's something about her. What that translates to is she's a woman and women are judged so much more harshly and at a level at which we're not even conscious of. And that's, that's a big part of what a simple history was about, was trying to, to bring that to the fore. Speaker 0 00:15:52 I don't know what other explanation there would be for why Bill Clinton gets, I won't say a free pass, but you know, we've, we've all pretty much like forgiven and forgotten about it. And someone like Hillary Clinton is routinely vilified. Speaker 3 00:16:10 You know, there's this sort of, you know, this macho, you know, like, yeah, you know, uh, um, boys will be boys and, and he was a virile guy and, you know, and, and, and during that time it was also like, Europeans do that all the time. You know? Uh, sex is just sex and, um, uh, I don't care how many affairs he has or, and, and I remember thinking that I, I, I remember feeling that way. I remember feeling like, oh, you know, let's move on. You know? Um, uh, he's, he's, I really liked what he was doing for the country and there were people who I really didn't like what they were doing for the country. So I, I was willing to sort of be like, this is a distraction. And like what he did was unconscionable in terms of abusing his power. And can you think of one woman who has ever done anything like that? I cannot think of one female politician throughout time who has ever survived that kind of sexual, like specifically a sexual, because because that we're not allowed that latitude. We're not allowed to, to make mistakes in that realm. We have to, you know, decide are we, are we a good girl? Are we a bad girl? And those boxes just are so limiting. Speaker 0 00:17:38 How much of your own experiences and your own feelings about gender relations and the imbalance of power are you putting in to a, a character like Victoria Woodhall. Speaker 3 00:17:51 I mean that's, it's a primary motivating factor in everything I do. Cuz I have a lot of anger about it. Anger that I don't even, I know it's there, but I know that it's functioning. Uh, and, and you know, anger will out, whether or not it's passive or active. Um, and for women, myself included, not, not all of us, some of us are very direct with our anger and there's so much power in anger, there's so much. And I'm not, I'm not even like, I'm just saying energetically. There is so much one can do with one's rage if you harness it towards an objective. And I feel like that's what Victoria did like with, with all of this injustice that she, that surrounded her, this was a woman who proposed free love, meaning women have rights within their marriage, they can get divorced. I almost see her as like an ancestral mother of the sixties, you know, cuz we hear free love and we think, we think about the sixties and it's not, it, she, society was not what it, what it was in the 1960s, but in a way it was the same kind of liberation movement thinking about women as other than, you know, enslaved by being, having to obey their husbands. Speaker 3 00:19:19 You know? And she was thinking about that at a time where like no one was saying that. So the guts, the the vision, the, the audacity, um, to harness what I would guess was her anger about that injustice into action is in tremendously inspiring to me. And like when I act a part like that, I feel like I'm opening myself to her words, to her energy. And I want to use her, her story to move my own self forward in my own life. How can she be a mentor to me internally? Like if this woman did that, then I can also take certain risks. Speaker 0 00:20:09 How much time did she spend researching Victoria Woodhall in order to play her? Speaker 3 00:20:14 You know, it was during the pandemic. So I, I looked at a lot of research material that Jonathan sent me cuz he was so steeped in this stuff, uh, had read every book on her. So I was basically reading articles, reading the stuff he sent me, reading what I, whatever I could find about her. And about the time too, cuz so much of this about is about context, you know, what was going on around her? I mean, women couldn't even walk freely in the streets and she was going to the town square, uh, you know, union Square, um, and standing up on a soapbox, you know, surrounded by men. And so I, I, you know, I tried to imagine what would that be, to be alone on a soapbox with men, like spitting at you and ridiculing you. And it moved me because I can relate to being laughed at. And I felt like I was communing with some, with someone who was saying, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if they laugh at you, keep keep going. Speaker 0 00:21:23 Wanna play a clip for you. I played this for Jenny and she loved it. I played it for Joscelyn when we had her on our other show, three clips. I thought it was the best moment in the entire series. I wanna get your thoughts after we hear it together. Speaker 5 00:21:41 You gave up exile in England and you, you didn't do anything else for suffrage, for women, for history. Speaker 4 00:21:49 I was broke. I was dead in a coma for a week. They stripped me bare and I took the only escape I could. Speaker 5 00:21:59 You are supposed to fight, Speaker 4 00:22:03 Supposed to. Speaker 5 00:22:04 You don't give up heroes, don't give up Speaker 4 00:22:07 <laugh>. And, and you'd have me. What? I did not live for your enjoyment. I did not exist in history as a real person for you to make me a symbol for Speaker 5 00:22:20 You. I want you to be better, do better. Speaker 4 00:22:24 I'm dead. Speaker 5 00:22:26 Died in your state, rich alone. And what did you achieve? Speaker 4 00:22:33 I chose victory in surrender. Speaker 0 00:22:40 That was pretty powerful. Speaker 3 00:22:42 God, I have a lot of thoughts about that. Speaker 0 00:22:44 Did Jonathan write that exchange? Speaker 3 00:22:50 Yeah. Yeah. What, what did you get from it? I'm curious. Speaker 0 00:22:56 My thinking on it at the time when I first picked it out almost a year ago now, was the dimension of like a real life character. I think we tend to judge characters historically, men and women, but probably women obviously a little more harshly through a more modern lens. Speaker 3 00:23:15 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Speaker 0 00:23:17 And the point where the point she made where she didn't exist as a real person to be, you know, their icon or their symbol I thought was pretty poignant. Speaker 3 00:23:28 I feel like it's a very deep layer of this, um, question that we had in terms of what does it mean to, um, to tell <laugh>, uh, the story of someone's life. It's like their life is not a story. Their life is their life. We, we, we take their life and make what stories we want out of it, but, um, the difference between, you know, art and life between the form we wanna give beginning, middle, and end. And these are the things I liked about you, these are the things I don't like. These are the thing that does not equal a human being living on the planet. And as you said, it's such a modern lens. Like what is of use to me now? How can I sort of put her on my wall as my heroin is, uh, is also perhaps not that useful as a way of thinking about the past. Speaker 0 00:24:27 The idea to have the narrator almost break that fourth wall, become a character herself, and then also allowing the audience to become a character as well. I hadn't ever really encountered anything like that before and that's why I've had such a hard time categorizing simple her story. Is it historical fiction? Is it an audio drama? Is it an experimental piece of theater Speaker 3 00:24:55 That's interesting. Um, what, what genre does it, does it fall into? And, and, and maybe does it even challenge the idea of of genre? Uh, because again, that's, that's, you know, that's a category and, and, um, she certainly defied categorization and we were trying to break, or at least question this idea of how we, um, we look at these women and go, you know, she's a badass and she's, you know, she's someone who, you know, inspires me, which she absolutely does, but human beings are so much more complex than that and mysterious. Um, so I mean, <laugh>, because I am a theater person, um, I do feel like the, the theatrical form lends itself more to questions than any sort of answers. Um, and I do feel like what we created is really the meat of it is about, as you said, the the audience is really the main character because we're posing questions to the listeners. Speaker 0 00:26:08 While some audio fiction has the backing of a major studio and the type of budget that goes with it, smaller indie projects like a simple her story have had to get a bit more innovative. Jenny has experienced both dynamics funding for podcasts. Oh boy. Now you worked on, you worked with Marvel. Yes. <laugh>. So you get a little spare No expense. That's a pretty mainstream big studio type thing. Simple. Her story, kind of this very scrappy ndy DIY show. What were some of, of the challenges of a making a simple her story on a tighter Speaker 1 00:26:46 Budget? Oh goodness. It's hard to ask people to be involved with projects where you don't feel like you're paying them what you would like to be paying them. And uh, my personal belief about that is you can do that sparingly <laugh> because a simple, her history was a very special project both in its topic and also the players involved. You know, you had really some topnotch people involved with the project and the writing was spectacular. It felt more comfortable going to actors, anyone we wanted really. And just having the courage to ask, do you wanna be involved with this? I mean, everyone got paid a little something, but the emphasis is on the word little <laugh>, you know, it's a labor of love. You don't ask that all the time from people. But every now and again, they will do it because I think at Core we are artists at heart and they believed in what we were trying to say and thought it was interesting, just like you and I being interested in women being talked about and portrayed in these sort of, this kind of, you know, 360 way, you know, the, the whole person being presented and not editing out the unpleasant parts of Victoria Woodall, you know? Speaker 1 00:28:07 And, uh, and we were also committed to being innovative and making it sort of worth their time doing something that was really different in the space. Making a splash in podcasting. And even if it's not making a splash with a huge audience, making a splash in terms of what we were doing creatively. And I mean, one of the ways we did that was, I can't think of any other podcasts that takes a cast that is written as male and female characters and deliberately casts all women, or at least all actors who identify as women. And that was a, uh, kind of a bold move because in audio you're constantly worried about voices being pitched in the same place and whether like if they're in conversation in an audio series, the ear being able to discern the two different voices, the two different characters, not a, not really a problem. Speaker 1 00:29:01 It, it came up once with two characters in a scene and we just had the actors work with us to, you know, we had an actor do an accent to, to help differentiate her voice. It was great fun, it was great fun for them to do that. They don't normally get cast, you know, in, in parts that are playing men. And, and to do that in podcasting, that felt like in an exciting experiment. And uh, you know, they wanted a ticket on the amusement park ride. And so, uh, we all jumped in together and we tried to make it a fun experience and the feeling like we were gonna make something that was, um, different and interesting and memorable. And the thing about podcasting unlike theater is that, you know, it exists and perpetuity just like, you know now film and television cuz you can stream them, but it could be a slow burn in getting your audience, but eventually an audience can come. And I certainly saw that with doing the series Morris Patel, you know, we started very humbly as well. And it was a word of mouth podcast that slowly, uh, began to grow and get momentum and gets discovered to this day. And it's, you know, it's six years old. I a simple her history I think has that potential too. It just needs to continue to be discovered and spread through word of mouth. So that's the hope. Speaker 0 00:30:27 Is it freeing at all to work on a project where there's not a lot of money at stake? Yes. Like I know FX like in television for a while they were, they were pretty famous for finding these shows where the executives didn't really care that much about it. So they figured out what's the most we can spend on a show that nobody cares about. So if it flops nobody cares. And if nobody cares, nobody's gonna be breathing down our backs to see what we're doing. And they ended up making great shows. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:30:58 Oh man, you said it that F fx Yeah, that, that's, that is exactly what it's like, you know, we're flying under the radar so it allows us to kind of get away with what we wanna do without anyone telling us, no, don't do that, or you can't do that, or that's absurd casting, you know, only women, you know, to do the male roles. You know, we could do whatever we wanted. And yeah, there was a real, uh, freedom, creative freedom in that. And, and also necessity was the mother of, of mention. So we made a lot of fun, creative decisions and how to find creative solutions to things cause we didn't have the budget to solve them. And ultimately I think always makes a better, uh, piece of work when you, the more, uh, restrictions in some ways that you have, the more creative a project can be. Speaker 1 00:31:48 That's not to say it feels good to pay people properly <laugh>, but with a limited budget and you're forced to get super creative sometimes. Those are the very best projects of them all. In fact, that's almost always the case. And also everyone's sort of in the same boat. Like there's a sense of the Muppet show again, you know, like, we don't have much money, but the show must go on and we're gonna just give our sweat equity and, and heart. And that's what we did. And we were so dang lucky that we got so many actors on board immediately to say yes to this series and, and wanna be a part of it with us. I mean, I don't, I don't know. Um, Joscelyn the creator, Joscelyn Kki, who's the person who approached most of the actors, I think Florencia our lead actor, Florencia Loza, who plays Victoria Woodhall. She also approached some of the actors they rarely gotta know if any, which was amazing. And I think says a lot about, you know, what this project, uh, meant to women. Speaker 0 00:32:52 You were on NPR a while ago when after Mars Patel, after you won your Peabody Award for Morris Patel. By the way, congratulations on, on that <laugh>. But you know, you mentioned how sometimes being recognized for a Peabody or The Guardian, you know, proclaiming you one of the best podcasts of the year that hasn't really translated always into, you know, a lot of recognition outside of that or, or a lot of listens. That's always the conversation we have around a podcast of any genre is the discoverability. I mean, that's what a lot of, like the podcasting nerds always talk about is discoverability is a problem. How do we solve for discoverability? And it's a conversation. I mostly sit out because I don't have a solution to it. Do you <laugh> Speaker 1 00:33:38 It's, it comes up daily <laugh>, here's what I'm finding. Podcast creators in the audio fiction space really need to constantly mingle with other audio fiction creators and support their podcasts and, and they'll support yours. And you get to learn about their audiences. They get to learn about yours and you sort of join forces in that respect, like promoting each other, learning who their audience is. I mean, it's a kind of a specific type of audience that likes audio fiction, but they're very loyal. So once you do find them, they will kind of stick with you. I do find that they listen to other audio fiction podcasts. So the key thing I think to understand is a lot of your audio fiction listeners also listen to other audio fiction podcasts. So you need to engage with them as well as those creators. And there are more opportunities to do that than there used to be on Discord is where I'm noticing a lot of them hang out and ask each other questions. Speaker 1 00:34:45 And it's a very, it tends to be a very helpful community. You know, if you ask a question of someone, they probably will answer. I get asked for stuff all the time and I really don't mind, especially when I have the time to thoroughly answer someone, you know, kind of the basics of like, how do you get started and, you know, where do you advertise or whatever. I, I mean I'm involved with very few shows that have budgets for advertising, but it's, it's essentially relying on other creators to promote you and you promoting them. That's, it's a very grassroots process I think for most audio fiction podcasts. There are exceptions, but that's how I see it growing. You know, you have to continue, you have to just constantly be engaging with that kind of grassroots organizing and social communication. I will say also the Writer's Guild, um, has an audio alliance and they have a Discord channel and a lot of audio fiction creators go there. Speaker 1 00:35:51 So, um, and, and full disclosure, I was on the organizing committee for the Audio Alliance for the Writer's Guild. So I am plugging it because of that, but also I think it's a genuinely amazing resource and it's not just about a space to meet other audio creators and to kind of learn the tricks of the trade. It's also a place to talk about contracts and how to protect your intellectual property. All of that kind of stuff gets discussed. And um, if you do decide to work with a distributor like a, a platform like Spotify or Audible, et cetera, the the kind of things that you should be asking for and, you know, kind of rough price points of what people make in these contracts and stuff, it, it's something that they're sort of taking out the shadows and really being more transparent about inside of our audio alliance group so that people don't get taken advantage of in the space either. Speaker 1 00:36:46 Especially as sometimes audio fiction podcasts can be sold for film or television or even for book rights as well. That's what happened with Mars Patel. It's important to sort of understand what your agreements are with these various distributors before you sign on the dotted line. So anyway, so there are spaces to, to kind of grow your audiences and grow your outreach. Uh, one other thing I'd say, and welcome to Night Bill, which was on my radar a long time ago, has really interesting model, which is they're like, okay, we're gonna grow our audience in two ways. We're gonna not only have the podcast that you can discover and be a part of, but we're gonna create a live experience where you can go and actually meet the other fans of the podcast and see a live show and be a part of something that's live as well, which is also a throwback to how radio plays were recorded. Speaker 1 00:37:43 They used to be recorded in front of live audiences and you got to see them do the fully sound effects, you know, the, the horses coming with the two coconut, shes, and you know, that's really fun too. And that's not only another revenue source doing live shows, but it's, it's a way to exponentially increase your audience cuz what was so great besides that being an amazing show and just an amazing, um, franchise really that they've grown into. They've made it, uh, a community, a place you wanna hang out, you know, um, world building and also a world that includes the audience. You know, it's, it's, I think they're kind of one of the ultimate examples of people who have figured out what to do with this medium in terms of like making a living off of it. And so, um, I think, so a simple history is looking into doing that kind of thing of thing as well. We are already exploring how to make our podcast series, um, uh, a live experiential experience where you go through a museum experiencing the podcasts and also, um, engage with the story in a way that's on its feet and three dimensional. Speaker 0 00:38:55 You know, we think of podcasting as being this very virtual experience. Now you can make a podcast from anywhere and that's cool, but I don't think we can take away the fact that people want connection with other people and a shared experience like that. That's to, to me, why, why I love going to the theater, seeing a movie, seeing a play, going to go see a concert. When you experience that with other people, it's a little bit more powerful than just listening to something through your Bluetooth Speaker 1 00:39:23 Speaker. Yeah, I think people, for instance, like we were just talking about the Foley sound effects, like seeing those made live, like I think people would really get a kick out of that. You know, it's just so fun to see how the sausage is made <laugh>, you know, it's, and even if it's done in sort of like a hammy not realistic way, you know, there is something super fun about experiencing something on two levels. Both, you know, the the actual show, you know, what's in front of the curtain and what's behind the curtain all at once. You know, it's, uh, it's like letting the audience in on your secret because creating a podcast is an illusion of a world, right? I described it as someone as like, it's almost like we're working with an audio green screen because we're not going on location, we're not going to Mars <laugh>, you know, but from our, we create our audio world, you know, like this character really is very much, you know, on the surface of Mars or wherever the heck they are. Speaker 1 00:40:24 That's a Mars Patel reference for in this series. We're going back to New York, you know, in the, uh, late 18 hundreds, you know, and those cobblestone streets of Bond Street. It's fun, you know, watching the illusion be made right in front of you, you know, it's like learning how the magician does the tricks. So I think it's a great idea when podcasters, as you said, create opportunities for people to see each other live. Not just to see the actors live and to connect to the voice an actor, but also to be in, in presence with the audience. Like, you weren't the only one who heard that podcast. Everyone in this room, <laugh> also was, you know, whatever, cleaning up their garage listening to that podcast and now here they are in the seat right next to you. You know, it's kind of like going to a concert, you know, like nothing beats like a live like rock show. You know, that's, that's, that's different as, as great as the album is. There's something really electric literally <laugh> about, you know, being there alive and hearing it. Speaker 0 00:41:32 Cause you had a, like a listen launch party for a Simple Her Story when it first came out. We, Speaker 1 00:41:38 We did, we did At the Tank, uh, which is a wonderful theater in New York City that we're partnered with for this project. And we're also partnered with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for some of our kind of virtual reality stuff that we're doing with the show. We're just a part of Quills Fest. But when we part with the Tank, we did a live listening session and it was really transformative to actually witness live what the audiences reactions are to what we created in the podcasts. Cause we never got to hear an audience, you know, it's as, as, as gratifying as making these shows are you never get to meet your audience. You never get to hear a laugh, you never get to hear a sigh or a a note of surprise, you know, and to actually watch an audience react in real time, you just realize how much you miss that, you know. So I, I think it's a great idea to incorporate that as part of your model and also for your own satisfaction as a creator. It's, it's nice for you to see that, you know, and to know that what you're, you're making resonates with people cuz you're getting to experience it in real time. Speaker 0 00:42:51 Again, I know this is like a really important project to you. So is there something you're like hoping to share today that, that we haven't gone over yet? Speaker 1 00:43:00 Honestly, the most important thing to me is that people actually check out a simple history. Give it a whirl if you haven't listened to the series because it's, um, remarkable and it's different. It's certainly different than what's out there and I think it's the kind of podcast that inspires conversation. You know, you, you do feel like you wanna share it with a friend and then you wanna discuss it, you know, with your friend too. Cause there's a lot of ideas in there. So I guess that would be the last sort of thought I wanna put out there and that and to support audio fiction in general, you know, it's a beautiful form and it's just something really fun to dive into and, and addictive once you do. And there's so much to discover out there. But, but start with a simple history. <laugh>. Speaker 6 00:43:50 Hey there, listener, it's Matt. Before you go, I want to offer you the Aspiring Podcaster. Two special items. Number one, if you haven't started a podcast yet or you want to find a better podcast hosting company, start here at Casto. Use our coupon code Audience 20. That's Audience two Zero. When you sign up for a new [email protected], start a podcast like the one you just heard or about Gluten free muffins, whatever it is, will help you get your podcast out into the world. Number two, did you know that our academy is free enrolled today for [email protected], get access to our courses, videos, and templates, all for free. Thanks for listening to the audience podcast today. We hope we're helping you become a better podcaster. All that's left for you to do is share this episode on social media Buy for Now. Speaker 0 00:44:44 Quick note before our podcasting tip. If you want more information about a simple her story, we also profiled it for our other show through clips. You can check out the link in the show notes to listen. Okay. Onto this week's podcasting tip. Speaker 1 00:45:00 My name is Jenny Turner Hall and I'm the writer and director of Marvel's Wastelands Wolverine. And my tip about podcasting is write a story that gives people something to talk about. Speaker 0 00:45:15 Audience is a Casto original series created entirely by our in-house production team. Our executive producers are Matt Madeiras and Craig Hut. Production assistants is provided by ESL Brill, Jos Devore, and Marni Hills. Logo and website design is by French SW Brill, and all music comes from the Story Blocks Library. This episode was edited and produced by me. I'm Stuart Barefoot. If you liked it, there's plenty more where it came from. All episodes can be found at audience podcasts, Dom or anywhere at AF of podcasts.

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