World Building with Jonathan Goldberg

World Building with Jonathan Goldberg
World Building with Jonathan Goldberg

Dec 15 2022 | 00:40:27

Episode December 15, 2022 00:40:27

Hosted By

Stuart Barefoot

Show Notes

On this episode of the Audience podcast, Stuart chats with award-winning playwright Jonathan Goldberg about how he builds a world for the stage and behind the mic for his podcast, “The Fall of the House of Sunshine.” How do you create and portray a believable world for your podcast? Which details do you focus on and which do you leave out? Jonathan also shares his perspective on working as a writer, his influences, and why (and how) dark comedies work so well today.

If you have any questions about this episode or want to get some of the resources we mentioned, head over to 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

Today you’ll learn about:

  • What Jonathan’s background in theater taught him about storytelling and worldbuilding
  • Jonathan’s playwright and audiodrama influences
  • Discoverability for writers
  • The difference between entertainment and art
  • Defining Jonathan’s brand
  • How Jonathan builds a world from scratch
  • Building a fiction or nonfiction world for a podcast
  • How dark comedies work: it’s about perspective
  • The fun in playing with genre and tropes
  • Podcasting as a skill
  • The importance of collaboration in podcasting


Jonathan A Goldberg: 

The Fall of the House of Sunshine: 

A Simple Herstory: 

Castos Academy: 

Castos, private podcast: 

Castos, website: 

Castos, YouTube:  

Clubhouse video: 

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 In 2019, Brad Pitt starred in the sci-fi thriller at Astra. Now we won't get too bogged down by the plot, but in a nutshell, it takes place in the future. Pitt plays an astronaut task with traveling to Neptune on a mission that could save the entire solar system. On his way. He flies commercially to the moon where we see 'em walk around a busy airport full of commercial vendors and a subway restaurant. The writers of this movie didn't spend a lot of time giving viewers much backstory on the moon being colonized since it's a relatively minor plot point used to advance the story. Instead, they rely on the viewer's own intelligence to fill into details. I mean, think about it. Our experience of just being humans in the 21st century helps us imagine a world where the moon could easily be colonized. Now I have no background in film, but in my opinion this is really good world. Building the scene on the moon tells us a lot without actually having to say all that much. Speaker 1 00:01:00 In worlds that are heightened or weirder, you need to have a stronger base reality that the characters can follow or everything becomes possible and you sort of lose the reality of it. So you can have magical things, you can have weird things, but if there is a baseline reality that everyone adheres to, I think it helps ground the audience in the project and having like the world building the confidence of like everything makes sense even if there is like magic or if there is like superheroes or something. Speaker 0 00:01:29 Next you'll hear how a playwright turn Podcaster builds worlds through audio. My name is Stuart and this is Audience aos original series for podcasters in pursuit of creating better audio and uncovering the business that powers audio creators. Speaking of making better audio, Casto can help with our team of talented professionals. We can help you make your podcast add in our suite of integrative tools like Stripe or our private podcasting app. And Casto says everything you need to bring your show to life. Learn more by emailing or by clicking on the link in the show notes Speaker 3 00:02:09 Time power. Aye problem. Listen Mers, this is a lot to absorb eternal beings. Cosmic, what's it? I'm a simple police guy. Just an average Joe's part space for and friends with a bunch of puppets. A woman who's now a ship alo, you know, normal stuff. Speaker 4 00:02:27 Look, we've gone through too much. For you to just zap him away, he needs to complete his time Speaker 3 00:02:32 Limit. I already got time smacked by the elder fuzz so I already did the time Speaker 4 00:02:36 Limit. Wait, wait, wait. Unless that's not why he indeed. Oh, calculating Most interesting. The elder fuzz swinging time tendrils would only be able to tw someone to a period that was already experiencing time distortion. Speaker 5 00:02:53 Right? Of course I get it but you guys keep explaining it. Speaker 2 00:02:58 Yeah. <unk> Speaker 3 00:03:00 Oh, so when I got smacked back in time, that knocked me back to the fu bomb. Speaker 0 00:03:13 That's Fromm season three, episode 12 of the fall of the House of Sunshine. It's sort of like a musical murder mystery type podcast. It's written by Jonathan Goldberg, an internationally produced an award-winning playwright. His work has appeared on stage theaters all over New York City for the better part of the past two decades for which he's won numerous awards. He also writes and produces audio fiction and has worked on multiple series like the Land Well Murders, A Simple Her Story which we profiled on a previous episode and a few others like the Fall of the House of Sunshine. He describes his work as a blend of silliness, history, theater and ridiculousness. Others have described it as high concept and layered. Speaker 2 00:03:58 Uh, Speaker 1 00:03:58 I think what I always liked about theater particularly was the immersiveness of it. The world building that can exist inside of it with limited budget and the fact that it uses the audience uh, more than film does and the idea that theater sort of is communal and it sort of is happening live in front of you. So there is a sense of the audience building the world in tandem with the actors and the designers al on stage and it's all sort of happening and there's sort of like this unique special thing that happens each time it's performed that sort of is always different and always changing, I think is originally what drew me to theater Speaker 0 00:04:41 Growing up. Did you have any writers that influenced you, that made you think I wanna be a playwright one day? Speaker 1 00:04:47 Uh, there's a lot of writers I think. I mean I read a lot. I worked at a bookstore when I was in high school. I saw a lot of theater in New York. I would go in on the weekends. I think the first playwright I really liked the most, it was probably Oscar Wild cuz I really liked his uh, word play and his style and sort of the comedy of what he was doing. And from there branching out to just different things and really I try to see everything. I also loved musicals. Um, I liked, uh, Paul Rudnick a lot. He was a more modern writer. Um, I also liked sort of the classics. Uh, Shakespeare was always interesting, complicated. Uh, Wendy Wasserstein, Carol Churchill, really whatever I could see, I would try to see. I feel like I could learn from everything. Even plays that weren't um, my favorite kind of plays. There was still usually always something in them or something that was being done that was always a lesson in there, you know, even if it wasn't my personal taste. Speaker 0 00:05:43 I know you live in New York now. Is that where you grew up? Speaker 1 00:05:45 I grew up in New Jersey and that's actually, I actually live in New Jersey now. I lived in New York for about 12, 14 years and then moved back out to New Jersey. But I've always sort of lived in the tri-state area, so I'm always sort of in that region. I always have been. Speaker 0 00:06:00 What was your relationship like with audio before that? Were you listening to a lot of radio or audio dramas, anything like that? Speaker 1 00:06:08 Uh, I mean I always listened to a decent amount of radio. My dad was a big talk radio person, so talk radio was always on in the car more than I'd say music was, um, when we were driving places. So I I, I'd been used to that format and I'd always sort of liked older shows and things, which made me seek out some radio theater and things that were older. I'd always sort of liked Nick at night when I was a little kid and sort of older sitcoms and through that, you know, kind of keep working backwards to radio dramas or shows that crossed over from radio back in the day. And um, I had listened to a little bit of audio drama before I had done it, but not a lot. And I hadn't realized how sort of large the genre really would or the, uh, the medium had really grown to at that point and how many different genres and styles and shows were out there. As I feel that's to this day, one of the biggest problems is sort of finding a way to them and finding a way into them and finding, uh, someone to help, you know, be the Virgil to your Dante to try to guide you through like the massive number of them. Cause it can be very overwhelming. It can be very hard to find. And I don't think there's an easy way really to find audio dramas. Speaker 0 00:07:20 Well I feel like as a creator maybe that's challenging and kind of awesome at the same time cuz it's like, well there there's so much out there that means there's a demand for it, that means people want it. So there's probably some demand for your work. But I guess the flip side of that is, like you said, there's a lot out there and how you break through the noise, that's the endless challenge for me anyway. Speaker 1 00:07:43 Yeah, I mean it's the different size between like the writer side, the producer side, and it's again about, you know, the, the myriad of definitions of what successful means, right? And I think part of the problem can be in the, in our system and our country, the idea that success directly relates mon to monetary success. And that's sort of the rubric that we use instead of either artistic success or just personal success or the idea of even just creating something is successful. But like we kind of break it down into like, well how much money does it make? Or how, you know, how profitable is it? Or how marketable is this? Or can you sell that to somebody or to somebody? Will somebody buy something because of it or do to it versus the sort of product existing for itself? Right? So like even just making an audio drama, putting it out there, that's like a success. Speaker 1 00:08:30 But people want to know like, well how many downloads is have, like, you know, you know, it's complicated and you know, everyone sort of falls in those traps or you know, everyone wants to be successful probably in in multiple regions. It's just a sort of like, you know, how much do you give up in one area of like creative freedom or flexibility to then gain more listeners Maybe if it, you know, if you're more of a niche product or is it just about creating something, putting it out in the universe and that's really like it and what you're doing is creatively fulfilling yourself, but maybe you're not making, you know, money hand over fist. You're not selling it as then like a pilot to Netflix or HBO or whoever, you know, you're not turning it into like a commercial product. Right. And and I think that too is like the difference between entertainment and art, right? Speaker 1 00:09:15 Is about the idea of like, is it exists for itself or is it exists for a sort of like to challenge or to provoke or to just to change how you see the world versus like to make money or to re to to like, to, you know, cuz with entertainment there is a level of like, you know, you're coddling them or you're, you're not trying to like really upset people, right? You're trying to like make them usually feel good on some level. Whereas art can be a little more about challenging or even making people unhappy or you know, when I worked at the Guggenheim Museum, you know, people would ask for refund sometimes if they didn't like a show. But we always, you know, internally would say, you know, any kind of reaction you have to the art is a reaction and that's what the art's around to do. It's not about satisfaction guaranteed. And you can have a bad experience with the art, but that's still an experience and that's a legitimate experience and that's okay and you have to accept that you can have a bad experience against art and that's still could be the point of the art or it can be a legitimate and just as good an experience as having a emotionally happy experience. Right. Something making you sad or something making you angry is just as a legitimate a response and something making you happy or comforted. Speaker 0 00:10:24 How would you describe your work? Speaker 1 00:10:26 Um, it's usually playful blend of history, silliness, a sort of theater of the ridiculousness, um, high concept, alternate world sort of things. Usually with a bent towards comedy, usually epic kind of structure and casts and really kind of exploring the present through the lens of history. Most of the time I'd say most of my work does that, even if it is sort of set in a present or a sort of present like, um, fall, the House of Sunshine was. Um, but versus like land well or simple herstory, which sort of exists in a period piece. Uh, at least the trappings of it unfortunately I've not been able to really get a good elevator pitch on it. Which probably explains also part of part of my nicheness is that I've not gotten a good handle on how to like, uh, boil it down into like an easy back of the box sort of explanation. Well Speaker 0 00:11:20 I like that you talk about, you know, looking at the present day through the lens of history and I know one of the ways it seems like you do that is through a lot of astic dialogue, right? And I think of like the Manuel Murders bef where, you know, it takes place a long time ago, but uh, they, they talk and act like they're kind of in the present. My, my take on stuff like that cuz I've been watching the great that series on, on Hulu mm-hmm <affirmative> and I really, I really like it and I don't know how historians feel about it and I'm married to one and she liked it, so maybe, you know, maybe it's okay. But I, I like it because it teaches you something about history without it feeling like it's this separated distant thing from the past. Uh, I like, I like when historical pieces of fiction can incorporate newer and modern music cause I think that kind of connects people today to the past. Speaker 1 00:12:12 Yeah, no I think that's definitely true and I think when you're building that world, I mean the whole thing too is you're never really gonna get an accurate portrayal of what that was cuz it would be so hard to understand. You know, there would just be like references and, and inflections and pronunciations and it's also not for that. You're not trying to make, when you're making like something like the Gilded Age or whatever, you're not making it for an audience in 1890s, right? You're not trying to send this back in time for them to watch. You're making it for us to watch now. You know, and you can see that reflected in how things are and of the period because they're always sort of talking about the present because again, like, you know, when they make something like Rome or I Claudias, they're not making it for ancient Romans, they're making it for modern audiences. Speaker 1 00:12:57 Even if you look at like a piece like 1776, which is a musical about the founding fathers se you know, it was written in the late sixties and you can look at how much that play is about the late sixties even now cuz it really deals with the Vietnam War a lot. It deals with the fear of like the erosion of confidence and sort of figures and power kind of deconstructs leadership, which was sort of going on in the sixties when they, when there was that sort of crisis of consciousness about, you know, leadership and about, you know, and, and that post World War II era going on. And that was sort of reflected though through like characters like Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson instead of, you know, through Nixon and the Post Kennedy era and all. But you can definitely see it when you watch that you understand that 1776 as much as si 1960s show as it is a 1776 show, Speaker 0 00:13:51 I, I think of like world building. And I think of the, the classic trope of, you know, your show don't tell people things. And I, I was watching Ad Astral or I saw it when it first came out in imax and I remember one of my favorite scenes was when they, I don't know if you've seen it or if I'm spoiling this for anybody, but it's a couple years old now so I I'm gonna spoil it. Part of it, you know, he goes to the moon and you know, he's walking through and he takes a commercial flight to the moon, he's walking through an airport terminal and there's McDonald's and Starbucks and all that. They never take time in the film to explain to us, hey the moon is colonized. It's just, you see it and then it gives context to the, to everything that happens later. You don't quite have the visual aids when you're making a piece of audio fiction. So how do you build worlds? How do you go about it? Speaker 1 00:14:40 Um, I think you have to think about the world that exists around the characters and I think you can put in little sub characters, little sub references I think too, like I feel like sometimes nowadays there's a want to overexplain the world too much and I think that comes out of that sort of ization, that puzzle box idea or the idea that people are gonna go and complain and be like, this is not, and not everything is fully explained and this is a like a logical fallacy or the obsession with like sort of cinema sins or that sense of like everything's a plot hole, right? Just because it's not explained, even though you can use context clues to like come up with reasons. Right. You know, so I think sometimes there's a need to overexplain sometimes in Overexplaining then you create bigger problems than if you just sort of leave certain things as unexplained mysteries that like, like in real life how there's things that seem contradictory but we exist in all the time because it's just how the world is. Speaker 1 00:15:26 I think though in worlds that are heightened or weirder, you need to have a stronger base reality that the characters can follow or everything becomes possible and you sort of lose the reality of it. So you can have magical things, you can have weird things but if there is a baseline reality that everyone adheres to, I think it helps ground the audience in the project and having like the world building the confidence of like everything makes sense even if there is like magic or if there is like superheroes or something. You know when you look at like the H B O Watchman show or even the graphic novel Watchmen, there's a very rich world built in all the corners and they don't explain everything like in the Watchman Show, like there's a lot of Vietnamese restaurants and stuff and you find out that's because Vietnam is like the 51st state because Dr. Speaker 1 00:16:13 Manhattan basically was able to like conquer Vietnam for the United States. But like there's a lot of that built in that they don't even necessarily talk about because to the people in that world, that's just their world. And then you know, you have other shows that don't, you know, when they don't fill in those worlds as much, you kind of get a little caught out. Like if you look at a show like The Boys, which is sort of similar also about superheroes being injected into our society. There was an episode where they sing, we didn't Start the Fire, but Billy Joel. And what was weird about that is like all the events and you know, we didn't start the fire is summarizing the 30 years of history, but if there were superheroes since the 1940s, the idea that history would've turned out exactly the same as Dozen, that song is weird, right? Speaker 1 00:16:55 Like it would've been interesting if that show had done, uh, we didn't start the fire but rewrote it with the idea of how much so superheroes would've changed all these events in history. You know, just a little more world building for the show I think would've helped it. Cause it definitely took me out to be like, oh there was superheroes since the 1940s doing things, but yet history turned out 99% the same as if it didn't. Cuz that's kind of a weird thing cuz as soon as you, you know, as soon as you're doing alternate history, as soon as you start knocking one thing, especially with something as big as like superpowered individuals, it's gonna create so many ripples that you don't have to explain. But if like, you know, if the world, if you're confident in the world you're building, then it's gonna exist in there. Speaker 1 00:17:35 So I think it's, it's laying down a foundation of rules that even if you or the author understand even if you don't have to, you don't have to explain them to the audience, but as long as they exist for you and you're working off those core concepts and you can kind of slowly, you know, factor them in through references, through character, through things, they're then that level of confidence in you understanding how your world works will translate over even if you don't have to like release a show Bible or something that tells you exactly how the world work because it will be working just by ence. I think Speaker 0 00:18:06 That's some elements of what you're saying is also true in non-fiction and narrative non-fiction to where especially if you're dealing with a very technical topic, a subject that's got a lot of nuance and expertise, sometimes I think the tendency is to backtrack and explain every little term versus is explaining what that term means. Does it help move the narrative forward? If the answer is yes, then you should explain it. If the answer is no, then you move forward and I think the audience will kind of pick up on things. If you're talking again about something really technical, I think they'll put two and two together, they'll be like, okay, that's something that kind of exists within their world. It's not necessarily information I need to understand the rest of the conversation. Yeah, Speaker 1 00:18:52 I mean you can definitely get caught up in the minutiae of it, right? Like if you're trying to do something about history, right? And you wanna talk about Julie Caesar and then you start getting obsessed with like, well do I then how far back do I go? Do I have to go back to like the Roman Kings if I'm doing the Roman Kings then do I need to do the Greeks because this connects to this And like, and then you're like, well if I do the Greeks then I should really do the Salus. And if I'm doing the Salus then maybe I should go back to the Tuscans also in Italy. And then if I'm talking about Caesar then maybe I should talk about like the historical context, but then like do I go into like how every Roman lived their life in that period? Speaker 1 00:19:23 And you can start to get like so granular and so small that you know, you just have to start telling the story somewhere, right? And you'd have to leave, you have to leave some things out, right? You can't tell every part of everything. You can't tell the life of every Roman living at the time Caesar was doing his thing because it's just, you'll never get anywhere, right? So you have to like make choices and you have to figure out what's important to this, to your version of the story of Caesar, why you're telling it and assume you're not gonna be able to tell everything or you'll never begin to write the first line cuz you're so busy trying to like set everything up. You'll never even, you'll spend, you know, a thousand hours getting to, not even up to Caesar being born if you really want to, right? Because everything is context. Everything through history's led to that moment and away, but also not right? It's like, yeah, you could start with like human homage leading Africa if you really want to to like, you know, cuz that is part of it, right? But it's like, do you really need all that? Right? Again, it is about, you know, you have to make your choices and you have to figure out what's important to your story or you will get bogged down with like every tiny thing that could lead up to something existing or not. Yeah, Speaker 0 00:20:30 It would be like for the sake of this conversation, it would be like earlier when I asked you to introduce yourself and you started from, you know, the day you were born and told me everything about your childhood versus, you know, for the sake of this conversation, you know, you're a playwright and producer and podcaster, so yeah, you can definitely get bogged down in in detail. Are you drawn to darker or weirder subjects? Speaker 1 00:20:55 Uh, yeah I think I always have been, or at least like strange, different offbeat. I mean in some ways that's what history is in general, right? It's, it's, it's sort of chronicling in the moments that stick out from the usual thing, right? It's, we, we talk about things that aren't just the normal everyday life. So it's, what's weird about history in a way is that it's a chronicle of the aberrations of life, not the normal everyday thing, right? The people that we focus on tend to be the people who are not like the every 99% other people who are just sort of living their life scraping by and doing it. We tend to focus on these sort of events and, and moments that are outside of that. But also you can use that to sort of understand the weird moments. Like for me too, I'm not, I've never been super into shows or movies or, or audio dramas or anything that I'm just trying to replicate life as it exists, right? Speaker 1 00:21:47 Who, who are just trying to do various militude and just be like, wow, this is exactly like a conversation my friends and I would have. Cuz that's never really attracted me. I'm always like, well let's do something like we can't do normally. Let's go outside the norms of just like replicating what it'd be like to be at a party and hearing the same conversations I can hear at a party in Brooklyn or somewhere amongst people just chatting and living like lies. And I understand like people love that and that's great because I also think there should be as wide range of things as possible because not everything has to be for me, but what what always sort of draws me are things that exist beyond, beyond the realm of what of the world we exist in, but still reflect back on that world in an interesting way. Speaker 1 00:22:30 So I think that's always what it's attracted to me, you know, whether it's like monsters, aliens, superheroes, cowboys, you know, whatever is sort of that sort of weird sort of toy box of just everything and like mixing and matching and playing around with them and seeing what you know and the, and just being, you know, not limiting yourself to any, any kind of genre or single source or whatever and how you can sort of play them all against each other and play with tropes and sort of just turn everything sort of topsy-turvy and see what what that reflects Speaker 0 00:23:06 You do take a pretty lighthearted approach to some pretty dark subject matter, which I love by the way. I I love comedies like Seinfeld or Arrest Development cuz those are dark shows. Like if you're a fan of Seinfeld or arrest development, you know what I'm talking about. What, what draws you though to that dynamic? Speaker 1 00:23:26 Uh, I think the fact that there's always sort of humor in the world, even when it is really dark and weird cuz humor is also perspective based, right? It's, there's that old Mel Brooks quote that says, you know, tragedy is when I cut my finger and comedy is when you fall down a manhole and die, right? It's about perspective when it's happening to me it's really, really tragic when it's happening to someone else. It's funny and it sort of is exploring that, but I think even within like the most horrific moments in human history, there are just weird, funny moments that happen, you know, perspective because, you know, there's just naturally things happen randomly and weirdly and there's, you know, stories from all these, you know, perspectives. And I think there's also, in my heritage and like in the Jewish tradition, there's a lot of like sort of laughing at the darkness and you know, making, you know, finding humor even in the darkest moments of like a dark history and sort of playing it because again, it draws power, right? Speaker 1 00:24:21 And like you were saying, there is a sense of power of being able to like laugh at the uncontrollable or like the seemingly random chaoticness or, or forces beyond your control. But if you can find a moment to laugh at them or to like put them into a perspective or to like gain some distance through that, there is something I think powerful in that. But I think there's just naturally humor in everything anyway. So when, you know, if you see something that is like relentlessly dark and completely humorous, uh, humorless rather, um, it also doesn't feel real, right? It feels fake when there's like something that's just relentlessly dark and no one's ever smiling and there's no jokes, it's just sort of feels like, well that's not even how things ever are, right <laugh>, it just feels like, oh well this is, there's, there's, this isn't real. Speaker 0 00:25:09 Well it's like some people find the Godfather to be like a really hilarious movie and it kind of is. Speaker 1 00:25:16 Yeah. I mean, there's funny parts in it definitely because there's funny parts in life. I mean, they look at any, any of the real great dramatic, you know, shows where like Sopranos is full of really funny stuff. There's funny stuff in in Mad Men, there's even funny stuff in like Game of Thrones, which is a very dark show, but it has characters who are very, you know, humorous. And again, it's situational, the idea that people are constantly living in misery and, and no one in a whole universe is ever funny or finds anything funny is such a, just a bleak thing. <laugh>, it's a bleak world. I don't really wanna like spend any time in, you know, it's because you need to, you also just need like levels, right? Everything's just always at, at 10 and just miserable the whole time. There's nowhere to go from that. There's no, there's no movement there. It's just wallowing and misery, which, you know, again, you know, people need that then that's great. It exists, but it's not where I wanna spend my time. <laugh>, Speaker 0 00:26:09 You know, a good example, the series you wrote, uh, fall of the House of Sunshine murder mystery type thing. A game show host for Kids gets murdered. And the series is about solving that. That's one of those ones that sometimes the tone and the pace almost feels like it is made for kids. But eh, no. <laugh> not so much. Speaker 1 00:26:31 Yeah, I mean I think there's a lot of fun playing with genre and trope and setting up things where the audience sort of has a built-in knowledge about how some things can go. Like you say like this is, this is an award detective story and people have a, a sort of a built-in idea about, oh, there's gonna be this and then it moves like this. Or you say, this is like, uh, an adventure show. Or like this is a kid show and you expect like, oh it's gonna go like this, but then what you can use is taking that base level knowledge that they have or, or their expectations and you can flip it and you can also world build quickly that way because by saying what genre something is, the audience can fill in a lot of those background things of what a world is and how a world works in that genre that you don't have to do. And then you can kind of subvert it for them. But at the same time you've helped build, uh, at least a base sense for them about what this world is and how it's gonna work. Because we have those conventions and we have those sort of built in like just universal knowledge that exists from us existing in the world. Speaker 0 00:27:28 Yeah, like Detective Danke, like in one of the main characters in your, your series mm-hmm. <affirmative> All The House of Sunshine. I, I had a a pretty good, just clear picture of them of course, you know, I kind of imagined 'em with like a trench coat and a top hat and you know, because again, you know, the whole like noir thing, we can, we can pull from like our own experiences, uh, and maybe other people pictured 'em very differently. I think that's one of the really fun things about audio is, you know, if you're making a character for film or television, yeah, I mean that's who it is. There's not, there's different ways to interpret it certainly, but, and something like audio dramas, we kind of also build a world in our head and mine might be different from everyone else who's ever listened. Speaker 1 00:28:11 Yeah. So what's really exciting about us, why, you know, with Father has Sunshine, when we were doing any kind of artwork for the show, we kind of really wanted to avoid ever representing the characters cuz we really wanted people to have their own vision of them and not really ever give a definitive version of how they look really other than if any character kind of explains them a little bit. But I think you can really play with that and then, you know, people would make fan art and the characters would look, you know, different and you know, it's what's exciting is seeing how people interpret it and how people take it. And I think that's one of the unique things about audio drama is that they can sort of imagine these worlds and they can paint their own images of these people even if we give them like those breadcrumbs by saying like, oh, detective Danke is like a, uh, traditional noir detective. So a lot of people probably see like the right, the overcoat and like the sort of rumpled sort of look to him and they can fill that in. But you know, if they don't see him that way, it's fine. And you know, again, too, the acting and the style and the sound design also can help kind of point you in a direction, but it doesn't have to like be a definitive answer to anything either. Speaker 0 00:29:16 It's a collaborative experience making these things. And I know sometimes writers can be very guarded about their work. It's their, it's their baby and then you hand off, I mean you probably hand this off to directors and actors and sound designers. Is, is that ever challenging for you that you have to let other people interpret the work you wrote? Speaker 1 00:29:35 Yeah, I mean definitely. I mean it's a hard thing but I mean coming from theater, which is also highly collaborative, you get a sense of it. And also what's exciting is when someone surprises you and someone does a take on a character you weren't expecting and they really elevate in in a different, more interesting way. And that's really exciting cuz sudden you're hearing it and you're like, oh that works. I wasn't thinking this character like that, but it really helps define who it is. I mean we had that early on with Sunshine when, when uh, Jared who plays Fuso really brought his character and brought a sense of pathos in the sense of like play to the character too and making him more sympathetic. I think that he was written on the page and really helped then sort of shape his arc for the rest of the show and his journey, you know, and then really having then moving on from like that first season, having his voice in there really helped then helped me in the writing process of giving him his direction moving on. Speaker 1 00:30:32 And sometimes that really happens when an actor goes in there, you're like, oh that's who this character is. That makes total sense and it really then it helps sort of even shape the writing of the piece later on. You know, everything sort of reflects back to itself and, and really moves together and really, you know, so when, and the casting process is really important and in the directing process too, you know, you wanna all be on the same page but at the same time you don't wanna like limit someone's creative freedom to like take risks and try to create something. Cuz you can always too go back and be like, Hmm, that's not really working. Can you redo it like this? But you know, they never have like the chance to take the risk to really like inhabit a character a certain way. You can really miss out on a lot of possibly great discoveries. Speaker 0 00:31:16 Are you very involved with the actual production of a series? Speaker 1 00:31:20 Yeah, I mean with Sunshine I was there for all the recording. I was there for some of like the takes picking some takes with Land Whale even more so. Um, I, I did a lot of rough assemblies for that where I was picking takes and I was putting the timing in and then before sending it off to the sound designer who then really makes it work and then the music gets added in. But I was doing sort of the rough first takes partly ish out of, we just had no one else to be able to do it. So a lot of it is, you know, a lot of it with audio drama, with very independent audio dramas, you just kind of have to do it cuz there's no one else to do with <laugh>. So, you know, there's no money in anything, so you're just kind of like, who has time and ability to do this? Speaker 1 00:31:56 And you sort of teach yourself the basics. And luckily we have, I, you know, we have a really amazing designer audio engineer who can then make everyone sound good and like make them all sound like they're in the same room and put in all the effects and stuff. But at least I can do a rough dialogue pass and you know, the actors having the takes from them and you know, communicating to them what we want from them and what kind of world they're in and how to like react to it. I was very, you know, communicative with the director who, who talked through to all the actors to record because with Manuel, everyone just recorded separately and sent their audio in, you know, so it's a tricky process versus like Sunshine where we had a recording studio for two weeks and people would just come in and we could kind of hear as we went and a couple people could record together with Manuel. Speaker 1 00:32:41 Everything was recorded separately and then was something like a simple herstory. We had a lot of people just on a Zoom call together and were able to record them through clean feed, but they were able to hear each other and you know, the different things create different environments and it creates different product, but you know, you work with the budget and the time that you're given and try to create the best project you can. And, and the whole thing with any creative endeavor is there's always gonna be flawed and it's always gonna, it always could be better, you know, and, but that's part of the magic of it too, is the idea of like, you know, the fact of creating anything and putting anything out there. The fact of, you know, from the perfect ideal version of it in your brain that it can be perfect because it's ethereal to like, when it actually has to become a real thing. And if it comes even close to that, it's like sort of a minor miracle. So, you know, I've done it a lot of different ways. I don't know if one's better than another, it just was sort of worked out for us for the project, but, you know, it was lucky and we sort of really, you know, I've worked on some really amazing projects in audio drama, luckily. Speaker 0 00:33:39 Yeah. And you mentioned wearing a lot of different hats. I I think the role of a producer is just kind of an umbrella term for somebody who has to do a lot of different things on a project. You know, could mean helping build a website, it could be booking, guest research, editing, sound design, art, directing, getting, if you, if you really wanna take this on as, as like something you can do make in a living, you have to be, in my opinion anyway, comfortable doing some of those things. And I, and I think like sometimes there's a common misconception out there about podcasting that podcasting is a specific skill, right? You can go take this course on podcasting or read or read a book on podcasting and it's gonna teach you everything you need to know. I look at it very differently. I think you're pulling from skills you already have to make something or, or maybe like a better way to approach it is if you're interested in podcasting, figure out what you're already good at and then figure out how that can become a podcast. I think a lot of people almost work backwards from it. They're like, all right, well if I go to this bootcamp for three hours or take a week long course, I'll know, I'll know how to podcast. And to me that just doesn't resonate. Speaker 1 00:34:47 No, I mean, again, it's like saying like, you take a two week course to understand how to make a movie, right? And you're like, what does that mean? I mean, you're a grip, you're a set designer, you're a costumer, you're a director, you're a cinematographer, you're an actor, you're a sound editor, you're a composer. Like what is that? It's such a giant thing that has like a thousand parts to it. But I think also, you know, do as many of those jobs as you can and you have ability and time for, because the more you can at least begin to understand everyone else's job, the more you can help them do their job well too, right? Like if you understand like, uh, at least theoretically what a sound designer does, then you understand when you're giving them rough assemblies, how to speak to them to best get your answers or to do any job, right? Speaker 1 00:35:32 Like, you understand how an actor works or how a director works. And even if that's not where your, your best skills lie, having done it once at least gives you the empathy and the understanding of like what they're doing versus them existing in this sort of abstract world where you're not really sure what they're doing and you don't understand or value fully what they're bringing to the project. But once you've tried to do it or once you've like watched them do it or discussed with 'em how they do it, you know, understanding what everyone does is, is, is important, especially from a producer Managerials aspect of it. I think Speaker 0 00:36:06 Roy Gold Productions, is that something you're still involved with? Speaker 1 00:36:11 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that was, that was the, we found, we founded that for Sunshine. That was, uh, Matt Roy Berger who did the music for, uh, you know, the music and the songs for Sunshine. It's sort of our loose, um, company that we, we produce under our land whales producing under that as well. And another show I did called Radio Free, much from America, basically, it's our producing arm. I mean, it doesn't really have any deep meaning other than it's just shows produce that involve Matt and myself and that we sort of create, you know, or have a hand in working on together. Speaker 0 00:36:42 Anything, uh, coming up on the horizon that you guys are working on? Speaker 1 00:36:47 Uh, season two of Manuel, which should come out in the spring. Uh, hopefully we're in post-production on that, trying to get all those episodes together and then we'll keep working on land. Well, uh, house's the Sunshine we finished, that was three seasons. We told our complete story and we were happy with how it turned out and where we ended up with that. And those are the main Roy Gold ones. Then I'm working on Simple History with, uh, Jocelyn Ksky and, uh, Jenny Turner Hall and Donya Washington on, that's a show about, uh, women who've run for presidents sort of tackling their stories and their history and what that means. And then I've done other little writing things here and there, so, you know, I'm just happy to always be working and working on projects and trying to create things and get things out there. You know, it's a, it's a grind, but it's, you know, it's, uh, I love doing it. So, and Speaker 0 00:37:33 You, and you're very good at it. And I really appreciate you, uh, taking the time today. If you hang out after, stick around, Jonathan, after the credits, we're gonna get a podcasting tip from you. Speaker 6 00:37:44 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 Costos, use our coupon code Audience 20, that's Audience two Zero. When you sign up for a new, 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, 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. Speaker 0 00:38:35 Bye for now. And now this week's podcasting tip. Speaker 1 00:38:42 Hi, my name is Jonathan Goldberg and my podcasting tip is to not limit yourself in your ideas for your story, uh, whether that be cast or design our location that you can always make it happen. Uh, you can always find people, you can always create things, but you should never limit yourself in the writing stage, especially you should try to dream as big as you can and you can always scale back later, but it's hard to scale up. So always take your big risks in the beginning and you can always pull back. But you should always be trying to make the biggest, most impressive, uh, thing that is closest to the idea in your head as you can. And you can probably find a way to make it happen and find people that want to go in on something big. Um, and people are always looking for challenge. Sound designers want to be challenged. They want things that are more difficult, even if they will be mad about it at times. Same with directors, same with cast. Always challenge yourself and challenge them and they'll create a better product for it. Speaker 0 00:39:47 Audience is a Casto original series created entirely by our in-house production team. Our executive producers are Matt Madeiras and Craig Hewitt. Production assistant is provided by Isl Brill, Jocelyn Devore, and Marni Hills. Logo and website to design is by French Schwab, 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 Podcast. Do FM or anywhere they have podcasts.

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