Redshift Reflections – Season 1 Episode 3: The Narration

Redshift Reflections gives our producer Evan a chance to talk about the making of each episode of Redshift. A behind the scenes look at the stories, the voices, and the questionable science behind our audio series.

When we did our first open submission period, one of the first things we received was the short story version of The Narration and I knew immediately that it had to be part of our first season. The concept of a group of people in a diner where they slowly discover they are being narrated seemed ripped right out of Twilight Zone and doing it as an audio drama was a no-brainer. Drew Chial’s story was full of character, from the main foursome to the seen-it-all-before waitress, and with the environment playing such a huge role, it was a great opportunity to really go nuts with the sound design and take advantage of the audio format. Probably moreso than the original Kickstarter pilot, this episode was the thing I was most excited to work on going into our first season.

Listening back on the episode (and the season in general), I’m almost upset that we didn’t hold onto it for our second season. We were still fairly new at this thing, having only really done 2 episodes (the pilot being done so scattershot that it doesn’t really count) as an entire cast. This was the first episode with Paul Christian (who played clueless hottie Sam) and of the rest of the cast, only Amanda Milbradt had had a significant role before that (as DD in Good Service). And poor Pam Torgrimson, getting thrust into a role where she is probably 60% of the spoken dialogue and having to play 2 versions of herself with very different speaking styles. The cast was incredibly gracious to put this into my hands, and I’m still very happy with the episode, but I think with another season under our belts, with more time to really gel as an cast and for me to improve as a director and sound designer, that this would have been something truly magical.

The Narration is essentially a bottle episode, with the cast trapped in the flooding diner, and any student of TV knows that bottle episodes are all about slamming characters together and watching them connect…or fall apart. So it’s funny to me that this episode was the one where we continued the bonding that we did during Behold The Rusted Hills and really grew as a group of actors, not just a bunch of friends putting on a show. That’s important too, obviously, but watching a group of mostly amateur folks (only Matt Allex had any non-Redshift performance experience at that point) start to talk to each other like fellow actors, helping each other out, playing off on another in character, it was very exciting to watch.

I mentioned in my post about Behold The Rusted Hills about how one of our rules was “no godly narrator”. Obviously we broke that rule with The Narration, but the biggest revelation to me was how much having a narrator didn’t help things. Skipping the narration in general was a way to stretch the writing, to keep the focus on the characters and not just blast exposition at the listener. Having a narrator felt like a cheat, that is, until we did it. Any benefit you have as a writer to including a narrator in terms of setting up plot is obliterated by how much doing narration can turn your dynamic audio drama into a rather staid audiobook. Nothing wrong with audio books, and there are some very lively audiobooks out there, but that wasn’t what we wanted to make.

The Narration continues to be a great episode, ambitious and fun to listen to. It utilized the audio drama format in a really interesting way, and I’m super proud to have done it (much like every other episode). Like most of Season 1, I’d like to take another crack at it, but it’s still the one I send to people when they ask “What is Redshift?”

Photo Credit: Rob Cartwright