The LIEF Erikson

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Trek Audio dramas, July 05

There's not much happening in the way of new Trek so rather than dwell on the past I'll start posting about what fans are doing to keep the flame alive!

Wouldn't it be great to make your own TV programs or movies, especially if you could write it and perform in it as well? Unfortunately a fan movie is way beyond the resources of most Fan groups. There are other options though.

I have just the thing - an Audio Production, what used to be called a Radio Play. It might sound strange in this modern world where even our music has to be accompanied by a video for it to succeed in the charts, but there's still an interest in them.

In fact when "Star Wars" ran as thirteen half-hour Star Wars radio programs in 1981 on National Public Radio, the response was incredible. They got 50,000 letters and phone calls in a single week, 750,000 listeners per episode and a 40% jump in the overall NPR audience.

In the past, many radio plays have had major cult followings like "The Goon Show" and many have made the successful transition to TV. "The Green Hornet" springs to mind, as does "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" which has even made it to the movie screen this past month!
Star Trek on the other hand has never tried to break into this commercial market. There have though been a few fans produced Star Trek radio plays. The most notable examples are Star Trek: Pioneers and Darker Projects: The Section 31 Files, more on these later.

What is involved in creating an Audio production? The term "audio production" covers a number of sub-types. It’s base form, the audio book, could be something as simple as a narrator, sometimes the author or an actor with a good speaking voice, reading a story with only the simplest of background music and sound effects.

Some audio books have several actors doing the different voices in a story but it is from this point that they start to verge on a full blown audio drama, a radio play. I suppose the name changed because it can be distributed on many different types of media besides radio: Internet Radio, Audio Cassette/CD. MP3, Podcast ... The difference between an audio book and an audio production is that the former uses little narration and instead relies on the script and special effects to tell the story. Go down to your local library, you're bound to find examples of each.

I was lucky enough to find, in our local library, a copy of "The Complete Book of Scriptwriting" by J. Michael Straczynski. Yes, that’s the same J. Michael Straczynski who wrote and produced "Babylon 5". I can't praise this book too much, not just for the depth and quality of the material, but for the breadth as well, covering as it does TV, Movies, Animation, the Stage and (luckily) Radio.

Straczynski points out that writing for radio is both rewarding and demanding in that the success or failure of the production pretty much relies on the story, the script. From a production point of view, it is far more accessible in that you don't have the problems and expense of props, scenery, costume or video special effects. In fact you can forget the whole complex and costly process of video recording & editing.

Star Trek: Pioneers
As I noted earlier, the two main players in Star Trek Audio productions are Star Trek: Pioneers and Darker Projects: The Section 31 Files. With the crash of their server and increasing time lags between projects, ST: Pioneers was for a time cancelled, but has recently been brought back with the help of the Section 31 Files team. The head of Pioneer Audio Productions, Kevin Cho, is optimistic as to the future of Pioneers within the larger framework of Darker Projects.
What is the future for ST: Pioneers? Kevin has confided in me some tantalising hints that, if they come to fruition, could herald a much higher profile for Trek Audio Drama. Once I get clearance to break the story you'll be the first to know!

The Pilot episode of Star Trek: Pioneers, a three parter named "New frontiers", was concluded with the release on April 9th of a crossover to a ST: Section 31 Files episode called "Bold Venture". Written by Kevin Cho and produced by Darker Projects, featuring their cast and crew. Kevin had definite ideas about the closure of the Pioneer storyline …
I really wanted to finish the Pioneers' Pilot episode with something a little different. So I choose the 3rd person view via the Nosferatu. Section 31 Files' Cast and Crew are the best of the best when it comes to Audio Productions, and I was very happy when they accepted the script.
Unfortunately I heard from Kevin the other day to say that as hurricane Dennis passed where he lives, he lost power and his system files became corrupt forcing him to reformat his harddrive and reinstall windows. Evidently everything to do with Pioneers, including the websites, was lost although the cast/crew are helping him put some of the pieces back together!
He's not having much luck recently having been recently, inexplicably, locked out of his website. This means that at the moment there is nowhere to download his fine work! Hopefully he might be able to arrange emergency hosting of the Download files. Fortunately you can still drop by the Pioneer's forum at …
http://members.lycos.co.uk/pioneeraudio/phpBB2/index.php
Whilst others will be faced with greater losses than this over the next week I'm sure, Kevin has my heartfelt sympathy. There is no more horrifying feeling of knowing that months of work has just gone to electron heaven!

Star Trek: The Section 31 Files
Darker Project Audio Works do a number of different Audio drama projects - the Dr. Who series sounds interesting - but of interest to us is their compelling dramatic series "The Section 31 Files". Since September last year they have produced ten episodes in their first season which had it's finale at the end of last month with the release of "Knowledge is Power". To quote Eric L. Busby, the Project Coordinator...

...not only is it the end of our first season, it is also the close for the first segment of the story arc we have developed for The Section 31 Files. It's been quite a ride so far and we here at Darker Projects are just getting warmed up.
The teaser for the season cliff-hanger tells us that ...

Agents from the Tal Shiar plot to attack the Klingon High counsel unless Section 31 can stop them. Meanwhile dark agendas begin to come together that may mean war for the galaxy.
Stay tuned for the exciting continuation of our drama next week!

2 Comments:

  • Glad you've enjoyed our audios- stay tuned. Season 2 is looking to be pretty dang good so far from what I've seen.
    -Elie Hirschman
    Actor ("Tom Backus"), Writer ("Knowledge is Power")

    By Blogger ESH, at 4:54 am, July 23, 2005  

  • Wow, it would seem that someone likes our series ;-)

    I think we need a new server soon...

    Lee Andrew

    as

    Charles Bergen / Helm on the Pioneer

    By Anonymous Lee Andrew, at 9:42 am, July 23, 2005  

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