Once the thrill of being selected as a member of the general cast wore off a little, it was time to get to work. On the application that accompanied my audition recordings I had ticked the box that said I’d upgrade my microphone if I joined the team. For this I requested my son’s help, and he set me up with a Shure microphone on a heavy stand, an Edirol USB sound card for input and output, and he gave me a few tips on using the free sound software, Audacity.
Cast members are all required to assume more than an acting role and are offered various choices of areas they can help with, such as writing, sound mixing, special effects, artwork for the series, original music, podcasting about the series, and other forms of publicity. I chose writing and blogging. Not scripts for the show, but any small bits of writing I could contribute.
My first writing assignment was to write a radio commercial for Blue Sun Chinese Takeout, the food place that figures prominently in the first episode of Angel Between the Lines, “Curioser and Curioser.” So far it’s not been used, but I had fun writing it, and it made me feel part of the team. Next, several of us were given the group line, “To Lorne!” in Episode 1 — toasting Lorne with our drinks
The procedure is this: you record your line(s) three times, changing the delivery each time so the producers can pick the one that sounds best to them in the context of the story. There’s a specification for the type of MP3 file to create, and instructions on how to name it and where to ftp it. The producers and sound engineers then have the enormous job of putting it all together. I think I heard Tabz say once that there are over 100 people involved in a major episode, filling something like 200 roles. Some of the actors are also writers, producers, directors, or sound specialists.
The lead actors have a big show to record. Those of us in the general cast supply minor characters and crowds, where needed. In one of the episodes I play a dying demon. In another, a New York-raised “gansta.”
Some lines are recorded solo, and some are recorded in a group setting, via Skype. In the group sessions one member of the cast, always an experienced voice actor, is selected as director. The director listens for pacing, technical flaws such as poorly placed microphones, incorrectly delivered lines, and suggestions to specific actors on how they might improve their delivery. For novices like me, this is invaluable.
The whole operation works rather like an open-source software project. No one is paid, no one makes any money from the work, and Joss Whedon, who is aware of the series, has always been generous in allowing fans to write fictions based on his shows, as long as nothing commercial takes place that would violate copyright.
Angel Between the Lines will consist of 12 full episodes, plus extras. Extras include recorded feedback discussions about each episode, special smaller episodes, and some surprises. This season’s production, behind the scenes, has just passed the half-way mark, and, as mentioned, the first full episode, “Curioser and Curioser,” has been released. There is also a set of side stories called “Stories from Wolfram & Hart,” being written by some outstanding SF&F writers.
I hope, if you read this, that you’ll give the episode a try and, better yet, subscribe to the podcast, which will bring all the episodes and specials to your preferred audio device. As I said in Pt. 1, the young people who put this together are my heroes. It’s damned inspiring to see how they’ve taken fan fiction to such an incredibly sophisticated level, using the Internet to produce a new type of entertainment. Imaginative, creative, and wholly refreshing. Can you spell T-A-L-E-N-T? Kudos to the producers, writers, directors, actors, sound people, friends, supporters, and thanks to all of you who listen and provide feedback!