It started with a serendipitous discovery. Early in 2012, Andrew Liptak, the founder of Geek Mountain State, mentioned an upcoming performance by The Intergalactic Nemesis at the Flynn Theater. On a whim, my partner Andrew Rash and I decided to check out this unique, interesting-looking performance art that mixed live radio drama with Foley effects and comic book images projected onto a large screen.
Inspired by this experience, my partner Andrew developed an original superhero-esque character named the Gloved Fox, set her heroic exploits in a 30’s-era city, and started approaching friends and acquaintances with his idea of writing, producing, and directing a live radio drama complete with Foley effects. The response was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. Friends of friends asked how they could take part in this adventure. Actors, radio lovers, sound designers, and aspiring Foley artists all came together and asked, “How can we make this happen?”
Andrew approached Bill Simmon and the staff at VCAM to discuss using VCAM’s equipment to record the episodes with the intention of creating both a video and audio version. Though the episodes were to be designed primarily for the radio/Internet listener, Andrew also wanted to create something visually appealing to highlight the acting and skill that goes into radio theater and Foley artistry. Andrew’s ideas intrigued Bill, and he eagerly agreed to help us figure out how to make The Gloved Fox! possible.
Thus, The Gloved Fox! was born! As of today, we’ve recorded episode 1 – “The Thespian’s Revenge” – and made it available as a video version on Youtube and a downloadable audio version through Google docs. We learned quite a bit about on-the-fly sound mixing with this first episode, as you will hear when you listen/watch (since it was performed in one take without post-editing). Our technical issues revolved mostly around audio mixing and how different types of microphones pick up sounds – issues that we will iron out with future recordings (and the help of a more experienced audio engineer who has joined our team!).
Designing the Foley SFX has been one of the most geekilicious aspects of this project, and as lead of sound design and Foley artistry, I’ve learned a great deal about creating and performing SFX. Our goal is to perform most of the SFX live, relying on pre-recorded sound as little as possible. This goal has led to fantastic sound design meetings where we’ve played with a variety of objects and brainstormed ideas for needed sounds, lengthy research sessions of old-time radio drama Foley techniques, random experimentation with various objects that we encounter each day, and e-mails with the creators of The Intergalactic Nemesis for advice. Some of our happiest discoveries so far: using a large suitcase to simulate car door opening and closing; “random acts of fruit violence” to mimic knife stabbing and neck breaking; and the maker talents of our friends in creating a beautiful and functional “Foley door.” While we still struggle to make the microphones pick-up certain sounds effectively (i.e. the thunder in episode 1), we eagerly continue our experiments as Andrew’s scripts challenge us to explore new ground with each episode.
We are scheduled to record episode 2 “Victims of the Voracious Vamp” and episode 3 “Wrath of the Wraith” on February 1st. Andrew has mapped out 10 episodes for The Gloved Fox!, after which he will write a series of Old West/Cowboy stories followed by a serial adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Stay tuned for upcoming episodes – and more “lessons learned” as we explore the world of live radio drama!