Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: You recently launched the pilot episode of the webseries, Active Radioactive Radio, from Pendant Audio. For our readers who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of the show?
Jeffrey Bridges: After the apocalypse, a lonely radio DJ fights off isolation by running a show to entertain the world's last survivors... a ridiculous collection of lunatics bent on either ruling the world, saving it, or just trying to find that next can of cat food for dinner.
Susan Bridges: It’s more of a lighthearted romp, despite the subject matter, but also touches on isolation and loneliness, and how people will always find others to care about.
BD: The webseries is very unique in that it first began as an ongoing audio drama. What inspired the genesis of the production into a visual medium?
JB: The idea actually began as snippets of audio we roped some friends into recording for a tabletop role-playing game we ran several years ago. It was post-apocalyptic in setting, and this DJ would come on the air with news about the world the characters were interacting in, give them story leads, things like that. And that very quickly included a bunch of his friends, the other bizarre denizens of this world, with their own little audio bits.
SB: So, as time went on, the characters really started to live in our minds. We thought it would be great to turn it into an actual audio drama, but a key component of the show was featured music, and we weren't sure how feasible that was. We started off with public domain and creative commons songs from indie musicians. Once we had several episodes released, we could point other musicians to it so they could see what we were doing. A lot of them were happy to allow us to feature them on the show.
JB: Pendant produces audio dramas via satellite recording. Our cast members are all over the world. So, converting most of our audio shows to video wouldn’t be possible, because the casts couldn’t interact with each other physically. But since Active Radioactive Radio was just one guy alone in a bunker, the character Johnny Franks would never physically interact with any of the other characters. So, that format weirdly worked for video, with the rise of YouTube and so many shows out there that are a single person talking to the camera. We weren't sure it would work, so we produced the pilot as a proof of concept. And, thankfully, our cast was on board for following us on this ludicrous and highly irregular journey to creating a webseries.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in working with the cast and crew of Active Radioactive Radio?
JB: It's very collaborative. We give them a lot of freedom to ad-lib and change up their line deliveries, which is pretty much how we do our audio dramas, as well. We only ask for a couple clean takes of the lines as written, after that they're free to change it up. So, they take our script and form it into something new.
SB: And then, we edit their footage into something else that's new. It’s really interesting to take the video component and figure out what works, and what doesn’t, and what can be snipped and what can be lengthened. So, what you end up with is collaboration on top of collaboration. They interpret the script through the lens of their characters, and we interpret their performances through the lens of the script.
JB: Hopefully, that becomes something unique and entertaining.
BD: What are your plans for future episodes of both the web series and the audio drama?
JB: We'd like to do more episodes of the webseries, ideally at least a full season. But it's exponentially more work than audio drama (both for the cast and on the production side), so we’re planning to crowdfund further episodes. Or we may go back and do another audio drama season instead. Or maybe both! We're really not sure yet. We spent so much time figuring out how to turn the show into a video pilot and putting it together that we didn't think too far beyond that yet.
SB: We think the pilot works really well, but we were waiting to see what the reception for it was like before making any decisions on that front. So... if you'd like to see more, please let us know! Also, the web series pilot can be viewed without listening to any of the audio drama, but if you do choose to listen to the audio drama, there’s a lot more depth and background that is touched on within the pilot. It was important to us that the pilot be able to stand alone, but also could reward our current fans of the audio show. Our pilot's opening title animation was created by a fan of the audio show, which is amazing. You can check out more of his work at ericthomasstudios.com.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
JB: Pendant-related, our ninth season of The Kingery premieres on August 9. It's a sci-fi crime drama that began in 2007! This season will see its 100th episode (and beyond), which is pretty exciting. We've got a few other audio projects in various stages of pre-planning, but not enough to go into great detail just yet.
SB: Outside of Pendant, we're working with a producer on a television pilot, which has been a really exciting and educational process. We're also putting together the first issue of a sci-fi action comic with a lady lead, a mind-blowingly good art team, crazy action, and a cool cyberpunk aesthetic. What's not to like? Hopefully nothing!
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Active Radioactive Radio?
JB: You can see the webseries pilot and listen to the entire first season of the audio drama, all for free, at activeradioactiveradio.com.
SB: You can also follow the show's host/lead character Johnny Franks on Twitter @MountaintopStud. (He's just maybe a little full of himself.) You can tweet him questions that he'll answer in an upcoming episode! All previous episodes, including the webseries pilot, had audience-submitted questions.
JB: And if your question gets selected, you win a little prize pack we'll send you in the actual physical mail! Free stuff is good, right? Sure it is. We all love it. Submit some questions and you, too, might get some free stuff!
SB: It seems like we give away a lot of free stuff. We’re super nice, see?
JB: We totally are.