The following is an interview with Joe Mignano of HoloNet Audio Dramas, which provides listeners with Star Wars fanfiction in the audio drama medium. In this interview, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor Barbra Dillon chats with Mignano about the appeal of audio dramas, the charitable aspects of HNAD, the types of shows produced, and the intensive process involved in creating new episodes.
This interview was conducted on December 27, 2013.
Barbra J. Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: As a narrator of audio dramas with HoloNet Audio Dramas, what is it about the medium that you feel appeals most to you and to listeners?
Joe Mignano: The most appealing things about HoloNet Audio Dramas to people, I think, are both the quality and the content of the production, as well as its charitable purpose. HNAD is geared primarily toward sight-impaired Star Wars fans, and the charity angle of the project is to deliver audio CDs of our content to them.
BD: HoloNet provides listeners with Star Wars fanfiction. Are there a variety of shows that take place within the Star Wars (and Extended) universes, and how often are new episodes released?
JM: All of the episodes are within the Star Wars universe, some of which take place in the movie-era canon, other stories taking place in the expanded universe. Because HNAD is also the podcast and charity project of The Dark Empire costume club, some of the stories on there are background stories of the unique characters some of our costumers portray, myself included. I try to have a new episode out every month, but it may sometimes take a few months to put a new episode up, because of the work involved.
BD: Producing audio dramas can be a long and involved process, often requiring a very talented creative team. How would you describe the creative process for your shows, and how long does it generally take to go from concept to air date?
JM: The episodes are all put together by me. The writers can be anyone – members of The Dark Empire, myself, fans in general, but all of the recording and production work are done by me. On rare occasion, I will cast a voice role for a specific character in a story, but I otherwise do all of the work myself. The reason for that is simply because I want to put a good quality product out there for our audience; if I cast a voice, then the person that fills that role will have voice over and/or public speaking experience. Each story in the project takes several weeks to produce, from recording to sound editing to publishing on the web.
BD: Is it possible for fans of your shows to become more involved, and how should they go about doing so?
JM: To become involved, there are two ways. Anyone can write for the show; I’m always looking for family-friendly short stories that are about 3,000 words or less. The best way to become involved, however, is to order a free audio CD that we offer (or download our content from the site and create a CD), and give it to someone. We measure the success of HNAD in terms of how much of our media is distributed, instead of with a dollar amount (although people can donate through the site financially or with certain items like blank audio CDs). Our target listeners are blind Star Wars fans, but, of course, all fans are welcome.
BD: What is the HNAD Project, and how would you describe its mission?
JM: HNAD evolved from the fanfiction I used to do on a now-defunct podcast called Dark Empire Radio. The Dark Empire costume club is also a fanfiction club, and TDE adopted HoloNet Audio Dramas as its new club podcast and charity project in May 2013, not long after HNAD was first launched.
I’d describe its mission as “unique,” since it is both a podcast and a charity project all rolled into one. The overall mission of the HNAD Project is to entertain, promote literacy, and bring the fun of fanfiction to blind fans in a way similar to how Star Wars audio books are presented, but in a short story format. The professional-style narration, occasional sound effects, and music all serve to engage the listener in a way that makes fanfiction even more enjoyable. It’s fun to listen to and completely free.
BD: Being that we focus on all things “geek,” would you care to geek out with us about your favorite audio dramas?
JM: I like all of the audio fanfics on HNAD, but I think the most popular one on there is also one that I’m a bit partial to. “The Curious Flight of Rogue 13” was written by a friend of mine as a tribute to her dad; it’s a very touching and action-filled story. I first narrated it on Dark Empire Radio in 2010, then remastered it with music and added sound effects for HNAD in 2013. The timing of the music I used (some of which I “borrowed” from the Battlefront II video game) really synced well with the mood of the story being told.
BD: What is the most important piece of advice that you can offer to fans who may be interested in creating their own audio dramas?
JM: Be prepared for long hours of sound editing and production. If you want it done right, definitely take your time with it. Also, decide ahead of time how you want to deliver your performance. Is it going to be delivered audiobook-style, with a narrator voice acting the character parts, or will it be a radio drama with a full cast, or will it be a combination of the two? I’ve found that I prefer the single narrator audiobook-style approach, but that, on occasion, I also like to surprise the listener with an experienced vocal performer to fill a part.
BD: What is the best way for fans to find more information about HoloNet Audio Dramas?
JM: Fans can learn more about HNAD on our website, www.HoloNetAudioDramas.com, and you can also “like” us on Facebook and subscribe on iTunes, Soundcloud, or via RSS on our website.