The Pivot To Audio
I may not be qualified to write today’s blog, as “fuel” of any kind is something I am sorely lacking at the moment. I’m wrapping up an exhausting finals week full of tests and papers and projects. But the biggest challenge, and the one that has been throwing me the most curveballs, comes tomorrow.
As I’ve mentioned before, my best collegiate friend and I have been co-writing a webseries for the past few months, and tomorrow I have an appointment to pitch it to a student TV network on campus. Everything had been going more or less swimmingly, until very recently.
The show, titled Ratio, is a sitcom about the hilariously negative effects that Twitter has had on our politics. It follows two podcast companies, one on the far-right and the other on the far-left, who are bought by the same media conglomerate and forced to share an office. Things go poorly, comedy ensues, etc.
I’m insanely happy with the way the scripts turned out, and it felt like we were sailing towards an easy pitch and productive filming process. But as in politics, nothing is ever easy. While the writing is exceptional (in my biased opinion), new managerial problems have been coming up every day. My partner and I are both writers, not filmmakers, and we just couldn’t find anyone to execute it. At a film school where there are more projects than people to work on them, it’s always a struggle to find directors and cinematographers and the like. But due to some unusually unlucky circumstances, our talent search has been harder than most. People broke promises, meetings fell through…basically, everything that could have gone wrong did.
Last week I was quite despondent. It looked like we’d have no chance of making this project we’ve invested so much time into, simply due to a lack of personnel. Then one night, as I was watching an episode of Homecoming, it hit me.
The highly acclaimed Amazon series was originally a narrative podcast. A shiny, updated version of old radio dramas. Its creators built a following utilizing that unique format, and were ultimately able to transition into television. I realized that my show, which was already about the podcast industry, was a natural candidate for such a process. I could produce the first season as an audio-only sitcom, and try to build a community without the high barriers to entry that accompany film.
So I’ve spent the last week scrambling, researching narrative podcasts and trying to adapt my scripts for the audio form. I’m still pitching the show tomorrow, but in a completely different format than we had originally planned. It’s been exhausting, but I’m confident that when all is said and done, I’ll be able to say that I took this concept as far as I possibly could.
The conclusion I drew from this is that no matter how down you are, you’re never quite out. My years of interning at constantly-evolving media startups led me to develop a comfort level with extremely fluid situations. While the outcome may not be a home run, a willingness to pivot has allowed us to turn a strikeout into a solid double.