Well here we are with ep 406 already and one of my fave creatives who I've enjoyed listening to and reading...joins me for some bantz...and we find out we went to the SAME university....AT THE SAME TIME. So. There's a little bit of fading in and out, as I guess you don't want to hear us regaling stories of crazy student days! (Though patreons had a longer peek!)
Alasdair is one of the groovy elements of electric creativity driving Escape Artists - Pseudopod, Podcastle and mmmoore! He can also be found on pods of awesome like The Rusty Quiil's Magnus Archives, and will soon be with a cool cast on St Kilda so watch out for that gem!
Here we talk all things How to get noticed, why folks should start a blog rather than talk about starting one, and a little on getting contract savvy.
Thank you for listening folks - and thanks humbly to Alasdair - my St John's alumni pal!
Am v excited to continue to bring you this stellar season of amazing folks who work in audio fiction as VA's producers and coaches and more. Next week, Marguerite Kenner talks about the business side of being a VA.
DO NOT miss it!
Feel free to write to me with any requests for guests or topics, or to let me know what you think of this and other seasons! I'd love a review or two n'all! Thanks folks and
HAPPYYY VOICE ACTINNGGG
Links to Alasdair's works of grooviness / social media joy
Link to the contract sample
Cast of Wonders
The Full Lid - Alasdair's newsletter
Support EA on Twitch
Alasdair on TikTok
Alasdair on Twitter
Rusty Quill - Magnus Archives
Nate crowley Twitter
Sarah's links of audio joyyy
Sarah's Quirky Website
Fiction Podcast News Weekly
Sarah's KO-FI account of funding alllll her projects for TRYING to pay her actors n crew
<MADIVA MUSIC FADES INNNN>
Sarah: People who enjoy amazing performances and stories. Have I got a guest for you right now? I am very excited to welcome to MADIVA ALASSSDAIIIIR, how are you? Alasdair Stuart of Escape Artists and the Rusty Quill, and mmmooooooooore!
Alasdair: I'm very well, thank you. How are you? Oh,
Sarah: I'm just, you know, having the best life I could possibly live quite frankly...
Sarah: ... considering all circumstances, doing things like this is my life's blood and I get to learn from, from legends like your good self, so great to have you on the show. And if folks didn't know of who you were, well, they' better find out now because you are, Oh my goodness. The list of things you do is, is far, far longer than my whole body, but I'll try and sum them up in a few, so you, it, according to your websites, you're a 'professional enthusiast, pop culture analyst, writer, blogger, Hugo [00:01:00] finalist for best fan writer, British fantasy society, best nonfiction finalist'...
And my goodness. You do so many... brilliant things in the voice acting world, as well as, uh, one of our favorites. Rusty Quill
. Thank you.
So yes. Escape artist is your, your baby now isn't it. And along with this, all the pods that go with it. So yeah. What is it you can't do? Is there anything at all?
Alasdair: Yes. American accent. I am. And I, how can I put this? Do you remember the, I, it's kind of terrifying that this is considered old now, but do you remember the early kind of ... uh, David Tennant, Doctor Who episode, where they meet Queen Victoria in Scotland and Rose is like, 'Och, hello. I'm from Scotland. It is an honor to meet you, your majesty, the noo' , uh, and David Tennant was just like don't...Don't do that. I have that quite regularly with my partner because she's [00:02:00] Californian, and from time to time, I'll do the, 'how y'all doing? Yeehaaa!' And she's like.....' No. '
Sarah: I love that. I love that. Well, well, I think, you know, we all need to aspire something to develop, I suppose. And if American accent is the only thing you need to do, then HUZZAHS!
Alasdair: The really weird thing about it is, uh, I have an accent, which for some people is basically linguistic chaff. ..And people genuinely don't know where I'm from, because I grew up on the Isle of man in the middle of the Irish Sea, which is basically the geographical representation of a crossover Venn diagram between Liverpool and Ireland. Um, my, my parents sounded like they had swallowed radio four as small children and never quite got over it, which is the way I sound like this. And then I went to live in Yorkshire for a couple of decades. So that's why a couple of the vowel sounds are a little bit more rounded than they maybe should be...
Sarah: Ahhhhh [00:03:00] I LOVE Yorkshire....Yeah.
Alasdair: And... I live with a Californian. So about one person in five will listen to me and go.... I got nothing ....australian??
Sarah: I feel I suffer or enjoy similar things. Having moved around a bit too. And yeah, maybe that helps for voice acting, having these different ears for accents, kind of permeating permeating the ears constantly. Brilliant. Well, well today I'm very excited to have you on to talk about various things, to just help these voice actor folks level up. And so without further ado, I wonder if you can share with us through your amazing experience so far as how, how on earth can voice actors get known by producers? What what'd you think about them perhaps cold emailing things, where do they need to be? What do they need to do, do you think ?
Alasdair: Well there's a couple of really interesting answers to these questions and... like a lot of this stuff I suspect we're going to be talking about today. It's actually, and I know this sounds especially weird right now. [00:04:00] Good news. ..Pretty much all the way across the board. Um, in my experience, if you are a podcast fan who has got to the point where you, or, and voice act actor, who's into podcasts, and you got to the point where you're like, I want to do this, one of two things is about to happen. You're either going to realize you already know producers who are working. Yeah. Or, when you're going to do it yourself. Now, in my case, it was in for both of the big jobs I've had. It was that I was in one case I had a previous professional relationship with a producer and in the other, um, They had a role, which was coming up and they were aware of me and I didn't so much cold email them as emailed them at the right time.
Sarah: Yeah. Timing is everything sometimes.
Alasdair: Yeah, it really is, uh, with Pseudopod, which I started... At a frankly horrifying amount of time ago... [00:05:00] now . I remember listening to an episode that I had downloaded on the 56 K internet connection that they had to plug into a wall ...because that's what it was like in the olden times, children.
Sarah: Is this while you were cycling to keep the energy going in the house...
Alasdair: Exactly, you know, to make sure the Gerbil's well, well, fed that wants to keep running. Um, I remember hearing. An episode where Mel Lafferty, who is now a very good friend and we take turns being each other's boss. And I noticed that she was stepping down from pseudopod and I did the thing I never normally do, which is I emailed them and went, 'hi, I'd really love to help.
I don't know how ...I think I'd be quite good behind the microphone, perhaps you agree? I'm ha.... We should maybe talk about this.' And I fully expected the thing, which as a freelance journalist, I get all the time, as everyone does. And likewise, VA's get an awful lot of the time, which is ...nothing. An hour later. I got an email back going.... 'Yeah, we've been thinking about you. We should talk.' And that was 12 years ago. And that, that job has been weekly. I [00:06:00] have held that job longer than any job I've held in meet space. It's is terrifying.
Sarah: That's immense. And, and a week in podcasting is like a month for every half hour. Isn't it?
Alasdair: It's it's like doggy years time seven.
Sarah: Yeah, it's crazy. That's amazing. Brilliant.
Alasdair: And the other one was the Magnus archives, and weirdly I, they were aware of me because of pseudopod. Right. And I'd written about them a couple of times. And, uh, we were, we were on cordial terms. I think we'd exchanged banners like you did in like four or five years ago.
Would you like to, would you like a graphic? Yes. Would you like a 15 second audio thing? Very well. And then out of nowhere and Alex emailed me and went, we've got this guy coming up, who's ...kind of antagonistic. He's basically a villain, but he's also really kind of. ...deceptively cuddly and we thought of you.
And I was like, I'm not sure how I feel about this, but [00:07:00] go on. And that's how he got Peter lucas.
Sarah: Love it. I mean, yeah. And you embody him so beautifully. I know the fans are keen to, to love, to hate, to love you. And, uh, yeah, if you haven't heard Rusty Quill and all of its amazing shows. Where have you been quite frankly ?As, yeah. Jump in and listen, if you haven't, but yeah, I think that's, that's fantastic. It is about, you know, sometimes just taking the chance then, and you are so right. It Is timing. I have landed a few fun juicy roles myself from, from similar, uh, just jumping in and trying, and, and as a, as a sort of, uh, development of, of, uh, Charting your progress. Do you think voice actors should blog what they do? Do you think they should get sort of web space out there and be able to reflect on their... Their process and things through using that? Or? Well, you've got a newsletter as well.
Alasdair: I'm going to get bit, so I'm going to get a little bit, soap boxy [00:08:00] about this one , because my answer is basically yes, a lot. Um, I. Because I wear hats in three or four creative fields is the thing I encounter really regularly. And I encountered it most often myself.
And that is the fundamental reticence of the freelance creative, where you make a thing and you go, well, it's a bit broken and that bit's taped on, but I guess someone might want it. And especially in the UK, and I know this is a dreadful national stereotype, but unfortunately in my experience, it's also a true one.
There's a tendency to not want to talk about something you've done that you're proud of, or that you want to promote, whether you want to beat yourself up for. And I see that echoed to every level of the genre community in print, much less with digital because everyone comes in. Basically the same with, with stuff like blogs and newsletters and podcasts, this far more of a tendency of, Oh, do you do a thing? What things do you do? I want to hear it. But you have to get past that initial reticence. You have to get past the initial. Well, I've done a [00:09:00] thing and I just have to wait now. And how can I put this? There is no way to say this without it sounding being hard without sounding harsh. No one is going to discover you unless you discover yourself.
Sarah: Love it. That should be on a t-shirt.
Alasdair: Thank you. Uh, and the way that I've been able to do that is via my weekly pop culture newsletter, which basically combines everything I do. It's, you know, here's 3000 words about how all three versions of the equalizer existed in the same continuity... Here is a comic review. Here's all the places you can find me this week. And it's. It functions a lot, like a kind of old fashioned Prairie radio station. In that , it doesn't have a tremendous reach, but it's reach, does grow ...and people see it and people, and it, it does have an audience and it builds my profile and it means that I become more visible and it means eventually more work does come in.... also, and this is just as [00:10:00] important. If you do do this stuff, it has to be fun. Find a medium that you're going to enjoy doing. I bloody love writing that newsletter. It tries to kill me every second week because it's difficult braining a lot of the time, but the feeling of being able to hit publish on Friday and see it go out into the world is that little kind of nugget of catharsis that we all search for.
Alasdair: And I get it every week and it feels so good.
Sarah: Okay, see, so if you want that hit of, of yes... things are good. Then, then jump in. If you'd been thinking about it, just do it ...please, because I need your advice and your other wares as well. Brilliant. I mean, I, on top of that as well, I've seen a surge in folks who are gamers really actually, but also utilizing streaming sites and saying, 'come join me to do this' who are like podcasts, creatives. And, uh, I know nothing [00:11:00] really about that kind of world. How much have you spent doing that? Do you think folks should start getting streaming savvy?
Alasdair: Yeah, I think it's worthwhile. Um, we're actually coming up on, I think we're about five weeks off our years anniversary on Twitch. Yes. And, uh, we, we started off the same way... a lot of people did, which was locked down, it hit, we were bought. So we w w we started off. We were just like, well, Let's just play a game on Twitch for an hour and talk to people. And the learning curve is really steep. And what we learned really quickly was... there are certain types of game, which don't lend themselves terribly well to it.
If it's something where the points of view shifts around an awful lot, especially as you're broadcasting play, the speed of.... what you're seeing is going to be different to the speed of what your audience is going to be seeing and folks with vertigo or motion sickness... are not gonna feel very good...
Sarah: Ohhh yess.... Yes. I didn't even think about that, yeah...
Alasdair: So what [00:12:00] we've ended up doing is really, we run two programs a week and Sunday morning, 10:00 AM to 12 is it's just this very kind of relaxed coffee and a chill video game.... slot. And the stuff which we've run in that tends to be very artistic and verty gentle. There's a gorgeous, uh, PS4 game called 'concrete genie' where you bring life back to an abandoned seaside town using sentient graffiti, which is genuinely one of the most beautiful games I've ever played and we played that in that slot. And. And that kind of thing, at that time of day works perfectly. And the other thing that we do is, is essentially the fifth episode of pseudopod every week, which is this kind of a hybridized format well, on Wednesday night between notionally 10 and 11. It's pretty much a two hour show these days .We do three things. We have an introductory monologue, which is basically...we...we..Describe this as being like the, [00:13:00] the, the trailers in the adverts at the cinema, it's a chance to get yourself comfortable, get your drinks, get your snacks , take any meds you need all that kind of stuff. Yeah. And this will normally just be something which I've read in the week and that has made me laugh or more and more commonly something I haven't read in the week, but which is going to make me laugh frequently on air.
Alasdair: One of our moderators for the chat actually keeps a, how many times hasAlasdair corpsed list.? The record is 20, I believe. Um.
Sarah: Oh wow, that's a lotta lols! ,
Alasdair: Oh yeah, There is a lovely, lovely writer called Nate Crowley, who is on Twitter, as Frog Croakly,who also writes a hilarious computer gaming journalism for rock paper, shotgun, and, uh, his. ..He, he did something about, uh, the most recent entry in, in, in the, the watchdogs series, which included the phrase 'drone powered bother goblin', (Sarah Laughs) which, you ever know if you ever had one of those phrases, which just hit you at the exact wrong [00:14:00] moment?
And... I.. I think I was trapped on that for about five minutes. But, uh, we do that and we also have a couple of bits of Magnus archives fan art upfront, and then we'll, we'll do an installment of a story, and then we'll do a couple ofMagnus Archives related fanfiction things at the end and sign-off. And we've been really lucky with this because this thing has no budget. So, you know, we've done a lot of Victorian ghost stories. We've done a lot of creepy pasta contemporary horror, right. And we've had a couple of authors who've basically gone.' Yeah. We, I don't have official audio rights for this sold to anybody go forth. It's fine!'. So we did a full length of this Sheila Vernon novel called the wizards guide to defensive baking , which is about a wizard whose only abilities involved bread and which culminates with Kaiju sized sourdough golems defending a city from attack. (Sarah Laughs) It is so good. So good !
Sarah: Sounds imense!
Alasdair: We're most of the way through a very good earlyMel Avati novella now. And. [00:15:00] In terms of kind of technical challenge ...from my point of view, it's deceptively simple. Cause I just sit down in front of a microphone and talk, um, from the kind of baseline competency level. There is a little bit more to it than that. Uh, you need a camera, you need a Twitch account. You need to learn. To know your way around a system called OBS. Once you have the basics of that, you can look at, it's going to look pretty good, pretty quickly, and you'll get that in about three or four weeks.
Marguerite produces these shows and she works really hard on getting one thing that she improves a week, and just focuses on that. And that's helped us immensely where you, you look at our first couple of shows, and I really am like.... 'Hello. ...........welcome. Thank you 'to now. It's the, the change is really, really drastic, so my advice would be absolutely get involved because the outlay for it is pretty minimal. And the capacity to [00:16:00] improve is ...deceptively vast. I mean, Twitch runs the affiliate and partnership program where once you get a certain level of viewers, you start being paid for it.
Alasdair: I wouldn't recommend chasing that. I would recommend doing this to learn how to do it, because in terms of mic skills, it's going to be an incredible asset. And in terms of fun and social connection, and we all need social connections...
Sarah: Oh gosh, especially now. Yes, yes.
Alasdair: It it's immensely therapeutic
Sarah: ...and this is the thing, isn't it? You've, you've done that by collating, obviously your partner and also, you know, these closer... fans to, to make it work. So if you've got a group of pals and some, some writing lovers, people who are, who've got things with nowhere else to put them, then in, get them out there in that format. Why not! Why not...
Alasdair: Exactly, also what's that?Whilst you start thinking about it? You can fold it back around. [00:17:00] Mert does a regular hangout for on Twitch for, I should be writing, which then gets turned into one of the, I should be writing podcasts.
Sarah: Great! Yeah, perfect!
Alasdair: So you can hit multiple fields at once with one of these.
Sarah: Yeah. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. So again, no excuses, you've blogging and your twitching to get on with now. Right? (Sarah Laughs) So, so fab, and... Obviously with escape artists and all of the Podcastles, and pseudopods and so on. You've obviously worked with quite a number of fantastic folks. I mean, how on earth do you attain consistent quality of awesome in those? Yeah. What are you looking for in potential VA's to work with you?
Alasdair: That's a really, really good question. And the, I think the best answer I can give you is... One of our principal strengths is that there's a lot of us... each show has its own editorial team and they have their own preferences. And that's a result of that. Inevitably, those preferences all differ. So you'll see, there are VAs that a couple of shows we'll go to [00:18:00] ...regularly and there were other VA's a couple of other shows we'll go to regularly, and there are one or two folks who everyone will work with. The difference in genre... demands a difference in tone, and that demands a difference in voice. And the editorial team are really good at finding and opening relationships with folks that we like and they like to use consistently.
Alasdair: Also our biggest advantage here I freely admit is time. I mean, EA is w we've owned the company for six years. It's been an existence for 15.
Alasdair: Um, we, we have a running gag about every time someone releases one of those, 'well, podcasting has been invented articles'.
Uh, it's basically a flat out race between Marguerite and I as to who can post a shot with the clock, the war clock.... From Pacific rim with 'stop the clock it's been invented. Again'..
Sarah: It is frustrating isn't it? I wish people would delve a little deeper than this skimming the surface, but there we go. One day! I do feel, I do feel that there's enough of us now to club [00:19:00] together and just get a page spread in every single publication, at least across the world and just.
Just 'hello! There's folks been here for 15, 20 years, man!' . So, uh, yeah, I, I think we should club together and actually makes some noise quite frankly, but, but who are we to do things, you know? Uh, and other than anything in isolation, right? This is, this is my, my plea is to try and get people to work together, and like yourself on Twitch and everything else. It's like, I set up the audio drama hub virtual pubs, and all of the other things I do to try and nurture a sense of community and that you're not, you're not working on your own. There are so many people to connect with.
Alasdair: Exactly. While, I remember -while i remember as well, anything like that, if you ever need an extra set of eyes on it, send me any details you need...I'll put them in the newsletter.
Sarah: Groovy, yes, thank you, Yes. Well, that's brilliant. Cause I, yeah, I only can remember to put things in so many places and I need to get a bit more savvy on where else I [00:20:00] can put my things. You're right. And uh, yeah, I mean, With your, your VA's. Do you do any sort of in-house, uh, housekeeping training or do you do anything specifically to help them?
Alasdair: With, with the VAs? No, because for the most part, the folks we work with ...tend to.... have been around a little while. So they've got the equipment they need, they've got the experience they need, but that is, it is something which strangely enough might well be penciled in a couple of years out, we have a project which is sort of off in the mists at the moment, but as that's coming towards us, we might well be talking to specific voice artists about that and about getting some training. The training aspect of things is really interesting because it is the side of the company. We realized a little while ago. We don't talk about enough. In that ,we pay our staff, but we're painfully aware that we don't pay the anywhere near what they're worth, because the amount of time these folks put in and they're all incredible, is [00:21:00] -they're doing it because they love it.
And we just want to make sure we can help out as much as we can. Um, but one of the, one of the ways we try and do that is give them opportunities to enhance their skills. So with special projects, we'll always try and rotate staff who haven't had the editorial experience through. So they've got better idea of that and that in turn plugs them into finding different voice artists and presenting shows in different ways. So, directly, I would say no. Indirectly. Yes. ...and...Indirectly again, probably quite soon.
Sarah: Exciting. Good. Well, brilliant. Brilliant. I mean, I, cause I just think that's again why I've done my Quirky Voices courses, just to hopefully give people a leg in and hopefully with some good advice on where to go and how to do things, uh, in this crazy indie field. Um, but yeah, and, and the things I've come up against more. More recently, the last few years, uh, contracts have been, uh, more prevalent in the indie world, which is wonderful to see for protection for [00:22:00] everyone. Um, is...
Is there anything that you think folks should definitely need to check is in these contracts for, for, for general good practice?
Alasdair: Absolutely. Um, yeah. You're going to get a lot of, very, a lot more specifics from Marguerite about this I suspect, because this is literally her day job, but, uh, there are a couple of things I always, I have been trained to look for, because when you stand near a lawyer for as long as I have, you tend to pick up on a couple of things...
Sarah: Vibes. Yes. Soak tinged....
Alasdair: Uh, the moment, the words in perpetuity, are used. I, I really..., I need an adult, um, also from, from a publishing point of view, which is where I actually had the experience with contracts. What we tend to do is operate in a, in a kind of space where either something hasn't been published before, in which case we're the first ones. And we have a set period of time during which it's available to us. Or it's a reprint. And if it's a [00:23:00] reprint, then again, we've got like a set window within which we can run it. And this. Is often where things can get interesting. Right. Um, the one time we've ever been tripped up was there was an episode that is no, no longer in one of our feeds, because prior to us taking over the company, the story had been sold to us on a limited contract.
Alasdair: And unfortunately, as is often the case, cause taking over a company is like moving house. You just put all the fire in one cabinet and hope it eventually goes away. (Sarah Laughs) Um, unfortunately the fact that this story has a limited time offer on it was not communicated to us...
SARAH: Oh NO!
ALASDAIR: Until a very, very polite form letter was received from a lawyer from moderately well-known author. ...from a very important authors estate, who very politely said, well, this is up now and shouldn't be , so you need to take it down. And we did. Right. [00:24:00] And that there was some, weeping an rending of garments in the background, all from me because I was brand new at the time and scared, easily. Well, it happened and we were both like, I wonder why that was the case.
And then, three months later, the movie version of that story was, was widely released. Right? So obviously what happened was that the estate had gone, where is this? What can we take down to focus attention on what's coming ...that! Brilliant. And that taught me two things. It taught me. The the really fun and really unpleasant thing about copyright law, which is it's never personal.
And secondly, that there is always a consequence. So that's kind of the stuff I'm conditioned to look for with contracts, but to kind of steer back to voice actors. Yeah. Anything which holds the rights in perpetuity is something which disturbs me a little bit, but I'm sure Marguerite will provide more context for that ,and anything which [00:25:00] requires extra curricular activity from you.
Alasdair: Is is something I'm automatically very suspicious of. If the contractor voice work also includes, Oh, by the way, we're going to expect you to promote the hell out of this, on social media, to this rigid formula, or we're going to expect you to do performance, to do like additional performances over here or all this kind of stuff.
I have no issue with that kind of thing. And in fact, the folks, um, the deeply, deeply lovely folks, uh, no sleep work in that field pretty regularly because they do live tours, which are brilliant by the way, when live venues become a thing which people can do again, keep an eye out because note the, the no sleep live show is like being inside a fifties horror comic.
It's amazing. Yeah. Be suspicious of that. And I think if I can. Can I pull one genuine nugget, which should hopefully be of use out, read through the contract in its entirety. And don't feel stupid about asking [00:26:00] questions ...because this almost goes back to the, the, the 'be less British' thing. If you read through something and go, well, these three things bother me, but I can't possibly say anything.
So I'll just go, Oh, it'll be fine. And hope it will be... that don't be disempowered. If you have questions, ask them because people will answer them.
Sarah: Brilliant. I mean, that is, it is communication is key, isn't it? I mean, and if, uh, if you're working on something and there isn't a contract, I mean, should you be bold enough to say, can I have one or should Iyou just let it be?
Alasdair: My, my gut instinct is if you're working on a project and you don't have a contract, firstly, you shouldn't be working. And secondly, you should ask for one, and this is putting my freelance journalist hat on. I've had a couple of instances where I've been commissioned for magazine pieces and they've said, okay, we want this, but at this time, but for the love of God, do not begin work until we send you the actual contract, because if a piece drops out [00:27:00] and suddenly your adrift and you know, you can't be paid for the work and they can't... commission you for it, and it just gets bad.
I'm, I'm very belt and braces with this kind of thing. And it's partially because of that. And it's partially because I spent a lot of time in indie publishing and the phrase 'handshake agreement', or it's terrible, terrible evil twin 'gentleman's agreements'.... Brings me out in hives
Sarah: Now, I'm rippling at the thought. I mean, I think it's, it's difficult, isn't it as well. I mean, just to put the producer hat on for folks who are perhaps coming new to this, have just got, you know, a gang of pals together and maybe a have done a casting call out to know where to find that help. Do you, would you suggest anywhere they would look to, to look for, for contract templates?
Alasdair: Yeah. We actually make a sample contract available ...
Sarah: Ahh groovy...
Alasdair: ...on on our website. And we encourage people to firstly, to take a look at it if they want to come and work with us, and [00:28:00] also.... lawyers are magpies, they steal useful bits of information and bolt them onto their own contract. It's just everyone I've ever encountered does this. So if you take our contracts and find stuff that works ... use it!
Alasdair: And also I know as well, there are, I think there were a couple of sites which just do a generic, 'here's an employment contract',' here is a will' type things. So you can start the Frankenstein stuff together that way .The other, and I think this is possibly the most important one.
Um, Avenues to get that kind of information is ask the podcasters who you either have a personal relationship with, or who you like.
Sarah: Yeah, great idea....
Alasdair: Because they will all have some level of knowledge of that. And strange as it sounds, the, the, the person that I would be at the moment, I'm thinking very much of here is Alexander J Newall at Rusty Quill.
Yeah. Alexander has grandfathered that company into an extraordinary level of administrative competency.
[00:29:00] Sarah: Fantastic.
Alasdair: Like, uh, I, we have an invoice system for how many hours we work. Um, we have, uh, I believe this, this, this. Capacity for sick pay for sick cover. There's just, uh, there's health and safety regulations.
And basically about five years ago, as they were firing up, he took a look at this and went, we are going to be unmanageably sized in about five years. If I don't belt n braces everything together and he's done so. And five years down the line, as each issue comes up, they're able to compartmentalize it and make sure everything has the right documentation and nothing swamps the company.
So he would counsel, I suspect two things. The first is sleep more than he has. (Sarah Laughs) And I have literally seen him say, 'do not do what they have done, sleep, sleep is your friend'. Um, and also make sure that you cover every eventuality you can think of. .
Sarah: Yeah. Which is [00:30:00] difficult when you don't know where to start, but there are places and people to ask as Alasdair's just suggested. So, so communicate, ask, ask, ask. Brilliant. And I mean, what is your secret? Cause obviously Escape Artists generally has a whole collection of awesome. Has done. Beautifully well, you know, a bastion of awesome audio on the landscape. What, um, what tips would you give folks for wanting to do a You, or an Alexander in building and building their own brand or companies from, from their love of storytelling, essentially?
Alasdair: Work out What you can do consistently ,and stick to that. Um, Marguerite will no doubt describe this, uh, much more succinctly. She likes under promise and over deliver. And the example that she likes to use is if you promise two episodes a month and you deliver three, people will be very impressed. If you deliver two, they'll be impressed. If you deliver one you're in trouble. [00:31:00] So yeah. Work out what you're able to do. Work out how long you want your work to be? Um, Nerys,, who does Seren,
Alasdair: Which is. Just a stunningly great little show.
Sarah: Ahhhh...I'm so I'm so excited that that happened, and I know that Nerys has had ups and downs like the rest of us, but I do hope she jumps back on and makes some more groovy stuff soon because yeah, I agree. It was a very exciting sort of debut on the landscape for sure.
Alasdair: Right?! And, and yeah, but by little, I don't mean patronisingly, I mean, those were 15 minutes of perfectly designed audio. And, and the fact that she was able to go, 'all right, I want to make something, I have limited capacity. So let's do 15 minutes, times eight'.
Yeah. And landed it so hard. I think about that show an awful lot. I think about the work that Tin Can audio...does... an awful lot...
Sarah: Oh ...David...and team...yeah, yeah, yeah.
Alasdair: Yeah. Um, [00:32:00] The the, the middle below, which from a, from a thematic point of view is this lovely combination of Star Trek, Doctor Who and Ghostbusters. (Sarahj Laughs) again, from a format point of view is minimalist -The Tower - that the show they do, which is almost like a metaphysical journey is...
Alasdair: Just wonderful.
Alasdair: And all of that is small scale. And podcasting is uniquely equipped to forgive and turn anything you perceive as a weakness into an asset. And I think if you can do the mental gymnastics necessary to view things that way, and work out what you can produce in a manner which will be fun, and which will push you, but will also not kill you then you're onto something really special. The other one that I keep thinking of is Red Valley.
Red valleys, incredible ability to be about five different formats in eight episodes. Hmm, um, was just, and [00:33:00] again, I think the longest one that they did was half an hour, but one of the assets they had, was there's an episode where there's a passing reference to one character's Christian death metal band that he was in as a teenager. And... they recorded the song, and released on band camp the same week. (SARAH LAUGHS) If you can do weird inventive stuff like that so much the better, but yeah. Find something you can do, work out... how to do it in a manner which means you still get to eat and sleep and pay your bills .......
Alasdair: ...and do it, which sounds. Awful. Doesn't it sounds just as like this, this really...' be the best you, you can be' truism, but it really does break down to that. All you have to do is hold the line and have faith that you can do it.
Sarah: The balance is key for sure. I mean, especially now, and you know, it is. Are you, you are able to, if you are working from home, you know, set yourself up a beautiful little booth for next to nothing. And there is an episode in this season, which hopefully you've heard already that showcases some different [00:34:00] styles and there's a chap, even using his phone, you know, and that does work. It does work for certain shows, and you can utilize even just the thing we all have in our pockets. So, you know, to get going, I just think is, is the key and, and have the passion behind it. Like, like Alasdair's saying, if you've got that, I, cause I've got these ideas, I'm sure you have too Alasdair, where it's sort of burning a hole in you because then they're nearly ready. -They're just cooking and brewing. It's like, they're just, you know, those microwaves are fizzling and nearly ready to be done, and it's just about making and... Finding time and space and head space for you to do it... in amongst all of your other hats of, uh, of whatever partner you have. Uh, an art whatever mum, dad, you might be ...grandparent whatever's happening, uh, in your work life too, to just make time. Super.
Alasdair: One and obviously kind of the other thing which is worth considering there. And it's something. You've you've expressed very, very eloquently ... multiple times. [00:35:00] This is not a pleasant time to be a creator.
There's an ambient level of stress, which everyone has, which is vastly elevated. I mean, it's, it's a little lowered now, and hopefully it will continue, but don't run headlong, screaming aat a project, and then feel terrible when it doesn't work.
Sarah: Aha, aha.
Alasdair: Forgive yourself for having less capacity than you feel you should.
Sarah: Yeah. Yeah.
Alasdair: And I'm saying that as much for my benefits, as anybody else's trust me.
Sarah: Yeah, no, I love that. I mean, I'm, I've just released this week. The second of seven shows, which were recorded in 2019, (THEY LAUGH WITH EMBARRASMENT AND RECOGNITION) uh, it's such a long time ago, but there were various hiccups along the way. And also good things happened to me, you know, as a voice actor. And I became very busy working for that side of me rather than my producer hat. So things I was doing for no money and where my, my passion and the love of new writing ...kind of kept getting pushed back. So it is [00:36:00] about like, they, they will be coming out, and I have felt terrible because of, you know, the writers and the creatives involved, but it just couldn't have happened any earlier in my spiderweb life, I guess. And it is, yes, you're right about ...forgiving yourself for those guilty ...feelings. Yeah. And, and what's next for you then? Alasdair? What, what exciting adventures are on your horizon right now?
Alasdair: I have a couple of things going on at the moment. Um, I've just. I actually booked a long form voice acting role about three days ago, which I can't talk about yet, because I know they're about to announce that, but I'm really, really happy about this. It's a group I've never worked with before, but they've got the scripts lovely. And the role is tremendous fun. Um, so there's that, there's the weekly pop culture newsletter, which was released on Friday 5:00 PM. And I'm [00:37:00] also for the last three or four weeks, I've been forensically chiseling through kind of a backlog of journalism and blogging and all that kind of stuff to get to the point where I can finally get back to the novel I wrote two years ago to start revising.
Sarah: Oh, exciting. Yes.
Alasdair: I arrived this morning. And ...I have two pages of revisions, which took an hour and a half to produce and almost killed me. So I'm on track. It's going really well.
Sarah: It's forward! . It is forward, at any forward is good forward,, right? So ...huzzhas!
Alasdair: Exactly. And I feel like I'm ... because I have this and they have something I wrote about 10 years ago. Uh, which I can Polish up and get to the point where it's good enough to be put in front of people... and the thing which I'm finding with all of this...is I'm much less well behaved. (Sarah laUGHS) I was, I was very polite when I wrote this first novel and it was like, no, this has to be respectable. This HAS important things to say. And then I was talking to her too. Um, Andrew Jack actually ... my voice...our [00:38:00] voice artist friend in New Zealand.
Sarah: Yes, he'll be appearing on this podcast sooonnnn....
Alasdair: I cannot wait... He's so good. He's such a sweet guy. You're going to have so much fun talking to him and I was talking to him. And I suddenly realized that part of the ending has to be one of the main characters ...standing on top of the suicide cage on top of York Minster, facing down the aerial monsters, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle discovered a hundred years ago living above England, screaming. 'Come on, you bastards', as York burns around him, and Andrew just kind of stared blankly at me, and went, 'why isn't that in there now? And also...'Can I read this.? So, you know, I'm ...,
Sarah: I was at university in York, so I can imagine that beautifully! Yeah.
Alasdair: Which one...St John's or York University?
Sarah: I'm a Ripon and York St John lass, me!
Alasdair: ME TOO!
Sarah: NO WAY!
Sarah: I was there...? When was I there now? 93 to 96.
Alasdair: We overlapped, [00:39:00] we overlapped! I was there 95 to 98.
Sarah: That's crazy. What were you doing?
Alasdair: English and history.
Sarah: Ok. I was doing ... drama, film, TV, and English fun.
Alasdair: You probably knew a couple of friends of mine.
Sarah: That's mental and exciting ...d'you know....when i, when you think about it. Yeah. And I think, you know, when you know, someone's a little bit familiar, but you're not sure where from- maybe that's where that feeling has come from....
Alasdair: I worked for Simone on the...newspaper...
Sarah: Simone Lazarus?!
Sarah: Okay. Groovy...
Alasdair: Uh, and, uh, I was a bouncer at the student union for three months until
Sarah: Oh man, ya never, threw me out though, right?!
Alasdair: Never, never, ever. ... I ended up being there for five years. I did an MA in contemporary, English lit too.
Sarah: Did you? Wow. I miss it actually so much. I dream about it. I loved, I was in a block most of the time when I was there.
Alasdair: A block represent.... Blocks are still there.
<FADE OUT> <FADE UP>
Sarah: ....m they were very fond days of [00:40:00] York. And that's hilarious. We could have just rubbed shoulders, been dancing together that last prom in 96, or whatever it was called - the ball..., Was it Shawaddywaddy that year I can't even remember!..?
Alasdair: Shawoddywoddy was...my first year... Just the wave of what echoed across it. Yeah
< FADE DOWN> <FADE UP>.
In fact, you finally helped clarify something for me. I love community, the, the sitcom.
Yes, same same same - coolcoolcool.
It's, it's a show that kind of touches my heart in a lot of ways. And it's because of St. John's and now I realize, because it had a whole kind of, yeah.
Notionally where a university.
Sarah: Yeah. Yeah.
< FADE OUT> <FADE IN>
That's amazing and exciting. I didn't, I don't think other than the people I studied with I've met anyone who...who studied there (Laughs).
Alasdair: This is why I've sometimes found myself [00:41:00] going, was that just a really ...
Sarah: Did it exist??!
Alasdair: ..a really...elaborate...
Sarah: Its a Brigadoon!
Alasdair: Exactly! Really elaborate incident of missing time. Like, Oh, someone else was there and I remember now..! (Sarah Laughs).
<FADE OUT> <FADE IN>
Sarah: It's actually just to, because this is a long time ago now, actually, scarily...
Alasdair: Longer than I would even care to remind...yeah...
Sarah: Let's not even ponder, but, (They laugh) but... That's brilliant. We've trod the same grounds. How exciting. And yeah, obviously it's done us all right then for this creative malarkey.
Alasdair: Absolutely. Absolutely. Uniquely equipped for the weird, weird, weird field of voice acting. That's what we are.
Sarah: No, I love it. Well, that's brilliant, well. It's been so, so groovy to talk to you Alasdair, and, , all of these amazing things and yeah. Folks should look, look upalllll the wares that Allister has got - I will pop links in our show notes, and you can have a gander... And also hunt down that contract if you [00:42:00] need it. And, uh, have a good perusal and, uh, yeah. And communication is key, right?
Alasdair: Absolutely. Thank you so much.
<SOME MUSIC TO SPLIT THE tIME...>
Sarah: Wowwww....See, that's just brilliant. I love that. I love that. So, so much. And that's, that's the, that's the success isn't it, of creativity when you've got other people inspired. I think that's just amazing. Sounds great. I love... the potential premise of fun is, is what I live for quite frankly.
Alasdair: I kind of, I think that is the most admirable goal I've ever heard....that's wonderful...
Sarah: Well, yeah, I, I can't, you know, I feel I'm very lucky. I have a lovely family and my, my man is very supportive and I've been building up and building up and trying to get better. And that's what it's all about. Isn't it? I try to imbue in the students I'm working with currently on my Quirky Course that play and having fun is the [00:44:00] best thing you can do with this art of yours. So er...yeah! Let's hope it continues right?
Alasdair: Exactly... Hell yeah! Absolutely!
MUSIC RISES AND FADES