By Scott Murray
I am one of those guys who can find ways to infuse pop culture references into a lot of conversations. Someone will say something, and it can trigger a line or scene from a movie in my head. At that moment, I immediately have to share it. People who know me well are used to this behavior, and people who listened to Season One heard a variety of pop culture references as well.
As I write this, the first episode of Season Two is about 95% complete. Just in that first episode, there are nods to Monty Python, Iron Man and Star Wars. Those who remember the end of Season One might recall Doc telling Rebecca that he thinks she needs "a Jarvis." If you watch the Marvel movies, you can probably guess the Iron Man reference. Think about that, and then consider how it might work if Doc decided to test it during an actual Crimson Crane mission.
I love Monty Python, and I found ways to throw in some nods to the movies and the Flying Circus television series. If you are well versed in both, you'll easily pick up on the references.
If you love Star Wars as much as me, you will also get some nods to the trilogies.
Along the way, you might also catch some random pop culture references to:
Captain America Civil War
The IT Crowd
and this song:
I hope you enjoy catching the references as you listen to the second season of The Crimson Files.
By Scott Murray
The logo for the second season of The Crimson Files Fiction Podcast really stands for everything we want this season to be. When you develop a new season for anything, you want it to be unique and stand on its own.
This logo does just that.
The artists are Jared J. Lee (who plays Reggie) and Alex Ray (who produced our Season 1 logo). If you're a fan of the first season, I have to think it's fun to wonder what you see in the frame.
It's been challenging not telling everyone what happens this season (or better yet - HOW it happens), but the logo explains why it's necessary. You see a mysterious figure crushing The Crane's symbol. That's a perfect representation of what she and her team face in this new story.
When I wrote the first season, I wanted to avoid taking the typical route in a superhero story. It was equally important to not simply drop a new villain into the second season and call it a day. The concept for this season evolved over time, and I'm very pleased with the final result.
I also love the way it looks in this logo.
By Scott Murray
Just as many people played Batman or Wonder Woman, we now have someone new playing The Crimson Crane. With any podcast production, life/work situations outside of podcasting can cause things to change. Stephanie Nadolny gave our superhero's voice the perfect blend of strong and benevolent in the first season. Her experience playing roles like young Goku in Dragon Ball Z made her an ideal fit for The Crane as we introduced her to audiences. She planned to return to the role in Season 2, but it just wasn't logistically possible.
However, I couldn't be more pleased with the actress that will give The Crimson Crane her voice in Season 2. I've known Brandi Andrade for over 15 years. She is a dedicated professional with years of experience in various forms of performance. She's also a joy to work with, and she's excited to be the new voice of Fort Henson's Superhero.
She knows that she has some pretty big rocket boots to fill following Stephanie's take on the character, but she's up for the challenge. One of the many things I love about Brandi playing The Crane is that she will bring that familiar gravitas to the voice while being able to put her own stamp on it. Her preparation for the role includes knowing everything that happened in Season 1, and listening closely to the great work Stephanie put into the character in our first season.
So while change isn't always easy, there can definitely be a lot of good to come out of it. I'm thrilled to have Brandi join the cast, and I can't wait for you to hear her voice Rebecca/The Crane.
I love what Adam West, Michael Keaton and Christian Bale brought to Batman. I am also a big fan of what Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot brought to Wonder Woman.
If you enjoyed The Crimson Crane in our first season, I know you'll love what Brandi brings to her voice in the second season.
By Scott Murray
It's hard to believe that a year ago, I was taking on my most ambitious podcast project to date, and there were a lot of unknowns. The answers to some of those Season 1 unknowns were keys to making Season 2 happen. These included:
Well, we obviously pulled off the first season, but the answers to the rest of the questions would come much later. I had to just put the show out there and see what happens. Then, in May of 2019, I started thinking about the possibilities for continuing the story.
Did people listen? Yes! In fact, people continued to find the show and listen to the first season. For a six-episode limited run, I was pleased with the download numbers. There was also not a huge discrepancy between the first episode and the rest of them. This tells me a lot of people listened to the entire season.
So, I checked that box. Then, I realized there was no reason to even think about a second season without asking the cast about it. So, I reached out to them and simply asked how they would feel about producing another six episodes. Everyone was on board.
What should happen in a second season?
I felt a new season required a next-level challenge that was very different from Drench. However, if there was one major constant in the positive feedback I got last year, it was how great Drench was as a villain. So, not only does the team have to be challenged in a compelling way, the new baddie had some big shoes to fill.
We're making it happen
One of the advantages of a second season is you're getting to build on what you established in the first season. A lot of last year's narrative focused on the audience getting to know Wyatt, Reggie, Jenna, Grandma Jeanie, Doc and The Crimson Crane. Now, we can take familiar characters and do something new.
Also, we began production last week, and the cast is easily jumping back into the characters they voiced in the first six episodes. I juggled a lot of challenges when developing this new story. Some of my concerns included:
Well, I didn't rush things, and just like last season, everything came together. As each scene and episode flowed into the other, my initial concerns took care of themselves. This happened last season, and that is definitely a great sign.
After finishing the finale yesterday, I can tell you that I'm very pleased with how everything turned out. Once again, I find myself very anxious for you to hear the new season.
After a successful first season in 2018, The Crimson Files returns with a new story. The action/comedy superhero-themed fiction podcast will bring back the entire main cast and feature some new voices in Season Two.
Some of the new characters include:
Gwendolynn Murphy as Gina
Douglas Cunningham as Police Chief Frank Elliot
Aaron Michael as Spike
As production begins on July 21st, an official synopsis has been released for Season Two:
Months following the defeat of Drench, the people of Fort Henson have officially embraced The Crimson Crane as their superhero. Now, an unexpected threat will challenge the legitimacy of The Crane and test the resilience of her team.
Season 2 is expected to wrap production in August and premiere in September 2019.
By Scott Murray
As we make our way to Friday's episode of The Crimson Files, I thought it would be fun to point out something many of you might have noticed -
I infuse tie-ins, nods and references to many things in this series. I guess you could call them Audio Easter Eggs. They're usually tied to something from my life or fandoms. Here are some examples from the first episode:
LET'S CUT TO THE SAUCY FOOTAGE!
Slick Saucy can be a little over-the-top when he's hosting his show, and his obsession with The Crimson Crane catching on fire was no exception. Did you notice how he constantly asked people if they had seen the footage and then showed it to them? That was a nod to an old Saturday Night Live skit in which Ted Koppell kept asking people if they'd seen the footage of Buckwheat getting shot and then showing it to them.
Slick Saucy's name was inspired by two people. When I was in high school, we had to record a fake newscast (using this thing called video tape) and a classmate (who had slicked-back hair) called himself Slick Blizer. On Saturday Night Live, Phil Harman used to host a show about sassy things. In it, he would frequently look at the camera and say, "SASSY!"
Slick Sassy didn't sound good enough. So, I changed it to Saucy.
I CAN ONLY TAKE YOU AS FAR AS THE FRONT DOOR
I am a longtime fan of The Muppets, and they are a big part of my nostalgia. So, when Jenna was speeding Wyatt to his work, she asked him what time he has to be there. The script called for this exchange:
I need to be in my boss’s office by 8 am sharp, and he’s on the 4th floor.
I can only take you as far as the front door.
That is a nod to my favorite Muppet movie.
Jenna picked Wyatt up after he called for a driving service. He told them that his address was 900 Rogan Avenue, Apartment 84.
Alex ROGAN was the lead character in one of my favorite 80s movies - The Last Starfighter. 900 represented the 900,000 he hit as he broke the score record. Finally APARTMENT 84 was a nod to the release date - 1984
Osborne Hudson - Over the last 20 years, I've infused the name Osborne, Hudson or Osborne Hudson into my productions. He was my social studies, speech and theater instructor in middle school. He was also one-of-a-kind. He passed away while I was in high school, and inserting his name into scripts is a great way to acknowledge and remember him. I was thrilled that his name was in the first scene of The Crimson Files.
Mr. Bill - I was voted "Most Witty" by my high school senior class. One reason was because I accurately impersonated one of the school's math teachers - Bill Harvick. The sound of Mr. Bill's voice, as well as the way he talks, is pretty accurate to the real person. Yes, that includes his obsession with people "getting quiet".
In high school I made audio stories starring Mr. Harvick doing badass things, like being a cop or a sheriff in the Old West. In this podcast he gets to be a little more of himself and part of the show's comic relief.
By Scott Murray
Wow. It's hard to believe the first episode of The Crimson Files launches tomorrow. It's exciting, scary and surreal rolled all into one. About three months ago, all I had was an idea. There was no concept, no story, no characters, no recordings and no artwork. I just decided to create a fiction podcast.
I had my concerns:
Could I do everything well enough (write, direct, produce, edit)?
Could I write an engaging 6-part continuous story?
Would I find people to play all of the parts?
Could I get it all done in a reasonable timeframe?
My wife had concerns. She knew I hadn't written anything like this in over ten years (and back then, it was all visual). She wondered if the concept would translate well enough to audio. She worried if all of the potential obstacles would turn this into a long-running and time-consuming effort.
However, three months later, we're both excited.
I found an affordable place to record the scenes.
I hired some talented music producers to create a theme.
Post-production has been lengthy and extensive. However, it's also been very fun to hear it all mesh together.
I've had colleges listen, give me feedback, and it's been very positive.
By Scott Murray
Sometimes you never know where a story is going to take you, including when you're writing one. I knew producing a fiction podcast would be a big undertaking, and I thought a key to success would be to keep things really simple. That meant keeping the main cast around three (with supporting characters) and focus the story around them. By the time the series was done, there were SIX main characters. Three of them are different generations of strong women.
Once I realized Wyatt and Reggie would be covering The Crimson Crane's adventures, I realized they couldn't do everything on their own. For example, what if they needed to film a chase scene? It would be extremely difficult to record and provide commentary. Plus, you'd have to be watching the road!
Jenna is a sassy thrill driver. She's someone you'd want at the wheel if bad guys are chasing you on the road. We meet her in the first episode while she's working for an Uber-type company and gives Wyatt a wild ride to work. While experiencing that mad dash with them, it's apparent that she's skilled, focused and mentally tough. Yet, neither one of them realizes there's a bigger purpose to their short meeting.
It would be a very difficult challenge to create a superhero persona and try to make it work in the real world. However, Rebecca is one of the few people that can actually pull it off. She's a mature woman who has seen and been through a lot. Her experiences have made her tougher, and that compliments a family history of soldiers, police officers, secret services members and other badasses.
The circumstances that lead her to become The Crimson Crane could've had a different impact. She could've disappeared and started a new life. Instead, she decided to take a bigger risk because she believes in her fight and won't let the bad guys call the shots.
There are times in the show were you hear just an everyday person who could easily be your friend next door. It's just that she can also flip a switch and become the hero that Fort Henson needs.
Jeanie is Rebecca's Grandmother, and her home serves as The Crane's hideout. If you're a fan of Batman, you could say she's part Aunt Harriet from the 1966 series mixed with Alfred from the Gotham TV series. Jeanie a member of that family tree that consists of many badasses, and she too has a switch. She can be the sweet Grandma that everybody adores, or she can be that tough lady that can dish out some serious disciplinary action.
The Crimson Files debuts her and on other podcast hubs on August 24th.
By Scott Murray
Whew! Last night I finished an action sequence that I worked on for days. Yes, ONE action sequence. Now, when I say DAYS, I don't mean to say I've worked on it for 10 hours a day. It's more like several days at 2-5 hour intervals.
The sequence involved a city, a building, police, choppers, bad guys and good guys (5 characters + extras). Not to mention, there was explosions, guns and fight sequences.
If I told you this was a film (and you like action stuff), you'd probably be very interested. However, I bet you're wondering how is this going to translate to audio and how to follow it all. The good news is that I am way ahead of you. Here's a breakdown of my answer:
Part of this is somewhat experimental
Have you ever read a book with action sequences and you have trouble following what the author is trying to describe in the scene? I have. It sucks. Listening to the same sequence on audio probably doesn't make it any clearer, but it might help if there were some sound effects involved. However, it's still not a visual representation.
In a fiction podcast, I don't think it would necessarily sound great to have a narrator telling you EVERYTHING that is going on while you hear dialogue, sound effects and music in the same scene. Maybe with the right team, voices and coordination it could work...but I'm doing something unique.
In a lot of ways, the audience lives through Wyatt and Reggie. So, instead of overlaying a different voice to explain what is happening - the characters in the story can do it.
Not everything requires perfect visuals
A fiction podcast is a "theater of the mind" form of media. So, many listeners will automatically be trying to visualize what is happening. I spend hours in post-production adding as many sound elements as possible in order to make that easy. However, there will be times where your imagination jumps to its own conclusion, and that's okay.
If you hear a fight with punches and things breaking, you could imagine any number of things:
Someone fell into a table, furniture, another person
Someone was punched in the face or chest or kicked in the face or leg
Someone had a bottle, plate, glass broken over their head
Any version you choose can be right, and it doesn't hurt the story.
Sounds are helpful
Please know I spend a lot of time infusing as much sound as possible into the show to make it easy to understand what happens. If the Crane is blocking bullets with her wings, you'll hear:
I've been producing audio content ever since I was hired to create radio fundraising content for the Dallas/Fort Worth NPR affiliate in 2007. I've produced mini-stories for radio and podcasts ever since then. This is the first time I've attempted to do this in an episodic audio series featuring episodes that average 25 minutes. However, all of that experience has helped me.
As I wrote every script, I was totally aware of my limitations when it came to producing action sequences for audio. If I didn't think I could present a scene in an effective way, I wouldn't write it out. I only did it if I felt comfortable in how I could present it to the audience.
I'm very anxious for you to hear it all starting August 24th.
In this second audio preview from the upcoming season, you're introduced to the show's first villain - DRENCH. The clip features the first showdown between The Crimson Crane (Stephanie Nadolny) and Drench (Gary Payne). The first season of The Crimson Files comes out on August 24th.
Insights and news about The Crimson Files Podcast.