Sarah Golding is the force of nature behind the MADIVA podcast, and so many other audio drama projects your head will spin just reading about them all! Sarah writes and produces indie audio drama, when not voice acting herself, of course. We caught up with Sarah to chat about the indie audio drama revolution, and wound up wondering if she was powering it single handed!
How long have you been involved in audio drama?
Actively involved? 5/6/years or so. As a consumer, I always listened to The Archers when in Cyprus on BFBS in the 80s, and dipped in and out of radio four forever. I was brought up on double albums of groovy storytelling!
Inspired to finally just DO IT, and make use of the many accents I had at my beck and call, I made my first voice reel in 2015, and started to audition for character parts of audio joy gently, with a view to building up my credits and having the best fun. I’ve now been in over 100 different podcasts as a range of groovy fun folks from kick ass space captains, quirky mums, a cheeky cockney thief, a sassy RP spy, unnerving narrators, power hungry types and ‘Drunk Helen’ to name but few!
I started to co-host The Audio Drama Production Podcast with Fiona Thraille in 2017, taking over from the fabulous Matthew McLean and Robert Cudmore, and learnt a lot by interviewing folks making groovy things. I then went solo for a bit as Fiona went back to her own producing, and handed the gauntlet to others to continue in summer 2018, as I wanted to pursue more fun VA work, and also thought about getting better skilled to produce my own stories too.
In 2018 I started my own voice acting how-to pod, MADIVA, and it is now currently in full flow in its fourth season! Huzzahs to all of my coolest of guests including a good few Wireless Theatre Producers and the fabulous Mariele herself! Since gaining confidence and working on developing my editing I have produced a women’s health podcast – Anyone F’Coffee, funded by the PULSE AWARD / WELLCOME TRUST, a few episodes of a kids podcast Teddy Story and my annual kids horror mini season Bogeys and Ghoulies…..and some MADCAP and one off Audio Drama – Rosa Kranz and Gilda Stern aren’t dead.
I started running Audio Drama Hub Virtual Pub sessions monthly in 2017 for creatives to connect, and now co-edit the Fiction Podcast Weekly Newsletter. I also co-present the ADWIT Podcast – Audio Drama Writers independent Toolkit with the brilliant Lindsay Harris-Friel. Such fun! I have so many more plans and not enough hours in the day! (And what am I doing….I just want to …act!!)
What got you hooked on indie audio drama? How did you get started?
I have always loved stories. I was often the narrator in school plays, or the fun character parts. I cut my teeth on the largest of character roles in a school youth theatre, playing Grandma in Adrian Mole (I do a wicked Beryl Reid) and Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret, and that is when I found I had a talent for larger than life characters, loopy folks, and accents, and for years, through skirting round wanting to act by teaching drama to others, directing community theatre and so on, and running an education strand of a producing theatre company, I ALWAYS had that yearn and wanted to just be able to…act.
To be honest, it was the community of people I met through ADPP that made me want to do more, and the freedom you have as a voice actor to – for example – play both grandma and grandson in a podcast one minute, then be a sassy spy, Irish spirit of a music box, and Scots space captain the next – all in four hours work! (And then the gentle edit out of the burps and the planes and the lawnmowers etc etc).
Working with voice and with inspiring people is simply my life solace, and pure unbeatable soul food for me! My first auditions were mainly found in the Audio drama production podcast fb group (now Audio Drama Hub) and also browsing things on what was Casting Call Pro – now Mandy.com, and Backstage.com for fun roles, and searching all of the hashtags on the twitters for #castingcalls and #auditions.
I took some improv courses in the days we could do things in person, but was also still teaching kids at secondary school full time, and so there was only so much time I could give! I gradually was auditioning less and less as folks approached me for roles as they had heard me in something else, and at the moment, I’m involved in 3 big projects so, as well as my own shows, there’s no time for more auditions anyway! Argh!
When I first started, I was truly inspired by the voice talent in Wooden Overcoats, Wolf 359 and Bright Sessions, and just yearned to be in something so good!
The indie audio drama scene has exploded over the last 10 years. What changes have you been most aware of?
Yes I used to be able to pretty much keep on top of all new releases, and probably get to know those making them in one way or another. More conventions popped up, meaning folks flew in from all over the world and it was possible to finally meet some of the amazing people I have been working with or have interviewed. These kind of connections, and London podcast creator meet-ups became invaluable in establishing not just working partnerships but friendships too!
The amount of knowledge folks have shared about the skills behind indie audio drama has made a HUGE difference to accessibility, and those self-starters who learnt from those who shared their knowhow are now in the next tier of advanced practitioners in the field themselves…and yet there is no bristling of ego – why I LOVE this medium so much is that there seems still to be the ethos of pulling hands up, legs up and a sense of folks wanting to help the indie industry somehow thrive, and start to make the creatives involved some half decent pennies. New strands of finance have come about, and been tried and tested, and successes are celebrated. It would be so revolutionary for the national press to actually sit up and notice and lift up the brilliance of indie audio drama. THAT side of the creative process is….frustrating. But we’re not making them to be noticed in that way, we’re making them because we love the medium, and telling brilliant stories creatively.
What are you most excited about in indie audio drama right now?
Ooooh la. The new voices. The sudden pillar of groovy storytelling to seemingly come out of nowhere – and how we are bridging a little better with more international storytellers and celebrating them too! For example ALL that comes out of Ochenta Podcasts, and shows like Temujin which I recently started listening to and has a groovy momentum behind it. I am also excited to see what The Rusty Quill team produce next. There might be a possibility for independent networks to band together, forge some good practice and make a splash amongst the funded podcasts of bigger …conglomerates – is that the right word??
I am excited to hear how The Fable and Folly network have done and continue to develop, (If you are a creative, you’d be foolish not to follow Sean Howard who shares some brilliant and useful info about levelling up in audio drama creation) and hope this inspires others to follow a similar model if successful.
I think more advertising and some bigger names coming into the medium, as well as audible raising the profile of the full cast audio book, and the successes of folks like the AMAZING Lauren Shippen and Sarah Rhea Werner mean more eyes and ears are on it. Diversity is imperative in culture and gender in indie and we hope that permeates the more funded works too. Bronzeville being produced by the ever amazing KC Wayland has also inspired new creatives and listeners of the medium, and long may super shows like that find a way to get funded!
What I am most excited about…is the connectivity, and brilliance of current creatives who continue to make and release some of the best fiction of all time. Ever. I think….there’s a feeling that….anything is possible in audio, and we haven’t yet even scraped the surface of immersive storytelling possibilities….
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to make their own indie audio drama? What are the essentials? Where should they start?
Great question. I so need to finish my book! Research – firstly, there are so many fantastic resources. It frustrates me how many folks seem to reinvent the wheel – often badly, with more work for them or they say “I didn’t know this community existed…..” No excuse. Do not be insular. Jump in on the Audio Drama Hub on fb, hunt down AD Discord groups, subscribe to the Fiction podcast weekly news and Wireless Theatre newsletter. Contribute on twitter, and big up other folks’ shows and voice actors and musicians and writing and style. Choose a DAW that works for you, not what other folks say is best for them. Setup a decent acoustically treated recording space (check out www.thepodcasthost.com or booth junkie on YouTube for tech advice and starting tips), and sort that first rather than money for mics and interfaces and so on. Gather a team around you to help with the recording, writing, acting, social media, hype and visual elements of it, and GET MAKING! JUST. DO. IT. Tell your story. Fight imposter syndrome to the death and win! And don’t be so British about being meek about sharing your work. Shout about it. You worked hard to make it…you are allowed to be proud of your achievement! #doit
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Everything, everyone, and everywhere. Sometimes other podcasts. I wrote Brain about a year after listening to a certain The Truth podcast episode. I often like to have a female protagonist in the vague hope I can cast myself. I wrote Teddy Stories so I wouldn’t forget the bedtime stories I used to tell my kids about a Teddy’s adventure through a portal. At the moment, I have Daphne Du Worrier: Ghost Botherer in various stages of written-ness, inspired by childhood watching of the Arthur C. Clarke tv series, and shows like Tales of the Unexpected. I have sketched out many pilot eps of a ‘disaster’ season, wherein I get to play with my love of all those disaster movies of the 70’s and 80’s I watched countless times as a kid (Yes, Poseidon Adventure, Towering inferno, airport ’77….etc…and of course the pastiche comedies that followed….) It’s got to that point though where the writing has had to be put on hold because of the amount of hosting, organising and acting!
I also have a short season with a more female cast based on my experience of hen weekends and a love of comedy drama, and the real life stories that us women in our prime wear in our hearts and on our sleeves but not necessarily on our faces…
What is your favourite podcast or audio drama at the moment?
Oooh….I love A LOT of the Wireless Theatre productions, obviously. I still think about The Autopsy quite a lot! And yet still at the tippy top of my go-to list is The Truth podcast – It’s an anthology podcast and been going since way before I found indie audio drama. I find all the stories…bar v few…seem to inspire me to want to write more myself! And play with the form a little. And make some more of what I love.
I’m also a massive fan of The Amelia Project. I popped up in S1 and now am in S3 (V EXCITED) and must add I still and will always love Bright Sessions, Wooden Overcoats and Wolf 359 as the top trio of audio awesome when I first started getting into making indie audio drama myself. I am a massive fan of anything by Mac Rogers, Matthew McLean, Sarah Rhea-Werner, and I miss shows like The Hadron Gospel hour quirkiness (talking of which, folks should not miss anything coming from Dashing Onions, Faith McQuinn, Lauren Shippen, Paul Bae, Jordan Cobb, Beth Crane, The Sugden’s, or Shannon K Perry – all of their works are superb fun. )
Tell us about your current projects and how our listeners can listen to them.
Firstly, THANK YOU for the opportunity to share – as you are probably aware if you make anything in the indie audio fiction / indie audio drama climes, discoverability is the hardest to win at! I have recently released Rosa Kranz and Gilda Stern aren’t dead, and am currently starting to organise and help judge the scripts we got for this year’s DASHINGLY QUIRKY script writing competiton – which me and Fiona Thraille spearhead yearly – though this year we are still looking for a groovy online event to share the winner scripts on! If you are running an event online and would like the winning Dashingly Quirky 2021 scripts performed, then we would love to hear from you – firstname.lastname@example.org! So, hopefully we will find a home for that soon!
And then MADIVA is nearly halfway through the season 4 releases, with eps from Beth Eyre on Organising yourself as a VA and marking up those scripts, Booth Junkie on what exactly a condenser mic and dynamic mic does, and great top tips on VA tech, and Erika Sanderson and me will talk finding and maintaining accents – and so much more! I’m also a regular voice actor on Oz9, and working on recording Cyclone with Audible Visions with the wonderful Graz Richards. I’ve had an abundance of little cameos in a good few audio books this year, and play a part in Come and See, and Charmed for a blind newspaper, plus a few groovy fun roles for Storymore. More MADCAP should be coming out as soon as I find time to edit it, and I hope to do an update for the ANYONE F’COFFEE podcast, as I am delighted to say that the lady who played Freya (who has endometriosis in real life too) is now expecting a long awaited baby, and I AM SO ECSTATIC I CANNOT TELL YOU. …and… I hope to run another Quirky Voices Beginners Voice acting course in the summer, and some character workshops too! I’ll be running some audio drama podcast workshops in the school I teach at LAMDA in Herts so hope to help inspire a new generation to love indie audio drama as much as I do too!
All things quirky can be found on the links below, and hey, if you have any fun, quirky voice acting roles for a versatile fun loving actor-director-producer-writer, I would love to hear from you too!
All images © Sarah Golding 2021 reproduced with permission.