Sunday, 9 December 2012

Scene 36: Into the Wonder of Radio

It is a truth universally acknowledged - if you don't mind me borrowing from Austen here - that one anyone interested in being in the media, is in need of a portfolio. 

So recently I have been browsing the web for screenwriting competitions, as winning a competition is going to look good on the old CV, as well as hopefully give me the opportunity to get one of my ideas made. However, I have not just been limiting myself to screenwriting competitions. I am going to enter Stones & Stories, a competition looking for ideas for a fifteen minute radio play, which ends on the 10th of December - so I am working to writing and re-writing this weekend! Which brings me to the main point of this entry, and that's radio. 

Radio, though I often overlook it, is really a wonderful medium for a writer, because it can allow you to do pretty much anything - and on a much lower budget than TV and film. Two good examples of this freedom are two of my favourite radio shows, The Goon Show and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. 

The Goon Show in particular actually benefits from the fact it is not visual. In one episode for example, Neddie describes how sees a beautiful veiled woman, who goes up to - only to discover it Eccles in disguise! This is much easier, much more surprising on the radio as the audience is unable to see veiled woman. On TV the surprise might be given away by the masculinity of the body underneath the woman's clothing. 

You can also do hundreds of things on radio that would look unrealistic or use up a lot of budget on television - such as Ford turning into a penguin in The Hitchhikers Guide, or The Goons being able to defy physics when Neddie lets Eccles stand on his shoulders, and then pulls Neddie up onto his. 

That's not to say that radio shows have not been converted to the screen. The Hitchhiker's Guide of course was, and the effects were very good - except perhaps for Zaphod's second head. 

The other thing I like about radio, and this again is apparent in my two examples, is its use of wordplay. Though that should not be surprising as dialogue is really what has to tell the story - along with some carefully chosen ambiance and sound effects of course. 

I suppose in short, what I am trying to say is, to all those writers out there - television and film isn't the only medium, and the radio gives a writer an amazing freedom in terms of budget and scope of story. You can write about any place, any time, any person dead or alive and all you needs is the sounds and the voices.  For another example of this check out Old Harry's Game, a sitcom about the Devil - it is actually a radio show, but some clever and talented person has done a stop-motion for it. 

Anyway, please tell me if you agree. Do you think radio gives you more freedom, story wise? What about animation, is that the same? 

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