Episode 3: Meet Our Producer

Date published: 7/20/2019
Written by: Wil Williams, Katie Youmans, Anne Baird
Produced by: Wil Williams

We’ve found our producer for VALENCE, and we couldn’t be happier. This week, listen to how we made the decision, how we reached out to her, how we made her contract, what information we gave her up front, and how she super made Wil cry.

Scoring Magic is presented by Hug House Productions. You can support us for behind-the-scenes details and early previews of upcoming projects on Patreon.

Support Scoring Magic by donating to the tip jar: https://tips.pinecast.com/jar/scoring-magic

Transcript

ANNE

Listeners, we have something exciting to announce.

KATIE

We’ve found our producer. They’re someone you might know about. Someone who’s been doing audio fiction for a while. Someone who is brilliant and badass.

WIL

Someone we’ve all wanted to work with forever.

[Recording]

ANNE

. . .two Twitter questions

WIL

Perfect

KATIE

Do it!

ANNE

Um, one of which is Lucy asking to know who the producer is-

JULIA

It’s me!

ANNE

-and guessing Julia.

JULIA

Hey, what’s up?

[Laughter]

[Narration]

ANNE

This week on Scoring Magic, we’ll tell you all about how we brought on our producer . . . Julia Schifini. [airhorn noises]

[Intro music]

WIL

When we started planning VALENCE, one of the first things we knew we had to consider was how operations would work behind the scenes. We call these things “practicals,” and we have a channel in our internal Discord server for it that we call “practicals-planning.” That’s not, like, an industry term—it’s just what made sense to us.

ANNE

Over the first couple of weeks of writing scripts, we also hung out in practicals-planning a lot. Something we knew immediately was that we’d need to bring on a producer for VALENCE, and we’d have to bring them on before anyone else.

KATIE

None of us have the knowledge or experience to figure out the level of sound design we want, and if we tried, we would full on die. We don’t have the time or energy or brain. So we started brainstorming producers we knew who fit some criteria that was important to us.

ANNE

First, they had to have experience, and they had to have worked on podcasts all of us liked. We needed someone to produce intricate scenes–crowd noise, realistic dialogue, and, yes, what magic sounds like–so we had to make sure they had the skills to figure that out. Or to tell us when we were absolutely bonkers and needed to dial things back.

WIL

Second, they had to be someone we could actually budget. Hug House is a brand under our LLC, Podcast Problems, and we decided as a company that we didn’t want any pro-bono work at all. This meant that we had to really be aware of compensating our producer fairly.

KATIE

And third, they had to be someone who made sense in the Hug House family. We wanted someone we knew well, someone we trusted, and someone who fit in with our mission statement and ethics as a company.

WIL

One name came to mind pretty immediately: Julia.

Julia Schifini has been doing audio fiction for a long time, but mostly just voice work until recently. In October 2018, though, she started doing production work on Janus Descending, an intricate and innovative space opera. Then, she started producing Honey Roast, a sweet, tender nonfiction podcast.  

We’ll link both of these, and Julia’s site, in the show notes.

ANNE

Our main worry was that Julia would be way outside of our budget. We marked her as our pie-in-the-sky option, but we decided it would be better to try than to be self-defeating. We talked over some options, assuming we’d have to go with our second or third choice.

KATIE

So, fueled by adrenaline, we sent Julia a proposal email that was pretty sparse. Just, “Hey, would you perhaps want to collaborate on something with us?” When she said she would, we sent her a Non-Disclosure Agreement so we could tell her more about VALENCE. When that was signed, we sent her an abridged version of our show bible.

[Recording]

WIL

Ok, hi friends!

KATIE

Hello!

ANNE

Hi!

WIL

So-

JULIA

I don’t know if I should talk yet.

WIL

You should!!

JULIA

Ok, hello!

WIL

Hello. So we have with us . . . Julia Scifini. Because, Julia . . . we’ve brought you on as our producer for VALENCE!

JULIA

What? When did this happen? I signed nothing. I don’t know what’s happening.

WIL

Oh, no, I-it’s ok. I-I bought your soul from the demon?

JULIA

Oh, sweet. Yeah, I’m glad the demon is acting as a good middleman/manager kind of situation here, so . . .

WIL

Yeah, it worked really well! Um, y’know, they’ve got, like, an app now. So it was pretty-pretty seamless.

JULIA

Yeah, I’m glad

WIL

[Laughs]

JULIA

It’s like-it’s like Fiver, but for my soul.

WIL

[Laughs]

Yeah, so first up was . . . did we meet about it? The three of us?

ANNE

Um . . .

WIL

Or did we just talk about it over Discord?

ANNE

I think we just talked over Discord.

KATIE

Yeah, it might’ve been-yeah.

ANNE

It all happened really fast.

WIL

It- [Laughs] Yes, it did! Yes, it did. So, we talked over Discord, and then, I think, um . . . our plan was to reach out to you, and then a few others if, y’know, if you’d turned us down for whatever reason. Then, from there, I reached out to you, Julia, and we started an email thread about it . . . and then I think the next thing I did was send you the—once you had voiced some interest, I had sent you the NDA and the story bible-er the story-the pitch document, at least. Right?

JULIA

Uh, you had me sign the NDA, and then after that, you sent over the pitch document and the first script so I could take a look at it

WIL

Very important, yeah, the first script! Right! Yeah, thank you. NDA was first-

JULIA

Yes, very important.

WIL

Just in case . . . yeah! Um, while I know you, and I know that you wouldn’t be, like, screaming our secrets everywhere, even still, if you have access to that, it’s something-it’s always just good to have things in writing, y’know?

JULIA

Of course. I also feel-

WIL

Do you ever-

JULIA

-very, very important whenever I sign an NDA, so . . .

WIL

Oh, nice!

[Laughter]

WIL

Does it ever freak you out?

JULIA

Um. No, not really, ‘cause I’m very good at keeping secrets, and so I can just be like, ah, well, y’know, I’m working on this project—I can’t really talk about it, I signed an NDA, and then feel . . . special.

WIL

Yeah.

KATIE

The words “I signed an NDA” just feel magic . . .

JULIA

It does, it does. I just feel like a real-a real businessperson. Every time.

WIL

I always get worried, uh, that when I send people, like, guest agreements, or NDAs, or any-anything where they have to sign anything, people are just gonna get freaked out and be like-like “This is too much. Like, this is too much for me to handle.”

JULIA

Y’know, like, the funny thing is, probably two years ago, I would have been kinda freaked out by an NDA, but because I’ve been doing more contract work and creating NDAs of my own, and stuff like that, I-I’m much more familiar with the process and now it makes me feel more comfortable than scared.

WIL

Mmm, mmhm. Yeah, I think-I think one thing people don’t think about is that, when it comes to contracts like that, um, it’s about protecting both people? Like, I would say the NDA is like, protecting, uh, Hug House writers a little bit more, but like, when it came to your actual contract, um, yeah, I guess let’s actually get to that. So, once you looked over those things, you sent me, like, a-like, “yeah, cool, let’s put this in motion,” so I sent you a contract, and . . . a step that was really important to me was sending it to you and then telling you, “Look this over. Tell me what you would like to see in it that isn’t already there.” And then we made further edits.

JULIA

And I-I will say that the contract was very comprehensive when I first got it—there were just a few questions that I had because I’m not the kind of person that just signs a contract without reading it-

WIL

Good

JULIA

-so I’m glad we were able to discuss some changes that I thought would make things clearer, and the process was basically as painless as possible.

[Narration]

KATIE

Let’s talk real quick about Rocket Lawyer–and, no, this isn’t sponsored by Rocket Lawyer. Though like . . . we’re open. Call us.

WIL

At Podcast Movement 2018, I went to a session on legality for podcasters that exploded my brain. Basically, the two entertainment lawyers hosting explained why you need to have written agreements for everyone involved on your podcast. Everyone. Everyone.

ANNE

It’s not overkill. It doesn’t matter how big your podcast is. It’s just smart.

WIL

I googled around and found Rocket Lawyer, which provides pre-built forms you can add specific information fields to before emailing off. It allows people to sign with secure e-signatures, and it gives you updates when the forms are filled out. It sends everyone who signed a PDF copy of the completed form. It’s $1/month, unless you’re me and don’t read closely enough, and then the first month is $35! Don’t be like me! Make sure you choose the right option!

KATIE

Using Rocket Lawyer’s built-in Consultation Agreement and Non-Disclosure Agreement, we collaborated in practicals-planning to make sure the wording looked good to all of us. We sent it off to Julia and then waited, because we’re fools and we sent it to her literally the day she was leaving for an event. Which we knew.

ANNE

When we emailed the forms to Julia, we wanted to make sure she had the opportunity to collaborate on them as well. It was as important to us for her to be protected as it was for us to be protected. And she did have some edits she wanted to see. So we added those in, all of us signed, and then bing bang boom, we were done.

Well, until it comes time to start paying her–but that’s for an episode down the line.

WIL

If you want to get into that real nitty gritty of our contracts, we’ll start writing blog posts with tons of details for our patrons once we have 25 supporters on Patreon. Wanna help us get there? The link is in the show notes, as always, or you can go to patreon.com/hughousepods.

[Recording]

WIL

And then while all of this was happening, we were also–the three of us were in the Discord screaming at each other [laughs]

JULIA

Yeah, I’m curious how-how that went, since obviously that was not the part of the conversation that I was seeing.

WIL

It was, like–at least, for me, and this is pretty common for, uh, every exciting thing for all of this? Is I would go through really rapid spirals of being really excited and then being absolutely terrified and then having a million regrets—not about you, but about, like, people seeing my work and, y’know, the work being made and also, am I compensating you fairly and also am I doing something that’s going to serve you well creatively and then looping back to, like. But holy shit tho.

[Laughter]

KATIE

I still don’t think it has sunk in that we’re doing the dang thing.

WIL

Yeah

ANNE

Yeah, that’s-that’s pretty—I mean, I don’t-I don’t know. It feels like-it feels real, but at the same time, I’m like…naahhhhh

KATIE

Nuh-uh!

[Laughter]

KATIE

I, when I was doing the, um, the transcripts and making it about three times as hard for myself as it needed to be, because I am me, and you’d think that would be a hint that, like, hey, this happ’nin, but no!

JULIA

I think, um, I-I don’t know, just from, like, the process I’ve gone through with creating audio fiction and stuff in the past, very much, this probably still feels hypothetical to you because you’ve brought on, like, one person so far and-

WIL

Yeah

JULIA

-and you haven’t done casting yet, haven’t done, like, scripts out to actors, haven’t really recorded anything for VALENCE instead of, um, I mean, obviously we’ve recorded stuff for Scoring Magic at this point, but the, like, audio fiction side of it doesn’t feel real yet because there’s no product to it yet. You know what I mean? Besides the scripts, which, y’know. You can have a manuscript for a book for forever, but it doesn’t mean it’s, like, a published book. You know what I mean?

Your brain will continue to tell itself that none of this is real until the thing is in your hands.

ANNE

Yeah

WIL

Mhmm!

ANNE

I just wanna listen to it immediately.

KATIE

Right??

ANNE

Right now.

WIL

Yes.

[Laughter]

JULIA

No work, only product!

ANNE

We were moving so fast, and the three of us are workaholics, and don’t know when to stop, so—which is something we’ll have to draw lines on, and we will have to get better at that for sure. But, like . . . that holiday weekend, I was at Katie’s, and we were recording for Scoring Magic, and working on episode scripts. [laughs] We just sat there at Katie’s house.

WIL

Yup.

Julia—and I hope I’m not putting you too much on the spot here—um, I want your-I want your read on VALENCE so far. Like, I know you don’t know too much, but you’ve read the pitch document, you now have access to the full story bible, but obviously no pressure to read that full things because it’s really long-

JULIA

Oh, I already did.

WIL

O-oh! Ok! [laughs]

JULIA

You think I’m gonna sign up for a thing without reading the full, uh, bible? Please.

WIL

True. And then, you’ve also read that first—yeah—script!

JULIA

Um, hmm. Alright. I . . . will probably admit I was a little intimidated, probably, reading the script for the first time? Because, going into it and knowing that I’m looking at this script from a sound design perspective, I was very much . . . there’s a lot of, l interesting stuff that definitely is going to get played with, just from, like, a form perspective, and a lot of crowd scenes and stuff like that, which can be a little bit of a challenge if you’re either not familiar with it, or are looking at bad-bad sound effects to put into the background.

WIL

Mhmm

JULIA

But, everything, like, seemed achievable if not challenging, and I like projects that are challenging, especially when it comes to audio fiction and, I just, yeah. I was really excited because it felt like something familiar, but also something that I hadn’t seen in audio fiction quite yet, which, like—I’m trying not to say as many spoilers as possible, so I, yeah. It just kinda left me feeling, like, energized after reading the script, and looking at the show bible and everything like that, which is why I think I got back to you so quickly after reading the script.

WIL

I’m so excited to hear that. I’m so glad, like, that’s—and I’m hoping that’s the, like, that’s the feeling we will continue to have, like, ‘cause I know, personally, I wouldn’t be creatively fulfilled unless I was doing something that does ask for some-some weirdness and some kind of innovation, and I hope that’ll always be something exciting to you and never something that’s just, like, frustrating or exhausting.

JULIA

Yeah

WIL

And if it ever is, like, y’know, let me know, and we can work with things and find ways to make it not . . . terrible.

JULIA

I appreciate that

KATIE

You can send back the notes that just say, “No.”

WIL

Yeah! You very much have-

JULIA

It’s not like I haven’t done that before. There have just been some things where a producer will send back notes and I’ll be like, “nah, can’t do that, sorry, just . . . with the resources I have, can’t do it.”

WIL

Mhmm! Feel free to do that with us. I will understand!

[A different recording]

ANNE

A whole two twitter questions-

WIL

Perfect

KATIE

Do it

ANNE

-one of which is Lucy asking to know who the producer is-

JULIA

It’s me!

ANNE

-and guessing Julia.

JULIA

Hey, what’s up?

[Laughter]

KATIE

And Josh asks, “I’m babie?”

WIL

Uh, yeah! Can confirm.

KATIE

That’s not a question

WIL

Yeah!

ANNE

He put a question mark.

But also, Josh asked, “What are some themes we can look forward to in the totally also secret and unnamed™ audio drama?

JULIA

Well, I’m here to answer—no, I’m kidding

[Laughter]

JULIA

Please, take the floor

KATIE

Well, we’re going to hurt you

WIL

Uh, we’re going to hurt you probably-

ANNE

Oh, for sure

WIL

-um . . . capitalism bad.

KATIE

Yes.

WIL

Uh. The . . . selling and use of-of personal data by big corporations is scary.

ANNE

Big corporations scary. Just, in general.

WIL

Big corporations scary!

KATIE

(???) leads to bad . . .

WIL

Mmhmmm. Um-

KATIE

Gay.

WIL

Gay! Uh, found family good.

JULIA

That was my favorite part of it.

WIL

Yeah

JULIA

All the other parts very good, but the-the found family good.

WIL

The found family good. Yeah. Also, mental illness: difficult!

JULIA

Not good, not bad, just . . . hard.

KATIE

An ever-evolving challenge!

WIL

Mmhm, mmhm. And I think, probably, like, uh, biggest theme is, like, caring about things is good.

KATIE

But not without challenges.

WIL

But not without challenges [laugh]

KATIE

Mads’ question was, “What has been the major difference in creating Scoring Magic and VALENCE? Since they’re different genres, has making one helped you with certain aspects of the other, or made certain parts more difficult?”

WIL

For me, I can say that, because I’ve done more editing in the last couple of months than I have in a while, both between Scoring Magic and doing some production on Radio Drama Revival, um, I think I have a better-a slightly better scope of what sorts of things to write in a script for sound design purposes, and what sorts of assets are available out there for those things, um, which means, Julia, you will notice that, in scripts—all of them but one—you’re gonna have a lot fewer crowd scenes [laugh]

JULIA

Thank you!

WIL

[laughing] You’re welcome!

JULIA

I appreciate it

WIL

Yup!

JULIA

I was just looking at that like, aw man, the foley for that’s gonna be fun.

WIL

Yeah, yeah.

KATIE

I think the fact that Scoring Magic is happening now, and, through it, people know VALENCE is happening . . . I want VALENCE to happen now!!

WIL

I know, I’m so impatient!

KATIE

I’m dying!

Which, like . . . there’s not a way to fix that. Um, I’m just gonna be a grumpy baby until whenever VALENCE happens.

[Narration]

KATIE

Bringing on a producer is intimidating. You’re inviting someone to look behind the curtain without knowing for sure how they’ll react. That said, we actually found it pretty easy and really exciting in between the moments of oh no what have we done it’s all too real now

If you’re looking for a producer, your first step should be to figure out your budget. How much can you afford to pay your producer, and how intricate will your production be? If you make ongoing money from supporters, how much of that will go to your producer? Always, always, always try to find ways to compensate everyone on your team fairly.

WIL

Next, listen really closely to the podcasts you love. Are there any podcasts you love that have a similar sound to what you want? Do you notice that a lot of your favorite podcasts are produced by the same person? Do some research on them and get into contact with them.

ANNE

Once you’ve already discussed over a few emails, making sure you lay out plans for your production and payment, send them along a written agreement. We use Rocket Lawyer, but something is always better than nothing. If you can afford consulting with an entertainment lawyer, go for it, and also give us money on Patreon, please.

ANNE

We already knew Julia was going to be the perfect fit for our team, but because she’s our producer, that meant she had to answer our big question.

[Recording]

WIL

So. What does magic sound like?

JULIA

Well, I think that’s a question for you first.

WIL

Y’know, that’s true

[Laughter]

JULIA

Because, I mean, the genre of fantasy and the genre of magic, and like, the urban sci-fi fantasy, it-it just—it varies so intensely that it really is going to come down to just what you picture in your mind and what vibe you want it to be, and then we work to create something that is-is practical that exists in the world already, but is transformed into something that feels otherworldly.

WIL

Mmhm . . . one thing I had talked about, um, like, a million years ago, when I first started thinking of doing anything, was—so in the books that VALENCE is going to be adapted from, people’s magic had different colors. And, I thought a way to translate that feel where we could kind of, like, you could hear who was casting what? Yeah, because I think-I think that unless we have something that’s gonna distinguish different characters from each other in the magic, then it’s going to sound really, really, really confusing down the line.

ANNE

Mmhm

JULIA

I’m curious if that comes down to something where they have the same baseline and then it accents or it pitches differently depending on who’s using it?

WIL

Julia Schifini, everyone. Hello.

[Laughter.]

KATIE

Julia good!

WIL

Julia good, actually.

ANNE

Julia so good. You’re hired.

JULIA

Woah!

[Laughter]

JULIA

Lemme sign those papers right now. Did I get an NDA yet?

[Narration]

WIL

A few days later, Julia asked us for examples of what properties certain characters’ magic had. She wrote in our Discord, “I’m going to have a little fun this upcoming week.”

She sent us some samples.

I cried.

KATIE

I didn’t cry, but I did have to get up and walk off all the emotions I suddenly had. Sometimes you just gotta go do a lap around the apartment.

ANNE

I have a heart of steel and nothing makes me cry . . . okay that’s a lie, I cry at everything. But not this. I was just so shocked at how accurate everything sounded, even at a first pass.

WIL

We know you’re all dying to know, now that we’ve told you that we know the answer. But if you want to hear what magic sounds like, you’ll just have to wait until VALENCE comes out.

KATIE

Next time, on Scoring Magic, hear all about me writing my first script for VALENCE, and what it’s like to write using someone else’s characters. Spoiler: it involves a lot of screaming into the night!

Scoring Magic is a Hug House production. The music this week was “The Gold Lining” and “Budding” by Broke for Free. You can find more information on our amazing producer, Julia Schifini, at juliaschifini.com. You can find more on Hug House Productions at hughouse.productions.


Credits

Find our amazing producer Julia Schifini on her website or on Twitter.

Music by Broke for Free Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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