Episode 19: The Benefits of Disney

SCORING MAGIC
EPISODE 19
THE BENEFITS OF DISNEY
WRITTEN BY: WIL WILLIAMS, ANNE BAIRD, AND AJ GOLDMAN
PRODUCED BY: WIL WILLIAMS

We’ve mentioned before that episode 7 of VALENCE was written in Walt Disney World, and you may have noticed some extra credits in that episode. Join Wil and Anne, and special guest AJ Goldman, as they tell the story behind writing the benefit in Cost Benefit Analysis.

AJ is a phenomenal artist and we would love for you to check out her work on Twitter: @GoldenRetreevee!

About Scoring Magic – 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.

TRANSCRIPT

[narration]

WIL 

Hey, listeners, I hope you’re doing well.

This week we have another little bonus mini episode for you. Not really that mini. We’re kind of bad at the concept of mini, but we’ve got a fun one. If you’ve listened to Episode Seven of VALENCE – Cost Benefit Analysis – you might have noticed a new name in our credits. That’s the name of AJ Goldman.

AJ was our story consultant for Episode Seven, and that came about in a pretty absurd way. So here’s a conversation between me, Anne, and AJ, about how that came about, how she helped us so much with episode seven, and the buckwild circumstances under which, uh, we consulted with her about episode seven.

[end narration]

WIL

Let’s talk about it. So-

ANNE

Yeah!

WIL

-let’s go back in time. To the time. So it was August 2019. …right? 

ANNE AND AJ

Yes. 

AJ

And it was the rainy times in Florida. 

WIL

Yes, rainy times. So humid, it was so humid

AJ

It’s so bad, sticky. 

WIL

Anne and I had just been to Podcast Movement 2019, which was wonderful, but was also very stressful because I was helping run a track, um, and I was very tired. And I did not want to be around a single person in the world, except for you two. And Zach and Katie. 

[laughing]

And that was it.

AJ

Yeah, that first day that–I think it was the last day of Podcast Movement, is when the Halloween party was.

WIL AND ANNE

Yes.

AJ

Um, we were all there, and Katie was there. And I remember I got to like, be introduced to everyone from Hug House and it was so great. And it was also very, very warm and humid. And you guys were so tired.

[laughter]

WIL 

It was like, I don’t…I don’t know. If I had slept. Like…

ANNE

 Oh god no, we did not sleep that week. 

WIL

Yeah, so…

ANNE

So we went to Disney. 

WIL

We went to Disney. 

AJ

Disney was so fun too though, because we took it really, really easy and every single day-

WIL

We did.

AJ

 -and we had so many chances to just sit. And my favorite thing about Disney World, and this goes for just being able to go to the parks whenever anyway, is that you have so many places that are quiet to just sit. And I remember, like, vivid memories of us just being like, okay, we walked for 20 minutes. Let’s sit down for another hour. 

WIL

Yeah, it would be so nice and, like, we still accomplished, like, everything. Um, we were all just so chill like it was exactly what we needed after Podcast Movement for sure.

ANNE

Mmhmm, mhm.

WIL

It was so lovely. But on what the second day . . . ?

ANNE

No, it was our last day in the parks because our first day we did the Halloween party. 

WIL

Yes. 

ANNE

The next day. We did-

AJ

Epcot?

ANNE

Epcot and Hollywood Studios. 

WIL

Yeah. 

ANNE

Sunday, we did Animal Kingdom all day. 

WIL

Yep, you’re right. You’re right. 

ANNE

And Monday we wanted to end the trip with Magic Kingdom again so we could see the Happily Ever After fireworks at night and it will be the last thing we did before we went home.

WIL

Right.

AJ

And Wil and I cried like little babies and it was great. 

WIL

Yes.

ANNE

Yeah, of course. You gotta.

AJ  

Did Anne cry like little baby? I don’t remember.

WIL 

Everybody cry. Everybody cry like baby.

ANNE

Everyone baby.

AJ

It was like the tangled lanterns happen and then-

WIL

Yeah.

AJ

-just cry forever. 

WIL

Yeah, just gone, just donezo.

[laughter]

WIL 

So at one point, um, because we, like, braved most of the rain. Like, we didn’t really sit out most of the rain for that trip. Except on that day, there was this huge storm. Huge, like wild and I’m sure like probably not so wild for people in Florida.

But it seemed it was wild.

AJ

Oh, it was wild. I mean, I remember seeing it and going like oh yeah, let’s go inside right now immediately. And I think we had already been sitting somewhere outside. 

WIL

Yeah.

AJ

And we were like, Oh, this is a good place to sit and then we were like, Oh wait, no, it’s not. Let’s go inside somewhere. And the train station was basically empty. There was, like, one other person in there I think. And that’s very surprising. But I think it’s also because the trains were closed-

WIL

Yeah.

AJ

-so no one realized that it was open and it was very chill in there. 

WIL

What I know from going to Land as often as I have, is people don’t seem to realize that you can go into the train station, um, at least at Land. Like no matter what, it’s always empty, so I had-I figured it would be nice. So we-we go to this, like, gorgeous train station. There is very loud Disney Calliope music playing so loudly, forever. There’s this gorgeous–I mean, like, it’s a huge storm and it’s kind of spooky or whatever, but it’s gorgeous. Like, I love the rain. It was beautiful. 

And we sit down. We have no supplies or, like, anything. But Anne and Katie and I had talked about, at some point during Podcast Movement, like role playing out the benefit. And using our dice for it and like actually doing it like a tabletop, which makes sense for just, like, how we write and we didn’t get a chance to, because Podcast Movement was wild. 

So we’re sitting there. And we’re like, hey, what if, though. We’ve got time to kill.

AJ  

I mean, we weren’t doing anything else. 

WIL

Yeah. Yeah. 

AJ

Granted, up until this point, I had no idea what was going to be going on in VALENCE . . .

WIL

Not even a little. 

AJ

I had no idea how much help I could possibly be. Because I was just going to be going into this blind. And you all were like, Hey, bring us your great ideas. And I was like, What great ideas–I don’t. I’m so tired. I don’t– I don’t know.

WIL

Yeah, I think like, it’s so funny because you were so–you seemed so worried about, like, whether or not you could bring anything to the table. And then you wound up giving, like, killer idea after killer idea, like . . . The benefit would not exist in this, like, gorgeous form that it does without your input. 

AJ

I appreciate it! It was like, I was surprised by myself too, because I’ve been writing since I was like 10. So I have–but I do a lot less world building and plotting. Um, I mostly, you know, roleplay with other people or write collaboratively. So this collaborative setting was something I was really used to. So I think it was just kind of–I needed that springboard, and then the idea started flowing. Because I, for the entire time, we were talking about sitting down and planning, I was like, I shouldn’t–I don’t–I don’t–I’m not–I don’t know what I’m gonna say or do or what they expect me to provide. And then as soon as the scene was set, and you needed an idea, it was like, Oh, well, this of course. 

WIL

Mm hmm. Yeah, you just, like, clicked right into place. It was amazing. And then, Anne, did we have dice? I don’t remember. 

ANNE

I always have dice. Who do you think I am?? 

WIL

That’s what I thought, but-

AJ

I remember that. I don’t know if we used the dice, but I remember-

ANNE

We didn’t use them-

AJ

-was like-

ANNE

-but I did have them.

AJ

I remember you asking and there were dice and I was like, I have one dice. Here it is.

[laughter]

AJ

I don’t know why I remember that. But it happened. 

ANNE

I usually bring dice when I go to Disney because, a lot of times, the menus will have various good things on them and I won’t be able to decide what I want. So I just roll for it. 

AJ

That’s so smart. 

WIL

And then, correct me if I’m wrong. So none of us brought, like, paper or anything, because it’s Disney. 

ANNE

No, I had my-

WIL

And you don’t wanna use your phone at Disney because you need it for things. Did we write it on–was it on a napkin or was it tissue paper

ANNE

No. So I have. I have the notes in front of me that I took. Because I saved them, because I’m the holder of physical things in this house. 

AJ

I would have thought that they would have gotten ruined by the rain. 

ANNE

Nope. We protected them because my backpack is waterproof. So-

WIL

Yep.

ANNE

I’m smart.

WIL

We did also take pictures of them. 

ANNE

Yes, we did take pictures. I scanned them with my phone. So I had my autograph book, which I wasn’t going to use. Um, I had multiple colors of pens, because autograph book, and then, Wil, you had bought a mug at one of the shops on Main Street. 

[laugh] 

And it was wrapped in tissue paper.

WIL

[laughing throughout]

Oh my god, that’s what the tissue paper was! I was like, where’d we get tissue paper? It was from my teacup mug! It looks like one of the teacups from the ride! And I have two of the set–it’s a set of four, and I saw the second one and I needed it. So I guess that’s what the tissue paper was.

ANNE

That’s exactly what it was. Yup.

AJ

I could not remember where there was tissue paper obtained at any point, but that makes so much sense. 

WIL

Oh, that’s so good. Anne can you read off the notes? 

ANNE

Well, some of it I can.

WIL

Okay. 

ANNE

We can–we could probably, like, include a screenshot of them or something on the–in the transcript with this, but they’re kind of a mess. But I have four pieces of tissue paper folded into–folded like four or five times over so that it would be thick enough to write on.

So I have–they each say a team on them. So I have team one, team two, team three and team four. Team one is Liam and Nico. 

WIL

Okay

ANNE

As you do, and team two is Sarah and Flynn. Team three is Mahira and Luis, and then team four is Reilley, Richard and Noel. 

WIL

Hmm. 

ANNE

And each of them have pros and cons of what each person is good or bad at. And then their goal at the benefit of what they’re going to try to do, or what they have to do.

WIL

We really, like–we really did that. 

ANNE

Yeah, we didn’t use any of that information at all. 

WIL

I–yeah, we didn’t.

ANNE

Yeah, we didn’t, no. 

But I have on the back of team one and team four, I have other notes written. So, I mean, going back to one’s goal, Liam and Nico, was to talk to people and pickpocket phones and get them to team two–that–they did that. 

AJ

They did that.

ANNE

They did that. 

WIL

Mm hmm. 

ANNE

Team two, Sarah and Flynn, were to find a safe room and break into phones for data. They did that. 

WIL

Mmhmm. Mhmm.

ANNE 

Team three didn’t really do what the fuck they were supposed to do. They’re supposed to-

[laughter]

ANNE 

That’s Mahira and Luis. 

WIL

Oh, no, they didn’t do that at all. 

ANNE

No, they were supposed to return the phones to people, yeah. 

AJ

Oh, no. 

ANNE

No, poor poor Richard Plummer and his dick pics. Um, not getting that back.

[laughter]

ANNE 

Philip Plummer’s his name–not Richard. I’m looking at this team four–this says Richard on it. Hmm. And Team four’s goal–Reilley, Richard, and Noel–was to get money and spread the Halos and Havens. 

WIL

Yeah, they did that. 

AJ

Mmm, get money.

ANNE

They did that. Yep. Yeah.

WIL

They sure did that.

We should talk about, like, because I know there were a few moments where AJ said something like, amazing. And we were all just like, woah. Yes.

AJ

I remember one of them. 

WIL

Yes, please. 

AJ

I remember that this all started with being like, okay, here’s the story up until this point, here’s who the characters are. Because remember, I knew absolutely nothing going into this. 

WIL

Yeah. We had not started production.

AJ

I was like, should I leave? Like, do I–should I be here?

Um, and so everything was explained to this point. 

WIL

Mhmm.

AJ

And I remember it was set up that they were going to be going to this benefit, and they, you know, they were supposed to go and try to find information about what this thing was. And you guys were having trouble putting–um, getting from point A to point B. So going to this benefit, and then whatever’s supposed to happen in the next episode, which I still don’t know, so that’s fun for me. 

WIL

Mhmm. Mmhm.

AJ

And I, I put my hands out and I said, Okay, well, they’re at benefit. There is thing. What if they use thing at benefit? 

WIL

Mm hmm. 

AJ

That’s–that sounds like a bad time. And also-

WIL

Yeah!

AJ

And I don’t know exactly if that’s the way this conversation happened. But that is the idea that I came up with. And I was like, Well, what if they turn the Haven on? 

WIL

Right! 

AJ

Then everything goes belly up. And you guys were like, that’s genius. And that was within the first five minutes of us talking. 

WIL

Yeah, pretty much! Yeah, it was like, I think that was really what we needed was like, like, what–what goes wrong here? Because obviously, things have to go, like, phenomenally wrong. We knew that. And we knew that we needed time for different groups of people to be in certain places at certain times, but we just didn’t know how to get there. And when you said that it was so like–like, it was so natural to you that that–that that was your thought, which was so–I think again, like you said, so indicative of how you write well in these collaborative settings.

And, you know, I think that you’re really–I think that you undersell how good at improv you are. You’re so good at thinking of things on the spot. And again, it just, like, comes so naturally to you. And it was such a–such a brilliant thing to bring up. And is like, the–the reason that episode works. It’s so good. 

AJ

That means a lot. I–This was my first real chance to be able to do anything like this. And so it was very, very inspiring to me personally, like internally, to think, Oh, I actually was able to help a lot with this and this is something I want to keep doing. So it inspired me to keep writing; it inspired me to keep world building; and it’s just been kind of a snowball effect from that point on. And the coolest thing was being able to listen back on what recording we had, and–and everything after hearing the episode. And this all happened before VALENCE even started coming out. 

WIL

Yeah.

AJ

So I had to sit on that conversation for so long, just thinking about like, I get to listen to every single thing that comes before this. And I can’t believe how time has flown by because it’s already April. And it was August when we had this conversation. It just–it’s kind of like retreated to the, you know, the deepest depths of my memory. So I can’t pull out all the stops and be like-

WIL

Same.

AJ

-here’s all the cool things that I did. But I do remember just being floored by the conversation and so excited that I got to have it with you guys and to be able to be in that situation with you guys. And to have been able to help. And then to have been able to watch VALENCE get crowdfunded and get to, you know, meet some of the actors who–and their incredible performances and get to listen to all the episodes and see all that hard work. And the little tiny piece that I was able to provide has such a monumental effect and I don’t even know what’s coming from this point on so I’m really, really excited to keep listening with everyone else and see how it goes from here because this, it-it scary it. It didn’t go well. 

ANNE

[laugh]

WIL

Yeah, and I think that right now, I will–future Wil will edit in the last little bit of this recording, but first we should talk about the music.

[laughter]

WIL

Because it’s so fucking loud.

AJ

We were like, oh no! This is really loud!

WIL

Yeah!

ANNE

We can’t–we can’t use this. Disney-

AJ

Now, granted-

ANNE

Disney is gonna, like, fucking sue us. 

AJ

It’s like–so, people post Disney music everywhere. Like you can go on Dis–you can go online right now, especially while the parks are closed, which is very nice, and listen to Main Street music and just do it while you’re, you know, working on homework or working on podcast or whatever. So that’s nice. So I’m sure that you know, Hug House won’t get sued by using the audio but it is very loud. It’s extremely there, in case anybody–in case anybody was doubting the validity of this conversation-

WIL

Yeah.

AJ

-and how likely it was that this happened in Disney World. Oh, no, it definitely did it. 

WIL

It definitely did. And there’s something. When I first listened back to this recording the first time it started up and the music was so loud, and we’re talking about this, you know, like big climactic scene.

AJ  

It definitely doesn’t fit. It doesn’t fit at all.

‘And then Liam and Nico are going to get beaned’ and then, meanwhile, it’s just like this is this pretty piano music in the background but full blast.

WIL

Full. Blast. 

AJ

The thing is, is that when you’re in Disney, it doesn’t feel like it’s that loud. 

WIL

No, it totally doesn’t.

AJ

It doesn’t feel like you have to yell over music, but then you listen to a recording like this and you’re like, Oh, they need to turn down the volume a little maybe?

WIL

Oh, yeah, no, it’s such a–such a buckwild contrast. When you’re there, it really does. It just feels like totally natural and something after a while. 

AJ

Oh, it’s gotten to the point for me where I don’t even notice it anymore. Like, I’ll be at work and I just, it’s not even there. It’s–I just can’t even hear it anymore. So I forgot up until relistening to that recording that there was any music. And then hearing it and going, Oh, that’s a thing. Hmm.

WIL

[laughing]

Yeah!

[Field recording…plus park music. Please don’t sue us, Big Mickey]

WIL

And at that point, eventually Liam is–Nico is going to have to, like, take the phone and throw it.

Well, I was gonna say-

[laughter]

WIL

I was gonna take the phone, and just end the call but in my head-

ZACH (maybe??)

[indistinct]

WIL

He has to yeet it, right? 

ANNE

He takes the phone, ends the call, and then just yeets it.

AJ

Mmhm.

ANNE

And is like, no, we gotta go.

WIL

And then at that point because they’ve been slowed down, then it gets turned on, they get seen, they get spotted by Richard, they bail and then . . . and then worse things happen. But those worse things happen offscreen.

AJ

Mmm.

WIL

I think that’s good–I think we did it. 

ANNE

I think we planned it. 

WIL

I think we did it. Holy shit.

Thanks y’all. 

AJ

Yeah!

ANNE

Yikes!

WIL

Yeah, yikes!

ANNE

Oh, I have a-

AJ

Wuh-oh

[chorus of “wuh-oh”s, “oh no”s, “yikes”s]

[end field audio]

WIL 

Okay, I think that is probably good. Do we have anything else that we–oh wait, hold on!

AJ! 

AJ

Yes!

WIL

Thank you for helping us. We love you so much. 

ANNE

AJ, I love you!

WIL

I am so glad that you got to be part of this process. Where can people find you on the internet?

AJ

Um, I am on Twitter–my Twitter handle is @GoldenRetreevee, like, you know, the dog plus the Pokemon. 

WIL

Mhmm

AJ

Um, other than that, I think that’s the best place to find me and just thank you guys both for letting me be a part of this and it’s been such a tremendous pleasure and I’m love you both so much. And this is–I’m–I’m so excited that I got to be even a little bit a part of this and I’m very excited to see what happens next. 

WIL

We love you.

WIL

Scoring Magic is a Hug House Production. You can find more at HugHouse.Productions. The music this week was by Komiku, [whispering] and definitely not by Disney. Don’t tattle.

And once more, AJ’s Twitter handle. That’s @goldenretreevee — g o l d e n r e t r e e v e e. She didn’t mention that she’s also a phenomenal artist, so be sure to follow. Be sure to check out her art. Next time on Scoring Magic. we have something really big and really beautiful for you. This may be your most important episode to date and I’m very proud to be working on it. It’s going to take us a little while. It’s worth the wait.

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