Hello again to all you wonderful people! I’m back again with another exciting review and I must say, this one is quite the piece of work. While on my trip to Dallas, (be sure to go back and read that post if you didn’t get the chance) I was finally able to dive into some of the podcasts that Lauren Shippen, Writer/Creator/Director of The Bright Sessions, suggested that I check out. One of these being Archive 81, I dreadfully creepy tale about isolation, the power of stories, and the corruption that comes with cold, hard cash.
In the podcast, we follow the main character, Dan Powell, as he travels deeper and deeper into the darkened ‘rabbit holes’ that are the audio tapes and recordings of an investigation into a curious apartment building. As he listens to more and more of the tapes, he finds the world around him shifting and melding into something he could have never accounted for one what was supposed to be an easy contract. As I always say, I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but I will say that if you enjoy demonic cults, strange disappearances, and journalistic investigations, then this is the podcast for you.
As a special treat, I’m also going to add my interview with the show’s producer, Marc Sollinger who also happens to play the role of Marc Sollinger in the show! So, sit back, relax, and don’t forget to record everything.
To start, what was the inspiration behind such a driven and unique story?
Well, Dan and I knew each other from college, and we were both really interested in the potential of audio storytelling. As we looked around for stuff to work on together, Dan was working for an sfx library, which meant that he’d be spending hours cataloging these weird sounds. That central image, of a lonely person listening to strange audio melded with some themes we wanted to explore (the nature of cities, capitalism, and stories themselves) and voila… Archive 81. As for inspiration from other media, when I first started writing the scripts, I took a lot of cues from weird fiction authors like Jeff Vandermeer, Laird Barron, and Kelly Link (I actually wrote an article in Publisher’s Weekly about weird fiction’s influence
). The movie “It Follows” was also really important, it’s tone of creeping dread was something we really wanted to play with.
Who would you say is your personal favorite of the tenants from the Visser Building? Or characters beyond Visser?
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I have a lot of affection for Joshua Martinez. I like that he’s a normal 20something, trying to make the best of a strange situation. We tried to make sure that the Visser building wasn’t all WEIRD GROSS SHIT ALL THE TIME, and I think the character of Joshua really drives that home. As for the new season, I’m really enjoying Lou. He’s a doofus, but Alister Austin
gives such a wonderful performance that I can’t help rooting for him.
What advice would you offer to writers/producers looking to branch out into podcast media and storytelling?
Remember that podcasts are an audio medium, sound should be the first thing you think about. If you don’t know anything about recording or sound design, Transom.org is a great place to poke around. Trust your audience. Once you’ve released your podcast, promote it. Play to your strengths, cover up your weaknesses. Release your podcast on a consistent schedule. Make sure you have something interesting to say. And most importantly, if people do work for you, pay them. Don’t take advantage of other people’s labor.
What’s it like working with Dead Signals and their team?
Dead Signals is just Dan and I at the moment, and I really enjoy working with Dan. Dan’s an absolute genius when it comes to sound design, one of my favorite things to do is write something like “SFX: Monster death gurgle” in the script, and hear what he conjures up. We’re running a small business, so there’s always just a ton of stuff to do, but I think we’re both really proud of the art we’ve been able to create together. Archive 81 and The Deep Vault are two of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of, and it’s been an honor to make them with Dan.
Has there been any luck in locating Dan?
As Dromen says at the end of Season 2, Episode 1: “We know exactly where Dan is.” For more information, you’ll just have to listen to the podcast.
Finally, who’s your favorite superhero, if there is one, and why would you choose them?
I don’t read too many superhero comics, but there’s one superhero that really stands out. Starman. He’s the star (no pun intended) of one of my favorite comic series, and I like the sense of joy he brings to the whole fighting crime thing. He’s funny and sarcastic and if you haven’t read the series, do it.
I would like to thank Mr. Sollinger again for taking the time out of his day to appease this simple blogger and allow him to share the amazing audio drama that is, Archive 81. Be sure to go on over and check it all out. Also, be sure to contact Marc Sollinger if you find any information about the location of his dear friend Dan Powell who has been missing for quite some time.
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Don’t Stop Recording Folks.