One of the best parts of making audio fiction on the modern Internet is you can, in theory, work with anyone. Actors in the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia? Yup. A co-creator in Hong Kong? Totally!
But if you are a glutton for punishment (like me) and favour recording sessions where your cast all get together to play off each other live, at some point you’re gonna lose sleep. This is especially true if you only cast actors who live in time zones that are three to 15 hours ahead of your own (again, me). So whether you’re balancing a morning-only availability on the East Coast or a rapidly approaching workday on the other side of the International Date Line, I present to you:
6 Tips for Preparing to Direct your Audio Drama at 4 a.m., Pacific Time
The night before...
1. Check your start time: Depending on how you schedule your sessions, a calendar invite may take care of transposing this information across your 4+ time zones. But stay vigilant nonetheless. My personal nemesis is British Summer time, which starts later and ends earlier than North America’s seasonal time change and will do its best to make you give actors call times that are one hour off.
2. Get it in writing: Make note what scenes or lines you need to record, and what pages you’ll need to turn to in order to find them. Trying to remember numbers before your second cup of coffee is not worth it.
3. Actually go to bed: This one is difficult, I know. If you’re a nervous sleeper when your routine is disrupted, setting a couple backup alarms and taking some extra time to wind down with a cup of herbal tea can help. I recommend David Tea’s Mommy’s Little Helper blend, which has Valerian root and tastes kind of bad, so you feel like it’s working.
The morning of...
4. Brush your teeth: You’re going back to bed when this is over so you don’t need to shower. But taking a couple minutes to brush will dispel that gross, post-sleep mouth feel, and can help trick your brain into thinking this is a normal morning.
5. Drink some water: The colder the better to remind your brain that the podcast is boss now.
6. Record the thing! Make lots of notes about performances you want to adjust, takes you like, funny things your actors say that you want to Tweet later, or anything else you might need to remember for more than five minutes. It’s 4 a.m., you’re probably still booting up those memory drives.
Hold on, is this actually worth it?
Well… maybe. For me, the occasional 4 a.m. call is less difficult and disruptive to my sleep schedule than a session that starts at 6:30 or 7 a.m. (which was a pretty common call time for most of Station to Station season one) and has enough production benefits to be worth it. Only you can decide what’s good for your health and well-being as a creator -- and it may very well not be any of this.
But no matter your start times, fellow creators, please go to bed at some point. It’s really good for you, I hear.