A new radiophonic drama, The Minister of Chance, has launched. Using a combination of radio and film techniques, this new six part series is delivered by podcast and boasts a stellar cast. Some of those playing roles in the series include former Doctors Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann and Blake’s Seven star Paul Darrow.
We’ll bring you a bit more about this unique new drama on this week’s Slice of SciFi, which begins airing tomorrow. But before we do, some of the cast and crew sat down to discuss this new series with Slice of SciFi.
First up, we have a conversation with the writer, producer and director of Minister of Chance, Dan Freeman (who admits he’s a fan of our show!)
Slice of SciFi: What were some of the challenges of working on The Minister of Chance?
Dan Freeman: Well, the challenges in making this are mainly financial, that’s a massive hurdle. No one is commissioning these in advance. There’s also the factor of being able to get a cast like that in one place at one time, luckily we have Clare Eden who could organize a tea party in a war. Contrary to what people might think, the challenges of audio aren’t creative. For example, if I want to create a scene that’s set during the second World War in film, getting the right cutlery or shoes could cost me twenty thousand dollars and take weeks. With radiophonics all I have to put down is the drama. If I then can’t find the right sounds I can make them inexpensively. I could finish Deadwood or Firefly for the price of an episode (call me, Nathan)
Slice of SciFi: Tells us more about creating the series and what fans can look expect from The Minister of Chance.
Dan Freeman: The Minister of Chance is a Sci-Fi fantasy drama that you listen to, however, we use music and sound effects as you would in a film. So, I hope fans can expect the ultimate in immersive 3D entertainment. The plan is that you spend your morning commute in the rainforests of a different world…
Slice of SciFi: What was it like working with a cast that includes several icons from classic British television series?
Dan Freeman: I’ve known Sylvester McCoy for donkeys years, I’m always looking for any excuse to work with him. With the others, it’s weird, you have about a minute when you first meet them and you think “Blimey Charlie, that’s … ! But then you can’t show that, you have to direct them and they all look to you to know what’s going on. Particularly in radiophonics, they’ll be trying to convey a whispered conversation on a boat through the Underworld, and actually they’re in a bright room with a mic in their face. It’s very difficult for the actors, it’s like bluescreen, and only I really know what’s going to go on that screen. So, in summary you have to put their stature way out of your mind. Then you get to know them and in your mind they become Paul[Darrow] and Jenny [Agutter] and so on and you’re just friends in the pub.
Slice of SciFi: What did you find most interesting about being involved in a “radiophonic series”? And where do you see this type of entertainment headed in the future?
Dan Freeman: It’s so interesting now because of the advent of podcasting. Before now you could only really do this kind of audio production on CD, but with podcasting you have a potentially huge audience worldwide who are used to listening to high quality audio
on headphones. People still don’t know what The Minister of Chance is or what a radiophonic is, so it’ll be really interesting to see if it will catch on. If it does, we have several seasons of The Minister to come, and lots of other comedy and drama programmes. We have yet to see if we’re going to get enough sales to pay for the rest of the series, so we’re watching the online world closely. I got a call this morning from someone wanting to take it in a direction I hadn’t really thought of, so it’s really exciting. Several people have said they’d like to see a graphic novel, and that’s a very exciting thought.
Slice of SciFi: A couple of years ago, Joss Whedon had success going directly to his fans to support Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. Your series is similar. How does taking the product directly to the audience help a series like The Minister of Chance?
Dan Freeman: It’s what I call the George Lucas Paradox: in 1977 George Lucas had an idea that no-one understood or believed in, but he didn’t listen to them and made Star Wars, so it just shows you, you should never listen to other people. In 1998 George Lucas had an idea that no-one understood or believed in, but he didn’t listen to them and made The Phantom Menace, so it just shows you, you should always listen to other people… that is to say, on the one hand, it’s total liberation, there’s no commissioner or studio or anyone between the production and the audience. On the other hand, there’s no real restraint on me, no editing other than mine, so it’s pretty dangerous for the show. The writers I know tend to be film or TV writers, so it’s very difficult for them to comment on the script anyway. In that way it’s lonely and scary, but at the same time it’s fantastic not to have to try and get it past anyone else and to concentrate on the creative aspects.
Slice of SciFi: What’s the best way for fans to find the series and show their support?
Dan Freeman: We made the episodes really cheap so that anyone will feel that they can buy it, so that’s the main way, just buy the episodes. Audio is so easy to copy and everyone does it, so we’re incredibly grateful when people buy the show. We’ve also got the amazing posters by Lee Sullivan and our T-Shirts, so just buying the stuff funds production. We’re not like a studio or a network, we simply don’t have any money at all, so people are literally buying more life for the series. The other way people can help is just to tell their friends, word of mouth is the only advertising we have. We’ve had some really kind comments from famous people, and a couple have offered to wear a t-shirt at signings and conventions to advertise us. They don’t have to do that at all so it’s just very generous of them.
PS Can I say that I’m actually a regular listener so this is very exciting! Unfortunately I started listening after the fateful episode 211, will someone tell me what the hell happened?!
You can find The Minister of Chance HERE. You can view a free prologue to the series and the first episode is now available for purchase and download