radio drama series

Welcome to Station Road

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This week has seen the premiere broadcast of the radio soap that I’ve been co-writing for the past fourteen months.image

Station Road is a continuing radio drama about life in a fictitious and gritty Manchester street. Not only do the characters work and live on Station Road but there is also a public house, café, urban farm and a corner shop.

Hearing the scripts come alive for the first time on Saturday was quite simply marvellous. A couple of the writers, myself included were interviewed live in the studio at ALL FM prior to the episode being aired.

The episode was played mid-interview, and it was pretty special not imageonly hearing our scripts come to life but we also have a theme tune. An actual catchy theme tune that we’ve since been humming in our script meetings.

A surreal moment yesterday as I left work to drive to the weekly Station Road writers meeting, the pilot was played out again during ALL FM’s Drivetime show and as I sat in traffic, I felt such pride listening to the scene that I wrote

Check out our blog which is all about the show and tune in at 17:30 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on ALL FM 96.9 www.allfm.org

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Writing as a team

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Collaborative Writing

It’s been a while since I wrote about how I am finding being part of the writers group for the radio soap.

Twelve months on and we are a core of six writers, meeting weekly and we have currently written 168 scenes on our brand new community radio soap opera.

It has been an organic process to get to where we are. Twelve months ago there were fifteen writers at the very first session and to be honest it would have been chaos if it had continued to be that number, and I’m not sure that I would have been in it for the long haul either.

As the initial weeks passed by a writer would stop coming to the meetings until we found it to be the same six writers that would turn up each week.

This was a good number of people to have involved in the process. It meant that we were able to really get to grips with the characters that we created, the world that the soap is set in and without a large number of people to get their point across meant that storylining is more of less a discussion rather than a battle.

Within the team there are various expert areas. A stand-up comedian, a short story professional, an actor, a novice and a radio writer/presenter. With our diverse backgrounds I think we get the best from our characters and we all more or less write our scenes with the same tone, and voice.

Our weekly meetings consist of reading through the previous weeks scenes. This is my favourite part as it’s enjoyable hearing the characters come to life and from something that we’d discussed briefly during story lining to actually having full scenes which feed into the overall soap feels like an accomplishment.

The writer of the scene to be read aloud has to talk briefly about the scene, where the conflict is and what is the change from the beginning to the end of the scene. Some scenes are harder than others to do this.

After the read throughs, we then look into the stories for the next week. Where our characters are up to in terms of their story lines and which characters are needed to assist in developing the story further.

We’ve been a writing group for a year now and it has passed really quickly. The actors were cast before Christmas and recordings are made each week. It’ll be really good to finally hear it on air though, something that I am looking forward to.

A number of things that I have learned from my experience of being part of a collaborative group of writers.
• Discussions amongst more than one person can generate a raft of ideas.
• If a character hasn’t got a solid back-story and biog then writers can really struggle when it comes to putting that character under conflict. It’s important that this is nailed down at the very start of introducing this character otherwise it never seems believable.
• Drop-box is a valuable tool for sharing ideas and scripts.
• Being part of a writing team keeps you motivated. We meet on a Monday night and on several occasions when I’ve had a really tough day at work, what I’ve really wanted to do is go home to rest. Knowing that there are five people relying on you means that you have to attend. I’ve never been to a meeting and not come away feeling motivated again.
• Being taught to listen to others and let go of your own great ideas if the group decide that something else works better.
• Learning to compromise and not feel precious about an idea.

I’m sure there will be more to blog about as the year progresses.

Once I get the official airtime date I will ensure I update this site.

 

Radio Soap Writing Group

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My last post about Collaborative Writing was over 14 weeks ago, and I’m happy to report that I’m still part of the writing team for a new radio continuing drama series for a Manchester community radio station.

We started out five months ago as a team of fourteen writers, of all writing ability and over the weeks have now dwindled down to a regular writing team of six.

We have a full cast of characters with their back stories, storylines, real life actors have now been cast to start recording the series in two weeks time and we the writers are all frantically scribbling at an amazing speed to ensure that the scripts are ahead of each recording.

There is finally a name for the radio soap too although not sure if that is being officially launched in the upcoming weeks. Maybe not the best of ideas to publicise it on here in case there is going to be a big PR campaign planned for it in a few weeks time.

It’s great to be part of a writing team. I experienced it as part of my Masters degree in Scriptwriting for the Radio Drama module, but nothing is better than experiencing it in real life.

The best thing about the weekly writers meeting is that we all have our own ideas about how a character should react to a situation etc. However, the collaborative process means that we get to bounce ideas off each other and just having those discussions (sometimes heated) means that what could start off as a good idea can be bounced around and with a few heads getting together can come out as a great idea.

It’s certainly made me think about my future writing and the possibility of trying to find a writing partner to collaborate with.

I’m going to London Screenwriters Festival later in the month so maybe I should be on the look out for a collaborator.

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Graduation

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Although I received my official MA results back in June, last week was the graduation ceremony to officially celebrate my achievement.

The ceremony was held at The Lowry, Salford Quays on a glorious, hot Thursday afternoon.

I was thrilled to arrive in the robing queue at the same time as members of my graduating cohort so the lengthy queue went by without incident as we caught up with each other from the previous summer.

What made this day extra special for me was the attendance of my loved ones. Sons, husband, parents and father-in-law all braved the blistering heat to watch me walk across the red carpet at The Lowry.

The ceremony began with a band and a singer all associated with the School of Arts and Media at the University.

Speeches were made and thankfully I wasn’t waiting long before we were gathered to begin our queuing to the stage. I’d forgot that they award the highest to lowest educational attainment.

Those receiving their PhD’s were first up, followed by my group of Postgraduates.

I recall being extremely nervous when receiving my undergraduate degree in 2009, but this time I had my family on the front row and I could only see my youngest son’s huge smile when I walked up to the stage steps. How could I be nervous when that beautiful smile was beaming proudly at me?

The ceremony lasted an hour and it was superb from start to finish. I savoured every minute of it, being with my classmates and family under one roof.

Once the ceremony closed I marched my family upstairs to more queues. I wanted a professional portrait with all of them before we finished the day with a lovely meal.

It was the perfect day to mark the end of one of the biggest journeys of my life so far.

From that very first lesson back in September 2011 when I nearly didn’t go back to class after the break because I thought I was in way over my head. The course not only educated me in terms of learning the craft of scriptwriting, it has sparked a real passion in radio drama which I didn’t know was there and has given me the confidence to rise to any challenges that come my way in future.

Thank you University of Salford. Here’s to the next journey.

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Collaborative Writing – Week 2

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As expected the group of extremely keen writers in week one had dwindled slightly in week two.

Perhaps it wasn’t what they thought it would be, or maybe they didn’t realise it would be a weekly writers meeting. Anyway our large group of writers in week one was reduced by a third in week two.

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Not only was it nicer to work in a smaller, more intimate group setting but it also meant that I managed to take a larger share of the Jaffa cakes during the three hour meeting.

The aim of the meeting was to recap what we had covered in week one, come up with more characters for our project and start looking at potential conflicts and stories between the characters.

In week one it was apparent when we shared our characters that our project wasn’t culturally representative of Manchester.

This gave me all the ammunition I needed to create my next character who is of black origin and is the local councillor for the area.

In the next exercise which involved us writing with a partner myself and another writer who had created an MP decided to lock horns and have a bit of fun with our characters and their dialogue.

I really enjoyed this exercise as the gentleman that I was partnered with was very quiet within the session, but once we began writing together he produced some great one-liners and comedic moments.

We really bounced off each other, and it has made me think of finding a writing partner in the future. Having another set of ideas is refreshing and means that the partner may suggest something that leads to me coming up with a different angle on a story. I wouldn’t excuse it in the future.

The lesson of this week for me is never judge a book by it’s cover.

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Community Radio

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There are so many different ways to consume media these days whether it be through the television, billboards, social media, the internet, newspapers and magazines.

You’d think with the vastness of these mediums that radio would be a thing of the past.

You couldn’t be further from the truth.

Radio is thriving, which is brilliant news to the likes of myself who consumes many hours of radio every day of the week. From Radio 4 dramas to drivetime shows, the thing I love about radio is that you can be doing other things while absorbing it.

Listeners are just spoilt for choice these days with the variety of commercial radio stations as well as the growth in BBC radio. However, I’m mainly listening to community radio stations these days.radio smiley

Why?

Because I’ve been bitten by the radio broadcasting bug.

It’s true what they say about embracing every opportunity that comes along because you never know where it may take you.

Five months ago I went along to a session with Wythenshawe FM in a small community centre in Baguley. I’d seen an advertisement on the noticeboard for my local supermarket asking if anybody was interested in attending training for either writing radio scripts, presenting, editing and features.

So I went along thinking I could help them with the script writing. After all, I was in my final year of a masters degree in TV and Radio Scriptwriting so broadcasting credits are something that I’m looking for. It became apparent early on, that the other aspects that they were looking for were equally as important.

I felt the colour drain from my face when the words “live broadcasting” were mentioned.

It would be rude to get up and walk out at that point so I stayed for the entire session. But, at that point I had no intention of every broadcasting live – were they mad? I could barely talk to groups of people in work without fluffing my words, let alone a radio audience.

Over the next few days I thought about it more and more. If something scares me I tend to do it anyway as I really enjoy the adrenalin of achieving something that terrifies me, “Feel the fear and do it anyway”.

So, why not give it a go. The worst that can happen is that I freeze on air, and they can always fill in the space with a song.

So I did it. On the 9 December 2013, I co-presented a show with another volunteer at Wythenshawe FM and I must admit the adrenaline from being on air live is something else. Once the initial “feeling like I’m going to have a heart attack” as my heart was pounding through my chest as I waited for my half an hour slot to begin, it was fine.

After the live show in December, I carried on training with the radio station. We covered interview techniques, operating a Marantz, features, jingles, editing and then we had a number of sessions in the studio operating the desk.

The studio sessions really baffled me, as it was one thing having to talk on air, but to also operate the desk and ensure that adverts were played, songs were queued and not to leave the microphone on. The other volunteers and myself all took it in turns to broadcast live for twenty or so minutes each week. This was probably the best way to learn, as we had an experienced member of staff with us all the way to make sure that we kept the station on air.

At this point I was approached to see if I was interested in hosting my own radio show. I had to think about this one. It’s one thing to go on air with other people, but on my own and for an hour? What the hell have I possibly got to say for myself that would interest anybody in listening to me?

So, I thought about it for thirty seconds and said yes, why not. I’m sure I could think of things to talk about without anybody saying anything back to me. I live with three males – I’m used to talking to myself.radio.jpg

On 23 February 2014 The Sunday Matinee Show was first aired.

So, thank you Wythenshawe FM for giving me the opportunity to do something so out of my comfort zone that I would never have dreamed six months ago that I would be hosting my own show.

The Sunday Matinee Show

‘The Sunday Matinee Show’ is not only an entertainment show, but I also want to showcase up and coming local Manchester talent, whether it be writers, theatre companies, actors or musicians etc.

If you are a local writer, performing artist, band or theatre company then please contact either myself direct at https://www.facebook.com/TheSundayMatineeShow  or on twitter @SarahD_wfmradio

Shout out

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I’ve been thinking about my previous blog post and then decided that actually, last year wasn’t all doom and gloom. Sure, I didn’t write as much in this blog as i wanted to, but quite frankly that’s because I was being so damn fabulous.

Yes I am going to shout out and big myself up….nobody to do it for me!

Last October I got my first broadcasting credit with the BBC for a small piece of writing that I had submitted to their BBC 4 Extra radio show called “Newsjack”. For those that know me, have a look – can you see the credit? Yeah, that’s little old me there. Who’d have thunk it. Newsjack 1

I do have Euroscripts Paul Bassett Davies to thank for that – well a little thank you as I attended his Write for Radio day back in July. He was very encouraging to the group that we should try and get a piece on Newsjack. Well I did – hurray for me.

And then over Christmas Wythenshawe FM played out my Christmas play titled “A Wythenshawe Tale” which my biggest fan my father-in-law called “brilliant”. A Wythenshawe Tale

So, all in all it was a pretty damn fabulous good year.

More to come this year. Watch this space scribblers…..