Podcasts were already enjoying something of a resurgence in popularity and quality before the pandemic hit. Now in the age of coronavirus, their audiences have grown even more as people are desperate to find new entertainment to keep them occupied while being stuck at home. With podcasts and audio storytelling at large earning more attention from listeners, they’re also drawing in even more big name talent to make them, and the filmmaking duo the Duplass Brothers and Star Wars hero Daisy Ridley are the latest to join the audio game.
First up, Variety reports filmmaking brothers Mark & Jay Duplass have struck a development deal with Spotify to create exclusive original programming, scripted and unscripted, for the music and podcast streaming service. In a joint statement, the duo said:
“We are incredibly excited to partner with Spotify for our first foray into podcasting. Also terrified because making a truly engaging narrative podcast seems really, really difficult. Was this a mistake? Maybe we should pull out of this deal before they announce?”
Unfortunately, there weren’t any specific details on podcast projects they might already be working on. However, one hint at the kind of stories they might want to tell comes from the kind of documentaries they’ve produced. Duplass Brothers Productions was behind the hit Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country, and they produced Evil Genius for the streaming service, as well as On Tour with Asperger’s Are Us for HBO. Those documentaries have the kind of stories that could easily make a compelling podcast.
Meanwhile, on the fictional side of things, they’ve directed a lot of mumblecore indies like The Puffy Chair, Cyrus, and Jeff, Who Lives at Home, but they’ve also produced the likes of Safety Not Guaranteed, Creep, and Tangerine, each with unique narratives. Most recently, they’ve wrapped up their anthology series Room 104 on HBO, featuring a storytelling style that feels tailor-made for episodic podcast stories. Perhaps an indie movie idea they have will work better as a podcast and be much cheaper to produce. There are endless possibilities here.
All of Spotify’s podcasts are available to free and premium subscribers.
Daisly Ridley Starring in Islanders Audible Drama
Meanwhile, across the pond, Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley is teaming up with Killing Eve season 3 writer Elinor Cook for a new Audible Original drama.
Islanders tells the story of a young woman who has always been invisible. Suddenly, she becomes a contestant on a reality dating show and is thrust into the world of manufactured romance and paradise. In order to stay on the show, she uses different personas and moves along to different partners. But as time goes on, she begins to lose track of herself and the lines of fact and fiction start to blur, forcing her to eventually confront the anxiety she’s had about identity her whole life. And it’s all going to happen on camera.
Much like animation, audio productions have been able to keep creating new content because they’re easy to produce remotely. Deadline says Ridley has been recording her work as the lead character for Islanders from her home in London. She said in a statement:
“I really enjoyed performing Elinor Cook’s Islanders. Coming from a group working environment, it’s very rare to have to perform a piece, uninterrupted, but I found the creative process to be challenging and rewarding in equal measure. Elinor’s writing is beautiful, and she manages to convey incredible depth, even through the facade of a constructed reality TV show. I feel really lucky I was able to explore this piece with Elinor and the Audible team.”
In a world where most film and TV productions are still in limbo, getting paid for doing podcasts isn’t quite the career downgrade that it might have been labeled as before. Even someone like Ridley, with massive blockbuster film experience, is getting into the format. Obviously she’s not hurting for a paycheck, but these audio stories provide a creative outlet that’s as close to filmmaking as anyone can get right now.
Islanders is slated to arrive on Audible starting on September 10.
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