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Written by Rob Schultz (human).

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Better Radio Writing Submission Guidelines

Hello Friends,

We are currently hard at work on a new season of Better Radio, a scripted sketch comedy podcast by Rob Schultz and Russell Anderson, and writing submissions are now open.

What’s the show about?

In the distant future, an Archeo-Astronomer travels the stars listening to transmissions broadcast from Earth, researching where exactly things went wrong for our planet.

Each transmission (re: sketch) needs to work in audio only. This is not necessarily the same thing as having no visual component - this might be your chance to do things you could never bring to life on stage, or in video.

All scenes must necessarily take place after 1935. Anything we hear that takes place earlier or is supernatural in some way must, logically, be part of some other piece of media. (We don't need your framing device explained to the audience, but knowing that you're in fact writing a sitcom, or a monster movie, or a broadway cast recording, may unlock something for you.)

How do I submit?

Send your script to BetterRadio at NotArt.org by or before Bastille Day, 2018!

.highland documents and .PDF files are our top choices of file formats. 

Please name your file NAME-OF-SKETCH_YOUR-NAME.file

What do we like?

We strongly prefer the conceptual over the topical. Self-contained ideas over reference-fests. Parody is a coin toss.

We like character monologues that we can build into scenes with interesting sound design.

The opportunity to do a cross-over or side story featuring your existing characters from a different project is something we’re very interested in. If your script or pitch falls into this category, please do send a link to the other show.

We like scenes that happen to be set in other decades for flavor. Remember, the show is set in the distant future. It’s weird and sad if all the scenes are about the news of 2018.

Feel free to go beyond the stock 5 settings for an SNL scene. We’ve done film noir, fake commercials, radio call-in shows, game shows, press conferences, and indeed, old-time radio drama. Remember that we have all of audio-visual recording history available as a playground.

The rules

Individual writers and sketch teams are both welcome to apply. Non-exclusive submissions are okay - that scene in your drawer from six months ago is welcome as long as it’s well- suited to radio.

Time and space are finite and not all submissions will be recorded. If yours is not selected, it’s probably not personal.

If we do select your scene for recording, we offer a writing credit on our program in exchange for the non-exclusive right to produce your scene and to publish the script. (You still own your work and may use it in other ways.) We may edit your script.

We will contact writers about submissions we would like to use by or before early August, which is when recording will begin.  The new season will air in October, and be accompanied by a live taping at The Pack Theater in Hollywood on September 29.

Reference

To hear what we’ve done before, visit the show on iTunes at http://tinyurl.com/betterradio or Overcast at https://Overcast.fm/itunes320972864/better-radio or just stuff this in your podcatcher: http://feeds.feedburner.com/BetterRadio

Please direct your submissions to BetterRadio at notArt.org, and feel free to forward this to your writerly friends.

Your pals,
Rob Schultz &
Russell August Anderson

How To: Reveal One Layer With Another

I saw a post online where someone was all confused about how to make something like this clip here, so I told him all you need is three layers:

  • Top layer: someone shot on green screen, keyed, with posterize time.
  • Middle layer: foreground art, using top layer as an alpha matte.
  • Bottom layer: background art!

And then that guy was all like, "Isn't there a youtube tutorial that takes 45 minutes to give me that same information? Preferably one full of self-promotional nonsense at the beginning and end?" So...

I made one! Except it's only 96 seconds long. I'm sure I'll learn to pad them out as I go.

How to Run a Successful Comedy Show

I produce more than a hundred comedy shows a year here in Los Angeles. Last year, one of them was 10 hours long, featuring 30-some acts, mostly improv. The last performance of the night started at the exact minute advertised on the poster. 

If I taught a class on how to run a comedy show, that’s the kind of information I would throw around to explain why I’m qualified to tell you how to run a show. 

One of the classes would be called The Secret to Making Your Theater, Your Acts, and Your Fellow Showrunners Love You. 

And the secret would be this:

Improv can be any length. 

An improv set can end at any time. If it happens on a big laugh, you all look like masters of show business. If the ending itself gets the laugh through clever or ham-fisted timing, you’re got it made. If you pull the lights on an act that’s bombing, you’ve still managed to save the show.

You’ve got other acts? No problem, stand-ups are a hale and hearty bunch, and if they’re any good at all they can edit themselves on-the-fly into whatever weird amount of time you tell them they're getting. Granted, sketch and character acts are their own weird thing. But you can cut stuff out of their shows too! Lorne Michaels does it all the time! He doesn’t just get to do an extra half hour because everybody wants to get a turn. If you’ve booked “Modern Clowning” on your show, just cut that right now and you don’t even need the rest of this class.* 

All shows should have ‘hard out’ end times. In the idealized comedy performing society, that’s how things work. Sure, people make mistakes, but ‘someone else made a mistake and so I will too’ is no way to live. If you have a theater rented for two hours, you don’t book 120 minutes of show. If you are a theater that’s open to the general public and your shows don’t start on time, you’re embarrassing yourself and discouraging real audience from coming back. 

What happens when you do have an hour of acts for a 45 minute show? It’s time to produce your show. Make a decision! You need to cut something. Bump an entire act. Take a little time from everyone. Give up some or all of that 35 minute slot where the other acts have to watch you, even if that’s the only reason you’re doing this show. And if you don’t like having to tell people that you specifically asked to be on your show, who went out of their way to appear on your show, that they no longer get to perform? Great! Let your shame and awkwardness make you better at producing so you don’t have to do this again.

You can only borrow time from producers who have the option of giving it to you, and you always want to be the person who gifts a couple of minutes to the next show. If you’re going to be the rules lawyer who insists that you paid for the room from 7pm to 9pm and you’re not leaving until you’ve used up every drop of 8:59, then you need to be absolutely sure that’s the moment you’re walking out the door. That can not be the moment you’re saying goodnights, or starting to clean up your kiddie pool of glitter, or (saints preserve us!) introducing your last act, or else you also need to be comfortable with the next showrunner putting on the house lights, saying goodnight to your crowd for you, and starting to load in at 9:01.

Okay, that’s it. Next week we’re going to cover remembering to book your show before the day of your show. Class dismissed!


*Tell them it’s time to stop performing on the theatrically-normative stage and send them out to the parking lot for an immersive theatrical experience.

After Effects Tip: Import and Export

I know this might not be what you come here to read, but I found ways to improve my import AND export process with After Effects today, and I'm as pleased as can be about it.

Import:

Got a folder full of stuff that you need to bring in? And you drag it in, and After Effects thinks those 10 differently-sized jpegs are supposed to be one shot or something?  Hold Alt while dragging into After Effects to import that folder as a folder. Miraculous!

Export:

Finished your work and need to render it out? But you clicked in a hurry and next thing you know your renders are in some other project on some other drive and god knows where? And now you're duplicating the render just to see where it might go?
Output templates to the rescue!
In the render queue, hit your dropdown triangle next to Output To: and choose custom. What you're going to do is set a path to something useful, save it, and set it as your default.

Screenshot 2018-01-18 02.10.22.png

Here's how my 'Today's Renders' preset works:

[projectFolder]/../../50_Renders/[dateMonth][dateDay]/[compName].[fileextension]

In all of my projects, my After Effects project files live in [NAME OF PROJECT]/00_Projects/02_AEX, so we start there by default, go up two levels (".." is the path for the folder one level up in the hierarchy), go into 50_Renders, then create or go into the folder marked, let's say 1026 if it's October 26th, and make a file named after the comp we're rendering. 

Save that and set it to the default output. Now renders go where they go, and you're not drilling through folders ten times a day.

These may sound simple, or boring, but they made my day. Making the fundamental stuff you do constantly even a little bit easier is victory!