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Dramatic podcasts are both an old and new art form.

While radio has a storied history of audiodramas, never before has the audience been so close to the story that it actually lives in their ears — capable of delivering the best audio quality possible.

Until very recently, such audio quality was impossible to deliver, but today is it a huge canvas for artistic and creative expression. Unfortunately, few in podcasts know how to reach this potential, and Epicleff has built an approach that harnesses sound like never before.

Creating sonic emotion

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Orson Welles records into a CBS radio microphone in 1938.

Off the success of a #1 music documentary Score, Epicleff Media launched into the scripted podcast world with an ambitious idea — create a listener experience tailor-made for the unique strengths of podcasts in the modern era, and build sonic solutions to the problems that television and film writers often struggle to adapt into the audio-only format.

Today, Epicleff Media is a full-service podcast production company, utilizing the best creative talents working today, including award-winning Hollywood film sound designers, composers, producers with expertise in rich audio storytelling, and a supporting staff of creatives who can help execute the tailor-made productions we holistically plan from Day One.

The problem in scripted podcasting

In scripted podcasting, most production are actually marketing companies looking to sell a film or television series. Because of this, they loosely adopt a television-centric approach that does not fit the storytelling, the sound possibilities, the music possibilities, or acknowledge the technical limitations of the medium. It is intended to showcase the script (and usually an A-list actor) and treats the rich media creative (voice, sound, music) as afterthoughts, to be figured out in the final stage of postproduction by an editor.

The end result is often filled stilted exposition to make up for lack of visuals (“Hey, why are you pointing that gun at me?”), distracting audio gimmicks (conversations which seem to “move” around your head which take you out of the moment and do not work well in the car), and music which fails to capitalize on the intimate emotional connection with the audience. These productions often begin as screenplays (where “show, don’t tell” is the scripting mantra), and the lack of adaptation to audio creates awkward moments in which sound and music are never thought out until a low-level audio engineer can brainstorm sound design at the end of production. In short, most scripted (drama) podcasts fail to satisfy audiences because they have failed to connect emotionally.

The Epicleff difference

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The script from Epicleff Originals’ series Blockbuster underwent several dozen rewrites to capitalize on sound and musical moments in the storytelling approach.

Our approach involves a detailed blueprint for developing stories starting at the script level to maximize potential across 12 different levels of storytelling. This approach is proprietary, and allows Epicleff-produced podcasts to create sonic elements that function closest to “cinematography” rather than background sounds. In fact, despite podcasts lacking any visuals at all, one of the most frequent comments on Epicleff productions (such as “Blockbuster” and “The Big Lie”) is that listeners feel like they’re seeing the scenes.

Much like a great novel can paint a picture with words, Epicleff’s mission is to craft stories, scenes and even “shots” that create an immersive visual feel, placing listeners inside the story — without distracting flashy gimmicks like directional audio that take away from the story.

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Screenshot of Blockbuster’s master Pro Tools session, which included over 75 characters and 50 stem tracks, each made up of different individual sounds, textures and music.

This is the Epicleff difference. Our series have earned major podcast awards for story, sound design and original music, including our own Blockbuster being named Creative Podcast of the Year two consecutive years. The original music, by Fernando Arroyo Lascurain, was the first podcast score to ever release on a record label. Our series The Big Lie for Audible Originals, starring Jon Hamm, premiered at a star-studded event at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2022, and became Audible’s highest rated original at 4.8 stars.

What we do

Our development and production services guide you through over 100 steps of a premium podcast production, with project budgets from $200K and up, including:

  • Story first — the Epicleff approach to audio building
  • Overall structure and story arc for your series
  • 13 Steps of Scripting an Audiodrama
  • Pacing story to capitalize for sound and music possibilities in your series
  • Crafting powerful prologues and opening titles that stay out of the way
  • The 15 tools to help produce the various elements of your series
  • Strategies for casting your series — with an A-list actor, celebrity or Hollywood-caliber voice talent
  • Contracting with SAG-AFTRA actors or independent artists
  • The 10 rules for recording unparalleled voice talent (in studio, at home, or on the road)
  • Shaping your editing assembly to maximize directorial possibilities with dialogue layers and alt takes
  • Editing layers — crafting 200 tracks of great audio you’ll actually hear and appreciate
  • The intersection of music and sound in action, score, and montage sequences
  • Original music as a functional tool in podcasts — why it isn’t a “score” or “soundtrack”
  • Original music as an emotional connector with the audience
  • Original music motif creation/implementation strategies

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    Actor Jon Hamm records for Audible Original’s The Big Lie.
  • The musical: How to blend songs, dialogue and original music
  • Creating an emotional tension / rush / release
  • The final push — ensuring your audio delivers on its emotional and creative promise
  • The little things: Titles, credits, and other packaging elements
  • Trailer creation
  • Approaching podcast networks and distributors or releasing on your own
  • Organizing your series for final delivery and marketing
  • The general landscape for ad sales revenue and sponsorship
  • Intellectual Property: the derivative value of a hit podcast for film and television

Curious about your story becoming a hit podcast? Let us walk you through the steps to create something the Epicleff way. Our production and consultation services can help elevate your project to something that stands as its own artistic vision.

Podcasts mentioned in this article:
BLOCKBUSTER (Cadence13) | Listen Now
THE BIG LIE (Audible Originals) | Listen Now

About

As a Los Angeles-based production & creative consulting company specializing in crafting unparalleled scripted podcasts, Epicleff Media has produced and consulted for podcast companies and networks including Spotify, iHeart, Audible, Apple, Cadence13, TenderfootTV, and more. Founded in 2014 by Emmy Award-winning producer Matt Schrader, Epicleff Media is made up of award-winning film and podcast makers, writers, producers, sound designers and editors, and composers.

Ready to talk?

LET’S MAKE A PODCAST TOGETHER
… or let us know if you have an old screenplay we can help you adapt into a hit podcast series.