So, as you all know, I love superheroes. I mean I have my downstairs half-bath decorated with all sorts of Wonder Woman memorabilia. I also love stories with queer representation, so when I stumbled upon RedWing I cried. I wrote about it in my third recommendation (Read it HERE). I cannot explain how happy it made me to have the chance to interview the creator of RedWing.
Interview with JV Hampton-Van Sant the creator of RedWing.
Content Warning: Sexual Harassment
Where there any podcasts that inspired you to make your own audio drama?
The NoSleep Podcast inspired the narration style, The Penumbra Podcast inspired the custom art, and The Bright Sessions inspired the queer folks with superpowers.
What inspired you to create RedWing?
I wanted to give myself a chance to play the kind of superhero that I get to watch on TV. I wanted to work with my friends on something that people would be able to enjoy. I wanted to imagine a world where I could be a hero and have the resources to change my world for the better.
There’s a lot of diversity in the podcast; how are you ensuring that everyone is accurately represented?
It helps that I am black, queer, and non-binary. I consider how I would like those identities I hold to be represented. But there are other aspects of diversity that I don’t hold and want to I make sure to represent them accurately. My policy is to ask a member of that group to review the character. Not to pull a JK Rowling, but examples include Jeremy/BlackBird, who is asexual. It hasn’t come up in the story (yet), but I made a point to ask ace friends about how they would approach certain topics. Another example is Johanna. She is a Type-1 Diabetic, and so is my 14-year-old sister (who inspired Johanna’s character). At the request of my sister, Johanna’s insulin pump is featured prominently in her character art and her voice actor is also a Type-1 Diabetic. It’s important to ask, listen, and integrate all diversity in the storytelling process.
Why do you believe that it is important for there to be a queer superhero?
Quite frankly, there aren’t many original queer superheroes written by queer people. We have a few, but we mainly just get the “rewritten” character, like Iceman being rewritten as gay, rather than being gay from the start, or we get the dubious representation, like Wonder Woman. For 50 years, she was being billed as default hetero, but maybe bi, and now more explicitly queer. We must be represented in a real way and be created that way from the beginning.
When you were a kid, was there a superhero that just spoke to you?
Catwoman, because honestly, femme and powerful has always been my personal aesthetic. I even love the awful movie because that outfit was everything. Honestly, costumes are a big deal for me. I remember seeing X3: The Last Stand, and Famke Jessen’s floor-length red jacket was #YASQUEEN. I identified with the level of pure intense power she has. Give me some female anti-heroes with sick outfits and raw power: Catwoman, Elektra, Jean Grey, Huntress…. But my all-time favorite would have to be Dick Grayson, which should come as no surprise to anyone.
If you could have a crossover episode with any audio drama, which one would it be and how would that episode play out?
If I crossed over with The Bright Sessions, where Jordan got a therapy session from Doctor Bright. I’d be so happy.
Also, Kalila Stormfire’s Economical Magick Services. Scarlett might need to call on a sister witch in Season 2.
In fact, in Season 2, Episode 4 will be a crossover episode with two of my favorite podcasts. It’s titled “Prisoner.” I can’t say anything more. But oh man, y’all are in for a treat.
What podcasts are you currently listening to?
I’m currently subscribed to 203 different podcasts. I’m a literal podcast addict. Most of them are true crime, audio dramas, or comedy and storytelling podcasts.
What is your method for handling difficult topics in the podcast?
If I cover something difficult, I will have the episode previewed, I will give a content warning, and I will include links to real resources. Listener safety is important to me.
Are any of the characters based on real life people?
Absolutely all of ’em, though usually they are composites of multiple people. Jordan is based on the idealized version of me. Johanna is based on my younger sister, Cameron Esposito, and some fictional folks. Dean was inspired by my favorite adult film star as well as my ex-fiance. Terrance and Malia (Jordan’s deceased parents) are definitely inspired by Barrack and Michelle Obama. And Kit Mojito is basically one-third Perez Hilton, one-third Rachel Maddow, and one-third Nancy Grace.
What is your greatest desire for RedWing?
I want someone to cosplay a character from the show. (cough cough, check the merch store for Dean’s Detective shirt.) I’d love that forever. But also, I really just want people to listen to it and give feedback. I also want people talk about what they like about the show and tell me what they might wanna see.
Is there a character in another audio drama that you relate to?
Literally every character in The Bright Sessions because I have depression and social anxiety. But also, all the ladies of Here Be Dragons. Jordan Cobb is an excellent writer and actress, and the whole show is awesome.
What is it about audio that appeals to you as a medium for storytelling?
I get to create an audio universe that you can be immersed in. You can feel like you are there. You can go on the journey with me. It is brilliant.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to create an audio drama?
I recently read Dear Ijeawele, so I’ll give this in suggestions.
- You can create an audio drama, and do it well, even with a nonexistent budget.
- You can do anything with a well-written script, but learn from my Season 1 mistake: don’t rely on narration too heavily. Let the actors be actors.
- Have three different versions of each sound effect. You will thank me later. Organize your sound effects. Do not use the same footstep sound effect for every character. There are so many good quality versions of just walking and running at a regular human pace.
- Learn how to use Audacity or Dark Audacity. Specifically for effects, you must learn how to use noise reduction, reverb, auto duck, amplify, equalization, the compressor, and the high and low pass filters. These are all very key.
- Save all your files at all times. Preferably in multiple locations. Delete nothing (except dead air).
- You need at least four or more tracks at all times: characters, room ambiance/atmospheric stuff, sound effects 1, and sound effects 2. Each character needs to be its own track.
- Always have an “episode effects playground” workspace window open.
- Don’t get discouraged. Ask for help. Seriously, the audio drama community is so helpful. This process should be fun.
I will be making a video series about this coming up soon.
What has been the hardest part about creating your own audio drama?
Story time. In November of 2017, I was the victim of sexual harassment and misconduct from an actor, and because I was desperate for help with a character, i endured something awful. RedWing almost didn’t happen because of that. I also have two full-time jobs. But this is my dream project, and I refuse to ever let it die. It has two more seasons, and I’m going to finish it no matter what. This is what I love to do.
JV is such an incredible person, and I am so happy I had the chance to interview them. If you haven’t subscribed to RedWing, then you should go and do that right now. You can find RedWing on twitter @RedWingPod and visit their website redwingpodcast.com. You can support them on Patreon and find JV on twitter @Myxterhyde.
I cannot wait to share even more interviews with you all, so be sure to follow or subscribe to the email list so you can stay up to date when I post. If you have any suggestions for future posts, or want to chat you can find me on twitter @Audiodramarama or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org