Making a TV-Worthy Fiction Podcast 📺
Jasmine Romero takes us behind the scenes of Princess of South Beach
If you’re following along on my writing journey, I submitted the first half of my manuscript for feedback last week, and I’m hard at work on the second half, due on my birthday — September 30th — which also happens to be International Podcasting Day. What a beautiful synchronicity of my passions!
Anyway, I’m feeling good about my momentum in Bookland, so I’m excited to shift some of my attention back to Podcast Bestie. There’s a new episode dropping early next week (you can watch an early preview on YouTube), I’ve got a bunch of newsletter content in the queue, including some marketing and monetization dispatches for my paid Besties, and today, I’m launching a series on fiction podcasts. My very first podcast was actually a fiction podcast, and I’m eager to work on a narrative podcast in the near future, so I’m brushing up on my skills. If you’re hiring, call me! 😉
Our first guest in this series is Jasmine Romero — an absolute badass I had the pleasure of working with at Endeavor Audio. Jasmine is podcasting #goals. I didn’t put it together until afterward, but I actually first met Jasmine during a field trip to Gimlet in December 2018 when I did AIR’s Full Spectrum storytelling intensive. I remember she was wearing overalls and she said that she worked on Sesame Street prior to getting into podcasting. Is that a cool résumé or what?
After you soak up Jasmine’s wisdom, make sure you check out season two of Jasmine’s telenovela-style fiction podcast, Princess of South Beach.
And before we get into the meat of today’s newsletter, I’m teaching a workshop TOMORROW, and I’d love to see some Besties there:
My podcasting intensive through Pandemic University went gangbusters in May, so we're bringing it back. Join the fun this Saturday, September 9th, for three hours of all my best tips and tricks to grow and monetize your podcast, plus how to take your skills pro! 🚀
What's your experience with fiction podcasting?
I worked on the fiction team at Gimlet, then produced fiction pods with Endeavor Audio before becoming the head of development at Sonoro. In 2021, I wrote and directed my own fiction show, Princess of South Beach, which is now in its second season and in development at Netflix.
What are your top tips for writing for scripted narrative podcasts, especially fiction?
Set out to write a podcast! So many shows are originally written for other mediums or with the intention of turning them into IP and don't take advantage of what you can do in audio. Podcasts are amazing at creating suspense and horror or as playgrounds to create huge, expansive worlds. Lean into that.
Do you do any world-building in terms of SFX at the scripting stage, or do you wait for post-production to do that?
Yes! I try to help the design team as much as possible with detailed descriptions in the script of what we're supposed to be hearing. We also have a meeting before they start to go over major set locations and what they should sound like: How big is a room, what are the ambient sounds, how prominent is that background, et cetera, et cetera.
Are there any key differences between podcast writing and screenwriting?
Screenwriting is way less reliant on dialogue. Audio fiction scripts are closer to stage plays in how much the actors have to convey through words. In TV/film, actors can do way more with a glance, body language, etc. The camera is also a huge help in directing the audience towards what is important or what's not being said. You don't have that help in audio.
Do you have any favorite fiction podcasts that have been influential on you?
What’s your number #1 tip for making and/or marketing a fiction podcast?
Lean into the genre and have fun. Princess of South Beach is a telenovela — it's silly, comedy, and fun. We found a really loyal fanbase on Twitter that posts theories each week when new episodes launch, and I actively engage with them, dropping hints and encouraging fanfic.
Thank you so much, Jasmine!
➡️ Make sure you listen to season two of Princess of South Beach, out now!
➡️ Check out Jasmine’s website at jasmineromero.net for more.
We just got a question about tape syncs from a Bestie, so I wanted to share it with the rest of the squad. In the early days of Podcast Bestie, our resident engineering Bestie, Michael Castañeda, did a Q&A about tape syncs, so if you want an intro to the topic and some context for this question, give that a read first:
Here’s the question:
I just finished a tape sync and am soon to bill for it. One thing I couldn't remember is whether folks recommend the first hour starting upon arrival and set-up, or just when the official recording begins. It's a difference of an hour in terms of billing.
And here’s Mike’s answer:
It's understood that you're only going to bill for the time the producer acknowledges that the tape is rolling and until they say that the interview is over. The time it takes you to set up and tear down is not included. The only other charge that is usually included is mileage one way (to get to the location) but not to go home. There are additional charges that can be billed, but they have to be agreed upon before the recording takes place.
I personally never skimp on the time it takes me to set up. I hate being rushed so I always give myself at least 30 mins to set up for a tape sync. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, so I'd rather have more time than is needed. I want to be waiting on the producers, not have the producers waiting on me. So make sure you give yourself plenty of time.
I hope that’s helpful! Tape syncs are a great way to make money and gain industry experience (provided you’re already confident in your skills). Besties are always welcome to reply to these newsletters and let us know if you have a podcasting-related question or topic you’d like covered in Podcast Bestie. We love to hear from you!
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So… ROLL CALL! 🗣
Do YOU have a fiction podcast? If so, drop a link in the comments below.