There Be Monsters, an original ten-part narrative sci-fi thriller podcast starring some well known Hollywoood actors, is set to be released later this year in what has been part of an expanding slate of “pod fiction” or “PodFi” audio dramas that were taking shape between the iHeartPodcast Network, FlynnPictureCo., and Psychopia Pictures.
In the thriller, actor John Boyega of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” fame plays Jack Locke, the mysterious hero with a vendetta who infiltrates a Silicon Valley body-hacking startup run by enigmatic CEO Max Fuller, played by actor Darren Criss, best known for his role in the TV series “American Crime Story” and “Glee.” The two characters’ highly secretive creations promise to enhance human biology in incredible ways. But every drug has a side effect, and as the title of the podcast suggests, “monsters” are created.
For podcasters, the more interesting story may be how the series came together, which Conal Byrne, President of the iHeartPodcast Network, describes as “an unbelievable feat.” The development of There Be Monsters began last November, but then as the creative team was getting ready to fly to London, Atlanta and Los Angeles to record the series earlier this year, the pandemic hit and they were shut down. But the creative team was anxious to move forward, and in June they moved forward and broke new ground in podcast production.
The podcast creators and the iHeart team created a completely remote technological process and each cast member was sent a “Studio in a Box,” which included the needed materials – from a professional studio microphone to tutorial videos. That enabled the cast to record studio-quality “scripted” audio from the safety of their own homes, while still performing together as they connected virtually via teleconference across multiple continents and time zones.
There Be Monsters is produced by Beau Flynn of FlynnPictureCo., Dan Bush of Psychopia Pictures, and John Boyega of UpperRoom Productions. They, along with the podcast’s actors and director, would connect virtually daily for six hours to record the series. Over the course of two weeks the production captured more than four hundred pages of material with 20 different actors.
“The process to develop this scripted show and the ability to capture the connection, emotions and overall dynamic between the cast members while recording remotely, from across the globe, was unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” said Byrne.
There Be Monsters production just wrapped and is now in post-production. It will be available later this year on the iHeartPodcast Network.
Boyega was the first to attach to the project and he said UpperRoom getting a chance to explore the podcast format while also adjusting to new methods of recording with the cast members made it an “exciting process” in the end. “I’m thrilled it all came together and hope audiences are just as drawn in as I was to this sci-fi thriller series,” said Boyega.
The podcast was created and directed by Bush, who co-wrote along with writer Nicholas Tecosky. “There Be Monsters is a psychological thriller that chronicles the rise of humankind 2.0, and the disruptions to society that come with it,” he said. “We chose to format this story as a scripted podcast because it is an immersive, storytelling playground, and I am beyond excited to partner with this powerhouse team and talent to bring this singular show to life.”
The PodFi also stars actors Marley Shelton (Rampage, Rise), Clark Gregg (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Captain Marvel) and Tony Award nominee Sahr Ngaujah (Fela!, Patti Cake$, Luke Cage). And FlynnPictureCo.’s Scott Sheldon and Shelby Thomas will also serve as producers.
“From the start, our goal for There Be Monsters, our first PodFiction series, has always been to break down traditional storytelling barriers and create a completely unique and immersive narrative audio experience that takes listeners beyond conventional podcasting,” said Flynn. “When the pandemic hit this year and the world collectively turned to storytellers and artists to help get through this challenging time, we knew we had to find a way to keep production on track and deliver this story.”