Lawrence, Joe and Laura-Leigh recently collaborated with Audible studios to produce 3 immersive audiobooks. Read about the creative process and scroll to the bottom to listen to some of our favourite moments!
Mermaid School is a charming series of books aimed at 6-9 year olds. Beautiful world building, memorable characters and a boat load of fishy puns. Laura-Leigh Smith, Joe Wilkinson and I started planning back what turned out to be a pretty epic journey back in February. Turns out that casting, recording a ton of characters and narration, directing, scoring, sound design and mixing three whole books is a huge switch of gears when you’ve been working on 30-90s commercials for the preceding months. I’ve worked on plenty of longform work in the past but there’s usually something to start with to grab onto and run with. This felt like a very blank canvas with only a paperback sitting on the desk.
We were still pretty heavily locked down when we started recording, but I knew that it was essential to record as many of our cast members as possible together, at the same time. There’s no substitute for actors bouncing off each other, getting to know each other as they get to know their characters and developing a flow and shorthand with each other. We re-patched our rooms to get multiple recording spaces for safer isolation and got to work recording around a book a day (breaking for a sushi lunch to stay on theme of course). Armed with spreadsheets of notes of character performance ideas, key plot notes and voice take notepads. The trick is to keep track of energy as you progress, powering through a book at a time can be tough work but we need to keep things lively for the finale of each book. The key is planning and to work e-fish-ently (I am so sorry…).
Laura-Leigh did an excellent job casting our talent. Our actors were incredible, dynamic and multifaceted. Seasoned talents Amaka Okafor (narrator) and Clare Corbett (Marnie Blue, the hero) led the charge, bringing hilarious and endearing performances.
Claire and Amaka, two of our talented cast members.
Joe Wilkinson brought his typically effortless musical talents and really brought the story to life with incredibly memorable themes and genuinely moving moments, aided with some stellar vocals from Laura-Leigh.
Bringing together all of these talents and adding my own sound design and mix skills into the mix was a mammoth job. I decided early that each virtual space needed to sound subtly distinct and characters should be subtly spread through the stereo field to help with immersion. The Clamshell Grotto and Radio Sea Wave have their own musical themes but also sonic spaces, ambiances and mix decisions to help the story along. It was essential that words and performances always take pride of place at the front, but building the seahorse stables and chattering assembly halls took a huge amount of planning, care and attention to detail.
Below are some little snippets of the audiobook and music for you to whet your whistle!
They’re lovely stories, worth a read and listen and something the team and I are very proud of.
Audible Studios presents Mermaid School written by Lucy Courtenay
Performed by: Zaraah Abrahams, Clare Corbett, Amaka Okafor, Chloe Massey, Ryan Sampson, Laura-Leigh Smith
Directed by Lawrence Kendrick and Laura-Leigh Smith
Voice Direction: Ruth Routledge
Sound Design and Mix: Lawrence Kendrick
Original Music by Joe Wilkinson
Audio Producer: Laura- Leigh Smith
Casting and Production led by String and tins
Audible Executive Producer: Nicola Wall
Audible Commissioning Editor: Imogen Papworth