What's going on, you guys! I had the chance to interview the creator of the YouTube series, Charon. It is an audio drama series set in the Alien franchise. It takes place between Aliens and Alien 3. It follows Administrator Carter as he is tasked with building a new colony on the moon of Acheron to salvage Weyland-Yutani's huge loss by securing Xenomorph specimens.
I am lucky enough to be a part of this project! I voice Dr. Forrester in parts 4, 5, and the forthcoming (as of writing this) 6. I am also producing new episodes. Spin-off episodes of the show. They are audio logs from Dr. Forrester himself. Some episodes work as companion pieces to the main show, but the more I write the further into his backstory and psyche I go. I am not an experienced writer (I slacked off in school,) but I do want to create and to do so in the Alien Universe and more specifically as part of the Charon branch of this always expanding universe.
Fun fact, I originally auditioned for several role in another series he has, Alien: Solara. Didn't work out, but that's okay.
Before I truly start, I must encourage anyone reading this to listen to Spirit Eliminators. It is a full-on, feature length audio drama. It is basically a remake of Ghostbusters, but it came about initially because his blind friend wanted to experience the movie, but have it be more accessible. More for him. It is a fun project. My voice is littered throughout due to lack of participants, but the project has heart, good humor, and a good main cast. It's a good project, Bront.
Without further ado:
What was your first experience with the Alien franchise? That I can remember? Tough one to answer. I've always joked Carrie Henn, Newt from Aliens, was probably the cause of, or at least a factor of my Tinnitus. And as far as I can remember she was my first real introduction. Back in the day when you had to call a cable provider to order a movie, we got the Aliens special edition. But back then this process didn't really work very well so the movie started way late and the first thing I heard was Newt screaming at her face hugged father. But after watching the rest of the movie it gave me more questions than answers, so I eventually got the VHS tapes. Yeah, laugh it up, I'm not a kid anymore and neither are you. Someday your kids will think 4K video looked like crap when you thought it was the best thing ever. Anyway, after watching the first movie, for the first time, then the second again and then finally the third I realized that I loved this universe that was created, but I didn't not love the story so much. I have the tendency to dwell on something and pick it apart and analyze it. The first movie ended ridiculously but left it nicely ambiguous. Aliens made absolutely no sense. And Alien 3, much like Terminator: Dark Fate made the first two that came before it absolutely meaningless. There was no point to the plot of Aliens, and there was no reason to have made anything after the first movie thanks to the third film. I've never given resurrection much thought as it's just an absolutely pointless mess. And the less said about the AVP movies the better. It probably sounds like I actually hate these movies. That's not true, I just have a lot of problems with them and I don't like when a film series I like is made irrelevant, like dark fate and Alien 3 made the films before them that we loved meaningless. Of course, they pulled the same stunt with Star Wars. Nothing from the first six films mattered by the time you got to rise of Skywalker, it had all been made meaningless. Maybe I ranted a bit there. Do you think your feelings have changed as you’ve grown with the franchise? Did you like one movie more than the other and that has changed? Or anything like that? My feelings haven't really changed. I think Ridley Scott pulled a George Lucas and screwed up the mythology to a point it can't recover without a complete reboot. And since Disney owns star wars and Alien, we can only look forward to both being screwed up even worse. Alien fans can only be grateful Disney doesn't see as much profit potential in Alien as it did with star wars, otherwise there would be Xenomorphs on boxes of Kraft mac and cheese and billions of action figures no one will ever buy. But to answer the question of liking, I would stop watching after Aliens and just pretend they all lived happily ever after and Newt grew up to be a school teacher and Ripley wrote books about her experiences, and that's where 3 and resurrection came from. What other films, genres, or franchises have influenced you heavily? Tough question. I see untapped potential in everything, and always wonder what I would do with them. Alien, for example, I would completely reboot and start from the beginning and make it a long running streaming, yest streaming and not TV series. Completely disregard Alien 3 and resurrection and get it right. But we all know that will never happen. Believe it or not, I have been completely obsessed with Cormac McCarthy's "The Road". I've always had a thing for apocalyptic imagery, but his vision of the end of the world stuck with me. Many years ago I even produced a remake, of sorts, of it with my own vision of the story. Even in that bleak nightmare there would be countless stories to tell and if I ever had the chance I would dive into that world and tell those stories. Miserable as it is, it would probably be far more exciting than The Walking Dead is these days. I can buy people surviving on a dead Earth more than I can believe rotten corpses wandering around for over 10 years and gasoline still being useful after a few months. I have also, like many people, fantasized about being locked in a giant shopping mall with everything I could ever want and need right at my fingertips like in George Romero's Dawn Of The Dead, my favorite film of all time. A simple and completely idiotic plot has stuck with me since the first time I saw it. That film is another of my "countless stories in that world" genre. I was also a huge fan of "Sliders" until it was completely screwed up beyond recognition. But if I had to pick one influence over everything I don't think I have a real answer. If I had to pick I'd say "anything". And that's the best I can give you. These audio dramas are great and I am sure fun in a way, but do you have any goals with them? Do you plan on any sort of film (live-action or animated) goals that these are a jumping board for? I obviously know that you have several projects on your YouTube channel, but please list what works you have produced there. You can tease any upcoming projects as well! Actually, they are not much fun. They are very difficult to do. They are time consuming. And inevitably you will get people who no longer respond to emails or just freak out wanting money for their time and talent while you don't have a quarter to use at a payphone that no longer exists. Well, actually they are fun to write and edit the audio together, but otherwise they are actually kind of a waste of time. I know that sounds harsh. You can put 6 months of work into something and only get less than a hundred views on YouTube in a year, which is sadly the case for me most times. Or a few hundred if you're very lucky. There are videos of people just sitting on their butts fake reacting to some idiotic internet video and receiving hundreds of thousands, or more views and comments praising their "entertainment" and getting money dumped into their Patreons while I get 2 views and some jerk telling me how much I suck. It warms my heart seeing videos on YouTube of someone shoving junk food down their throats, gaining massive amounts of weight and destroying themselves while being monetized, sponsored and again receiving views in the millions while I spent 6 months or so writing, casting, editing and fixing and listening to the same thing a thousand times over just to make sure there are no pops or distortions in audio. My motto is always "I don't have to be here, I could be eating ice cream and watching Golden Girls" but the reality is no one would care if I said that, let alone actually did it. I often wonder what the point even is, no one cares. But I carry on because I want to tell the stories I come up with, and if only a handful of people actually ever listen and like it, then I guess that's proof we're not hopelessly lost in "idiocracy" or current year clown world. I've done lots of projects, none of which ever got finished. Almost entirely due to people getting infected with "VA disease" which is what I now call the reason why voice actors simply vanish and never respond to emails. Literally every voice actor I have ever had has at some point been infected with the virus. I launched a Stargate SG-1 audio series in 2013, the cast soon decided not to respond to emails and so that project never got anywhere past one episode. I made an audio series based on the 1984 version of Red Dawn, but the virus struck again and it never got past 2 episodes. I made a video series, as I mentioned, based on "The Road" but the one voice actor I had decided it was time I pay up, and when I explained that wasn't possible since I myself didn't get paid for my work, that series came to an abrupt end as well. My series Alien: Solara, which is what Charon is a spin-off of suffered the same problems. My lead actress, with absolute class and kindness actually explained why she couldn't continue. Her education took priority and as well it should have. Long story short, money was again an issue and in the end I lost everyone again, except for one person who I haven't had the heart to say "thanks for your time, but it was a waste of it" and let him go. Though I'm sure by now he's got better things to do anyway as he's been on Broadway and television shows. I also had a series called "Rebirth" that started in 2009 that ran on the now long defunct and gladly gone Machinima channel. It too ran into VA disease, and never got finished. You're now asking yourself "why bother with any of it then?" and the answer is simple... I don't know. Anyway, I have nothing but things I'd like to do. I've long wanted to do a mock radio series called "FCCR" about two shock jocks and the shenanigans they get involved with on their show. It's raunchy and offensive and makes fun of everyone and everything. I wrote it after listening to radio station from the GTA games thinking "these are so tame, I can do better". Set in the fictional "freedom city", a blending of New York and California with some Miami Florida mixed in, it would be a lot like Howard Stern, before he got really old and started to suck, but with cussing and sex and violence and even blatant racism against everyone. I don't pull punches, I don't care if you're offended. I've hesitated to launch that project knowing that it probably would not get past one episode either. I would also like to do visual projects, I've been learning animation but even then I'm still hesitant. VA disease is so infectious it now kills projects before they're even started. But right now I'm focusing on Charon, an audio version of Predator, and "The Spirit Eliminators" which was originally an audio remake of Ghostbusters, but changed and became my own. It was done for a friend of mine who is blind. Sadly, as many people have "seen" it on YouTube as much he has. Now, specifically about Charon. How did the idea come about for this story? A combination of Aliens: Colonial Marines and my disdain for the ending of Alien 3. I believed there was so much potential on that shitty little moon and we could go back there. Why couldn't there be another colony there? Why would the company make something that makes a planet livable if it could just blow up and destroy everything? In Greek mythology Charon was the ferryman of the dead who transported the ghosts of the dead across the river Acheron to Hades. While I never gave too much thought about what this really means, it just seemed right to name our colony Charon. I also wanted to bring Newt back. I despised her death in third film, so I wanted to give her a chance to live again. I highly doubt Carrie Henn has heard the series, nor would I ever bother her with it. But I'd like to think she'd get a kick out of what we did with the character and how she was brought back. The idea of resurrecting her came from watching a crappy episode of Star Trek: Voyager and the doctors mobile emitter. But I wanted her to be a little more cool than that. Also, Charon is littered with references to other things. Pepsi perfect, for example. I used the sound effect of Riggs' gun from lethal weapon. Die Hard gets a nod or two. The Goonies gets a mention. I even managed a "steamed hams" reference. Terminator gets an obvious nod. Obscure reference to the movie "innerspace" is made in the form of music that plays in the bar. Administrator Carter's access code is the FTL coordinates to Earth from Battlestar Galactica. And so on. There are too many to mention, just listen to the episodes and try and pick them up yourself. I sometimes get complaints about these references, but they help keep it fun to write and I like to see where I can shove a reference or two in. Was there any specific idea or theme or character that really drove you to write this story and have it progress the way it did? I also know that there was some… Drama behind the scenes that led to delays and a switch-up of sorts before Part 4 was released, did that change the trajectory of the story at all? Honestly, I just kinda came up with it. We had teased a character in Solara, who would later be known as Mr. Carter and the idea just went from there. As for the actual story, there really isn't one. I come up with it as I type. Sometimes I'll get ideas when I'm literally taking a dump or in the shower, but it mostly just comes when I sit down to write it. There was indeed drama, and I don't wish to go into it. It's over and done with. All I'll say is money is always a factor, and people involved thought it was more of a joke than anything. In the end, communications frequencies were terminated and that was that. I've considered asking my current cast to go back and re-record the first few episodes but I don't want to burden people I can't pay. It didn't change the story, but if you listen to the beginning of part 4 you can certainly tell I wrote in some dialogue that expressed my anger. It was a bit petty, but it was my way of expressing myself. In the 5th episode I made one more jab at the drama, but I'm the only one who gets the reference and I'll leave it to you to figure out. Is Part 6 the final part you have planned? Charon will continue as long as I feel it can. There are countless stories in my head, but the threat of VA disease lingers and as I type this I'm pretty sure a cast member or two have been infected and will not be heard from again. I hope that's not the case, but VA is a horrible disease. Do you have any more Alien projects you’d like to work on, as in a dream project or what not? Audio dramas or otherwise? I have toyed with the idea of doing the first two movies as an audio series and do them my way. But I don't want a big mouse to come after me and destroy my life. But there are other ideas I'm exploring. Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
I no longer have anything to do with the wider audio drama community. The writing was on the wall as it became more agenda driven and hostile. Stories no longer mattered in favor of pushing an agenda, or only casting certain kinds of people for a role despite the fact no one can see them. I personally do not cast people based on a check mark or agenda. I know nothing of the people I cast. For all I know they could all be space aliens pretending to be Humans. Who knows, maybe one of them is secretly the reincarnation of Genghis Khan. I don't ask or care who and what they are, their voices are what matters. I did not cast them for any other reason than they sounded the part. Like Hollywood, the audio community is now bent on pushing identity politics and agendas. I've dealt with it far too much for my taste. Recently as I announced I was remaking predator, there were those who actually demanded I make half the cast female, and... well, other kinds of people. In response I eliminated the only female character and rejected every demand. You're no worse off going alone in audio drama than you are in the community. In fact, you're better off. And always prepare for an outbreak of VA disease.
It is not easy to work so hard and feel as if there is no means to an end, no appreciation. Really, it is all art. These projects are there own form of art and even though a lot of care and time have gone in and will go in to them, they suffer from little-to-no exposure, It varies, most of the Alien episodes posted have thousands of views and some legit fans. Still, the road is not easy. I encourage anyone and everyone reading this to take a journey to the YouTube channel and really give the work a listen: https://www.youtube.com/user/Anarchist86ed
Be on the lookout for Entry 3 of my Dr. Forrester audio logs (titled, Presence.) That will be posted on July 18th, 2020., on the Anarchist86ed channel! On the channel is the rest of the completed episodes of Charon, Alien: Solara, and the feature length audio drama, Spirit Eliminators. Thank you for reading and remember to support smaller artists and projects if you enjoy it! It is up to us to spread what we think should be seen, heard, and\or known!