Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: What was your inspiration for founding Snow Ronin Studio, and how do you feel that your background in theatre will complement your work with the digital content platform?
Reginald Nelson: I was inspired by both Asian and American popular culture such as manga, comic books, and anime to create a digital content-driven company focused on building new mythologies. The audio digital drama format plays directly to my skill set, because I come from a theatre background, so I know how to direct actors, write scripts, work with visual artists and designers, etc. I also know how to market and fundraise which will be absolutely essential if Snow Ronin Studio is going to be here for the long haul.
BD: How would you describe the premise of your company’s first project, Red Sun?
RN: Red Sun is the story of disgraced U.S. marine turned classical musician, Miles Moto, and his struggle to restore honor to himself and his family by becoming a modern-day samurai in urban Los Angeles.
The first storyline is called “Hajima” which means start or begin in Japanese. My two favorite action movies of all time are Batman Begins and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I’m certain audiences will “hear” echoes of Chris Nolan and the Russo brothers in this piece.
Red Sun is a 21st century take on the Batman mythos, except with an Asian American man as the lead. Miles Moto is a former marine, a musician, and heir to Moto Corporation: a consumer electronics and entertainment empire. Diversity in comics and entertainment in general is extremely important to me, so I wanted a lead superhero of color. Plus, it would have been too damned easy for me to create another black superhero.
BD: What encouraged you to tell the story of Red Sun by way of an audio drama?
RN: I fell in love with the format after producing The Primordials with my old business partner, Neil Lewis. I love the fact that you can tell a huge, epic, big-budget blockbuster type of story without the millions of dollars required for film. If an audio drama is well executed, it can give an audience the same thrills and emotions of television, film, or theatre. In fact, I prefer to think of digital drama as “theatre of the mind” or “theatre on the go” since you can enjoy these stories on a mobile device. Also, the freedom of the internet enables storytellers to just GO for it without dealing with the gatekeepers of Marvel, DC, Darkhorse, Paramount, NBC, etc.
BD: Producing audio dramas can be a long and involved process, often requiring a very talented creative team. How would you describe the creative process for Red Sun, and how long does it generally take to go from concept to air date?
RN: Aw man…that varies depending on how much is your budget? Lol. Seriously, though, because Red Sun was launching Snow Ronin Studio, it took roughly a year from concept to broadcast online. First, I had to write/re-write the script, find a concept artist, then find an executive producer (Darin Munnell) to help me with logistics like locating a recording studio & sound engineer. After the creative production process, then I had to work with GoDaddy to design the website which took even more time; however, now that the first project is complete, I’m looking at only about a four month turn around.
BD: How many episodes are planned for the audio drama, and in what manner or timeline will they be released?
RN: There are five episodes to complete a story arc. Each episode is a 12 to 20-minute long audio digital file that users can download to their smartphone, tablet, or laptop. We release all five episodes at once similar to Netflex. I’d like to launch new storylines & characters every Fall (NY Comic-Con), Spring (WonderCon), and Summer (Comic-Con) around all the major cons.
BD: What is the most important piece of advice that you can offer to fans who may be interested in creating their own audio dramas?
RN: First thing I’d say is listen to a lot of old-school radio drama to get a better idea of the medium. Second, I would go online and find some of the radio drama scripts (Green Hornet, Flash Gordon, The Shadow, etc.) in order to see the proper script format. Finally, focus on the story, make sure it’s so compelling that people will actually want to hear it. It always comes back to the story, because that’s the foundation on which you going to build everything on.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are currently working that you are able to share with our readers?
RN: I’m currently working on the second storyline for Red Sun called Return of the Yakuza in which the infamous and notorious Japanese mafia orders a hit on someone close to the main character, Miles Moto. I’m looking to launch this story next summer in time for Comic-Con 2016.
BD: What is the best way for fans to find more information about Red Sun and Snow Ronin Studio?
RN: Check out the website, www.snowronin.com, to both preview/purchase episodes and sign up for our quarterly e-newsletter. They can also contact me directly at info (at) snowronin (dot) com. Finally, be on the lookout for Snow Ronin Studio at WonderCon 2016 in Los Angeles!