Recently I hit a milestone on my audio podcast Skeptoid: the 150th episode. I wanted to do something really fun, and decided a lavish broadway musical was the way to go. Normally my listeners expect 10 minutes of me talking in a dry and boring manner, so I figured this would be a fun way to surprise everyone.
The concept was a musical version of a secret meeting of the Illuminati, ruing the fact that the population has discovered alternative and faith-based everything, and thus profits are down.
It’s all well and good to make a plan like that, but how does one accomplish such a feat when one has no musical background or ability? One opens one’s rolodex. If you’ve seen my short film Here Be Dragons, you’ve heard the work of my friend, film composer Lee Sanders (visit him on Facebook or check out his web site). Lee recently won his second BMI Music Award for reality television with his work on The Amazing Race. He knows how to turn an idea into music, so I sprang my proposition on him at one of our OC Skeptics in the Pub nights a few months ago.
What followed was primarily weeks and weeks of minimal progress, mostly me waiting for Lee to give me a melody so I could write lyrics that match it, and Lee waiting for me to give him lyrics so he could write a melody to match them. Lavish broadway musicals require casts of hundreds, so I put out a few calls on Twitter and Facebook for any skeptical friends who can sing and who wanted to donate their time and talents to a fun project. Three replied: Peter Zachos (also a talented film composer), Gus Dunn, and Chris Humphreys. But three does not a cast of hundreds make, so Lee called up his friend Eric Santiestevan (yet another film composer, these guys are like weeds), and Eric managed to wrangle in a bunch of hired hands, bringing our total vocal strength to 19. And then, to put it over the top, Lee also hired a Votox programmer. It’s a synthesized symphonic choir which, properly mixed in the background, made our 19 sound like the Mormon Tabernacle.
Pieces all in place, recording began. I recorded my part separately at Lee’s studio, aptly named The Gulag. (People have complimented me on my singing, but it wasn’t really singing. It was really just a lot of shouting and whining, not unlike my normal daily routine.) The choir was recorded at a studio in Los Angeles, with Lee conducting, which was pretty damn fun to watch.
I didn’t want to be only one to have fun watching them, so I brought along my camcorder to tape as much of it as I could. And I now present for you as much of the footage as I was able to cobble together: The Making of “Screwed!”, Skeptoid Episode #150. Click the HD button if you have good bandwidth: