iHeartRadio, FlynnPictureCo., Psychopia Pictures and UpperRoom Productions have defied the pandemic to complete production on There Be Monsters, a 10-part narrative sci-fi thriller podcast. Starring are Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker‘s John Boyega and American Crime: The Assassination of Gianni Versace‘s Darren Criss. There Be Monsters is produced by Beau Flynn of FlynnPictureCo., Dan Bush of Psychopia Pictures and Boyega’s UpperRoom Productions, and it will be available later this year on the iHeartPodcast Network.
Boyega plays Jack Locke, a mysterious hero with a vendetta who infiltrates a Silicon Valley body hacking startup run by an enigmatic CEO Max Fuller (Criss), whose highly secretive creations promise to enhance human biology in incredible ways. Of course, every drug has a side effect.
iHeartRadio began developing this with the producers in late 2019 as part of its expanding slate of immersive PodFiction audio dramas. As the creative team was getting ready to fly to London, Atlanta and L.A. to record the actors in early 2020, the pandemic hit and shut them down. Despite the challenges of executing a scripted fictional podcast thriller remotely with a full cast of actors, they harnessed a completely remote technological process. Each cast member was sent a “Studio in a Box,” which included important materials from a professional studio microphone to tutorial videos – which allowed the cast to record studio-quality “scripted” audio from the safety of their own homes, while still performing together. They connected virtually via teleconference across multiple continents and time zones. The director, producers and actors connected virtually daily for six hours to record – and over the course of two weeks the production captured over 400 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 Conal Byrne, president of the iHeartPodcast Network.
The PodFi also stars Marley Shelton (Rampage), Clark Gregg (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and Tony nominee Sahr Ngaujah (Fela!, Patti Cake$). The series was created and directed by Dan Bush (The Vault, The Signal), who co-wrote along with Nicholas Tecosky. Boyega was the first to attach as star and producer.
“Getting to explore this format of storytelling whilst also adjusting to new methods of recording with the cast members made it an exciting process,” said Boyega. “I’m thrilled it all came together and hope audiences are just as drawn in as I was to this sci-fi thriller series.”
Of his creation, Bush said “There Be Monsters is a psychological thriller that chronicles the rise of humankind 2.0, and the disruptions to society that come with it. We chose to format this story as a scripted podcast because it is an immersive, storytelling playground.”