On July 19, 2014,
We’re Alive
will reach the end of its long journey.

But that is still 5 days away, and
Kc Wayland
(BFA/Film and Television ’08) is still tweaking it to make sure the finale is just right.

We’re Alive is an audio serial drama, which chronicles the story of Army Reserve Soldier Michael Cross, whose life is turned upside down when people begin to change into something else and walk the Earth. The show, which began back in May 2009, proves that the modern audio drama is far from dead.

Promo Image for the We're Alive Series Finale

Promo Image for the We’re Alive Series Finale

Wayland, who now works at Dodge College as the Digital Applications Specialist, initially developed the idea for television, well before The Walking Dead graced our screens. However, since it would have needed a large budget, he began to brainstorm other venues. At the time, he was listening to Jim Dale narrate the Harry Potter audio books, and creating the sound design on his senior thesis film. He thought that an audio drama might be the perfect fit for his idea. He enjoyed the idea of audio forcing the listener to use their imagination, and fill in the gaps for themselves.

Despite the show being framed around a zombie outbreak, Wayland isn’t a huge fan of the genre. He changed the things he always hated about zombies to compensate, and to make the world his own. Some are smarter. Some have their own agendas. At the end of the day, this isn’t your typical zombie apocalypse.

At the end of its run, the show will have spanned 143 episodes, coming in at just under 50 hours’ worth of audio. Each episode goes through an intense process, from start to finish. Wayland, who learned how to write quickly and efficiently during his time at Dodge College, would take about a week to write an entire chapter’s arc. Then, he and his team would record two chapters at time (which consists of 6 episodes total) during a long, 12-hour day.

image of actors in the midst of a recording session on the Foley Stage

The actors in the midst of a recording session.

The recordings would then go to a top level editor, who would roughly piece each episode together. A second editor would clean it up a bit further, before Wayland would start to work on the final edit, adding in the sound effects and music typically associated with audio dramas. Each episode would be edited over the course of a week, with the team churning out 3 episodes a month, then taking a fourth week off to relax, recharge, and get ready for the next chapter.

“A good audio drama needs good editors and good writers. Film allows you to actually see what is happening, but with an audio drama, an editor needs to be able to paint a picture in someone’s mind using only sounds. It’s not as easy as it looks,” Wayland said.

Wayland has been joined by other Dodge College alumni during the course of the show, who assist in various forms. In fact, part of the reason his co-producer, Grayson Stone (BFA/Film Producution ‘14), went to Dodge was because of the show. Stone started as an intern on the show, and worked his way up to becoming Wayland’s right hand man. Other Dodge alumni include editors Phillip Englert (BFA/Film Production ’13) &
John DiGiacomo
(BFA/Film Production ’13), and line producer Simone Knepper (BFA/Creative Producing ’13).

Image of Kc Wayland in the control booth during one of the recording sessions.

Kc Wayland in the control booth during one of the recording sessions.

Over the years, the show as gained quite the following, averaging about a million downloads a month. The fandom anxiously awaits each episode, and some even began producing their own podcast, dedicated to discussing the story of the show.

“We don’t get paid for this,” Wayland said. “But the reward for us is the people who praise the show. They genuinely love the show, and help spread the word. They’re our biggest asset.”

After 5 years, the show will culminate at a live event in Los Angeles on July 19. The cast will perform the penultimate Chapter 47 live for the audience, and then, after a brief intermission, Chapter 48, the series finale, will play for the first time. An after party / meet and greet will the cast and crew will follow that. For those who didn’t get tickets to the event before it sold out, the finale will be up for sale on the same day, and on the
iTunes feed
a week later.

As for what’s next for Kc, he has a few other series he would like to development eventually. But of course, everyone wants to know about the future of the We’re Alive universe.

“I have some ideas that could take it to another medium, but there are no solid plans yet. But, I will definitely follow the project where ever it goes.”