By Brian Indre
A group of high school students from Falls Church got creative while stuck at home due to the novel coronavirus by producing Rockfish Gap, a fictional serial podcast. The drama is reminiscent of the Golden Age of Radio, before the advent of television and the internet, and like all good stories, it aims to keep listeners on edge as the series unfolds over eight episodes.
Rockfish Gap is a new fictional podcast that premiered on July 1 and gets its namesake from the location where it takes place, a valley where the Blue Ridge Mountains join the Shenandoah Valley.
The podcast begins by taking the listener on a journey with four students who leave the Little City to briefly escape the 2020 pandemic, but the quartet vanishes deep into the Shenandoah forest as they search for the White House of the Woods that is only known through folklore. An investigative journalist and her eccentric sidekick try to crack the case of the missing four as their tattered campsite and an old voice recorder were the only things left behind.
Colter Adams, a recent graduate of George Mason High School, and his brother Charlie Adams are editors for the George Mason High School newspaper The Lasso (or were, in Colter’s case), and are both actors who have performed in plays at Falls Church’s Creative Cauldron, where a majority of the cast is from.
Adams is also a composer and music producer, which he contributes to the podcast.
“There’s a whole community of artists who have nothing to do right now, they’re bored out of their minds,” said Colter, who came up with the idea to create the podcast along with his brother Charlie. The brothers combined their love of the outdoors and of listening to the early radio show, “The Big Broadcast,” as influence to their podcast idea.
“We drew a lot of inspiration from that classic style of old broadcasting along with the new wave of really well edited and produced audio dramas that are gaining in popularity,” Colter said. “My brother and I are also huge outdoors people, we love spending time in the Shenandoahs and have spent countless hours out there hiking trails. It became a personal thing for us because we have heard a lot of stories, myths, and legends from the area, and we wanted to take some of that mythology that is underemphasized or unknown and turn it into something more coherent,” which is where the idea for the podcast took shape, Colter explained.
He explains that putting together a podcast or radio show was a way to pursue a lot of the artistic projects that they had already been working on.
“It’s been really hard as a musician in a band to find opportunities for expression in the community during Covid-19 and under quarantine. Charlie and my friends that are involved in this project are all artists, and we really wanted to find a medium that is just as effective and powerful, something that can communicate and tell a story without the problems that would come with doing live shows and the issues of getting large groups of people together at this time,” Colter said.
During the quarantine, Colter and Charlie, who serve as the podcast’s writers and showrunners, began the production process with the help and expertise of a friend Andrew Nguyen who serves as writer and executive producer in the project.
Nguyen is an established young filmmaker who recently graduated from Falls Church High School and is off to Virginia Commonwealth University arts school in the fall.
A podcast proved to be the perfect medium to produce while social distancing, since the cast and crew were able to contribute from near and afar.
Natalie Ingalls, Ciara Curtain and CC Meade contributed from Falls Church, while Derek Dallas recorded his parts from southern Virginia and Gillian Murphy recorded her parts from Cambodia, where she currently resides.
Two family friends of the Adams recorded their parts from their home in Oklahoma, and were chosen for their accents that helped give life to the dialogue between characters.
Charlie explains that during the creative process of storyboarding, what had at first seemed impossible to portray or communicate through audio became possible through the talent of the cast and their character development. “It was really cool to see them take these personalities that were nothing before and make the character who they were,” he said.
Rockfish Gap has more production behind the scenes than what will be heard on the podcast. Dolly Lebow and Daisy Forbes are responsible for the show’s aesthetic, including all of the art for the show’s website, Instagram page and t-shirt design that will soon be for sale. Katy Shakula is marketing director and responsible for the visual advertising content.
All eight episodes of Rockfish Gap will be made available on all podcast platforms when they are released weekly on Wednesdays.