Talking With: Creator Allison Volk about Comedic Con Job Podcast ‘Curtis & Otis’
Interview with creator Allison Volk revealing her new narrative podcast, adapted from her own screenplay, that’s filled with cons, comedy, and controlled chaos.
This edition of Talking With focuses on writer-director-actor Allison Volk, the mind behind the madcap podcast Curtis & Otis. It tells the story of two middle-aged bachelors who get in over their heads when a tricky female con artist scams a winning $5000 lottery ticket from them.
Volk penned the storyline with the plan of creating a feature film, but as with many things, the pandemic had a different plan. After adapting the story into an audio-only script, she began recording with producers and actors from her previous work. Volk voices Augusta, and along for the ride are Colin Martin and Bodie Newcomb in the title roles respectively. Additional characters are voiced by Paul Tigue, Paulina Lule, Kaitlin Huwe, Tess Lina, Pete Uribe and Noah Strattan.
The original Curtis & Otis script, which transformed into this wild podcast, notably advanced to the 2nd round at the Austin Film Festival screenplay competition, besides making the coveted Red List on Coverfly. When Volk decided to shift the project from a feature film to an audio narrative, she knew the work required would be difficult. In the end, her story became a chaotically fun 7-episode audio series, each approximately 20 minutes in length.
Although this is Volk’s first time creating an audio narrative podcast, she has filled a wide variety of other roles in film and onstage. Lauded as a talented stage writer, her plays such as Rite of Seymour and Sonnets, Songs & Sorry, Will’s Been Dead 400 Years! have premiered to high praise on both coasts.
Volk wrote, starred in and received critical attention for the dark comedy feature, Deany Bean is Dead, now on Amazon Prime. After writing, producing and starring in her first feature film, the modern-day adaptation of Macbeth called Innocent Sleep, Volk earned ‘Best Lead Actress’ at the 2017 Utah Film Awards. The next year at UFA, she won ‘Best Screenplay’ for her feature script, Tiger Woman. Prior to her acclaimed behind the scenes work, Volk was excited to make her feature ﬁlm debut as 'Jane' in Disney's 2013 western-action film, The Lone Ranger.
To learn more, we are Talking With Allison Volk.
Give us a quick overview of “Curtis & Otis”.
Allison Volk: Curtis & Otis is the story of two bumbling bachelors who live in a garage. They win a lotto scratch ticket only to have the money scammed from them by a conniving con artist-turned-actress. Furious, they attempt to scam her back to get revenge… but find that her feminine wiles are more sophisticated than they initially anticipated. Narrative comedy.
What inspired you to create this story?
AV: I live in a building that was built in 1923, with a garage made to house much smaller vehicles; you could never fit a modern SUV in this garage. One day I thought, “What would happen if someone were forced to live in this garage? What kind of person would find this acceptable?” From there, I built a story that I think is very funny — two traveling Renaissance Faire performers who become stranded in Bakersfield, California take up residence in a distant relative’s garage while they try to scrape enough money together to get their lives back.
As an actor, do you approach a podcast the same as a film or TV show?
AV: It’s a little different. The only tool you have is your voice, so every inflection becomes more important to telling a great story. I also found that the performances needed to be a little bigger than they are on screen, which I think is part of the heightened experience of an audio story versus the naturalism we’ve grown so used to on camera.
Did you do anything specific to help you bring Augusta to life?
AV: Yes! I built a pregnancy belly, which was fun, to see what that would be like. We took some promotional photos using the belly as well, which helped me feel her out.
The cast has a fun chemistry, so did you record it together or separately? How did that all work?
AV: The pandemic made it impossible for us to record this piece in the same room. Every actor recorded separately, in fact, which meant that a lot of work went into the editing. To record, I brought one actor at a time to a recording studio in Signal Hill, California. The actor would sit on one side of the room, maskless with the mic, and I sat across the room, masked up, and I read with them and offered direction. This was before the vaccines were available and we all felt very cautious. Some actors elected to record from home when they had the right equipment available.
However, most of these actors have worked together before. A lot of them were in my most recent feature film, Deany Bean is Dead, which you can find on Amazon Prime.
Do you have a favorite episode or moment from the series?
AV: There are so many moments that I love. I think my favorite dynamic is the romance that builds between Chippy and Eedie; those two really captured my heart. But I also think Nigel is hilarious, and still crack up at some of his readings. Fun fact: the actor who plays Nigel is actually the same person who plays Curtis.
Why did you want to create a narrative podcast?
AV: This project was initially intended to be a feature-length film that I had planned to direct. It was going to be my directing debut, shot in the summer of 2020. I’d teamed up with a great producer, Chris Cannon, who ended up also reading one of the roles in the podcast, and we had the beginnings of a great production when the pandemic hit and everything was put on hold “indefinitely.” When it started to seem like we would never get to shoot it, I adapted the script to a narrative podcast form and we sallied forth. It turned out to be great fun experimenting with a new type of media.
What do you hope listeners take away from the series?
AV: I just hope it’s fun. There’s a core element of love and romance, but really… it’s meant to be fun.
Will there be a second season for Curtis & Otis?
AV: Well, that's still to be determined.
Finally, is there anything else you’re working on that we can watch for?
AV: Right now I have a couple of horror-comedy scripts in the works that I’m very excited about, and next summer a short film I wrote and directed, What Katy Did, will play at Comic Con San Diego. That is an experience I am really looking forward to!
Keep up with Allison Volk at: AllisonVolk.com
Listen to Curtis & Otis at: CurtisAndOtis.com
About the Creator
I write about entertainment and the inspiring people who create it. Interviews with actors and filmmakers revealing their latest projects and what influences them creatively.
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