Spoor by Dylan Campbell – Q&A

  • Firstly, can you tell us a little about Spoor? What it’s about and how did you come up with the idea?

Spoor is a mystery thriller about a Detective in the Washington State Patrol who begins to see his world unravel as he investigates a case that mirrors his wife’s disappearance one year prior. The story takes place in a fictionalized version of the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State on the reservation of a fictionalized Native American tribe. The story combines elements of the paranormal with the structure of a mystery – as the protagonist, Detective Jackson, investigates the murder of an indigenous teenager, he begins to hear voices of past victims, including that of his missing wife Shelly. Many of the characters are broken in one way or another and find their ideologies clashing as they investigate the case.

While parts of the story are based on real things – whether it be the Washington State Patrol or the mythology of the Coastal Salish people – it’s not meant to be representative of any of those groups in the least. It’s more a story about humans and the fear that we can exert on one another.

 

  • What made you want to enter your story into the Podcast Contest?

I knew that I really wanted to devote the time necessary to turning Spoor into the story that I thought it could be. I also wanted my work to be seen by people and to receive feedback on my writing in general – I never thought that I’d win by any means, I just wanted to put my best foot forward. The Podcast Contest gave me an avenue to do that and a deadline to work towards.

 

  • How did you feel when you found out that you were one of our winners?

When I found out that I won I was elated. Spoor was a product of months of research and story development – the idea was originally created with a good friend of mine for our thesis screenwriting class, back in the Spring of 2020. I remember being sent home during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, our senior year of college cut short, and wondering how in the world I would ever get anything made. Since then, Spoor has grown and changed tremendously – it was an idea that I kept returning to again and again. Two years of seasoning – ingesting and analyzing more and more of the mystery/thriller genre – and a lot more research really helped get it to where it is now. Being so early in my career, it really means a lot when people respond to my work.

 

  • Do you want to develop the script further? If so, what will you look to change?

I absolutely want to develop the script further and see what kinds of stories could play out in its world. In terms of the pilot, I think that I can definitely make the story a little tighter and wring the most out of every line. It’s meant to be a tense and moody thriller – hopefully, in cutting down on any fluff I can maintain the pacing of the story. Additionally, I wrote a series outline long ago that I’d like to change. The core tenants and arc of the story, so to speak, may stay the same, but I’d like to revisit the execution of the mystery as a whole.

 

  • What do you feel will be your biggest challenge in terms of getting your script off the page and recorded?

I’m trying to dial in each character’s voice so that in scenes where multiple characters are talking – Detective Jackson and Trooper Hines are interviewing a person of interest – each character feels distinctive in what they say and how they say it. Executing that and seeing how the sound design plays out will be interesting to see, for sure.

 

  • Have you written any other podcast scripts before? What do you feel are the main differences between writing an audio drama over a screenplay?

Before Spoor, I had not written any other podcast scripts. Since there is no set format, I kind of had to comb through a bunch of different radio play/ podcast scripts to get a feel for it. I’ve always loved the use of sound in my screenplays, but learning to write for just the ear was definitely an adjustment. It just takes a lot of trial and error – fine-tuning the line between unnecessary and necessary exposition – but ultimately is a lot of fun. You get to really build a world through dialogue.

 

  • What are your aspirations for the podcast once it’s completed? Getting a full-season greenlit? A film or TV adaptation? 

I would absolutely love for Spoor to be greenlit for a full season – I think that’s where it could get a chance to show its full potential as a story. I also think that it would allow each character arc to fully play out in the world they live in – which along with the mystery, is the crux of what the show is about – humans living in fear of what they can do to each other.

Coming from a screenwriting background, Spoor was initially thought of as a TV Pilot – I couldn’t help it, my brain would just automatically think of the story visually. I would love to see how the world is detailed and the story is drawn out visually, through a TV adaptation.

 

  • Do you have any advice for screenwriters who are looking to write a narrative podcast for the first time?

I’d look at your existing screenplays as well as ideas that haven’t been written and think about if they need to be told visually. Does this content need to be seen to be understood and fully appreciated or could it just be listened to? The same goes for any narrative podcast idea – is this content best told through audio? Is there a device the narrator or protagonist uses to communicate the story through? Is the story structured in a way that would make sense thru audio- is it a narrator guiding us thru the story or is it more of a radio play between the characters or both?

I’m by no means at all an expert – I’m still very much learning how to write in this space efficiently and creatively – but I found these questions helped. However, once you kind of get into the fact that “okay everything really is auditory” then you can have fun with it. Unlike screenplays that focus on what you see, there are no rules as to what you hear. Get as wild and creative and outside the medium as possible with it.

 

Thanks so much and best wishes for the recording!

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