The first time I listened to Jump Blue, I was slightly thrown off center; it took a couple of minutes to acclimate my ear.
The story starts with a quote from an interview and I thought to myself “Oh, cool. A documentary about free diving.” Quickly after that quote, we’re in a lecture hall listening to Russian free diver Natalia Molchanova, a world record holder. She was speaking about diving to great depths on a single breath. But, something didn’t sound quite right. There was an odd cut in the crowd ambiance. A tinkle of music. A spaciousness to the hall and the crowd that seemed maybe too spacious — or something. I couldn’t tell exactly what.
Then, as the story creatively segued into an actual dive, I realized this was a sound-designed dramatization. And off I went. I was sucked in. So much so that as Natalia dived, I lost my breath. The production was transportive.
That was the first listen. On the second listen, I had a hundred questions. If that wasn’t Natalia, who was it and what words was she speaking? Does a fictionalized approach to Natalia’s story get at the truth better than a standard documentary approach? If you’re working with an actor, how do you know you’ve got it right? Does the actor know what the sound design will be as they read?
Nicolas Jackson answered all these questions and many more on this episode of HowSound (listen below). Nicolas works at Afonica, a radio production company in Spain, and he was one of the producers of Jump Blue. The story aired on Between the Ears, a program from BBC Radio 3. And, I should mention, Jump Blue just received a “Commendation” from the BBC’s 2017 Drama Awards for Best Single Drama.