Stephanie Benson, Editor of the Live the Adventure Letter, recently sat down with Bill Heid, Executive Producer at Heirloom Audio Productions to talk about Heirloom Audio being nominated for 6 Voice Arts Awards and other exciting news!
Stephanie: Congratulations to Heirloom Audio for being nominated for 6 Voice Arts Awards this year! That’s very exciting. Bill, what was your reaction when you heard your audio dramas were nominated?
Bill: Thanks! I think my main reaction was just contemplating how blessed I am to be able to do these productions in the first place. I mean, God has surrounded me with so many talented people. When I started Heirloom Audio a few years back, I never in my wildest dreams believed we would be getting any type of awards for these productions. The truth is, at that time, I didn’t even know there were awards for audio dramas. So sometimes it’s a little overwhelming. Bottom line: My first impulse is a profound gratitude for all God has done.
Stephanie: The 3 divisions that several of your audio dramas are being nominated for are Audio Engineering, Outstanding Storytelling or Spoken Word, and Outstanding Production. How have you been able to achieve the success that you have with your audio dramas in these 3 areas?
Bill: Well first, our audio engineers, Rob Jorgenson and Todd Busteed, really deserve this recognition. They are the best in the business. Period. But not just that, their commitment to excellence is one driven by the need to do their best as God’s “stewards” of these projects. And working with John Fornof on the storytelling and production side is a pure joy for me. When you work on these productions, passions run high and there is always the temptation to let the moment get the best of you as we debate back and forth how the production will flow. But with John… it’s always grace. And very frankly, I think the success is simply a by-product of all the hard work and dedication to getting it right.
Stephanie: One of the main reasons you started Heirloom Audio Productions and adapting G.A. Henty into audio dramas is because of your strong belief in the importance of storytelling. Talk about why you’re such an advocate for the importance of storytelling, especially from a Christian perspective.
Bill: Sure! I believe that history is God’s story, a story of victory and triumph, and I believe that story needs to be told. Jesus, of course, was a master storyteller. And I also think stories need to be told “aloud.” That’s the best way for the brain to create powerful “sticky” images so the story can be remembered. The Bible talks a lot about being able to remember. By telling these Henty stories I want to help foster imagination, critical thought and great heroes for our kids. I want to bring history to life. I want to make learning exciting and fun. And above all I want to inspire the next generation.
Stephanie: Then this isn’t just about entertainment or even an education in the facts of history.
Bill: Exactly! Although those are important things and certainly a by-product of great historical storytelling, it’s also important for us to provide an alternative to the postmodern attempt to take all the references to Christ out of history. For me, this is about truth. These projects are also about encouraging and creating passion in the next generation… it’s about what God has done in time and space. I would also add that there is a difference between “telling a tale” and sharing a story. When you share a story… as a creature made in God’s image… you attempt to get into the heart and mind of the listener. It’s a form of community rather than slogan shouting.
Stephanie: Last year, you were nominated for 10 awards and won 6 for In Freedom’s Cause, your second production. What was it like last time when you made the trip out to Hollywood to accept the awards?
Bill: It was really a lot of fun. There are so many wonderful people in the audio industry. And the chance to hang out with people from Pixar, Disney and other major producers was mind-blowing, again from the standpoint that I never in my wildest dreams thought I could be competing, as a distinctly Christian company in that arena. And you know what? I learned that secular audiences (even atheists) enjoy a great story. Remember, this isn’t a Christian awards ceremony. So to win so many awards for In Freedom’s Cause in a venue like this was very satisfying to say the least.
Stephanie: After winning last year, what were your goals and expectations for this year’s productions?
Bill: Winning does put a little pressure on you to continue to strive for excellence. At least you know you can win, which is helpful. We’re taking the same perspective for this year’s productions. It’s back to Stonewall Jackson and Robert E Lee. Both were known for saying… Duty is ours, consequences are Gods. So I agree, we just do our best and let the chips fall where they may.
Stephanie: It seems like Christians have a hard time competing in the arts, specifically as we talk about producing superior quality audio dramas like you have done with your company, Heirloom Audio. Why have you been able to break the mold and achieve what you have?
Bill: I’ll never forget being backstage after winning and receiving the awards last year. To have my peers in this business come up to you and congratulate you or even thank you for telling a great story is not something I expected to happen. I think Christians think there’s no way we can compete with distinctly Christian content in a secular field. But that’s simply not true. For the most part, I think we as Christians do shoddy work and then blame our secular peers for extreme bias. I’m sure some of that is true. But for the most part…I think we as Christians need to work harder and do better work.
Stephanie: When a family listens to one of your audio dramas, what is it that you hope they get out of it?
Bill: I like that you said “when a family listens.” That’s important because when we listen as families, we share common thoughts and ideas. These thoughts and ideas become “code”… in a sense, for the family… a sort of mutually agreed-upon code that can be lived by. The heroes in our stories make godly choices, even when it’s not easy. That’s what our kids (and parents) need to learn. I want them to have fun, be entertained and remember the folks God has sent to us as great examples. I think this “Hebrews Hall Of Fame” (Hebrews 11) idea continues on and speaks to us through history as God paints this incredible picture from eternity to the end of history.
Stephanie: You have produced 6 audio dramas so far. Any new releases coming out before the end of the year?
Bill: You bet! In the Reign of Terror (a story of the French Revolution) will be our Christmas release and we think it’s sure to be a favorite among our listeners. In fact, it’s a powerful and uniquely relevant story for our current state of affairs in America. We can’t wait to share it with everyone!
Stephanie: What are your goals for 2017 with Heirloom Audio Productions?
Bill: Our goal is to produce 3 or 4 great Henty audio adventures. In fact, the script for our first 2017 production is already finished and ready to begin recording. The title is Wulf the Saxon. It’s one of Henty’s most popular books. The team continues to be very excited about the opportunity to bring Christian history to life. That’s our goal and our passion.
To find out our latest news, audio productions and happenings, check out our website www.HeirloomAudio.com.