Episode Six: Mischa and Lauren
Mischa Stanton roasts Lauren Shippen.
Co-Producer, Editor, & Host: Tess Cocchio
Co-Producer, Editor, & Sound Designer: Julia Schifini
Theme Music Composer: Emily E. Meo
Graphic/Visual Art Designer: Mandy Corcoran
Creative Consultant: Wil Williams
Find & Support Lauren Shippen's's Work:
Find & Support Mischa's's Work:
All music, other than the theme music, is by Scott Buckley and licensed under a Creative Commons license.
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FULL TRANSCRIPT - EPISODE FIVE: MICHELLE AND BRIGGON
TRANSCRIPT EPISODE SIX: MISCHA AND LAUREN
TESS (as narrator): Welcome to Honey Roast, a wholesome hopepunk podcast where every other week, guest stars “roast” a creator that they love and are inspired by. Together, we’re bringing a little more love and hope in the world and introducing listeners to new creators through sweetness and delight. Major thank you to our Indiegogo Producers who helped make this show a reality: Robert Anderson, Robert Van de Motter, Alex Hensley, Kyle Decker, Richard Kreutz-Landry, Ryan Boelter, Tau Zaman, and Bradley Duesler.
MISCHA: You don't need to know much about the plot to marvel at how much love and care and hard work went into it.
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TESS (as narrator): This is Honey Roast.
MISCHA: That she encourages everyone by example, to put in 110% effort to show their best work every time. She just lifts people up by her presence. And I knew that this was gonna be someone I needed to keep track of.
TESS (as narrator): I'm Tess and I'm your host.
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TESS: Hi, Mischa, how are you doing?
MISCHA: I'm well, thanks for having me on the show.
TESS: So tell me... who are you roasting?
MISCHA: Today I would like to roast a very close personal friend of mine, a fellow podcaster, genius human being... Lauren Shippen.
TESS (as narrator): Lauren Shippen is the brilliant mind behind The Bright Sessions, a show where Dr. Bright provides therapy for the strange and unusual and follows their sessions and explores their stories. She created, wrote, acted in, and produced The Bright Sessions and The AM Archives, a post Bright Sessions mini-series exclusive to Luminary. She performs in ARCS, an actual-play Dungeons and Dragons podcast, and she's one of the founders of Atypical Artists: an entertainment production studio. Lauren is a writer, actor, producer, and by all accounts, genuinely good and caring person.
TESS: Did you first meet Lauren, or did you encounter her work first?
MISCHA: I encountered her work first.
TESS: Tell me... When was the first time you encountered her work?
MISCHA: I was on a plane when I first absorbed Lauren's works. I was flying back to my home in Los Angeles from a weekend spent in Rockville, Maryland. And we were trying to promote my own podcast at the time and not really getting super far, so it was kind of a downbeat of a weekend. And... I decided on the ride home, I was like, "Alright, well, I don't know. I'm just going to chill out and like maybe try some new stuff. I've heard about a couple shows. Maybe I'll give something new try. And I'll feel better." And I press go on The Bright Sessions. And I slammed the entire first season on the plane ride.
MISCHA: Yep, I like... hit go and I got through an entire season. It was like a six hour flight. I just kept listening. And I was so engrossed. The writing was so intricate, and heartfelt and layered. And I found the direction to be nuanced and just that there was so much packed into it. And I, I really fell in love with it.
TESS: Do you recall if there was a point in the season that you're listening to on the plane where you were like, wow, this is... this is a person's work, who I am going to have to follow.
MISCHA: I think it was the very first episode. I think it was the one because, because Lauren also performs in that show, as a person who has anxiety attacks, which is like a really difficult thing for an actor to do, especially actors who have anxiety. I've worked with actors who have anxiety who have to act out anxiety attacks, and it's... it can be really trying, and it can make you feel really vulnerable. And to put that out into the very first episode of the thing you put out on the internet is bold, and it 100% paid off. And I knew that this was going to be someone I needed to keep track of.
TESS: How quickly did you end up consuming the rest of her work that she had out at the time?
MISCHA: I mean, season one was almost all there was at the time when I listened to it. I heard the whole first season on the plane and she had released a few episodes of season two. But in in her mid-season hiatus message on the podcast feed, there was a call you know, "Thank you for supporting the show, please donate to our Patreon. Maybe if we make enough money on Patreon we'll hire a sound designer." And I listened to that on the plane, on the same plane ride. And I said, "I'm one of those. I'm a sound designer, I could do it, I could help this. I could make this writing shine." And I emailed her like as soon as I got Wi Fi connection after the plane ride. And we met for coffee like a week later. And it was very clear that Lauren's an incredible writer and an incredible performer, and a really, really great director, but that she was pretty much stretching her limits of sound design. And if I could help come in, so she could focus on the rest of it. That was enough.
TESS: What was it like meeting Lauren the first time?
MISCHA: We really vibed together very, very quickly. She's so friendly and genuinely excited about saying good important things in media and giving people representation and, and saying things that need to be said so people might start thinking things that need to be thought. And I don't know, she's just really nice and friendly. And, and.... I don't know what I expected. I had just moved to LA really, and I was very intimidated by you know, taking coffee with people whose work you admire in LA. And Lauren was really my first big meeting and it made that stress melt away instantly, because that's just... Lauren can do that. She's very open and inviting and I mean, to this day, she is constantly reaching out to new people who are creating podcasts and people who are writing for the first time and people who are just getting into it and mentoring and just offering smiles and suggestions and, I don't know, just being really great all the time. I wish it was hyperbole, but it's true.
TESS: Was it at that first coffee meeting where you lived so well together that you were like, "Okay, we're going to be working on The Bright Sessions together"?
MISCHA: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I mean, we sat down and I said, "First off, I love your show." And then Lauren said, "I love your show!" And I went, "You've heard of my show? That's weird." Oh, this was Ars Paradoxica. That's just the show I made.
TESS (as narrator): Ars Paradoxica is a love letter to physics, fiction, and to the future. It's a disorienting journey through space time and the Cold War. It's a tome of secret history you stumbled across in a library in the dead of night. It's also an award winning serial audio drama. When an experiment in a time much like our own goes horribly awry. Dr. Sally Grissom finds herself stranded in the past and entrenched in the activities of a clandestine branch of the US government. Grissom and her team quickly learned that there's no safety net when toying with the fundamental logic of the universe. Spoiler alert: this show is incredible. And my first exposure to any of it was actually through a crossover episode with The Bright Sessions.
MISCHA: But so, like, Lauren had heard of it, and really liked it, which was weird, because no one had really heard of it yet. And I was struck because, like, The Bright Sessions was such amazing writing. It was like everything I wanted other things to be written like, and to hear compliments from that person that my work was very nice. And then we just vibed really well and became friends over that coffee. And then I said, "I would like to work on The Bright Sessions". She said, "I would like to have you on The Bright Sessions; let's trade contact information". And we started trading phone numbers. And then also, we found out that we had the same area code that we grew up like 20 minutes from each other.
TESS: Small world, holy.
TESS: That's incredible. What was it like working with Lauren, going from a fan of hers over the course of like discovering her work in six hours consuming it all, to to then working with her?
MISCHA: It was great. I mean, I've been working in media for most of my life. So I can tell pretty quickly when, you know, someone is a good collaborator, and when someone is not a good collaborator, and it was very clear, right from the get go that Lauren is one of the best collaborators. That each direction is a conversation; that it's always yes, she has a particular vision, but she also welcomes input from anyone else who's involved in the process. You know, that Julia Morizawa has so much control over the character of Dr. Bright, and that Briggon Snow has so much control over the character of Caleb, that, and so on throughout the entire cast and even into some of my design decisions. Like, you know, she has a very clear vision. But whenever I have a suggestion, where I'm like, "hey, maybe what if we tried this?" She's always like, "Yeah, absolutely. Let's do it." It's it's a smooth process. It's a fun process. It's, it's never a chore.
TESS (as narrator): If you listen to The Bright Sessions, it's actually a bit difficult to tell just when Misha and Lauren started working together on the show. Misha did a brilliant job at having just as light of a touch with the sound design as Lauren did in season one. And it gradually changes and morphs into a fantastic balance of story and sound. It's clear by the end of the series, what great chemistry everyone in the show has working together: actors, producer, writers, and of course, the sound designer.
TESS: Why is Lauren's work so important to you?
MISCHA: Lauren's work is so important to me, because it's inspiring! Because The Bright Sessions is the first thing she ever wrote. That you can just start something in your bedroom with your friends, and just for fun, and just create something so meaningful to thousands and thousands of people; inspired me to want to help her reach as many people as possible inspired me in my own work, that you could run a production that cleanly and say important things about mental health and sexuality and interpersonal relationships and interfamilial relationships, just say them, so bold-facedly that like, it wouldn't be allowed on TV, somebody would change it, somebody would shoot it down, but she was making it out of her bedroom. And so she could say what she wanted. And I liked what she had to say.
TESS: I love that.
TESS (as narrator): I began listening to The Bright Sessions at the beginning of May, in part for the Briggon Snow roast, but the other reason was for this. Lauren's work. Her writing, it's so important to me because it's beautiful and captivating. It tells stories that are so meaningful and showcase how complicated and messy life can be while still having good and loving moments. Her work almost gave me a sense of validation: life and relationships, and the world can be in disorder, and you can still have happy times. And on the other hand, life can be in perfect harmony. And yet, you can still feel a deep sense of sadness or spurts of unexplained anxiety. Her characters are real and relatable, even while it being set in an unusual and supernatural world where superpowers, good and bad, are real. Her characters feel real and relatable.
TESS: Where do you think Lauren? Where do you imagine her, her success to go like, I mean, we're recording this in on the first of March. And her book has been announced. And she's publishing something that she wrote now, which is so exciting!
MISCHA: Yeah. And she's been working on that for a really long time. I know that she's been working really hard on adapting Bright Sessions to TV and coming up with new projects, new podcast projects, and starting a an artistic collective her own Atypical Artists, like... I think Lauren can do anything. I think that it's just a matter of what she likes doing the most. That you know, we're in 2019. And Lauren's writing books and TV and podcasts and working on other things besides and it's, it's just like, maybe she won't like all of them, and she'll pick one. Or maybe she'll like all of them and keep doing all of them. And I wouldn't put it past her.
TESS: Why is Lauren's work so important to other creators?
MISCHA: I, don't get me wrong. I think Lauren's work is important to other creators, in that The Bright Sessions showed, you know, what you can do with such a simple concept and a simple production structure, and that you can still go great places. I think, more so, Lauren's work in community outreach has been invaluable. I mean, at the very least to the Southern California podcast community, if not the world at large. She's constantly speaking on panels and mentoring and giving script advice. And you know, fielding emails from fledgling creators saying, "I want to be like you, how did you do it?" And, I don't know, Lauren's really great at passing along what she knows and encouraging others to reach even further. She just lifts people up by her presence.
TESS (as narrator): Mischa's not wrong. I know that internet personas can vary wildly from in person. But the more I've talked to folks that do know her in real life, the more I really truly believe that she is just as kind and giving and thoughtful as she seems online. You only have to follow Lauren on Twitter to get a glimpse of this. She's constantly boosting other folks in the podcasting industry. She'll point out folks that she's worked with and what makes them talented and worth listening and paying attention to. Even in the way that she thinks fans or others for their kind words about her work.
TESS: What is your favorite thing about her work?
MISCHA: It's the the way that she writes such complex characters that even when she writes villains you see so far behind their eyes. And even when she writes protagonists they still have not just a flaw, but like a plethora of flaws that all are interconnected and create rich, deep character portraits. That she encourages everyone by example, to put in 110% effort to show their best work every time. As equally as I cherish our personal relationship, I also cherish her work and our professional relationship and that I hand picked a lot of the people I work with to be part of my first show. And I know how difficult it is to to give up creative control of your work to someone you just met, or someone you don't maybe know as well. And I'm glad every day that she took a chance on me.
TESS: Is there anything about Lauren about anything specific piece of her work that you want the world to know about?
MISCHA: Yeah, if you've never heard of Lauren's work, go listen to The Bright Sessions. Especially... I mean, start at the beginning, because it's a linear story. But also we did an entire musical with five original songs, one of which she also sang. And I don't know anyone who starts a podcast in their bedroom and dreams of a musical and then pulls it off. It was such a monumental effort. And you don't need to know much about the plot to marvel at how much love and care and hard work went into it.
TESS: That's incredible.
TESS (as narrator): That musical episode blew me out of the water. I had forgotten that Mischa had told me about it. So there I was washing dishes at my sink with my earbuds in and after the first line of song, I had to pause it. I messaged some friends and screamed about how The Bright Sessions is doing a musical. And now I need to wait to listen. This was an episode worthy of my good headphones and zero distractions, which meant that I had to listen to it with my notebook in hand sitting comfortably and giving it my full attention. It did not disappoint. I really listened to that episode five times. It's incredible.
TESS: So for any listeners, how should they listen to her work? And and what what should they be most excited about?
MISCHA: I think is always when you're listening to someone's first popular work, you should listen for how it improves over the show. And especially with The Bright Sessions; it's very subtle because it was very good when it started. But something about not having to worry about the confines of what she could sound design, all of a sudden unlocked something that that that made the show so much bigger and allowed her to go so much deeper with it. So watch for that, as she's building it even in the first season when she didn't know that that change was coming. And then listen for it afterwards, when she's striding with confidence across that loftier level of freedom with her work.
TESS: Is there anything else that you want to say or include in in the roast before we wrap it up?
MISCHA: People who haven't heard The Bright Sessions yet... drink lots of water. Lauren if you're listening to this episode, please drink some water.
TESS (as narrator): Lauren is remarkably gifted. To be where she is today having accomplished what she has... she's clearly worked incredibly hard and it shows. It's obvious how important it is for her work to showcase marginalized and often, especially in popular media, forgotten or ignored identities. The most recent evidence of this was in The AM Archives, where she featured a deaf character. One of the characters speaks exclusively in ASL, American Sign Language, and it is handled so naturally that the character feels real to the listener. As far as I know, that's a first in the audio medium. Lauren's work is a huge inspiration to me. And, if you haven't already, I really do hope that you enjoy diving into the world of The Bright Sessions as much as I did. You can find Lauren at laurenshippen.com or on Twitter @LaurenShippen. You can also, like me, pre-order her book, The Infinite Noise, today. The Infinite Noise is a Bright Sessions novel, the first in a series that follows the struggles and discoveries of three teenagers with supernatural abilities who end up on the couch of Dr. Bright. Links are in the show notes.
TESS (as narrator): So listeners, you know what's up by now. It's reverse roast time: Mischa Stanton. My knowledge of me says work goes back to the winter of 2017, and unknowingly, when I didn't even listen to audio dramas. It seems so long ago now, but a friend of mine had convinced me to listen to a show called Wolf 359. About five episodes into it, and loving it, that same friend told me that the next show that I needed to listen to was Ars Paradoxica. Being new to audio dramas, I didn't even add it to my feed. I imagined that Wolf would take me so long that I wouldn't need any others in my feed for a long time. And when I was nearing the end of it, she hassled me again telling me that I would regret it if I didn't listen to Ars next, but I was heading back to work after a maternity leave and it got lost among my ever growing list of shows.
So my first exposure to Misha became instead through The Far Meridian. I fell in love with it. The sound design makes you feel as though you're walking alongside the main character, facing the same fears she is and exploring new and mysterious places. Then. Star Tripper!! I didn't know that sound design like that could exist in a podcast. To me, this was the sort of foley work that you encountered in TV or movies, animation or live action. I've even re-listened to the entire season, completely floored by the way that Mischa's work makes you realize that worlds outside of our own, can feel alive and teeming with life. And finally, Caravan. Yet another brilliant example of what foley can look like, and in a completely different setting and style than Star Tripper!! or The Far Meridian. And still, I hadn't listened to Ars Paradoxica. Back when Honey Roast became a concept, I knew that I would end up listening to this show.
So instead, it became a purposeful choice not to listen. I thought instead that it would be fitting to listen to Ars Paradoxica immediately following my full listen of The Bright Sessions. And I'm not finished it yet. But I'm hooked. I will listen to absolutely anything that Mischa works on: productions, story, sound design. They are exceptionally talented. Not only that, but they actively work hard to share their knowledge, experience and expertise with other folks in the industry. We're in a shared Discord server and every time someone mentions that Mischa might have an answer, they seem to always be willing to make a suggestion or to give some advice. It's unsurprising that so many folks look up to them. I myself unknowingly made an audio error in Honey Roast in some of the earliest drafts of the first episodes. And it was Misha, who Julia, our sound designer, turned to for advice. And they gave it. They made suggestions and the error was caught and fixed. They give and give and give. They are kind and funny; their work is addictive and incredible. They are a person whose work is meaningful.
So Misha, thank you so much. You've created amazing soundscapes and stories for listeners to fall into. I'm so glad you're sharing your creativity and brilliance with the world. And I'm so thankful to have your shows and my feed and that you took the time to talk to me about Lauren, thank you so much for all that you do.
Lauren, if you're listening: thank you so much for being such an innovative and inspirational writer, actor, producer, and person. Thank you for giving us the world of The Bright Sessions. Thank you for giving listeners like myself characters that we could see ourselves in and relate to and feel love and emotion for.
To you both: It's difficult to put into words the gratitude and appreciation I have for your works. Choosing to share your talent in the medium that you have where anyone anywhere can enjoy it without barriers is so important and good. I will forever listen to read or watch anything that the two of you work on, together or apart. You are both awe-inspiring and carry your own real-life superpowers. So thank you so much, both of you. Cheers and sweetness.
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Honey Roast is co-produced by Tess Cocchio and Julia Schifini, edited by Tess Cocchio and Julia Schifini, with sound design by Julia Schifini. Special thanks to our creative consultant, Wil Williams. Our visual design and art assets are by Mandy Corcoran and our theme music is composed by Emily E. Meo. All music from this episode, apart from the theme music, is by Scott Buckley and licensed under a Creative Commons license. Link in the shownotes.
You can follow us on twitter @HoneyRoastPod. Transcripts for every episode can be found on our website, honeyroastpod.com. For even more Honey Roast love, check out our Patreon. By becoming a Patron, you get access to bonus episodes, detailed show notes, exclusive merch, and so much more! For more details go to patreon.com/honeyroast. If you can’t support us financially, another fantastic way to help the show and spread the love is to recommend the show to a friend or family member. We can only grow by sharing and caring!
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