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Locals create collaborative storytelling project

East Cobb residents have joined forces for a new immersive experience that combines various creative elements.

EAST COBB, Ga. — There’s a new podcast on the horizon titled Garfield’s Crossing. It’s a collection of original stories that all take place in a fictitious city located in the North Georgia mountains.

“Garfield’s Crossing is just far enough away from Atlanta to kind of be out of the prying eyes of the media, but it’s also close enough that people from the big city could occasionally swing through,” Brandon Duke, co-founder of Garfield’s Crossing, said. “We have a lot of people coming and going, so we have excuses to have characters from anywhere and everywhere, in addition to the local characters who will pop up throughout several stories.”

Duke, who is helping create this multi-faceted storytelling experience, said he started down this path after seeing a post on social media.

“It literally started with a post on Facebook where Clayton Romero, now my partner, put out a post saying ‘would anybody like to collaborate on a writing project?’ I had known Clayton for a little while, he's a nice guy, had some writing chops. So I thought ‘okay, I'll give it a shot,’” Duke said. “I quickly invited two other writer friends of mine in, and after about a year of discussion and planning, we came to the idea of creating a series that multiple writers could contribute to.”

Credit: WXIA

But Garfield’s Crossing has offered a creative outlet to more than just writers. Original art accompanies each story on the website, and dozens of local actors are lending their voices to the podcast which is still in production.

“At this point we have seven writers, four artists, and 27 actors including myself and Clayton,” Duke said.

“Including the authors and the actors and the artists, we're looking at 32 people who are local, and there's a couple people from out of state,” Clayton Romero, co-founder of Garfield’s Crossing, said.

Duke and Romero, who both live in Cobb County, said the stories were originally recorded more like an audio book, using no more than two voice over artists per story, but they decided to take it to the next level.

Credit: GarfieldsCrossing.com

“This is a full voice cast,” Romero said. “It's sound effects, it's music, you get a whole show that sort of brings you in and immerses you in the whole process.”

“We threw out an invitation to the local acting community and had a surprisingly big response of people who wanted to be involved,” Duke said. “The level of talent that came out of almost entirely Atlanta actors was almost intimidating.”

One of those actors was Cobb County resident Melissa Lowe.

“The voices that we've come up, some of them are our actual everyday voice, but then also putting on a character,” Lowe said. “We do read-throughs of the stories so we can tweak those things, like maybe she's a little sad here or maybe she's not that southern. That sort of thing. It's a very collaborative process. It's not about Clayton and Brandon directing us as much. It's more about ‘how do you feel about it? Maybe you should go this direction with this.’ So it's nice to have that collaborative element.”

Lisa Harrison, who also lives in Cobb County, is one of the newest voice actors to get involved with the project.

Credit: WXIA

“I have known Brandon. We went to Georgia Southern together, and we worked together on projects in the past, as well as Melissa,” Harrison said. “Brandon gave me a call and told me about the project and sent over some scripts, so I went through the audition process and I am doing four character voices throughout the shows.”

She said the process has been very enjoyable, especially the table reads, a stage of the process in which all the actor get together and read through the script.

“A lot of the times when we record our voice, we are by ourself in the booth, and we don't have that person to work against to get the emotion or the feeling behind the words,” Harrison said. “So it's good to go through it with the cast, take notes to see how certain lines might read better through the booth, and just to work with everybody to get that performance out of you, so when we get in the booth we can just knock it out.”

Credit: WXIA

“Every principal actor and supporting actor goes in and goes through the whole script. Some of them, it's their first time seeing it, so it's cool to get to watch the experience,” Romero said. “It's been awesome! We've gone through, gotten a lot of really good notes on it, taken a look at things that, as the writers we don't ever think about. So when the actors come back and go ‘well how about doing it with this delivery?’ Or ‘how about changing it that way?’ That's a lot of really good collaboration there.”

Duke and Romero are working round the clock to edit the first episode of the podcast, and they recently met with a major media group that’s interested in funding the project moving forward. Either way, the first episode of Garfield’s Crossing should be available in the next few months.

For more information, CLICK HERE.

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