Every good story deserves a good origin...
The setting was a table in The Bear, a pub in Wincanton, Somerset, at a Discworld Hogswatch event (like Christmas, but darker and with more hogs). The subject of conversation started out along the lines of ’exercise sucks, there must be a way to make it fun, right?’
One of the participants, Ali, was an enthusiastic early adopter of a newly released zombie-related running app, but wanted to be able to enjoy more than just running.
One of the participants, Adele, was a fitness instructor and writer, and was intrigued by the idea of combining storytelling with exercise.
All of the participants were fans of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novel series, and so together they started brain-storming an audio fitness app set in the fictional city of Ankh Morpork. It would have 4 ascending levels of fitness: Wizards, Thieves, Watch and Assassins and would integrate the requisite training for each with story written in classic Pratchett style.
Adele worked the idea up into a proposal which, unsurprisingly, never received a response, but couldn’t quite shake the idea and so wrote an experimental audio fitness adventure script called Hardman’s Army. It was essentially one of her bootcamp classes but taught by a ballistic US Drill Sergeant to a group of reluctant recruits who didn’t really want to work out. She leveraged her creative network to cast, record and edit it and proceeded to test it on anyone who would give it a go.
The response was overwhelmingly positive, leading to a group of friends pushing Adele to incorporate the company Imaginactive and take the concept to Kickstarter to fund a full audio fitness adventure series.
This series became Apocalypse Survival Training, and it funded for £15,000 through October 2014. Over the next four and half years though, all the preceding momentum faltered under several failed rounds of app development. Throughout those dev cycles, a dedicated creative team worked very hard for very little on making and re-making the first 10 episodes.
The pilot episode was written seven times and recorded three, characters were added and removed, two key actors left the UK and had to be re-cast after their episodes had been completed, test episodes were written and made or written and abandoned, and the Control episodes were re-written, recorded and edited three times in entirety as Adele struggled to find the delicate balance point between story and workout, where each enhanced, instead of obstructed, the other.
Between the fourth and fifth developers, people started to make subtle (and to be fair, some not-so-subtle) murmurs about flogging a dead horse and suggesting it might be time to quit. With 488 Kickstarter backers now waiting more than 3 years for their pledge rewards though, Adele decided to give it one last shot.
That round of development with Tickle Media has finally paid off, with the first 10 episodes of Apocalypse Survival Training launching on 24 May 2019. Now Adele and team are hard at work on the next set of 9 episodes and re-developing Hardman’s Army into a leaner series to put out in between releases of the full cast/composition/sound effect AST series.