Usually we have audio or video interviews, but a text interview worked better this time making this the first time we've done an interview this way. In the interview, Tracy talks about when she first started acting, creating AIE, and about her upcoming radio drama series.
Austin: When did you first hear Adventures in Odyssey?
Tracy: I honestly can't remember a time when I didn't know Adventures in Odyssey! For as long as I can remember, it was the soundtrack to my childhood, and it's hard to imagine that I, at one time, didn't know Whit, Connie, and Eugene. The best estimate I can guess for when I first heard an episode was between 5 and 8.
Tasha: Who would be your favorite Odyssey character?
Tracy: The first character that came to mind at this question is Judah, from the Back to Bethlehem series. No, he wasn't a regular or recurring character after those three episodes, but he was such an interesting character! I loved how passionate he was and how real he felt. Monica Stone too! But as for a regular character, Wooton has always amused me, and his sincere love for the Lord made his character so much more than just the goofy comic relief. He has so much heart. But that's the same for Connie and Eugene and Jason! Whit, Bernard, Tom... they're all wonderful, and I truly couldn't pick just one.
Austin: When did you know that you wanted to act?
Tracy: I'm afraid I can't put a date on that either. It was sort of a gradual thing that I developed interest in. Since I was young, I would watch any and all Behind the Scenes features on movies or TV shows and I would just soak up everything I saw. I loved learning about camera angles and actor's marks and sets and script writing and every little detail that went into a production, and finally, in early 2009, I bought a video camera for myself and that very night I was filming a favorite scene from the AIO episode Sheep's Clothing. It was terrible, but immediately I was hooked! The next day I edited it together and then I started to see that I could use the split-screen feature and from then on, I taught myself more and more about how I could make my videos look better. At first, all I cared about was getting the lip syncing on, but soon I started to use more wigs, different camera angles, outfits, and sets. The project sort of took on a life of its own and now each production feels like a mini movie. But I wouldn't have it any other way! I've been able to do so much more than 'just' acting and my love for acting has developed because of it.
Tasha: How did you come up with the idea to make your YouTube channel, Adventures in Editing?
Tracy: By the time I created AIE, I'd already made a few Odyssey videos and had uploaded them to my Facebook account. My family and friends seemed to be amused by them and their feedback encouraged me to go a step further and put them online for other Odyssey fans to see. It was such a thrill for me to receive positive feedback from other people who knew those characters so well! Basically I wanted to have the opportunity to interact with other fans and I had hoped that maybe, by publishing the scenes, the people behind AIO might see them. And they did, which still blows me away.
Austin: What is you favorite kind of scene to act out?
Tracy: I have done several scenes that are pretty simple, so I really enjoy ones that challenge me more, either with a difficult set or a lot of dialogue or emotional content. In fact I've found myself searching out scenes that will be more challenging because I think the more I put into it, the more the audience gets out of it. So if I had to choose one favorite, I would definitely choose an emotional scene. Whether it's happiness, anger, sadness, or something quiet just below the surface, I love the challenge of adapting myself to the emotion that the character is feeling.
Tasha: What all goes into making one of your videos?
Tracy: The process begins when I hear a scene that I think would be great to film. Once I know which characters I'm going to film, I either come up with the look for a character that I've never played before or I check back on how I portrayed a character in the past, to make sure the look (wig, costume type, facial hair, if necessary, etc.) is the same, and then I start on the set. Sometimes that can be as simple as moving some stuff out of the way so I can have a clean background, and sometimes it can be as difficult as moving furniture out of my room, taping wallpaper to the portion of the wall that will be filmed, and bringing in new furniture and props. Set design has quickly become one of my favorite parts of production, though sometimes it can be a real challenge to try to make something appear new when really I've filmed in the same spot several times! When I'm ready to film, I set up my cameras, do some checks to make sure I'm in the frames, the lighting is good, and then I usually hit record and see how the first take goes. The first take almost never gets used because it's my chance to test movements and props. Once I've figured out the 'choreography' for a scene, I do the same for every take, so I have to make sure that I really like it. Usually a few takes in I will do something that feels right and the first handful of takes are useless because I've changed something. Making a small change mid-production for a character can suddenly make the character feel more real and natural, and that's a great feeling. After each character's takes are filmed, I pretty well immediately set to work on editing. Editing can take anywhere from one hour to several hours, depending on the type of editing involved. The whole process of setting up for a scene, costuming, filming, and editing usually takes no less than 6 hours. It can be very exhausting, but the finished product almost always makes it worthwhile!
Austin: Do you have a favorite video you have done?
Tracy: It's pretty rare for me to upload a new scene and not think 'this is my best one yet!', so forgive me for following that pattern. Ha ha. The last scene that I filmed was from the episode Amazing Grace and it was a simple looking scene between a young woman and her father. I say simple looking, and not just simple, because I spent a lot of time researching and creating the costumes, moving my room around, and then developing the set. And because of the effort that went into it, I'm so proud of it. Also, the father in the scene was by far the best performance I've given for a male character thus far, in my opinion. The wig, costume, and props helped make the scene so real and when the situation feels right, acting can be incredibly effortless. So when I see that scene, I see all that went into it and I'm extremely pleased with it.
Tasha: What has been the most rewarding thing to happen to you by making these videos?
Austin: Could you tell us about the new show you're working on?
Witnesses, which gives listeners the chance to hear stories about Jesus from the perspective of individuals who met Him, were healed by Him, or who encountered Christ in a life changing way. Writing the scripts thus far has given me such a beautiful view of my Lord and I truly hope that the effect the show has had on me will be felt by others. To quote myself: "The greatest goal a Christian could hope to achieve is to change how people see their faith in a positive and fresh light; to take old stories and make them new. My mission with this series is inspiration, revelation, and ultimately to present Jesus as an interesting, charismatic, loving, kind, gentle Man who had the greatest purpose of all, yet daily stopped to help the least of these."
And the official synopsis for Witnesses is as follows:
"Witnesses is an audio drama about the experiences of people who had direct contact with Jesus; intimate stories of real people, told in their own words.
It is easy to rush over stories in the Bible, carelessly ignoring the people and events because we know what happens. But imagine how the stories felt to experience when the outcome wasn't clear! What was it like for the shepherds when the angel appeared and they were told to leave their sheep and find the Baby? How did the woman caught in adultery feel when she heard the life changing words "Then neither do I condemn you"? What went through Peter's mind when Jesus told him that Peter would betray Him that very night?
Step into the familiar time period, strap on your sandals, stretch your legs, and head off in search of eye witnesses to the greatest story ever told."
The first episode (you can hear a preview of one of the scenes here) tells the story of a shepherd who was given a glimpse of Heaven the night that Jesus was born, and the character, Phillip, is portrayed by the incredibly talented Phil Lollar, a name and voice many Adventures in Odyssey fans will recognize! It was/is SUCH a pleasure to hear Phil breathe life into the script that I wrote and I'm thrilled to share it with you all soon! I don't have a set date for when the Pilot episode will be available on iTunes, but it will definitely be within the year, Lord willing!
I, unfortunately, have struggled with the necessary costs of creating an audio show, and while God has helped so much along the way, currently I am at a point where I need to make and save some money before I can proceed with it any further. But once the financial aspect of the show is more settled and the first episode is completed, it will, as I mentioned above, be available on iTunes, among other places to buy. I am sure that the Lord can and will do amazing things with my little show and I'm very excited to see what happens!
We want to thank Tracy Lyn Holland for taking the time to answer our questions and also for making wonderful videos for all us Odyssey fans to enjoy! If you feel like you'd like to help Tracy with Witnesses, you can donate on the Witnesses website and help spread the word about the show