I heard there was this really cute girl doing a study during this Halloween party at the comic shop, so I drove to meet her.
And Travis looked it over and said ‘this is good, we can totally do this,’ and once I got that okay I just wrote the episodes.
With a bigger team, we can tell bigger stories.
We’re seeing so many downloads per day and great fan interactions and we’re only growing, it feels more and more like a reality with every passing day.
I love a good intro because it is the only time in my job that I get to talk about myself. But honestly, this interview was so much fun that I want to jump right in.
I got to talk to Travis Vengroff and Kaitlin Statz this month. Kaitlin writes The White Vault and Travis produces it. Together, they have created one of the top horror podcasts in the narrative story genre. Which is perfect for Halloween and for all people that enjoy living in fear.
As one of the fastest growing podcasts and a trailblazer in horror narratives, it was really a pleasure to talk to such a successful pair, and I’m excited to let you get to know them. So, here goes.
When I got on the phone to do this interview, I knew I would be talking to two people. From what I understood, I would be talking with the writer and the producer of The White Vault, and I felt relatively ready for that. I was kind of thinking that one of them had started the show and brought the other on, so I had questions ready for each of them in their separate roles.
Then Kaitlin casually let me know that the duo is a married couple, and the whole game changed. I had to hear that story first.
We met at The Dark Side, which is a comic book shop back in Florida…” Travis explained. “Kaitlin was doing an ethnographic study on the cultures of the comic book shop for college, actually… I happened to be there on a night she wasn’t doing the ethnographic study. I heard there was this really cute girl doing a study during this Halloween party at the comic shop, so I drove to meet her.
After a rough start, the two bonded during a game of Werewolf. The pair is married now and loved podcasts, specifically the creepy ones. Now they have founded Fool and Scholar Productions, which I asked them to talk a little about.
Travis is the fool and I am the scholar,” Kaitlin quickly informed me. “I’m actually a Frost scholar, which means I got a certain kind of scholarship and attended the University of Oxford and did a bunch of other stuff. So when we were like, ‘who are we and what are our strengths?’ We always say that Travis’ strength is that he has a high charisma score but not a high wisdom score. So he’s our fool and I’m our scholar.
That’s where Fool and Scholar Productions began, but The White Vault wasn’t their first show.
We created our first show, which was called Liberty Critical Research which actually came out before the comic book that we’d been writing for Liberty for a long time,” explained Travis. “It opened up a lot of doors and has been really surprising.
All those open doors were great, all they needed was a great idea to carry through them.
(My headings are starting to rhyme, this is next-level talent, guys)
On a trip to Iceland, Kaitlin was really inspired by the landscape and some stories she had been reading and started toying with an idea.
I avidly sat down and, within a few days, wrote the outline for what was going to be White Vault season one. And Travis looked it over and said ‘this is good, we can totally do this,’ and once I got that okay I just wrote the episodes.
The duo loves to tell stories, so when Critical Research ended, the world of White Vault was a natural next step. Kaitlin explained a little of what the show is about.
The White Vault follows a repair team sent to Outpost Fristed in Svalbard, Norway, which is above the Arctic Circle. It is a small, archipelago island off the Northern coast of Norway. They are sent to repair damage to an outpost there and when they get there they find that things are certainly not as they seem.
Travis and Kaitlin have always been fans of the horror genre and were excited to enter that culture in podcasting. Travis has watched hundreds of horror films and both of them binge horror podcasts constantly.
But making really good horror isn’t a one- (or two) man show. Travis and Kaitlin needed some help.
(Yeah, I know, that isn’t the best heading)
While many of the people I interview love podcasting because they can do everything on their own, Fool and Scholar Productions has quite a cast of people that help bring the world of The White Vault to life.
For the White Vault, we knew we wanted to have an international cast and an international story,” Kaitlin explained. “Because not only does it take place in Norway, but the people that it’s based around are not American.
Travis and Kaitlin are well aware of the fact that so many of the voices in podcasting are American or British and want to remind listeners that the world is so much bigger than that. Of course, such a diverse cast comes with its difficulties.
We remote recordings. Everyone basically has one point of contact,” Travis clarified, “and it’s myself… It’s not like a massive collaboration from the perspective of the story creation on the initial end, it’s more like the team involved is pretty large, but the production acts as a funnel.
All the hours that are put in with editing and sending recordings back and forth is well worth it for the duo. Kaitlin said it well:
With a large team we can tell larger stories.
And the larger the story the more people want to be a part of it, which is one of the most exciting things for both the fool and the scholar.
The White Vault caught on pretty quickly with listeners and built a solid fan base early one. However, unlike some creators who are surprised at their success because they just made a show and put it out there, Kaitlin explained that they put a lot of time into cultivating their community and trying to grow it.
We worked really really hard on not only the social media outreach that we do, but we create actual visual-graphics for our podcast, which most people kind of forget that most people are actually visual creatures even if what we create is an audio based medium.
Travis and Kaitlin make dozens of visual advertisements for their show, talk to listeners one-on-one on Twitter, form and maintain relationships with other creators throughout the industry, and work to educate new podcasters as they join the industry. All of that takes a lot of time, but the pair finds it immensely worthwhile to put themselves out there.
We’re seeing so many downloads per day and great fan interactions and we’re only growing, it feels more and more like a reality with every passing day,”Kaitlin shared. “And that’s amazing for us.
Travis and Kaitlin are really excited about continuing to see the show grow and their stories reach more and more people, and they’re putting out more and more content to make that happen. Earlier this month season two of The White Vault was released and the duo could not contain their excitement.
I am so excited to see how the audience receives certain elements of the plot as it unfolds,” Travis said. “I cannot wait for that to happen.
Fool and Scholar Productions has a lot of very secret plans they are excited about as well, and Travis and Kaitlin are hoping more and more people come along to see it all happen. So, if you love horror, stories, Iceland, international shows, or just a really good podcast, The White Vault is for you.
Behind the Streams is a new series by Podchaser that explores popular podcasts and the brilliant minds behind them. Email Morgan (firstname.lastname@example.org) to tell her why your favorite show should be featured next.