David Welsh is a classic example of how it’s never too late to follow your passions. After spending a few years in the workforce in customer support and software training, David realized that he wanted to do something different in his professional life.
“[Customer support and software training] gave me fantastic opportunities to learn about project management and technology,” says David. “But, as someone obsessed with toys and games, I found myself wanting to transition into a creative field.”
Then, in 2014, David attended FableVision’s Creative Juices Art Show. He walked through the double doors, past the Wall of Inspiration, into the studio—and immediately felt a connection. From there, he went back to school, earned a communications degree, interned at FableVision in the marketing department, and returned a year later as one of FableVision’s production assistants.
In his current position, David is a vital part of the production team, assessing games for bugs, recording voice overs for animations and games, and bringing the creative and technical teams together.
Let’s jump in and hear about David’s long history of storytelling, what goes into writing a stellar game, and where to buy the best flannels!
What inspired you to start working in educational media production? Is there any particular moment where you knew that’s what you wanted to do?
I consumed an extraordinary amount of media when I was a kid. I loved Beverly Cleary books, Nintendo games, and Hanna-Barbera reruns. But I also loved going to school and admired my teachers. When I graduated high school, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to be a children's author or an elementary school teacher.
How does your experience as a former marketing intern at FableVision inform your work as a production assistant now?
It was an open secret that I was more interested in production than marketing, and the studio provided wonderful opportunities to learn about production. As a marketing intern, I got to meet with the producers when I wrote case studies, and these meetings taught me about their process and projects. I also valued the coffees and chats I had with members of the producer team.
Through the marketing internship, I also produced FableFolk, a video diary series about the studio. Sarah Ditkoff and Mitul Daiyan’s mentorship taught me a lot about project management and delivering a polished product, and being able to study under their guidance was the most valuable experience of my internship.
What is your favorite project that you have worked on during your time at FableVision?
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers was one of my first projects, and it was such an exciting one! FableVision partnered with the Boston Pops to create an animation for their live performances this holiday season. It was a wonderful introduction to the FableVision animation process, and I got to work with amazing FableVisionaries across the studio like Sarah Ditkoff, Gary Goldberger, Tone Thyne, Keith Zoo, and Didi Hatcher. The producer for Parade of the Wooden Soldiers was Michael Fogarasi, and it was an excellent opportunity to learn from him as I got on board with the studio.
Writing games seems to be one of your specialties! Thinking back to when you were working on Katanas & Trenchcoats and Aethera Player Companion – Intrigue Manual, can you tell us about what goes into writing a successful game?
These books were amazing to work on because roleplaying games are collaborative experiences. As a contributing writer, I got to play in the game designer’s sandbox. My job was to work with the team to write lore that fit the setting and would inspire players to create their own stories through play.
Understanding these parameters, I had to remember that less is more. The more details I wrote, not only was I taking up precious page space, but I risked limiting the player’s imagination. To write a successful game, you need to put the player first and be willing to share your toys.
With your amazing story-telling skills, it’s no wonder you’re a Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast! What’s your favorite part of running a game of D&D?
My absolute favorite part of Dungeons and Dragons is when I have to tear up my notes because the players pushed the story in a direction I didn’t anticipate. I love the communal storytelling of Dungeons and Dragons. Roleplaying games are a fantastic creative exercise, and each game feels like making a movie with your friends.
I was thrilled to run a game for the studio at Extra Life 2018 and see a different side of my co-workers as they worked together to overcome traps and monsters.
So you have two adorable dogs. What’s your favorite thing to do together?
Scooby is our 13-year-old Italian greyhound. I’ve always treated him like a roommate, so my favorite thing to do with him is watch movies on the couch and share snacks.
My wife and I adopted Prince just a few months ago. He is a four-year-old retired racing greyhound. We enrolled him in obedience school, and I really enjoy the bonding we’ve had through our training. I’m proud to say that our dog is top of his class!
You’ve been an Extra Life participant even before working with FableVision. Can you tell us about your experience with the fundraiser and what you’ve taken away from it?
I participated in Extra Life 2010 with a local board game store I worked and blogged for. It was one of the first years of Extra Life, but the idea clicked with us immediately. We could play games all day for a good cause. I think the concept is beautifully simple, and in my experience, people playing for Extra Life always prioritize the fundraising over the gaming.
I brought my nephew to Extra Life at FableVision this year, and he was proud to have helped raise money for Boston Children’s Hospital. When the day was over he said, “That was fun, but next year we should try to raise $7,000!”
(But it’s not too late to cross that line this year. You can still donate!)
Tell us about A Blumhouse Divided. What has podcasting taught you about storytelling?
A Blumhouse Divided is a podcast where my wife Ashlee and I discuss movies from the film studio Blumhouse Productions (Paranormal Activity, Get Out). We started the podcast because, after we began recognizing the company’s logo on some of our favorite horror movies, my wife said she wanted to watch every movie they had made. I was looking for a project where I could practice my production skills, and this seemed like as good a premise as any.
Our film discussion and analysis is casual, but I’ve learned a lot about storytelling by watching these films in context of their franchises or other films from the studio. Making the show has also taught me about finding compelling topics to discuss and creating interesting segments.
Jason Blum, the head of Blumhouse, has a philosophy of capping a film’s budget at $5 million. Watching the movies with an understanding of the restraints they were under helps me appreciate how a great project can get made when you know how to allocate limited resources, so A Blumhouse Divided has also given me insight into the production process.
You’ve also dabbled in poetry, what sparks your creativity and inspires you to write?
Dabble is the right word to use because I wouldn’t call myself a poet. I’ve worked with so many different ways to tell stories—short stories, blogs, podcasts, comics, film, games. I think what sparks my creativity is that I get excited by everything and I have to put that creative energy wherever I can. That’s why I love working at FableVision. On any day, I could be recording audio, editing video, or brainstorming game ideas.
Fun Facts/More about David:
Favorite video game: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Best mythological creature: Minotaur
Most recommended book: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
Favorite horror movie: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Fictional world you wish was real: Toontown
Best place to get flannels: Old Navy
Best comic book character: Nightwing
Favorite snack: Cape Cod Potato Chips
Favorite cartoon: Adventure Time