So What Has Apple Done for Me Lately?
When iTunes added podcasts to their services (a free service at that), I had a huge “where have you been all my life” moment. The iPod alone wasn’t the best thing to ever happen to me, as I am not necessarily the guy who walks around with music playing all the time. But podcasts were a different animal – now I could listen to radio shows I loved whenever I wanted, not having to literally sit in my car in my driveway. And anyone with a microphone, something to say, and some way to upload to the web could create their own podcast, which democratized radio in a sense.
A note to everyone who thinks they need to have an iPod or iPhone or iWhateverthefuck in order to listen to podcasts – it’s just not true. They’re only MP3 files, so you can listen to them on your computer, you can burn them to a CD, or you can put them on any competing MP3 player. Even a (gag!) Zune. And they’re free. And in my opinion, the list that follows will vastly improve your filmmaking and possibly even entertain you while doing so.
Several of these are NPR shows, actually from the great NPR provider KCRW. I’ve included them because people not in the metro-LA area, or Angelinos who don’t listen to the radio all day might enjoy them, as I do, via podcast. With each of these, I’ve included a direct link to iTunes. Click on it, listen, subscribe, and welcome to the cult!
…And did I happen to mention that these are all 100% FREE?
Listen and Learn
If you’re a filmmaker and you don’t know about the RED line of cameras, well shame on you. But never too late to start. If you’re like me and you just like to know what’s on the cutting (or bleeding)-edge of digital filmmaking – even the ultra-cheap stuff – this podcast will keep you abreast of those developments as they break. Aussies Mike Seymour and Jason Wingrove run their down-under yaps about everything new in D-Cinema. I know the name of the podcast is RED Centre, but they truly update the listener on the newest, hottest gear (HD Cameras, DSLRs, software, etc.), RED and non-RED alike. Recent guests include Stu Maschwitz, Shane Hurlbut and RED “Leader of the Revolution,” Ted Schilowitz.
Man oh man do I hate reading the trades. Kim Masters makes my life easier by starting each show with “The Hollywood News Banter,” which is basically a summary of all the important entertainment news. Then she digs into one or two topics deeply for thirty minutes, interviewing people deep within the guts of the entertainment business, letting us all know a little more about how the sausage is made.
Jeff Goldsmith should have his own radio show. He’s got the pipes for it, and as far as moderators of Q&A sessions he’s one of the best. On the Creative Screenwriting podcast, Goldsmith brings pretty much any great screenwriter you’ve ever heard (or who have a movie out) for an in-depth interview that might run anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour and a half. Well-researched and fascinating, I suggest anyone with an interest in screenwriting listen to every episode, not just people who’ve written films they like.
Allison Willmore and Matt Singer have great chemistry together, and they love to talk about movies. This podcast inevitably reminds me of movies I forgot ever existed or forces me to think about the DNA of what makes a given actor, genre, or character work. It’s like hanging out at a pizza joint with all your friends from film school, talking about film and cracking each other up. Only they’re smarter than we were.
Seriously, if you write scripts, or if you just want to write scripts, subscribe to “The Grim Reader.” Christopher DelliCarpini is a professional Hollywood script READER. Which means his job is to read scripts and tear them apart. He knows script structure as well as I know all the zombies from the original “Dawn of the Dead.” In his podcast, he screams, he bitches, he just lets loose with whatever… And even his RANTS are well-structured. That’s how good this guy is. He is, by far, the LEAST prolific podcaster on this list but after I listened to all of his published podcasts, I went to his website and listened to all of the episodes in his archive (not more than eight episodes or so). I was so impressed I hired him to read three projects I was developing.
No filmmaker can deny that with each passing day, knowledge of visual effects becomes more and more crucial to the process. Even on small romantic comedies and microbudget indies, it seems like everyone has a VFX supervisor on the case. This round-table of VFX professionals, hosted by RED Centre’s Mike Seymour, goes into depth both on the technical and creative side of the top VFX-driven movies out today. As a non-VFX pro, I find myself mystified every now and then by technical terms like specular highlight or subsurface scattering, and I wouldn’t know Nuke from Shake from Flame from a video toaster. And yet I listen, because these artists impart their real job to the listener – how VFX can be best employed to tell a story. Mastering that language for those of us who prefer to work on a set with actors can be daunting, and this podcast will demystify the work and bring the listener back to the core of actual storytelling.
Rob Long isn’t really that old, but he’s been a professional sitcom writer for major networks for around twenty years and he distills his wisdom down into pithy little under-four-minute bites that are at once amusing and illuminating. For those not in the business, they can serve as sage advice or cautionary tales. For those in the business, they can remind the listener that they are not alone, that it doesn’t just happen to them.
Imagine sitting in on a therapy session with your favorite filmmaker. On “The Treatment,” Elvis Mitchell does just that. The gravelly-voiced, dreadlocked former New York Times film critic hosts an in-depth conversation with basically every important writer, director, actor, composer, poet, fashion designer, or pig wrangler you can imagine. His interview style is disarming, and he never steers clear of esoteric or personal questions as he dissects the creative work with the help of the artist.
Two More Worth Checking Out
Full disclosure – I have personal ties to these podcasts. They’re both run by friends of mine, and I’ve been on both of them. That being said, I was an avid listener of both of them before I was ever on them, and in the case of Dread Central’s podcast, I was a HUGE fan of theirs before I was ever asked to participate. But still… Just sayin…
My good friend from childhood Chris Lloyd is a film critic in Indianapolis now, and he and fellow critic Joe Shearer host “filmyap,” a weekly, topic-driven podcast not unlike the IFC podcast mentioned above. These are guys who have dedicated their lives to film study and criticism, and with the recent cancellation of “At the Movies,” it’s fun to hear two critics debate topics relating to movies.
I have tried in these first few blogs to not dwell on my personal bias, but I’m a horror nerd. From way back. And both the Dread Central website and podcast are run by Steve “Uncle Creepy” Barton, who also conducts all of the interviews with filmmakers. Their whenever-it-makes-sense-to-record-it podcast “Dinner for Fiends” is nothing but four or five die-hard horror fans on a party line tearing the current crop of movies to bits. If you’re a fanboy like me, this podcast is catnip.