Phenomena: Podcasts for the Informed Moviegoer

Co-hosts of How Did I Get This Made podcast.

Co-hosts of How Did I Get This Made podcast.

As the lights go down, the screen brightens up, the curtains move in, and the crowded room becomes quiet, waiting for the feature to begin. When a movie does begin, and moves its way through its plot-line - climaxing and resolving, the viewers rarely do more than watch in a reactive manner.

While opinions are a constant, post-movie thoughts tend to be voiced with more initial emotion than eventual analysis and it is partly due the creation of the film remaining ignored. It’s not necessarily a mystery as to how a movie is made and it’d be rash to assume to that the normal moviegoer is unaware of the complexities involved in cinema, but the fine details are often overlooked. 

Three podcasts in their own unique ways, present new perspectives of the film industry that the casual movie fan would not normally think about or even consider. 

The first, called “The /Filmcast,” is a podcast voiced by David Chen, Devindra Hardawar, and Jeff Cantana that covers all sorts of topics regarding the latest news and releases in film and television. Episode 411, entitled “Life,” discusses the rumors of a third season of True Detective and the new Dave Chapelle comedy shows released on Netflix. The three hosts, who could be called journalists, or bloggers, or really just a couple of movie geeks having fun on a podcast, keep the episodes light and engaging for listeners. In the above-mentioned episode, there was a giveaway of a DVD of the film Silence, which listeners could email in and try to win. While this is just spotlighting one episode, the podcast constantly presents new topics to banter over about the ever-changing film and television industries. 

Another podcast that finds a way to reveal a new perspective of the film industry is “How Did This Get Made.” Hosted by Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas and June Diane; the podcast operates by taking movie submissions from listeners that are so bad that they necessitate viewing. The hosts then pick one of these maligned films, watch it, and come together for an episode to discuss. Episode 143 highlights Gods of Egypt, a rather heavily critiqued fantasy epic movie. The hosts spend each episode discussing the obvious flaws in each movie they watch but they also add an engagement factor with their audience that is rare with podcasts. By watching each movie before airing the episode, listeners are able to watch the same films as the hosts and laugh along with them as they point out all the ways in which the movie went wrong.

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The third podcast that shines a light on a new part of the film industry is “Scriptnotes.” This podcast, hosted by screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin, discusses all things screenwriting. The topics range from the future of script writing - including script-reading robots, all the way to a new master class screenwriting class hosted by Aaron Sorkin. The two hosts have quite the pedigree when it comes to their craft - August taking credit for writing the script for Big Fish and the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory while Mazin has written the two most recent Hangover scripts in addition to numerous others. Episode 297 highlights the future of the 007 franchise and its hazy drama with Daniel Craig, in addition to how editing rooms go about overhauling movie scripts when necessary. With this mix of relevant topics, like James Bond and other well known movie franchises, while also discussing the inner workings of the screenwriting business, August and Mazin are able to give their audiences a plethora of information to consider with each podcast. 

Most viewers of a movie don’t stop to consider the script behind the film, or all the work that goes into a single line of dialogue that they are hearing from the screen. “Scriptnotes" manages to present the normally mundane idea of sitting at a computer screen and typing up a script as a much more interesting and creative profession. They highlight changes in the industry, like the previously mentioned script-reading robots, as well as other new advancements and trends that occur.

Often times, the main narrative around a film when it is released, whether it is met with huge numbers at the box office or negative returns, is based in part by movie critics. Critics at large publications have very prominent platforms to voice their views on new movies as they are released. The important distinction to be made however, is that movie critics and movie fans go to the theater for different reasons and watch movies with different mindsets. While a critic may see a movie and be judging its social impact or the underlying plot lines, fans will likely judge the movie primarily based off of entertainment value. Obviously, there are those out there who are devoted movie theater attendees and this line of reasoning doesn’t apply to them, but as for the masses, there is a clear difference in intended experience at a movie for a critic versus a fan. 

These three podcasts help to bridge that gap in a way. “The /Filmcast” helps listeners stay up to date on the movie and television industries and their changes. “How Did This Get Made” highlights the muck of the film industry; the overly large blockbuster flops, the amateur looking horror films, and the kinds of movies that would normally be thrown to the curb get their time in the spotlight on this show.  Finally, “Scriptnotes” shows the intricacies and overlooked aspects of the screenwriting business that subverts most people’s attention. 

By listening to these podcasts, moviegoers can change the way they watch movies. Seeing movies with an altered perspective - one informed by podcasts like these, can help movie critics and movie fans see films in more similar fashion. While the topic of being more informed isn’t a pressing issue in the slightest for movie fans, it’s still important to not only recognize the behind the scenes work that goes into a movie, but also the latest news and rumors that may shape the very core of the industry that everyone is in some way a part of.