To deny that the world is going through a podcasting ‘boom’ would be irresponsible, particularly as recent analysis shows that nearly one in four US citizens listen to a podcast at least once a month. The relatively low cost of entry and simplicity of distribution means that it is easy for niche interest recordings to find their communities and for a multitude of podcasts across a plethora of topics to find their audiences.
Nowhere is this more true than in filmmaking, where it appears the podcast is a better platform for professional-level discussion than YouTube, with the video streaming site being perhaps better geared towards a younger audience. Indeed, whilst millennial filmmakers may fondly recall the likes of Indy Mogul and Film Riot on YouTube, other than channels such as DP/30, Film Courage, and The Hollywood Reporter’s ‘Directors’ Roundtable’ series, online video content has tended to be more focused on the practical nuts and bolts of filmmaking and less on storytelling.
Having personally been a relatively early adopter of the podcast (I’d hazard a guess at 2007 or 2008 being the year I got hooked), I still consume hours of content. How else am I going to get my daily fix of The Archers, some nine thousand kilometres from the UK? Listening to a podcast is a great way to fill dead time, whether on your commute, whilst doing the dishes or cleaning your apartment: it’s free, entertaining, and educational. I have compiled below some of my favourite film podcasts out there, based on hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of listening, and whilst many may be familiar to readers, I hope that some at least will be new discoveries that can inform and inspire.
This was an easy pick, even amidst the ocean of easy picks on this list. John August and Craig Mazin release an episode every week, “discuss[ing] screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.” Much like one would wait impatiently for the next episode of a favourite TV show before the advent of Netflix, my week now revolves around when the latest episode of Scriptnotes is released. Both presenters are at the top of their game with decades of experience (just look at their credits), and regularly discuss craft, the business, and more.
Director of photography Patrick O’Sullivan provides breakdowns of his work, and talks with other cinematographers about theirs. In-depth and detailed, this podcast is probably for those who already know the jargon and basics of cinematography.
This one occupies a similar spot in the market as The Wondering DP Podcast although it’s slightly more gear oriented. Cinematographer Matt Workman talks with other industry professionals about their careers, work, and equipment choices. There’s a commercial focus, but occasional discussion of narrative projects too.
Controversial writer Bret Easton Ellis airs his controversial opinions on film, television, and art and culture in general. Even if you disagree with his politics, his interviews of creatives including Paul Schrader, Molly Ringwald, and Larry Clark always prove enlightening and thought-provoking.
5. BAFTA Guru
A collection of pretty much everything BAFTA records, from screenwriters’ lectures, to film Q&As, to more intimate conversations with actors, filmmakers, and video game creators. Not exclusively British either—recent features have included Yorgos Lanthimos and Hugh Jackman, although you will be able to get your fix of Hugh Grants and Colin Firths if you want it.
Slightly more accessible than many of the above, this podcast is for newbies and experienced professionals alike. It is at its best when interviewing filmmakers about their work. A great way to keep up with gear news as it features a wrap-up of all the latest developments each week, as well as any big stories out of festivals, and updates on the indie scene in general.
Respected critic and academic, Elvis Mitchell, talks each week with a different industry professional. The podcast is in-depth and enlightening, closer to a series of conversations than interviews, and Mitchell’s academic background (he lectures at Harvard and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas) means he often gets creatives talking beyond the simple practicalities of how their art was made.
As an avid Radio 4 listener, I had no choice but to include this one. Presented by Francine Stock, it is primarily a review show, although we often get to hear short interview segments with filmmakers whose work is opening in cinemas that week. Recent interviewees include Paul Thomas Anderson, Aaron Sorkin, and Michael Haneke.
Sadly discontinued, Chicks Who Script is hosted by filmmakers Emily Blake, Maggie F. Levin, and Lauren Schacher. Its focus is on women in the film industry, but the podcast is not just about the business of making films—there is plenty of discussion on craft, and interviews with other filmmakers too.
A semi-regular podcast with an episode generally appearing every two to three months, You Had Us At Hello is hosted by Man Up (Ben Palmer, 2015) screenwriter Tess Morris and writer/UCLA screenwriting instructor, Billy Mernit. The podcast takes a look at the workings of romantic comedy, the craft of rom com writing, rom coms on television, and more. Worth listening to from a craft perspective even if you’re not a romantic comedy fan.
Those of you engaged with the online filmmaking community will no doubt be acquainted with Nathalie Sejean’s blog Mentorless. This newly-launched podcast takes a look at the the creative process through a series of interviews with working filmmakers, asking them the crucial question: “How do real people make films while paying their bills and maintaining a balanced life?”