How Fast Five sparked my love of podcasts...
By Matthew Gohn
I remember one of the first conversations I had about podcasts when I was probably nineteen. I was talking with my boss at the time about our respective habits of what we listen to on the metro, and she said she'd grown accustomed to listening to podcasts and finding them to be a better option. At the time they weren't for me, I preferred to listen to music on my commute.
Fast forward to sometime in 2011. Earlier in April, a film came out that blew my mind. It reminded me that not every movie needs to be the most serious thing in the world. It showed me how much fun movies can be. It was loud and silly but so damn entertaining that I can't help but love it. That film was Fast Five.
Fast Five struck a chord with me, and I couldn't tell you why because I'd never seen any of the movies before. Yet the trailers looked pretty cool and surprisingly the reviews were good. So I gave it a shot.
Holy hell was that one of the most fun things I'd seen in a theater. If you haven't seen any of the Fast & Furious films, I still recommend you watch that one. It's quite simply bat-shit insane, and I mean that in the best way possible. Universal finally figured out how to tailor their franchise just right, and now it's a global phenomenon, with Furious 7 (yes that's actually the title) coming out in 2015.
Fast Five hooked me for better or worse. It is one of my favorite films, and I'm sure my enthusiasm was a drag on my friends. And then somebody sent me a link to what might be the first ever podcast I listened to.
The podcast was How Did This Get Made? and the episode was dedicated to Fast Five. I had no idea what I was getting into. I'd never listened to a podcast before, and I had no idea of the structure of podcasts, which is actually something you need to know going in. But I indulged because at the time I consumed all media Fast Five related.
And so it began. How Did This Get Made? accurately skewered the film, and it became clear the hosts and I were on the same page. They were able to make fun of it, call out how stupid and ridiculous it could be, but this all came from a place of love and pure enjoyment. I had listened to the conversation I'd wanted to be a part of for weeks.
HDTGM? is on the Earwolf network and I soon branched out to other podcasts on there, including their flagship podcast Comedy Bang Bang. At one point, Chris Hardwick guested on a podcast I listened to, and through that I'd discovered the podcasts on the Nerdist network. I now maintain Nerdist and Charlie Rose will be the best interviews you hear.
This whole world had been opened up, and I loved it. I discovered how each podcast is unique, and you need to learn the rhythm of it. I learned how you need the right time and to be in the right mindset to listen, otherwise you'll tune it out. I've tried several podcasts that I didn't like at first, but I went back and gave them a second and third chance, and now I love them.
Over the past year or two I'd been flirting with the idea of my own podcast. After all, how hard can it be? I'd listened to so many that I knew how to do it, and honestly, at the end of the day, it's just talking into a microphone and uploading.
But I knew that there is a huge market saturation for podcasts. There is a lot to consider. We'd need a specific angle. What I know best is movies and pop culture. Unfortunately it appears that everyone else does too. There's a ton of podcasts catered to every specific niche you could find and those guys get talent I'd be glad to just be in the same room as.
My podcast idea is actually a mashup of two other podcasts I'd heard: Analyze Phish and The Cracked Podcast. In Analyze Phish, podcast god Scott Aukerman and Harris Wittels debate over the band Phish. Scott is a non-believer, and Harris is trying to convert him. But, for two episodes of that relatively short lived podcast, they hand the mikes over to fellow podcasters Paul F. Tompkins and Howard Kremer so they can analyze Fish, or in so many words, talk about their mutual favorite film, Jaws, with Shelby Fero, a comedian who had never seen it. They get her impressions before and after she watched the film over two episodes. It's a hilarious foray but also showed me how interesting the discussion between those who know the film backwards and forwards and those who have never seen it could be.
Cracked was the other huge inspiration, specifically their two episode arc based on pop culture expiration dates, which I found fascinating. In their podcast, one of the speakers comments that he believes in a few years without context The Dark Knight will be a film that ages terribly, saying that the idea of a man in a rubber bat costume beating up a guy in clown makeup and having the world hang in the balance will seem silly to future audiences. He might have a point. It's always fun to look back at something that was such a product of it's time or place. Or to see when a film is ahead of times, or behind the times. In the case of The Dark Knight the amount of Bush era politics and post 9/11 influences on that are overwhelming. Will that translate well to audiences born in the digital age, who grew up with gritty superheroes in a technology state? Who knows?
So the idea of a discussion based around films we love (or hate) and how they age or if they need a second opinion really appealed to me. So finally, I decided to make some moves. As Woody Allen said, "Half of life is showing up." I guess this is me finally showing up.
Ours is The Rebrewers Podcast. I'm going to be hosting it with my good buddy Jhaan. We went to college together, worked together, and play dodgeball together. He's someone whose company I always enjoyed and we see eye to eye on enough, but we can still argue when we don't. And that makes good radio, or so I assume.
The premise is simple. We know a lot about movies and we know just enough about craft beer. So each episode we're going to revisit an old movie to see how well it holds up while also trying a new beer for the first time and seeing how we like it.
Now I'm in a mad scramble to find an audio setup that works, develop a whole new brand and manage it, but it's challenging and I have the motivation. We'll see where we are in a few weeks, much less a few months. We've got a low budget, likely will have a less than stellar audio setup, but to hell with it, we're going to make it happen.
So here I go. This is a journey founded upon years of inspiration and blind ambition. No matter what, you can't fault a guy for trying.