It’s a great time to be a filmmaker who listens to podcasts! The array of podcast options continues to grow, including some excellent shows that will help filmmakers improve their skills. Below are some of my favorites…
1. KCRW’s The Business – Host Kim Masters catches you up on the latest movie business news. In the first segment, The Hollywood Banter, she and guest host break down the headlines. But the meat of the show is an excellent interview with filmmaker or filmmaking team.
I have not found another podcast that concentrates on the movie business rather than celebrity angles. Masters and her producers choose a wide array of interesting people throughout the movie business to interview, from Barry Jenkins on directing Moonlight to a historian of Hollywood agency CAA.
(If you’re into filmmaker interviews from a more artsy-fartsy angle, check out KCRW’s The Treatment with Elvis Mitchell. While Elvis has been interviewing a lot of fashion people lately, his bread and butter is interviews with directors and actors. His trademark moment is when he asks them about a theme he’s found running through the entire body of their work. Sometimes it provokes an interesting bout of introspection. Sometimes the filmmaker just says, “Huh. I don’t see that.”)
2. Scriptnotes – Real working A-list screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin have been recording this weekly show for years. Recent shows are free, or if you like, you can deep dive into the incredible back catalogue (available for a token subscription fee).
They regularly select three pages from scripts sent in by listeners for a sensitive critique in what they call the Three Page Challenge. In another recurring segment, they cover recent news stories and ask Is This A Movie? Perhaps most importantly, they answer listener questions and constantly dispel the common myths about what makes for good and bad screen storytelling.
If you’re not into listening, there are transcripts of every episode available to read! Or, conversely, if you like screenwriting podcasts and having things read to you, check out The Blacklist Table Reads series.
3. The Flop House – Three friends, Elliott, Stuart and Dan, watch a bad movie — usually a recent Hollywood bomb — and dissect it in a hilarious, digression-filled conversation. From a filmmaker angle, learning what doesn’t work in a film can be more valuable than what does. And why not laugh while doing it?
If you’d rather listen to a podcast that dissects, uh, better films, check out Lieography. Each episode, Joanna, Ace and John break down a biographical film. They rate the film for both historical accuracy and audience-pleasing storytelling. You can learn a lot from this podcast about how to adapt a real-life story into a film.
4. The Slashfilmcast – There are a ton of excellent movie review podcasts, from the venerable Filmspotting and Film Week with Larry Mantle, to upstarts like Top 5 Film and Movie Geeks United! Right now, my current go-to is the Slashfilmcast where host Dave Chen and his friends Jeff Cannata, Devindra Hardawar (and sometimes other guest online film reviewers) tackle a wide range of films. They review everything from South-by-Southwest indie hits to popcorn blockbusters. Over the course of making the show, Chen himself has become a documentary filmmaker, and so he brings a true filmmaker-in-development perspective to the discussion.
If you’re into the horse race of who will win awards, Vanity Fair’s Little Gold Men podcast takes the Oscar.
5. You Must Remember This – Writer and narrator Karina Longworth goes deep into Hollywood history. Right now she’s got a “Dead Blondes” series going, which explores the lives of famous actresses who died early – Marilyn Monroe, Veronica Lake, Jean Harlow and more. If you’re a true-crime fan (Serial, anyone?), check out the series on the Manson Murders and how they intersected with 1960’s Hollywood.
If you like movie history, but Longworth’s style isn’t for you, try out Attaboy Clarence or its spinoff The Secret History of Hollywood – right now in the middle of a Dan Carlin-esque epic series on the Warner brothers.
Show’s Over, Folks
How do I listen to all of these podcasts? My preferred podcast app is Downcast, where I can make a playlist (like, say “Filmmmaking Podcasts”) that automatically loads the latest episodes and then plays through continuously — great for long Los Angeles commutes!
What podcasts do you listen to that you think other filmmakers would enjoy? Leave a comment below.