Maybe it’s because as a New Yorker, I spend countless hours traveling around on foot. Maybe it’s because headphones are my secret weapon against crazy people on the subway. Maybe it’s because I have a slight case of the-internet-is-always-available induced ADD. Whatever the reason, I love listening to podcasts.
When I find out that someone doesn’t listen to podcasts, I think they must be: a) certifiably insane, b) vitamin B deficient, or c) simply in the dark about how educational, entertaining and inspiring a good podcast can be.
So, as a public service to those still living in the dark, I present my carefully curated list of favorite podcasts. I say curated because, like with anything else worth doing, finding the good podcasts has been an ongoing process of trial and error. Let the record also state that I am still always on the lookout for more worthwhile podcasts to add to my rotation.
10 essential podcasts for filmmakers
(in no particular order)
Two professional screenwriters (John August and Craig Mazin) chat about various “things that are interesting to screenwriters,” ranging from story structure to whether or not you need an agent to how to emotionally handle critical failure. I love the dynamic between John and Craig, who have very different personalities and write very different movies, but who nonetheless feel like a cohesive teaching team.
Comedian Chris Hardwick and friends sit down with comedians, actors and filmmakers to shoot the shit. I like this podcast because I kind of feel like I’m just hanging out with these really funny people. Even though it’s an informal chat, interesting tidbits and anecdotes always come out about how the guests got where they are in their careers, which is my favorite topic to listen to always.
Nerdist Writer’s Panel
Ben Blacker holds round table interviews, usually in live settings, with various TV writers. Fascinating stories always come out about the writing process, how different writers rooms function, getting pilots made and how writers got their first jobs.
Making it with Riki Lindholme
Actress Riki Lindholme (Garfunkel and Oates) interviews writers, actors and comedians about how they “made it” in the business. Since she is usually buddies with the interview subjects, they tend to open up to her a lot about the gritty details of how they got where they are, which is what I love about this podcast.
This American Life
Not technically a filmmaking podcast, but this is essential listening for anyone interested in brilliant storytelling about the human experience. It’s no surprise that many of the stories first heard on TAL have been adapted into films.
KCRW’s The Business
The Hollywood Reporter’s Kim Masters interviews filmmakers, actors and studio execs about their projects, always focussing on the business angle of the story. I like this podcast because it not only keeps me up to date with industry news, but it also teaches me a lot about how the business side of things operates.
KCRW’s The Treatment
Elvis Mitchell interviews actors, writers and directors about recent and upcoming projects. The thing that makes this podcast so engaging is Elvis’ incredibly thoughtful and thorough interview style. I have never heard another interviewer ask such insightful, well researched questions; no matter who his subject is, you get the sense that he has viewed all of their work, read every interview, contemplated each turn their career has taken. The result is a deeply fascinating conversation that is always a pleasure to listen to, whether or not I had a previous interest in the interview subject.
KCRW’s Hollywood Breakdown
This mini podcast is usually kind of a regurgitation of the “Hollywood Banter” that Kim Masters and John Horn do at the beginning of each “The Business” episode, but with little updates and elaborations added. I like it because it’s a great filler when I have five minutes left in my commute and I don’t want to start a whole new podcast, but god forbid I waste that last five minutes by not putting anything into my ears (this may or may not be that ADD thing I was talking about).
New Yorker: Fiction
Another great source of inspiring storytelling. Writers read their favorite New Yorker fiction stories written by other writers and then discuss them with New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman. Not only are the story selections always heavenly, but the discussion that follows is intelligent and engrossing. Listening to this podcast reminds me of my college English classes, which I have missed dearly since the day I was unceremoniously thrusted out into the real world.
The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith
Film aficionado Jeff Goldsmith leads in-depth interviews with writers and filmmakers after a screening of their latest films. Jeff is another one of those interviewers who blows me away with his massive scope of knowledge about each interview subject, which makes for an informative podcast. Since these interviews take place right after a screening, they are usually chockfull of spoilers, so I only listen to them after I’ve seen the movie in question.