Dallas — In my previous column I wrote a history about what I liked in podcasting and things to listen to, but forgot to mention that I have a new podcast called the Fog of Truth. So this month, instead of writing about the film features going on now (the Oak Cliff Film Festival starts this week), I thought I would give you a glimpse of what it took to create this podcast, in case any of you are thinking about creating a podcast.
I had been thinking about doing a podcast about documentary films for a long time. I love listening to podcasts, I have lots to say about documentary films, and I like to talk. I thought talking about film might be easier than writing about it. I also believe that there are so many good documentaries out now and it is hard to figure out which ones to watch, so this would really help. This is especially true now that Amazon and Netflix have invested in documentaries.
When planing to work in a new medium the first thing to do is research. I found a good local, monthly Meetup in this area about podcasting. It is headed by Mitch Todd, who knows everyone working in the space. I went to meetings and listened. I took people who were doing it out to lunch and listened. Then I heard that there was a Podcast Movement conference that was in Fort Worth that year, and I went to everything and listened. I learned about the technology, I heard some of my heroes talk and met the folks who run RadioTopia. Pretty much anything on RadioTopia is worthwhile—think of it as the Criterion film of podcasting. I got my picture taken with Marc Maron and spoke to Roman Mars wo has the podcast 99 Percent Invisible, and is a real hero.
In my head I could not get around the idea of what my podcast would be. I knew I wanted to interview filmmakers and talk about docs and have audio from them—and that was about it. I also thought it would be best to have someone to do this with. I really needed a producer; someone to line up guests and get me organized. I also thought that another voice other than mine would be a good thing, perhaps someone younger and someone with a different perspective. I also struggled with finding a good name. I had a few names in mind, none of which I liked. I could not get a grip on who would be good to co-host with me. It was seeming like this would not happen.
Last summer, while hosting a panel about film festival programming at the University Film & Video Association conference in Los Angeles, I met Summre Garber, who is a doc maker and a programmer for several fests, including co-captain programmer at Slamdance. I was going through the rant on what I wanted to do and she said, “I’ll produce that for you.” Wow. I was not expecting that.
Then I realized that she had a good voice good taste and a younger perspective that would be great to be on with me, and she said “yes” to that too. While at this conference, I also talked to Christopher Llewellyn Reed, a film teacher and the lead critic for Hammer to Nail, a film review website. Chris has served as a juror for the Dallas VideoFest and I know he has good taste and asked him to be our third partner. We had our dream team.
When we got back to our home bases, Summre, being a good producer, would set up conference calls for us to figure out what this was going to be and how we were going to get there. First there was the name, somehow we came up with fog of truth, it spoke to some core documentary issues, spoke to this moment and we all loved it. Then there was the technical issue of how were we going to produce a podcast with me in Dallas, Summre in LA and Chris in Baltimore.
I asked Mitch from the Meetup group and he suggested using Zencastr, which lets us record high quality separate tracks on my computer with them talking into their computers. It works and works well.
Next we needed to do the format for the pod. After lots of discussion we came up with an intro in which we each talk about an issue like use of drones in docs, or docs about artists, then we all talk about one doc, usually one on Netflix, Amazon or otherwise available. Then we have the interview that either Chris or I have prerecorded, and end with doc talk, in which we each talk about something we are thinking about. Sounded good.
Summre created a Google Doc for us to suggest interviews, reviews and other topics for us to talk about (it is good to have a good producer).
Next we needed music and an intro. Summre’s brother composed some foggy music for the intro and Chris edited together our voices with classic moments from docs we love. And thus we had our open.
Next we did a test episode, which was good, but a bit stiff. While we could hear the potential, we were not as comfortable in the cross talk as we are now. We did not publicly air that test.
When talking about how often to release the podcast, we decided we would do series of six weekly episodes that would drop on Wednesdays, take a few weeks off and then do it again.
Then we had a few other hurdles to overcome before launching. Chris built a Squarespace website (Fogoftruth.com), where you can now find past episodes, sort through show notes and info about the podcast and us.
The last piece of the puzzle is how to get your podcast to show up on podcast applications. (By the way, I use Overcast as my podcast player.) To get on this spaced you need a special kind of server space. There are many ways to do this. Archive.org has a free one but has limits on usage. We went with Libysn, which takes the file and send it to all the services that need it. So once they get it, it is out there. Like magic.
Since both Chris and I have experience editing we agreed that whoever did the interview on that episode would edit the show. Editing sound is so much easier than editing picture and sound, but I had no idea how embarrassing it was to hear how many times I say uh and how many times I smack my lips. Also editing my own passionate discussions or rants made me rethink how articulate I am. When I edit the show I can fix my blunders, and I am sure that Chris has saved me from embarrassment.
So now you know who we are, what our name is, what we are doing, and how we do it. On Jan. 3, 2018, we launched with season one, episode one. We recently finished season two and are working on a bonus episode about interactive documentary.
Since that conference last summer the three of us have not physically been in the same place at the same time, but have gotten very close and between seasons I really miss talking to Summre and Chris.
This week we are all going to the AFI Documentary Film Festival in Washington, D.C., which will be a year after we first agreed to do it.
It will be great.
» Bart Weiss is an award-winning independent film and video producer, director, editor, and educator who has lived in Dallas since 1981. Mr. Weiss has taught film and video production at Texas A&M’s Visualization Lab, Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas at Austin and Arlington, Dallas Community College District and West Virginia State College. He currently serves as President of the Board of Directors of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers, serves on the Board of Directors of the University Film and Video Association, is a past Vice President of the Texas Association of Film and Tape Professionals, founder and past president of the West Virginia Filmmakers’ Guild, and co-founder of VideoFest and the Video Association of Dallas. He has been a video columnist for The Dallas Morning News, The Dallas Times Herald, United Features Syndicate and KERA 90.1 FM Radio in Dallas. Mr. Weiss received an MFA in Film Directing from Columbia University in 1978 and a B.A. from Temple University in 1975. Bart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
» Film Notes with Bart Weiss now runs on the first Wednesday of the month.
PREVIOUSLY IN FILM NOTES
- April: Film Notes 1.1
- May: Film Notes 1.2
- June: Film Notes 1.3
- July (No column)
- August: Film Notes 1.4
- September: Film Notes 1.5
- October: Film Notes 1.6
- November: Film Notes 1.7
- Bart Weiss's thoughts on film in 2017