Monday, 21 March 2011

Podcasts

I'm breaking my not posting this week rule to say:

I don't get podcasts.

I really don't; can someone explain it to me?

Maybe it's because what I most do on the internet is read stuff, so if I have one page running a podcast while I read other pages, I find I don't 'hear' the podcast cos I'm hearing the words I'm reading instead. Furthermore, I usually listen to Spotify while reading loads of tabs on web, and listening to music makes me reader faster and more focussed, so the idea of opting to listen to people talking when I won't listen to what they are saying if I do something else, and there's not much I do that lends itself to just listening to a bunch of people talking. I honestly would rather reading peoples' writings about something on a page while listening to music than listen to them chatting about something I'll probably stop paying attention to.

Is it because I don't really like the concept of radio, and something has to be really engaging for me to listen to it sans visual when it's just voices. Blue Jam totally rocked, but I view that as an exception.

This applies to me as well; before I did A-Levels I was on a BTEC Media, which I failed. I personally wasn't bothered I didn't finish, because I thought the course sucked - in the Production Module part, they make you do a project where you make up a production budget. Why I didn't like that? They literally wanted you to make it up... there was zero requirement for you to use any realistic references, if you wanted to educate yourselves in real world knowledge through the module (such as where you get information on the costs of hiring equipment or sets, costings related to health and safety issues or permits, limits relating to working hours or pay to cast and crew, how to relate this to shooting schedule, etc) you were actually discouraged from going into that sort of detail, instead told to just... you know, make up a bunch of numbers about equipment, paying people, locations, then a random number of days to do it, add it up and call it a budget. I wasn't particularly interested in wasting my time of what is fundamentally just a mathematic equation, so I didn't bother. But the bit that did bother was the radio module - I hate my voice, and I can handle that in general conversation, but my voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me so thinking of it on it's own, not bodily factor, freaks me out, and then we had to do a show that was really broadcast across South Wales. I wrote most of it, sorted out a load of the production stuff, picking music, preparing, all that shit, but I didn't get a grade just because I didn't speak on it!

Anyway, back to the podcast.

I really can't see why anyone would bother, and I never have. And it's not just because most of them are nothing more than some people talking to each other, often in a really boring, uninformed way; there are many little 'to camera' editorials I've watched, I've nothing against people choosing to add a really basic video to youtube just to say why they think *some* of the Indiana Jones movies are pure unadulterated genius, but there's something about people doing it as radio. Not exclusively, but ESPECIALLY if it's about films or filmmaking.

Is what I'm missing that most people who listen and promote podcasts are people who, unlike me, do a lot of stuff that requires looking or physicality but doesn't require listening to anything that would distract from the voices chirping in their ears? I mean, I wouldn't listen on the bus or train, because (same as above) my brain works better listening to music, I mostly want to stave off travel sickness and drown out stupid people talking around me or screaming at their kids. I guess if you were a environmental photographer who was so busy they needed to fill all their time with education and networking listening to a podcast while you wade through a forest looking for a squirrel would be a good idea, or you were preparing to rob a bank and for a week all you had to do was sit on a bench and log the times the staff came and went, but generally I can't think of many times I'd choose to listen to one.

Most people who love podcasts, or think their careers would radically change if they made and promoted podcasts, why do they love them, and how do they listen to them? I'd rather a video or text everytime? Explain to me!

5 comments:

  1. I can only speak personally. As part of my job I travel a lot. Mostly driving. Listening to my own music became really distracting, because I like to flick between tracks, one song reminds me of something which has me thinking about another song, before you know it I'm scrolling through ipod tracks and haven't looked at the road for a full five minutes, or I'm leaning across to get another CD from the glove compartment, steering with my knees.

    So I moved onto listening to people talk. specifically Radio 4. And that was fine because it eliminated the need to flick between tracks but it had me at the mercy of their schedule. So I started to download podcasts. If you have Sky+, think of it the same way.

    I agree there are a lot of, well lets face it, fucking awful podcasts out there, monotone discussions on techie matters. But there are a lot of interesting ones as well. Kermode and Mayos 5 live film review trims the show down to ditch cricket scores and the like and has some fantastic interviews. Kevin Smith the film maker has steered his entire career towards creading his own podcast network at smodcast.com, some of the shows are hit and miss, some are comedy gold. Closer to home Danny Stack and Tim Clague have a nice succinct monthly podcast about Screenwriting in the UK, called (oddly enough) "Screenwriting in the UK"

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  2. I have to admit I don't actually like the Screenwriting in the UK, though I only listened to a few of them... maybe I should try again - the ones I listened to were about the Film Council and other general industry stuff, and I did get bored when they start focusing on how they feel, not really informative...

    I'll definitely try the Kevin Smith n Kermode ones, get a little comparison going on; I always like Kevin Smith's campus talks DVDs so maybe his podcasts will convert me. Thanks Mark x

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  3. I am a bit of a podcast junkie - less now than last year when I had a 45-minute walk to work, but I still get through a lot. I could list all the podcasts I rate (Kermode and Kevin Smith included - especially Smith's Red State series) but thought I'd just suggest you listen to This American Life. You can download their podcast from www.thisamericanlife.org. They report on a number of real life stories every week which doesn't sound that inspiring, but the stories are all usually a little weird and the reporters are fantastic. It's brilliant from a writing perspective - I'd say 80% of the stories would make awesome films, plus you get genuine reactions to things so bizarre that you would think could only happen in films. If you're interested I'd definitely recommend checking them out.

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  4. I'll second that, I don't really bother with podcasts but I love a good audiobook while I'm cleaning, cooking or driving. Chris introduced me to This American Life and I love it. Just great stories about people, brilliantly told, it makes the mundane beautiful and strange. I've never heard a dull one.

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  5. Thanks for the heads-up guys, This American Life looks like just the sort of thing I could get obsessed with :p

    Hope you guys are well x

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