Podcasting is a relatively new art form, yet for some reason it feels like we couldn't have ever possibly lived without it. Some of us who live, eat and breathe film also need to take it with us when we're driving, jogging, on the subway or just trying to make it through the night, man.
That's where these 11 crucial podcasts come in, bringing a massive info dump of interviews, advice or just good old fashioned chewing the fat. These aren't just conversations about films, they're conversation starters and all of them are essential as far as we're concerned.
Chances are 1 out of every 5 folks who read a film news website such as this have at one time or another tried their hand at writing a screenplay. If you've only contemplated writing as some sort of wish fulfillment fantasy, probably best stay away from the keyboard at this point, but if that snarling whorebeast of a screenwriting bug has inseminated you with its ambition sperm then Scriptnotes should be priority listening. Screw those pricey Robert McKee seminars, 'cause jovial hosts John August ("Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Big Fish") and Craig Mazin ("Identity Thief," The "Hangover" sequels) are actual, bonafide successful screenwriters, and are not afraid to demystify the process in the "there's more than one way to skin a cat"-tradition. Whether they're discussing ominous developments in Tinseltown, reflecting on bad reviews, dissecting "Raiders of the Lost Ark," or reviewing "Three-Page Challenge" submissions from readers, we can count on Mazin to be kvetchy and August to amiably reign him in with his Data-From-"Star Trek" logic. LISTEN
The Nerdist Podcast
As Chris Hardwick's Nerdist empire inches ever closer to its goal of total geek world domination, you can't help but feel a little fatigued by the man's omnipresence. That said, his hosting duties on "Talking Dead" and at various Comic-Cons across the globe don't hold a candle to the little show that got the whole ball rolling for him: The Nerdist Podcast. Along with co-nerds Jonah Ray and Matt Mira, Hardwick has perhaps the best track record for pulling podcast guests from the world of movies (yes, even better than Marc Maron), as attested by recent convos with The Wachowski Siblings, Joss Whedon, Jeff Bridges, Steve Carell and two (2!) dweeb therapy sessions with a delightful Tom Hanks talking about his vintage typewriter collection. It's hard to think of another hour-long talkshow with a casual enough vibe where a sit-down with "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan launches IMMEDIATELY into a ten-minute conversation about his forgotten debut screenplay for the pyrokinetic Dennis Quaid bomb "Wilder Naplam." That's hardcore, dude. LISTEN
KCRW's The Treatment
For an equally fun but more seriously probing series of interviews there's no one more qualified than renowned film critic/Harvard professor/rocker of dreds Elvis Mitchell, who has been holding court on this Santa Monica-based public radio show since 1996. Discussions tend to start off with Mitchell latching onto one particular trope a filmmaker might have (Edgar Wright's obsession with English pub culture, Guillermo del Toro's recurring motif of sleeping giants) which then splits off into a flurry of tangents that somehow remain on point. The Treatment is dependable for scoring cream of the crop talent (Robert Redford, Tim Burton, Paul Thomas Anderson, Quentin Tarantino), but Mitchell's unpretentious conversation style shows equal appreciation of high and low culture, making him perhaps the foremost authoritative voice in film criticism right now. LISTEN
How Did This Get Made?
"We're gonna have a good time, celebrate some failure, not just be a hater, did you ever wonder how did this get made?" Let's face it, we're a culture the revels in disaster. We love it when celebrities implode, and for every "John Carter" that goes down in flames at the box office there's an army of wolves salivating at the thought of feasting on the corpse. Here are three exceptional LA comedians (Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas) who've all written and starred in movies themselves, making them the perfect arbiters for what's a secret success or a steaming pile. Unlike Nathan Rabin's "My Year of Flops" column for The AV Club, Scheer and company engage in a slightly less analytical discourse ("WHAT THE F**K???") over the likes of easy targets ("Howard the Duck," "Halloween III," "Wild Wild West"), although they're not afraid to bring in a ringer like Patton Oswalt to champion a dud like "Punisher: War Zone"… with director Lexi Alexander in tow! Easily the most quotable podcast on here, as when talking up 1997's infamous "Batman & Robin": "This movie is three-quarters of a way to being a porn parody of a Batman movie." LISTEN
Gotta tread carefully here, as your humble narrator has been a gabby guest of The Auteurcast on several occasions it might seem unfair to include… except the idea Rudie Obias and West Anthony cooked up is so damn good. Their brainchild is a podcast where the two cineastes (along with frequent guests from the world of film blogging, *eh-hem*) pick a filmmaker (David Lynch, Christopher Nolan, Stanley Kubrick, et al) and devote an entire hour-plus episode to discussing each film on their CV. That leads to a pretty comprehensive, even exhaustive process where the two leave no stone unturned in terms of motifs, subtext, style, and general nerdery. Obias is the young buck –and the more formal of the two- while Anthony (a regular on film snob podcast Battleship Pretension) is the wildcard who is unflappable when it comes to esoteric trivia. They recently completed the entire 30-something filmography of Billy Wilder, so you better believe these dudes are thorough. You will learn something from this show, even if it kills you… and them. LISTEN
Doug Loves Movies
Comedian and committed pothead Doug Benson remembers a time when folks got their old movie reviews from a thick-ass James Michener-sized volume titled "Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide." The "Entertainment Tonight" mavin's tiny capsule reviews are the basis for a little quiz Benson thunk up called The Leonard Maltin Game, where a potpourri of special guests (Simon Pegg, Chris Evans, Zach Galifianakis, Sarah Silverman, Werner Herzog) attempt to comprehend the convoluted rules while playing for bags of deliberately crappy swag they bring. The big man himself has appeared on the show a number of times to play his namesake, yet even Maltin has a hard time remembering reviews he wrote based on reverse-ordered cast members. Categories include "Row Vs Wade" (movies where people are lost at sea) or "Ferris Bueller's Off Day" (Matthew Broderick movies Leonard gave less than 2-stars to). LISTEN
The Tobolowsky Files
This list is chock-a-block with celeb guests, but how about a show centered on a marginal character actor who's appeared in so many movies he's something of an ultimate Hollywood insider? That's what the bald, bespectacled Stephen Tobolowsky brings to the table in his philosophically adroit storytelling podcast put together by David Chen of /Film. His rambling, "This American Life"-esque essays on life, love and other actorly pursuits contain invaluable tutorials for anyone who wishes to tread the boards on Broadway or play an annoying salesman opposite Bill Murray. Speaking of which, his episode chronicling the making of "Groundhog Day" (where he's the indelible insurance salesman Ned Ryerson) is required listening, since he dishes on how it went from being a run-of-the-mill Murray vehicle to the cherished cult classic it is today. LISTEN
NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour
Of all the film discussion shows this one stands out for the panelist's A) Algonquin Roundtable-style camaraderie and B) the fact that they use decent microphones. Seriously, listen to a few other film podcasts and see if they don't sound like they're spoken into a SpaghettiOs can. Linda Holmes of NPR's Monkey See blog leads a lively (but subdued) bunch of Public Radio-friendly characters as they blab about topics like pop culture rites of passage, fiascos, one-hit wonders, and Peter Gabriel writing music lyrics "because words are fun things to say." This is the best way to keep up with recent movies like "12 Years a Slave" or "Gravity" to get a grip on what kind of impact they might have on the zeitgeist. LISTEN
As undignified and soul-crushing as Oscar prognostication is, at least one podcast on the subject should be included here because, hey, "this is the business we've chosen." If you want a trio of pied pipers leading you through one of the most shameless and prone-to-betting parts of the moviegoing calendar then seasoned Awards Daily journos Sasha Stone, Ryan Adams, and Craig Kennedy will do you no wrong. You can hear them debating vainly about who's going to be "this year's 'Chicago'" or going deep-vault and covering past awards years in infinite detail as a means of citing precedent. Stone is the most savvy of the three and the natural Moe to the other two's Larry and Curly, although she seems genuinely convinced that the Oscars are the only reason Hollywood still makes quality movies, an assertion which is at the very least debatable. LISTEN
BBC's Desert Island Discs
Big screen peeps can talk about their careers until they're blue in the face, but it's not until you hear their ultimate iPod playlist that you can genuinely glimpse their psyche. Although not exclusively made up of Hollywood clientele, silver screen icons like Dustin Hoffman, Goldie Hawn, Terry Gilliam, Martin Sheen, Nick Park, Russell Brand, Michael Caine and others have been recent visitors to the island. This also happens to be the oldest program on here, going way way back to the bombed about WWII years of 1942 onward. Hearing Micahel Caine talk about "Now You See Me"? Fine, whatever. Learning that Michael Caine dig's Elbow's "One Day Like This"? Priceless. LISTEN
Fighting in the War Room
Film.com doesn't have an official podcast, but site Senior Editor David Ehrlich co-hosts "Fighting in the War Room" (the podcast formerly known as "Operation Kino"), a twice weekly show on which he, Vanity Fair's Hollywood Editor Katey Rich, and illustrious freelancers Matt Patches & Dave Gonzales tackle pop culture topics, film and TV reviews, and interview very special guests. LISTEN HERE. </shameless plug>.