To round off this series, I thought it would be quite nice to give you a quick overview of how each of the weekly podcasts that we release through Failed Critics actually gets made, from the first preparation stages through to the moment we send it off into the ether.
I’ll get the boring origins bit out of the way quickly, I promise. The name Failed Critics is hopefully not too accurate about our team, but is in fact a pun. There are far too many attributable quotes out there for me to name just one, but it’s often said that critics are failed artists, writers, film makers, etc. Therefore, we are the failed critics. Get it? Good.
We have a website updated almost daily with new written articles, alongside our weekly entertainment podcast.
As I choose to organise and block-book guests for the podcast quarterly, the first stage of the process is to take a look through the film calendar (filmdates.co.uk usually does the trick) and see what’s coming out over the next three months. I add all of the titles to a big spreadsheet and line up the dates for when we’ll be recording.
It’s then important to look at what anniversaries might be coming up in that period in case we need to theme that particular podcast. For example, is it Christmas? Halloween? The Academy Awards? Is there a film festival going on? Is it the first day of the summer period, and thus the first of our Summer Blockbuster previews? They’re all important to tally with the new cinema releases, especially when the films out during that week look terrible. Although we have a core number of subscribers, our download numbers spike when we’re discussing a popular film, such as Skyfall, Jurassic World, Godzilla, etc.
Next, I have to actually book the guests to appear on our show, of course. Included in that quarter’s email newsletter that I write, I invite the recipients to participate in the podcast by replying to me, listing the five episodes on the schedule that they are most interested in appearing on. I then decide who appears on which episode, ensuring no more than two guests (excluding me and our host Steve Norman) are on at a time. If there’s any more than that, it can get confusing for listeners with everyone talking at the same time.
Once every episode has been scheduled, with the guests all booked in, it’s a case of simply watching whatever films are out that week and preparing notes. I also need to keep an eye out for any related film news (for which Twitter is an invaluable tool) prior to emailing around an agenda to everyone ahead of the recording date.
As we record the episodes over Skype (using software called Pamela) and not together in person, there are no rooms or studios that need to be booked – thank God! We all meet up online at 9pm on a Monday, run through the items on the agenda and for approximately 90-120 minutes, recording everything.
As easy as it would make my life to just publish whatever the raw audio sounds like, unfortunately it’s not as simple as that. For every 90 minutes that we record, it has to be edited down – usually to about 70-80 minutes. ‘Erm’, ‘uhm’, ‘ah’, long pauses, distorted audio, mistakes, failed jokes (we all make them!) or simply just “bad bits” that didn’t work; they all have to be trimmed. Oppositely, all of our jingles, opening theme and closing credits have to be inserted using Audacity.
Once the audio file is ready, all that’s left is to write the accompanying blurb giving our subscribers some idea of what’s in the episode, before uploading it to our podcast hosts (Acast). Lastly I publicise it through our various social media channels.
It takes about ten hours per week to make sure an episode is at a standard that I’m happy with. Sometimes, if I have time, I’ll appear on other people’s podcasts too. Below are five podcasts that I’ve either recorded and edited, or just taken part in. I hope you enjoy them!
If you have any questions about any part of the process, if you’ve enjoyed the series, or even if you’re looking to start up your own podcast and simply want some advice, please leave me a comment below.
Failed Critics Podcast – Corridor of Praise: Danny Dyer – Earlier this year over at Failed Critics, we talked to film producer Jonathan Sothcott and stand up comedian James Mullinger about the career of British actor Danny Dyer. It became our most popular episode ever.
Failed Critics Podcast: Panning Pan, Suffering Suffragette and Walking The Walk – Guests Andrew Brooker and Callum Petch joined us to talk through a number of new film releases recently, as well as discussing a few other movies and TV shows that we had seen.
Black Hole Classics #2 – 2001: A Space Odyssey – I talked to Tony Black about one of the greatest films of all time, Stanley Kubrick’s science fiction masterpiece, released in 1968 (one year before the moon landing).
Black Hole Cinema – Episode 35 – I was invited onto Black Hole Cinema to discuss Everest, which had just come out in the cinemas here.
The Failed Black Wikishuffle Hole Quizcast – In a special episode, Failed Critics competed against Black Hole Cinema and Wikishuffle in a quiz-show style format for a bit of fun.