Five things I’ve learned from The Film Critic & The Common Man Podcast

This article originally appeared on The Film Experience

I danced around the idea of hosting my own podcast for quite some time. There were a thousand reasons to avoid it. What made me special that anyone would care what I have to say? I’m just another straight white guy who loves films. But, I discovered if I talked to someone who doesn’t have the same critical approach, we could really be onto something. Enter my big brother Jake.

We started a podcast called The Film Critic & The Common Man. Together, we discuss a film from my critical perspective and from the perspective of a regular guy. Sometimes we talk about a box office hit that won Best Picture. Other times, we talk about a dumb comedy. We record episode 10 this weekend. Despite our limited time, I’ve learned a lot from the experience.

Indie cinema is far away from the mainstream

One of our recurring segments is “Poll for a Dumbass” where I go through the filmography of a particular actor or director and see how many films my brother has seen. I use this as a barometer of how mainstream an actor or director has been in his career. Episode 2 covers Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, so I asked Jake about Ang Lee’s career. Not only had he not seen a majority of the films, he hadn’t even heard of them. I even avoided Lee’s early career outside of English. Sense & Sensibility, The Ice Storm, and Lust, Caution were all ghosts.

It’s a two-sided feeling. First, it sucks that he has been deprived these great films from his life. But more than anything, why would he ever have the chance to watch The Ice Storm? He spends hours on end in a car and comes home just to hang out with his kids. Is The Ice Storm going to be the relief he chooses? Absolutely not.

As critics, we live in a bubble of completism. I didn’t watch an obscure movie from 1937 because it happened to be on TV, I watched it because it was nominated for Best Assistant Director and I needed to check it off my list. The film discoveries we take in rarely translate to the real world connection. That’s what makes them so special when the connections do hit. Like the USS Indianapolis scene in Jaws

I love talking to my brother every week

Jake and I have grown closer since we became adults (and especially fathers), but since I moved away from our hometown, we obviously don’t see each other as much. But, the podcast has given us the opportunity to talk throughout the week to brainstorm ideas and prep the episode. On top of that, we get to see each other through camera a few hours. It’s nice just to hang out with your brother, regardless if there is a purpose or not.

Plus, it’s fun to make him watch a movie he might hate. It’s the thing that makes the podcast fun.

Podcasting doesn’t have to be expensive

The technological advancements of the world have been a godsend for content creators. There are so many options in the world to create that don’t break the bank or are free. My microphone is under $100. My webcam is inexpensive. I use a very low-cost version of software from Canva to do graphics. I use a free version of ClipChamp to edit videos. I use Audacity to audio edit, which is also free. Anchor and YouTube do the hosting and cost no money. We do recordings through Zoom.

There are tons of free or very inexpensive resources to get your content out into the world. Yes, you can spend a fortune on software and equipment, but what does that get you? Is someone going to turn away because you aren’t in HD? Do you have to have the cleanest cuts and cutting edge graphics? What you make is important, not how it is made.

Also, don’t get discouraged by problems you have. Our first episode was a technical disaster. I don’t even want to look at it or hear it. But, with experience, you can iron out all the problems.

Despite being a “common man” Jake can be quite eloquent

I told him I was writing this piece, and he felt obliged to give a quote. In his own words:

“This is a great podcast for serious movie lovers. Or not serious movie lovers. I love movies, but I’m certainly no movie buff. That’s Ben. I love this podcast because I am able to participate in something in which I get to watch an expert do the thing that the person in as expert at. It is an honor for a dumbass like me to be allowed to participate in a discussion on a matter with a person who is thoroughly an expert. I’ve known the guy for 36 years. He keeps surprising me each and every podcast with his wealth of knowledge. This guy knows his stuff. I’m just honored to bear witness.”

What a softy.

He really hated The Lobster

Catch all episodes of The Film Critic & The Common Man at our YouTube page as well as anywhere you get your podcasts (Apple, Spotify, Amazon, Anchor, Google).


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