Three years ago, we bought a cheap microphone. Film was frustrating. So many scripts and never enough resources to see them all made. We wanted to tell stories–our stories, uncompromised. So we huddled around our microphone in a tiny sweltering closet, the quietest room in a house of six people, and began recording our on-going movie-pitching podcast. It was something we could share with people, but it wasn’t a story in its final form. The month we uploaded our first episode, we saw a flyer for Austin Film Festival’s first Fiction Podcast Script Competition. The first script we co-wrote together was a sci-fi horror audio drama. It made semi-finals.
Our trip to Austin was always going to be a whirlwind. We were heading to a festival for writers as writers of a script that we were really proud of. Not to mention it was a vacation and we’d be celebrating our placement as semifinalists. Our first day at the festival, we went straight from a panel to sipping margaritas and listening to great insights from some of the biggest names in fiction podcasts. The festival organized for us to have coffee with a panelist, drinks with a judge. By the end, we were walking to every panel and party with someone we’d met earlier that weekend. The overall experience was validating and life-changing. How do you top that?
We went back in 2018, again as podcast semifinalists and were greeted by friends we’d met the year before. Every spare moment outside of panels and parties, we were with podcasters. We had one-on-one conversations with panelists over coffee. Everyone had amazing insights into show production and publication that they were eager to share with us. This is a community of writers that is so supportive of new voices, and so open. At one point over the weekend we had a note slipped to us during drinks with one of the judges to meet for some barbecue. Half the people there were creators of shows we’d listened to and were inspired by, pillars of the podcast community. How utterly surreal it was to find ourselves amongst so many incredible writers, literally sitting at the table with them as peers.
The flight home from Austin, we landed in Minneapolis at 5:00 pm. It was already dark. You couldn’t see out the plane windows because of all the snow. It was hard not to think of coming back home like a winter of the soul. Like all the magic of Austin had stayed there. But we brought back pages of notes from panels. Scribbled advice and contact info from our one-on-ones. We came home to emails and phone calls, tagged photos on twitter. We trade feedback, we stay in touch. Some friends from Austin have even guest starred on our weekly podcast. We’re also doing things unbelievable to us three years ago. Pitching to networks. Responding to queries from producers. And producing our first audio drama this year with better equipment and a real recording studio.
Look, we’re writers with a vision. We had a microphone. We would have always found a way to make a fiction podcast on our own. We would’ve gotten heatstroke in that miserable cramped closet if that’s what it took. But after attending the festival, we know we’re not on our own. We have a circle of writers that support and encourage each other. And we met them all in Austin.
We’re utilizing everything we got out of AFF to record and produce our 2017 semifinalist sci-fi horror podcast, Tomorrow, the Void, to be released later this year. We also host a weekly movie-pitching podcast called Big Money Movie Ideas.