Cameras are Tools

I’m going to tell you something that you already know: 

Cameras are tools. 

When you talk about TV Shows with your friends, you might talk about what cameras or gear was used to produce it, but you know that they aren’t that important. 

The camera is a tool. Humans use tools to express ideas. 

If a show is poorly written or conceived, it doesn’t matter how it was produced. 

This seems so obvious that it should be a rule. 

But it isn’t a rule except in books about filmmaking.  

There isn’t a lot of great writing in the world. 

It’s more likely that you’ll get involved with a project that was sloppily written and ill conceived. And when that happens, the camera and the gear does matter. The crew matters. Because their hard work is going to make the project good. Not great. Good. They’ll add a cut and a fade to save a performance. They’ll re-record a line that didn’t make sense. If it's a film, they'll be thoughtful where the writing isn't. If it's a documentary, they'll cut around the interview that was too long. They'll fix it. 

Asking what camera someone used is like asking what kind of hammer made a bench. The object that was created is what's important. 

It isn’t about the camera. The camera is a tool. Tools are for expressing ideas.

Unless the writing sucks. 

You Should Have a Podcast with Your Friends

I’ve started a lot of podcasts. I have an idea that is funny or weird to me, and then I try to convince someone to appear on a podcast. Usually it never works past the 2nd episode (which is why you're supposed to start with 10 episodes).

But now I know what I did wrong.

You need to have a weekly podcast with your friends.

Podcasts are lightweight and easy to produce. You can make it hard on yourself if you’re competing with This American Life, but you don’t have to. There are plenty of wonderful amateur podcasts with ‘good enough’ audio that plenty of people listen to. 

But it isn’t about having listeners. It’s about hanging out with your friends. 

Let me rewind and talk about it. 

6 Months ago I started a podcast with my best friends from high school. I didn’t go to the same college as any of them, and I’ve moved across the country two times since then. I basically haven’t talked to them on a regular cadence for almost 20 years. 

Our podcast is nostalgic and simple. Every week we watch an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and then we talk about it. It’s called ‘Buffy Virgin’ because I didn’t watch the show when it first came out in ’97 and all of them did.

It works because it’s nostalgic and because it’s also not my idea. 

No one wants to sustain an idea that they weren’t involved in producing. Whatever idea you come up with has to be collaborative. It can’t be you + a guest. To sustain itself without capital, an idea has to be shared.

And then there's some other special math I like about creativity – 4. it it has to be 4 people. 2 people make other plans. 3 people can partially commit. 4 creates expectations. It's a Poley Law of Creativity. 

Since starting the podcast, I’ve met up in person with a high school friend that I hadn’t met up with in years. I’ve had opportunities to have conversations with all of them on the phone that, while somewhat random, were not awkward. And we’ve been able to talk about the things that kept us together on a spiritual level, if not a physical level, all these years. 

I don’t think you should listen to Buffy Virgin. It’s probably not for you. I actually don’t want to be on it for the first couple episodes. But now, one season of Buffy in, I’m enjoying it. 

And that’s ok.

You should have a podcast with your friends.