“Audio Is A Very Visual Medium”: The Makers Of ESPN’s 30 For 30 Podcast On Working Without Images

Filmmaker Magazine | 9/20/2018 | Matt Prigge
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by Matt Prigge

The team behind the ESPN podcast 30 for 30 hate the word “podcast.” They think “audio documentaries” is a better fit. “The word podcast is just so unhelpful,” said Jody Avirgan, the show’s host and executive producer. “A lot of people hear ‘podcast’ and think two people in a room talking. I like those podcasts. But we’re trying to do stuff that’s much more akin to a short film than to that kind of podcast.”

Course - Documentary - Series - Film - Spin-off

Of course, the 30 for 30 audio documentary series only exists because of film. They’re a spin-off of the 30 for 30 films, which began airing on the station in 2011, with documentaries by big names like Albert Maysles, Brett Morgen, Barbara Kopple and Steve James. The audio equivalent began last year and, among other things, it serves as an exploration of how evocative audio can be, even, or maybe even especially, when there’s no images to go with it.

The show was the focus of an IFP Week 2018 panel, attended by Avirgan and his colleagues Deirdre Fenton and Ryan Nantell, both producers. Fenton handles film exclusively; Nantell has feet in both. Sometimes the film and audio teams have the same general conversations, though they come at them from very different angles. Example: How do you handle basic exposition? What do you put on-screen when you need to, say, show the inside of an exclusive casino that won’t grant you access, as in one episode?

Film - Thing - Archive - Fenton - Things

“Before you greenlight a film, one thing you have to do is see what’s in the archive,” Fenton said. “One of the things about a documentary is you show people what things look like. You take them inside this world. If you can’t do that, we need to discuss it. Maybe you just show the exterior. Or you show...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Filmmaker Magazine
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