A few months back I wrote a blog post discussing the then-current state of Movie Maintenance, the podcast I regularly appear on. While we started out as a review show of sorts that was basically a spin-off of a different show, over time we developed and became something akin to a fan fiction podcast with a revolving cast of writers.
That might sound like I’m damning us with faint praise; after all, there’s a definite stigma that comes with the title ‘fan fiction’, but, while it’s fairly accurate, it’s probably not the best moniker to describe what we did. Basically it was a way for us as geeks and writers to demonstrate what directions we would take Hollywood’s biggest franchises and properties if were we given the keys. Some of the episodes were specific fixes of flawed films, but an overwhelming amount were essentially our ideal sequels/spin offs to various properties. Not really ‘maintenances’, as many helpful internet commenters deigned to point out.
I made the argument then that pitching a good new instalment in any franchise that was struggling essentially counts as a maintenance and I think that still stands, but it does make our title somewhat misleading. So, coming into the new year, we had to think long and hard about the future of the show. We’ve been doing really well as far as listenership and fan engagement goes, but the niggling sense that we weren’t exactly sticking to our premise remained, with straightforward maintenances regularly getting eschewed in favour of dream Harry Potter spin offs and Star Wars sequels. Fun for us, fun for a lot of the audience, not fun for anyone who likes the premise baked into the title of the show and wants to see how we would go about fixing existing films.
Some big conversations were had, and behind the scenes things changed. With the show’s founder, editor and ostensible producer Joel Zammit tied up in the rest of the fast-growing Sanspants Radio output, producing duties had more or less fallen to me, and that is not the kind of responsibility I should ever have. Plus, episodes recorded to coincide with recent releases just weren’t getting edited fast enough to capitalise on the relevance they were trying to achieve.
When Joel suggested bringing on board a new producer, I was apprehensive. For all our issues, we were doing well and enjoying ourselves. In truth, we probably could have continued the same way for a while yet. Did we really need somebody else coming in and changing everything?
But, as it turned out, Sam Loy was very much on the same page as us and we hit it off almost instantly. His ideas made perfect sense when it came to tightening and improving the format of the show, while at the same time putting the emphasis where it always should have been; on maintenances of flawed movies.
If you listen to the show you may or may not have already noticed a slight difference in the way things run. We’re now operating in cycles of six episodes; four of which will be ‘classic’ maintenances, one of which will be an ‘original’ pitch, one of which will be a more general discussion episode focussing on a topic (i.e. the Oscars, Superhero Films, etc). This will keep the show true to its premise while still allowing for fun, fresh new stuff and more generalised discussion. The cast has also been tightened a little; emphasising a core group of three with one of us regularly swapping out to allow for a guest. So none of your favourites are going anywhere, there’ll just be a little more of some of us and less of others, just to keep a bit more tonal consistency across the board.
Personally I feel really good about where the show is at; like we’re finally achieving our potential and have developed our own distinct voice. Of course, these changes might not be for everyone and that’s okay. Ultimately if they don’t work we’re flexible enough to reconfigure. But for now, I think we’re on the right track and we’ve got some brilliant episodes in the bag. Hope you like ‘em.
Just some thoughts.