Why Movie Maintenance is ending
Earlier today the announcement hit that Movie Maintenance, the podcast I’ve been a part of for the last three years, is coming to an end with its 150th episode. This decision was made a few weeks ago, and despite the word ‘cancelled’ being bandied about, that’s not the best description for what happened.
Movie Maintenance has never been an easy show. There were bursts of creative energy, there were episodes we’re all hugely proud of, but the truth is that it just never quite hit the heights we wanted it to. Even at its best it was a weekly struggle to maintain (heh) the quality and the early idea, to every week deliver an amazing fix of a flawed film that made you sit up and say “if only!” quickly became unviable. Before long we were relying more on our own fan fiction pitches for dream sequels, prequels and reboots. The reason for this was simple; it’s easier and more enjoyable to write about something you like than something you don’t.
Over the course of its run, Movie Maintenance was often subjected to soft reboots. The cast changed, the format shifted, emphasis moved from fixes to pitches then back to fixes and finally to a format that allowed us more general discussion of writing craft. The premise of Movie Maintenance, which was always strong, never sat comfortably with what we really wanted to do. And while a lot of what we did would sort of count as a maintenance if you squinted, much was rightly called out by listeners as being a bit of a betrayal of the premise of the show.
Over the last year, passion and energy dwindled. I found myself running out of great ideas for takes on movies and finding excuses to remove myself from episodes. And while we were really enjoying the discussion based episodes (Toxic Fandoms, Dialogue, Franchise Fatigue etc), the pitches and fixes had become a chore. So we decided to reboot again, to bring in new formats like the Garbage vs Gold debates and challenge eps like Win Vin Diesel an Oscar. Fun for us, but still not really Movie Maintenance.
Meanwhile, our passion was moving elsewhere. Our spinoff series of audio dramas, Movie Maintenance Presents, has never been a conqueror in the downloads, but gave us as writers a chance to put original work out there, and while it was always far more work than the main show, it was in many ways more rewarding. Then there was Movie Maintenance AGM, our subscriber only pop culture news show which, as Handsome Tom pointed out, was so refreshing and enjoyable because it gave us a chance to talk about things we like.
Relentless negativity has long been a criticism of Movie Maintenance. For my money there’s a reason people still talk about episodes like Dracula, Jaws 5 and Sons of the West; they were based around things we were passionate about and let us convey that passion. That’s almost always more fun to hear than people just criticising something. I could never begrudge people disliking the show because of our negativity, but tearing movies apart was baked into our premise and honestly, on a show called Movie Maintenance there just wasn’t that much we could do about it.
Are you sensing a pattern here? More and more, we were fighting against our premise. And then there was the external problems it posed. Try meeting working screenwriters, directors and producers at industry events and telling them that your job is to, without much to your name, claim you can do better than them. There aren’t many ways to say that without sounding arrogant. And while I do believe that we always approached what we did from a place of loving film and wanting the best from our blockbusters, it’s easy to see why someone would assume otherwise and write us off as at best pretentious, at worst conceited and vindictive.
Breaking point came a couple of months back when our producer stepped down. We had been looking at launching the AGMs as a public parallel show to Movie Maintenance, called The Agenda, but without someone to edit and oversee the concept suddenly looked unfeasible. And when we met to record, we were at a loss. Finally I asked: what if we scrap Movie Maintenance and come up with something new in its place? Something that keeps the things we love about the show and removes the stuff that was detrimental? Something that has room to include the news discussion format of the AGMS, the challenges, the writing craft dissections and whatever else we have a mind to do?
I was ready to be shut down. I was ready to be told that was a stupid risk. But what I got was unanimous agreement, a shared admission that we’d all been feeling this way for a while and, with our 150th episode getting close, this move couldn’t come at a better time. And like that, within the space of a few minutes, the decision was made. Movie Maintenance would finish. And something else, something looser and vaguer and more fun, would take its place.
All of the above probably makes it sound like I disliked Movie Maintenance, which couldn’t be further from the truth. At its best it was exhilarating fun. Getting to tell stories that excited people all around the world was beyond rewarding. Getting to hear stories from the most talented writers I know was even better. Hearing appreciation for my work from people everywhere was something I had never experienced before, and the podcast provided the kind of platform that was beyond invaluable. It changed my life and revolutionised my career, and I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it. And, beyond that, for the fact that people listened and cared. That alone was more than I ever could have expected.
But everything has its time and everything ends. More information about the new show will land in weeks to come, but until then there are still a few more episodes of Movie Maintenance before our final live show extravaganza on May 18. And after that, in the immortal words of Hannibal, ‘fate and circumstance have returned us to this moment, when the teacup shatters.’
It’s been a blast. Thank you for listening.
4/10/2018 04:08:09 pm
I´m actually crying right now. you guys have given everything i wanted and more in every single episode of the show. just thanks mate, it was great while it lasted. i hope your next projects go well .
4/11/2018 06:56:10 am
As a fan of the show and someone who voraciously consumes everything associated with Sanspants, I cannot help but unequivocally concur. You have exposed me to media which I had never heard of, and reshaped, and really revitalised, the way I watch movies. I’m enormously grateful that you all took the time to produce some really fantastic content, content that truly struck me as being heartfelt, sincere, and ultimately satisfying. I love your work.
4/11/2018 02:09:56 pm
I was gonna cry... but then I read that you guys aren't quitting movie-talk altogether. So it's okay. It's gonna be okay.
4/12/2018 05:31:30 am
At first I felt kinda empty and anxious, now I'm very, very excited. Thank you.
4/13/2018 06:24:08 pm
I have been looking around for some podcasts to stick with, something that fits my liking of nerdy pop culture film, the weekly planet is a good one, plumbing the Death Star is great as well, but I fell head over heels for movie maintenance. As shoe where people like me would fix the crap of movies or pitch some truly amazing stories. From fixing the Star Wars prequels to Gabe’s Springsteen pitch to Dracula, I have loved every episode. I have been with y’all since the beginning and couldn’t wait for Thursday’s to come. So when I listened to Movie Maintenance’s latest episode and heard of the cancellation of it, I was genuinely moved to tears. The show that fulfilled everything I loved is going to be gone. I know that you all didn’t love it anymore and I understand and whatever y’all do, I’ll be there, but this is something that really hurts. Thank you for the past 150 episodes of your Show, you have created wonder and beauty in your stories and I will truly cherish them all. Don’t lose the creative spark that you all have, it makes you all amazing human beings. Thank you!!!
4/18/2018 09:34:03 am
Thank you for making movie maintenance, it inspired me to rewrite other films that I saw and these were my baby steps into screenwriting. Thank you so much for inspiring me and helping me find a passion that I can pour my heart and soul into. I will be forever grateful!
4/19/2018 01:17:49 am
I’m sorry that MM is ending - it was and is my favourite podcast from Sanspants. I didn’t mind the rotating cast as it made the podcast fresh with different voices and opinions. I did notice the changing topics/themes affecting the podcast theme but enjoyed the variety. My favourite podcasts were either great pitches (voyage of the Demeter and creature of black lagoon, for example) or genrrtls discussions about aspects of movies. I hope the new podcast is even bettter!!
6/13/2018 05:32:58 am
I was devastated when I found out MM was ending. I've been listening since the very beginning and the podcast was honestly my saviour during some really tough moments. Having something to look forward to each week, that can be you escape...that really meant a lot. I full on cried in public listening to the last episode (I'm a shameless Fast an Furious fan so it was kind of perfect), and it felt like the end of an era. Reading this really helped me understand and accept why the podcast had to come to an end. I respect your choice and I want to thank you for sharing. I'm listening to Boone Shepard's American Adventure for the third time right now and I'm so excited for the next one. I'm rambling and no one is ever going to read this, but just know that what you created means a hell of a lot to people, and me along with my friends are going to miss you. So bloody excited for the new podcast though, honestly I'll love whatever you guys do.
11/28/2018 11:48:24 am
Really sad to see it stop, I really enjoyed going to see movies and then quickly listening in to what you lot had to think about it for a giggle or two. Please bring it back! If not, you suck!
5/12/2019 11:43:02 pm
Hey man was really looking forward to your commentary on this season of GoT!
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