Interview with Ben Gummery, Director of One Voice, One Mic
Roshan Chandy chats to One Voice, One Mic director Ben Gummery about podcasting, film criticism and the print medium.
One Voice, One Mic is a terrific documentary now available on Amazon Prime. It’s essentially an 18 min lecture on the highs and lows of podcasting, which was coined by The Guardian in the mid-noughties and now populates subjects ranging from Game of Thrones to how to clean your arse.
I sat down with the film’s director Ben Gummery, from Newport, Wales, who told me how he works for a TV production company and runs his own film and TV blog IndieMac User. He writes film reviews and news articles on this website and has done so for the past eight years.
Ben says he recently watched Space Jam: A New Legacy and shares my hatred for it. He’s also been watching Fear Street on Netflix.
On the subject of One Voice, One Mic, I ask him what his core goal was when making this excellent film. "I think the main thing was just trying to raise a bit more awareness," he tells me. "Podcasting has come a long way in that it used to be that you had to explain to people what it is and I think now people know what it is, but they don’t really understand how it works and how people make money from it."
As a podcaster myself, I really get the sense of the highs and lows of podcast-making from this documentary - a credit to the strength of Gummery’s filmmaking. "Podcasting is still recent," he says in response to my quote about how The Guardian coined the term in 2005. It’s certainly great to know that they essentially invented podcasting.
This point moves into my next question. Specifically, giving a bit of background context, film criticism as a print medium has found itself increasingly under threat from the rise of the broadcast medium. I certainly know a lot about this being a freelance film critic and having people constantly telling me that they don’t have the time to read reviews, but always have the time to listen to a podcast. "I suppose it is the barriers of entry because you could have an opinion of a film, but no one’s going to care about it unless you’ve got a degree in journalism or are published in the papers," he tells me. "Whereas anyone could do a film review podcast."
"My next project is a feature looking at the fandom of Kevin Smith"
"The thing I do enjoy is that, especially if you have a podcast and there’s more than one host, you could have someone who really likes the film and someone who really hates the film and it's really fun to see that dynamic. People are a lot more honest when they’re on a podcast. It’s not like you’re writing a thought-out response like when you’re writing a review."
When I press him on what he thinks the future of podcasting has in store, his lines are, "In some ways, I think it’s here (the future) because we’re seeing now all the celebrities will have their own podcast as a way to connect with their audiences.
"Film studios like Disney and Marvel are starting to do podcasts now, but then again I think we’re heading towards Spotify becoming the Netflix of podcasting in terms of a subscription service.
"Podcasts used to be free, but I don’t know how long they’re going to last for,” he tells me. I certainly think podcasting has become very franchise-focused which is a “sign of the evolution". "When you’ve got Joe Rogan signing deals for £2-3 million for a podcast, it’s insane."
In terms of what Ben’s plans are post-One Voice, One Mic, he now has a feature film lined up called KevHeads. "One Voice, One Mic is a short documentary that runs for about 20 mins, but my next project is a feature looking at the fandom of Kevin Smith." Kevin Smith is, of course, the well-known writer-director behind Clerks (1994) and Dogma (1999). "It’s basically about people all over the world that follow his films and his podcasts and then go on to make their own creative works... We have quite a bit of stuff shot already and principal photography is set to begin next year."
Following a delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic, "It will hopefully be out on Amazon and all the usual places." Of course, One Voice, One Mic is available on Amazon Prime and I would advise everyone to see it. It’s a really insightful history lesson that also looks to the future.