For many, Angela Meyer’s LiteraryMinded is the go-to blog when chasing up literary news, reviews and interviews. Having just celebrated her blog’s five-year anniversary, Angela can now boast the rather techno-savvy term ‘vlogger’ as part of her online credentials. We chat with Angela about her new video podcast, ‘A Drink with…’.
The production values for ‘A Drink with…’ are exceptional. Could you briefly explain how each video is filmed and produced?
Thank you! That’s mainly due to my co-producer/head camera dude/editor Mark Welker. Mark had been a reader and commenter on my blog LiteraryMinded and we met after briefly being in a writing group together. We both have interests in film and literature, so the pairing is working out really well.
First of all I choose an author and contact them to find out if they’d like to do an on-camera interview, and if so, find out when they’re free. Then I email Mark, Sam Bowron and Aaron Cuthbert (who all work and have multiple projects) to try to line up a time when we can shoot. It’s usually a Sunday. Around the same time I decide on and contact venues. Mark and I discuss these – we try to pick a place that suits the book, writer or possible conversation (even if it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, as with Chris Flynn’s).
On the day we have three cameras, and both myself and the author have lapel microphones. I have some questions prepared, but we try to keep it conversational (as that was one of the intentions of the show, to not be too stilted and ‘interview-like’). It’s difficult, though, when it comes to editing, if you leave it too conversational. Because naturally in conversation we refer back to earlier things we’ve said, and so on, and if you have to cut the earlier question… you can imagine. We’re still learning how to strike a balance!
After that, Mark takes all the footage and puts together a rough cut of everything for me. I watch it a few times and send him an email with my editing suggestions. He goes away and does the hard work and sends back another cut. We do this until we get to something we’re happy with. Then it’s uploaded to the LiteraryMinded Vimeo and YouTube accounts.
Do you know of any other literary blogs, local or international, branching into the video podcast market?
I searched through Vimeo and YouTube before we began this project and I really didn’t find much besides filmed versions of interviews (with one or two cameras). Which are great and fine, especially if the author is interesting, but we wanted to do something different, something shorter, more casual and engaging. And something that made the full use of technology available. I’m a big fan, though, of Ron Charles’ YouTube channel – hilarious and brilliant.
You’re well known on the local festival circuit for chairing panels and author interviews. Does ‘vlogging’ therefore come naturally to you, or does it pose new challenges?
It’s very different. There are many other factors that have to be considered, due to our desire to have it pretty tightly edited. But there’s so much freedom, too. We can film in almost any environment, we can re-shoot certain moments if one of us gets tongue-tied, we can contrive an effect by inserting different shots (and please do watch to over the nine-minute mark in the Chris Flynn vid, for a little humorous ‘insert’).
It was so weird though, watching the rough edits back for the first time. I’ve had many moments of: god, I touch my face too much, or look how goofy my grin is… and I think about all the times I’ve been on stage. At festivals, I’m mostly interviewing (and am only occasionally the ‘subject’ of the panel) so the audience isn’t looking at me. And I think festival panels should be like that. You’re there to stimulate discussion and help promote the authors’ books and outlooks. For this series, it’s a bit more mixed – the audience is forced to look at me when I ask a question and the LiteraryMinded name is a key factor in the production. Mark and I agreed that this would be useful to building an audience because there is a group of people who do recognise what that name means, and even what my face means (enthusiasm for books and writing) and will come on this new journey with me. Other people will just watch one clip, after perhaps Googling Lisa Lang or Omar Musa, or maybe ‘author video’.
Your very first attempt at a ‘vlog’ ends with you stating you’ll never make another, unless you’re in conversation with someone. Would you be willing to give book reviewing on camera another shot? Or is it that, perhaps, book reviews are better read than watched?
Some people are really good at direct-to-camera reviewing, but I realised pretty quickly that that was not my forte. Luckily (and already slightly tipsy) I realised I could take advantage of my lack of skills and turn that first video into a mockery of my own attempt! I realised that I was just better doing interviews on camera, even though I love writing reviews. That said, Mark and I have tossed around some other ideas, including ones which feature me/my persona a bit more – maybe following me around a writers’ festival and capturing my thoughts between sessions. I could slip into this humorous mode for that, too, which would be fun. We’ll see. Time and cash are issues for us both. We do it for love, but there’s a drinks and equipment budget so with that I might mention that we’d be so happy if anyone would like to sponsor us, for a single episode or perhaps a nominal amount per episode. A whisky company is my ultimate ideal sponsor. Just sayin’…
Emily Laidlaw is Online Marketing Intern at Kill Your Darlings.