Since I joined the New Jersey Web Festival as an Executive Board Member I knew that we needed to be open to international and non-english fiction podcasts. As a filmmaker, one of the most amazing parts of NJWF was interacting with creators from all over the world and getting to experience their work. I thought, however, that with the limited resources of being a small festival and not wanting to add the burden of english translations to non-english podcasters, that this may need to be a goal for a future year.
That decision, however, didn't stick right in my gut. Then last week, it came up again.
I received emails from creators of podcasts in Swedish, Arabic, and Russian, asking about non-english podcasts and their inclusion in the festival. These creators were excited for what we were building, proud of their content, and hoping that the NJWF would have space to consider their shows.
One thing that Neem Basha (Founder/President, New Jersey Web Festival) has instilled in me as we build this new Fiction Podcast experience is that every decision we make regarding our festival must be in the service of celebrating creators everywhere. To restrict "everywhere" to mean "english-only" would be so violently in the face of everything the festival stands for that we can't in good conscience allow that.
I'm gonna preface this article by acknowledging that I come off as bitter. I accept that interpretation of these words if you so choose. Because honestly? I am. I'm bitter on behalf of every single independent content creator who continuously hopes that industries will start to make space for them. The barrier to entry has never been lower for creators, except for the barriers towards acceptance and being viewed legitimately by those in power.
It should also be said that I'm the head of the Fiction Podcast Planning committee at the New Jersey Web Festival. I am also an independent content creator, but I acknowledge that I am potentially speaking out of both sides of my mouth here, optically.
The final caveat I have to make here is that I'm a member of The Podcast Academy (you can see the logo in the lower right of my website) and I'm very happy to be one. Paying my annual fee has given me access to networking, events, and a mentor/mentee system that has been extremely beneficial to my own growth as a podcaster. When the Academy was announced, I saw many threads in the independent podcaster community of people who were skeptical that it wasn't going to turn into just another gatekeeper. I truly believe the founding goal and mission of The Podcast Academy is positive and altruistic. However color me now one of the skeptics that they will be good for podcasters at large rather than for only the established industry.
My co-producer Brian David Judkins told me to slow down the other day, and I bristled. The third season of our podcast Encounter Party! had recently wrapped and I was sprinting on to the next steps.
“Ned, stop.” Brian said sternly. “We need to have a call with the full cast to celebrate.”
Reader, I tell you right now, this did not sit well with me. My mind went into turmoil. Celebrate what? I found myself thinking. Our first campaign is over and I haven’t started promo for the next thing. I haven't reached out to my 5 people today to network. I’m not deep into my editing workflow or my character development or any of the long litany of things I do on the regular to take this show to the next level. How could I celebrate when there’s so much to do? Celebrating would mean being happy with where I am when I have such big goals and dreams. Since I haven’t achieved those dreams, there’s nothing to celebrate.
Yes. Yes there is.
Photo by Danny Bristoll
(fac·to·tum | \ fak-ˈtō-təm) noun - a person having many diverse activities or responsibilities
I find myself hilarious, and I use this blog to stroke my own ego. Thanks for indulging me.