Ear Buds: The Podcasting Documentary explores podcasting as a means of expression, as well as the connection between podcasters and their audiences.
Ear Buds is the brain child of director Graham Elwood and co-writer Chris Mancini – both of whom co-host their own podcast – and takes a look at the little known but much loved medium of podcasting.
The film itself is a lot like a podcast. Funded through Kickstarter and featuring a voice-over from Elwood and Mancini throughout, Ear Buds is more concerned with conveying a mood and sense of community than anything else. While there are several story arcs that are explored from start to finish, it is clear that the film’s ultimate goal was to communicate to the wider world just how much love and passion there is for podcasting among the community. A goal which was certainly achieved.
It does, however, give a brief background of podcasting’s origins. The history lesson comes in the form of a charming animation at the beginning of the film. Drawn and performed like a classic PSA, it helps set the tone for the film that follows.
One of the film’s greatest strengths is its subjects. Podcasting is predominately a comedian’s arena, and so the film is littered with comedians and entertainers, all of whom are witty and entertaining, as well as moving and insightful. Many of them share stories of profound experiences they have had through podcasting; everything from battling depression to coming out. The beauty of Ear Buds is that, much like a podcast, it’s a two-way street. The fans who are interviewed equal the professionals in every aspect; the humour, the charm, and the openness. They share their lives and struggles with the filmmakers, and the film is better for it.
Ear Buds is a film that doesn’t shy away from the darker sides of human experience and mental illness. There are several instances of raw truth and honesty that are both confronting and enthralling. In one instance, they take a step away from the polished style and upbeat music that runs throughout Ear Buds, and present an intense and honest conversation between friends. Comedian Mike Schmidt and director Graham Elwood begin arguing. What starts out as a disagreement about an email exchange ends up as a very pure moment of honesty between two men who have known each other for twenty years. While it’s only a brief section in a much longer film, it captures the spirit of Ear Buds, and the spirit of podcasting in general. It epitomises the practice of openness and truthfulness that defines the medium, and encapsulates in one scene the notion that this is a community in which people are always lifting each other up.
Optimism and positivity are a huge part of Ear Buds, and these elements play a major role in the sincerity that defines the film. Free from pretension, or self-importance, the film’s topic and subjects are laid out honestly for the world to see. Ear Buds is simultaneously deeply personal, and immensely welcoming; ushering viewers into a world they may not be familiar with, but are encouraged to join.
The documentary successfully reached its target on crowd-funding website Kickstarter in order to be completed.