Norman Lear has been quoted as calling television the “modern day campfire.” The TV Campfire takes a deep dive into the social issues, the seminal moments, and behind the scenes content that captivates television viewers and the people who make it. The first 2-episodes, which are available as of today, feature television heavy-hitters Carlton Cuse (Lost, Bates Motel), Kerry Ehrin (Bates Motel, Friday Night Lights) in the episode “A Showrunner Defined,” and Liza Richardson, Jason Katims, Angela Catanzaro (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, Rise) in “TV Mixtapes presented by NBC’s Rise.”
The ladies that founded ATX, Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson, created the series to discuss a wide range of topics similar to the panel topics you would hear at the actual festival, what it means to be a showrunner, diverse representation on and off screen and more.
“We’re so incredibly excited to launch our first podcast that is completely and 100% inspired by the festival,” they said in the press release. “Each of our six original episodes are topics taken directly from past festival panels, but have been focused down to 1:1 conversations with some of the most impressive people in TV. We couldn’t have done this without the support of Madica, who said yes before we had even finished asking the question. Producing this series has been a true gift to the two of us, to sit down with TV creators to talk about the past and future of the industry, both from the viewpoint as TV fans themselves as well as the people responsible for our favorite shows.”
The TV Campfire is the first original series in the ATX TV Podcast Network, which aims to serve as an extension of the ATX Television Festival. Each episode within the 6 part limited series stands alone as a potential pilot to its own future series.
Topics of the six episodes are:
Episode 1- A Showrunner Defined (5/23) – “show·run·ner ˈSHōˌrənər/ Noun the person who has overall creative authority and management responsibility for a television program.” Despite its clear and succinct definition, the job of the showrunner is anything but concise. Every series is run differently, and every job has a new set of perks and challenges. In this episode, Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin discuss what their job actually is, swap on-set stories, ask each other for advice, and share a little insight on the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
Episode Guests: Carlton Cuse (Lost, Bates Motel) & Kerry Ehrin (Bates Motel, Friday Night Lights).
Episode 2 – TV Mixtapes (5/23) – Music for television is a distinct language that creates a vivid world for viewers. The music for a show is critical. It can be charming and catchy, subtle and haunting, powerfully cinematic, and even create a story or character. These guests discuss their journeys in the television industry, the relationship music plays in both their work and everyday lives, and how their roles as series creator, music supervisor, and editor combined create the perfect TV mixtape, one that stays with the viewer long after the episode ends.
Episode Guests: Liza Richardson, Jason Katims, Angela Catanzaro (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, Rise).
Episode 3 – Complex, Not Complicated (5/30) – The powerhouse creator and actor behind One Day At a Time discuss the legacy of female characters on television, the urgency to find and support diverse representation at this particular moment, and why there’s no one way to write or portray a “strong” woman. We explore power dynamics on and off camera, the roles of sex and gender in storytelling, and avoiding the pitfalls of tropes of all types. This episode doesn’t shy away from the white hot sparks of change and the tough questions that go along with it. Listen in as incredible women share their paths forward, and tell us how they create the incredible characters we love onscreen.
Episode Guests: Gloria Calderon Kellett (writer/producer, One Day At A Time) & Justina Machado (Six Feet Under, One Day at a Time).
Episode 4: What’s Your Pitch (6/6) – Ever wonder how your favorite series was pitched in the room? How’d they get a studio/network on board with the show that eventually made it to your screen? Did it morph along the way into something new? What never changed? In this episode we’re bringing you the whole journey, including pre-pitch routines, what it’s like to co-create a show with your mother (have Kleenex ready!), and some behind-the-scenes anecdotes of one of the most iconic shows of all time that will have you have laughing as much as the series itself.
Episode Guests: Marta Kauffman and daughter and producer Hannah KS Canter (Grace & Frankie).
Episode 5: First Gigs, Big Breaks (6/13) – That elusive moment, that life-changing instant – that big break. Breaking into every industry requires that perfect storm combination of timing, luck, talent, and relationships. In TV it means getting a showrunner to take a risk on a newcomer. This episode explores that moment from both sides: the waiting, the tipping point, the first big gig, and what motivates someone to take a risk on a fresh face.
Episode Guests: Bill Lawrence (Cougar Town, Scrubs), Kevin Biegel (Cougar Town).
Episode 6: Politically Minded (6/20) – As real world political issues continue to be a relentless barrage on our Twitter feeds and real lives, filling the role of “reality is stranger than fiction,” TV’s “imaginary” landscape can be difficult to view through an escapist lens. Creatives almost have no choice but to incorporate true political issues into their narratives through fictional worlds and characters. From local activism, to racial tension, to education, to incarceration, series are grounding their politics in issues that incorporate our true cultural climate and hit close to home. The goal becomes to educate and empower viewers without sacrificing entertainment in the process.
Episode Guests: David Simon (The Wire), Robert & Michelle King (The Good Wife, The Good Fight).
You can listen to the podcast here or wherever you listen to podcasts. This year’s festival takes place June 7-10, 2018. You can purchase a badge here. Follow the festival on Twitter to stay up-to-date on all of the different programs taking place during season seven!