Even though Emily Neville, 27, and Caleb Baumgartner, 36, live about 100 miles apart in the lovely, wintry state of Minnesota, they still manage to record two episodes of their podcast, Shit Showtime, every month. Their podcast is hilarious and it almost has nothing to do with the movies they pick to review/talk about — their friendship and funny banter is really what brings the show to a new level.
Over the course of a week or so, I asked them some questions via email and they responded. This is definitely the longest interview I’ve ever done, but it turned out so well.
Elly Gibson: Hello Emily and Caleb! First off, how about telling me a bit about yourselves. How long have you guys know each other?
Emily Neville: These questions are always so tough! In my professional life, I’m a content manager and writer for a digital marketing firm. I really enjoy it, but I definitely needed something where I could express creativity in a more unhinged way. Caleb and I have known each other since we met in college in 2009. Caleb was working at the local video rental store, Mr. Movies, and my friend and I would go and loiter on the weekends. We were broke and too young to drink, so there wasn’t much else to do. Caleb was always really cool about it and we would shoot the shit. We became friends and were even roommates for a semester. It’s funny because if I were writing this story, I would think that meeting at a movie rental place then starting a movie podcast was almost too on the nose.
Caleb Baumgartner: Yeah, “tell me about yourself” is such a nightmare for me because I’m a terrible introvert and bad at talking about myself. I worked at movie stores for years, graduated with a Master’s in American History a few years ago with cultural history as my focus, specifically the development of early movie theaters and their roles in rural and small urban areas. I have been kinda bumming around from project to project for years and this is what we’ve landed on presently. Emily and I are at 10 fucking years of friendship — wait, what the fuck? That doesn’t seem right. But yeah, we lived together for a while and we’ve maintained a friendship in spite of living very far apart for a long time now, which is cool.
EG: Well I swear I won’t ask you that question again. Tell me about your podcast, Shit Showtime. Did you have big plans all written out when you first started this podcast or were you just winging it? Why did you feel a podcast was the way to go?
EN: Shit Showtime is a self-indulgent movie podcast. Each month we watch a new release and an older flick. I think we were both looking for something we could feel good about and I had been listening to a lot of podcasts that were basically just friends having a conversation. They were really entertaining and I thought doing a podcast together would be a great way for us to be creative and have some fun. That’s as far as I got. Caleb really took off with the idea of doing a movie podcast and even came up with the name. It has been great working on the podcast and experimenting with social media, but everything is really a learning experience. We started out with a really vague idea of what we wanted the podcast to be and our format, but over time we’ve refined it. We’re getting better at planning ahead, but I think we definitely have a fly-by-night style. Podcasts are great because they are easy and cheap to produce. Anyone can do it and we’re as ‘anyone’ as you can get haha.
CB: Emily said everything perfectly here. I like to think of this podcast as our version of, like, teens with a garage band. As you get older it’s really hard to keep tabs with friends, and creating this shared hobby as made sure our friendship has stayed strong because it gives us a very solid reason to have to keep in touch and make time for one another. It’s funny because I always worry about where this stops being fun and starts seeming like more of a work-related situation, but the reality is that every new idea we have, and every change we talk about (engaging more in social media, investing in better equipment, we’re talking about actually creating a format and really identifying what our audience is and catering to that) just makes it more fun and satisfying? I think as goofy as this show is we’re both super proud of doing it and loving every minute of it.
EG: The name Shit Showtime makes me laugh and I don’t know why. Maybe because I’m actually three children stacked in a trenchcoat pretending to be a functioning 25-year-old. How did you come up with it?
EN: Haha! I feel if the name makes you laugh, you’re our perfect audience. We’re irreverent, goofy, and completely unprofessional. I actually struggled with how we write the name for a while; I wanted to use an exclamation point for the ‘I’ in ‘Shit’ because I thought it would be a fun stylistic choice. Unfortunately, on a lot of social media outlets (I’m looking at you Facebook), they won’t let you use special characters. I wanted to make sure it was consistent, so we stuck with the traditional spelling.
CB: So I just shot that off the top of my head as a play on “Shit Show” and “It’s Showtime!” and it was a case of maybe we could have work-shopped it a little more, but fuck, it’s pretty funny and it makes us laugh. It probably limits the scope of potential audiences but this feels like a Zine or something, something that’s meant to be small and good and fun, so I’m not too worried about how many folks we can reach, I just hope the ones we do reach enjoy the show for what it is.
EG: How much work is it doing this twice a month? It seems like there’s a lot to do. I mean, you have to actually sit down and watch a movie, probably take (mental) notes during it, plan what you’re going to talk about (to an extent, maybe?), record, edit, etc. What makes it worth it?
EN: There’s a lot of work that goes into it, but it’s so much fun that it doesn’t feel like it. That being said, Caleb is the hero who handles the editing, so it’s definitely more work for him. Even when we can’t get together to watch or record, I can usually find a friend to indulge me. Watching movies with others is the best way to do it; they always have insights you would have never thought of. There has only been one time watching a movie felt like an obligation and that’s because I couldn’t find anyone to watch it with me. The hardest part is probably working in everything we want to say. In every episode, there’s something I wish we’d had time to talk about or explore more deeply.
CB: I think the payoff is that we get to hang out. I fucking love watching movies, so it is absolutely not work at all to watch and talk about flicks, and taking notes, well, I got real used to doing that in school so I just can’t help it anymore. I will offend some people by telling them I write in the margins of my books. Our recording days are days where we get to go out, see a flick, wander the mall and talk about whatever, usually grab some mall grub, and just blow off steam. Really the only difficult movies to cover are the newer releases, because having to work around theater showings and stuff can mean a bit of planning, but for older releases, it’s not so bad to squeeze in. Literally, the hardest job is editing, but I’m loving it because I’m sort of learning a weird skill while I’m going about it.
EG: What kind of equipment do you use to make the podcast?
EN: We’ve actually been experimenting with different software and recording equipment. Since we’re doing this a hobby, we didn’t want to invest a ton of money upfront. In our first few episodes, I actually was using a Rock Band mic with a sock over it to help lessen the impact of plosives. I upgraded to a cheap Logitec headset (I use my whole body to talk, so having my mic attached to my head is great.) Now, I’m working with a Yeti Nano to try and get better sound quality. I understand poor sound quality is an instant turnoff for a lot of listeners, so whatever we can do to improve that.
CB: Audacity and some mics. I guess that’s our Two Turntables and a Microphone? I will NEVER forget the moment of comedic elation we had when we recorded our first episode and found out that my rock band mic and ps4 headset both worked for recording purposes. I had purchased a podcasting kit years ago with a nice mic and soundboard and by god if I didn’t lose the fuckin’ power supply for the whole set and we had to improvise. DIY I guess, it makes me smile constantly.
EN: That’s right! I forgot about that! At least no one can say we’re not ingenuitive.
EG: What has been your most popular/most-listened-to episode and why do you think that is?
EN: I think we’re both blown away by how many listens our Phantom of the Opera episode has gotten. It consistently gets new listens and neither of us really have any clue as to why haha! I think part of it has to do with the fact that it was a really popular movie and we just rip it to shreds. While it doesn’t have as many listens as our Phantom episode, I’m also shocked by the number of listens our Jack & Jill episode got. That movie was actually painful to watch and while we had a blast talking about it, I guess I’m just shocked by how many people would be willing to listen to an hour-long episode on it.
CB: I don’t want to give away how small-time we are by talking numbers, but I will say that the Phantom episode has like 3 times as many listens as our average episode and I cannot even begin to explain that shit. I don’t take it personally that those folks didn’t stick around to see what else we talk about, I just wish I knew what tags I used or whatever to promote that thing because it is completely inexplicable to me.
EG: By the way, you guys seem to really know what you’re doing here with this podcast. Each episode is really funny, you laugh a lot, and there’s a lot of good back-and-forth banter stuff going on. I guess that’s not much of a question.
EN: Thank you for saying that! I’m glad to hear we appear to know what we’re doing. It’s not that we don’t put a lot of work into this, but we’re both still learning. I listen to every episode to try and learn how to do better for the next episode. There’s always something I wish I had done differently, but I think the most important thing is that we’re having fun. When two people genuinely enjoy the topic and talking to each other, that shines through more than anything.
CB: Just a brief aside, the only podcasts that I really engage often with are some of the Earwolf podcasts, like Comedy Bang Bang and the like, and my favorite podcast out of that lot is Pistol Shrimps Radio (which sadly just ended a few months ago). For those not familiar, two comedians who have been friends for a really long time go to the local women’s rec league basketball game, in which the wife of one of the pair plays, and they try to provide play-by-play to the action but they mostly just fuck around. I love it because I love their friendship. You can tell they get along, they have excellent chemistry, they riff so well together, and I just feel warm and fuzzy when I listen to that. I hope there’s something of that to what Emily and I do. I hope our friendship is welcoming to others. Movies are the draw but our friendship and our ability to riff off of one another and to really play off the points we each make, well, I think that’s the hook that brings you back. I hate to break it to anyone but we don’t have any miraculous insights into films or filmmaking, we’re just here to have a laugh and we really hope people are game to have a laugh with us.
EG: What do you guys do when you’re not podcasting?
EN: This is going to read like a bad dating profile, but I like going to local art shows and concerts with friends. I’ve also got a chihuahua and a pitbull (one guess as to which one runs the show) who keep me busy. I love going hiking with them because God knows they have the energy. I also do some art modeling on the side for extra money.
CB: I do nerdy pyrography. I slow down in the winter months because staining and sealing require decent temps and it’s harder to do in the cold, but I dig it (you can check them out at @geeketchings on Instagram). I fucking LOVE cosplay. I like to go to a few conventions every year in cheap get-ups that make people happy. John Hammond from Jurassic Park is a go-to and my friend and I have a Tucker and Dale duo that plays well wherever we go. I think those are the big hobbies worth mentioning.
EN: Seriously, Caleb’s pyrography is AMAZING and I don’t think he gives himself enough credit. He texted me saying he had just picked it up to try out and I wasn’t expecting much, but when he sent the picture of his first piece, it completely blew me away. It looked like he’d been doing it for years. Now it really has been years and he’s only getting better.
EG: What’s one movie you could never watch again? For me, that’s probably Requiem for a Dream. Once was more than enough, thank you.
EN: When it comes to emotionally heavy movies, I can only watch those once. The emotional energy they take is just too much. I rarely watch the Oscar nominees for best picture because they’re all such downers. One movie that sticks out is The Lovely Bones. I saw it in theaters with a friend and the ending made me heave cry uncontrollably. Thankfully, the music was really swelling, so I don’t think my sobbing was as disruptive as it could have been. Everyone else was probably sobbing too! I’ve never had that kind of reaction to a movie in public and I refuse to ever watch it again.
CB: That’s a good one. The Green Room is one that comes to mind. I fucking loved it but it was so tense and brutal, I just can’t. I would recommend everyone see it once because it’s excellent but I would not blame anyone for saying once is enough.
EG: What about a movie you love that’s actually terrible/ridiculous but you love it because it’s so terrible/ridiculous? I notice you guys sure do talk a lot about Twilight…
EN: Haha Twilight is kind of an enigma. I will always maintain that I hate those movies and the story in general, but when we watched it together, it was so much fun. There’s something about the aesthetic that makes me feel nostalgic. I’m going to make some enemies here, but Space Jam is a TERRIBLE movie. Michael Jordan’s acting is painful to watch and everything outside of the Looney Tunes is complete trash. That being said, the nostalgia associated with it means it will always have a special place in my heart. I think a lot of movies we grew up with are like that — terrible, but we love them and by God, we will fight anyone who says otherwise.
CB: I’m not even going to try to excuse my absolute love for Twilight. I think it was Joel from MST3K who once talked about how the absolute best bad movies are made excellent because they are created from a place of sincerity. Movies like Kung Fury and the like, flicks created from a sense of irony right out of the gate, they don’t really do anything for me. The Room is the go-to bad movie because Tommy Wiseau believed with all of his heart he was creating something great. In a similar fashion, I feel like you can tell SOMEONE loved Twilight, they tried so hard with it, and the end result is absolute delightful garbage from start to finish. And the soundtrack is amazing, Eyes On Fire, are you KIDDING ME? So good. Oddly enough, I get nothing from the other installments in the series, but the very first movie still absolutely tickles me and it always will.
EG: What’s your favorite movie soundtrack?
EN: Not really a soundtrack, but I love the concept album for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland: Almost Alice. I’ve always loved Alice in Wonderland so an entire album revolving around those themes … it’s like it was made just for me. Of course, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is amazing, particularly Black Sheep by Metric. When you jam out to that song, you can’t help but channel that sensual energy that Envy has in the movie. Most recently, I’ve been jamming out to the soundtrack for Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse. Music in movies is incredible. I’ve heard a song in a movie and fallen in love, but when listening without the visuals and emotional energy from the movie, it doesn’t always have the same effect.
CB: I’m gonna list a few because I am physically incapable of picking just one. The Crow, Pi, Mortal Kombat, Romeo and Juliet, and Lost Highway were all really significant to me in my early teens and formative years and I still like them quite a bit. Scott Pilgrim as Emily mentioned already. I enjoy Aimee Mann so the Magnolia soundtrack is great for me. The Assassination of Jesse James score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis got me through all of my grad school writing sessions it seems.
EG: What are your five “if I were stranded on a desert island” movie picks? Yes, this is a magical island with a DVD player and a big screen TV, but keep in mind these movies are likely to be the last you’ll ever see in this weird scenario that makes no sense.
EN: Whoa, that escalated quickly! Jurassic Park is the first that comes to mind. Not only is it my favorite movie, but I get such warm fuzzies watching it which would probably be beneficial while facing the nightmare of being stranded on a desert island. I could watch that movie for eternity. I also want to put Jaws on the list because it’s one of my favorites, but that might be counter-productive while being surrounded by ocean. Am I taking this too seriously? Final list:
- Jurassic Park
- Wonder Woman (because that movie makes me feel like a badass,)
- Spiderman-Into the Spider-Verse (because I felt like I could take on the world after watching that movie)
- Howl’s Moving Castle (It’s beautiful in an otherworldly, magical way)
- Hercules (Because I’m totally fine having those songs stuck in my head forever)
I know the second I walk away from this, I’m going to think of a much better list, haha!
CB: I love that I brought up The Green Room earlier and am getting the Desert Island Pick question now! Shooting from the hip while I’m alone and no one can “but what about ____” me into some sort of crisis of choice:
- Major League
- LotR The Two Towers
- Predator (and you can flip a coin and send me 1 or 2, I like the Danny Glover one as well, I think I might even like it more actually).
Honorable mentions: Starship Troopers, Pulp Fiction, Perfect Blue, and that new DBZ Broly movie, that flick was insane, just stupid fun and I barely know anything about Dragonball. That movie is like 60 minutes of ridiculous fight scenes with the scantest of plot attached, I adore it.
EG: Anything else you’d like to add or anything I forgot to ask but should have?
CB: Thank you for reaching out, this is a really cool experience. Anyone interested should check out our social media, we’ve been lazy about Twitter (because I’m dreading the day we land on some MAGA shithead’s radar for some reason) but we’re going to start live-tweeting movie viewings soon and inviting folks to tweet along on hashtags and such (which will be fun with our… 11 followers… *cough cough*). We’re still learning and planning, and we have a lot on the to-do list (new logo maybe, new theme song definitely, our current one was just the first thing I found in public domain that sounded “Old-Timey-Hollywood” to me, and some more stuff I don’t really want to get too into until it’s actually in our hands).
EN: Like Caleb said, thank you for reaching out for this interview! It has been a ton of fun. We’re really just getting started with the podcast are excited for the future. As much as we love talking to each other about movies, we love talking to our listeners about movies too! We hope people will reach out to share with us their opinions on movies, their movie viewing experiences, or anything else!
You can catch up with Caleb and Emily on their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (which is where I heard of them in the first place). Their podcast can also be found on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, and Spotify.