As with any number of cool phenomena in Salt Lake City, the meeting of the two Adams of the movie-centered A Damn Podcast—Adam Palcher and Adam Sherlock—occurred at Kilby Court. It was back in the dawning of a new millennium, a time for a new kind of all-ages venue at Kilby. Indie bands like The Shins were getting some of their first exposure here, and a budding friendship served as the embryonic stage for what would become one of the most popular local podcasts.
Sherlock says of their friendship, “Palcher is like a brother to me. We have always been able to crack each other up, and we both share a love of good movies, and we usually have pretty different takes on them. Plus, we both like drinking beer.”
Palcher explains how he got deeper into movies: “The more I got into film, the more I appreciated the form of expression and possibilities that it not only gave the audience but the filmmakers themselves, which turned into me getting a film degree and becoming an unabashed dork at heart.” For him, watching a film isn’t something at which to kill time anymore; it’s a learning experience.
Sherlock relates his own passion for cinema: “I can get sucked into any type of movie as long as it is executed well. I have a soft spot for ’80s comedies, cheap horror movies from the ’70s, and huge sweeping epics, like The Last Emperor and Lawrence of Arabia.” He also loves getting input from others about films, which he feels expands his point of view. The movies A Damn Podcast has featured range from Stand By Me to Deliverance, from Private Parts to Naked Lunch to Cool Hand Luke.
But how did an interest turn into a podcast? “We both had been listening to podcasts a lot at our jobs and realized simultaneously that we could do this,” Palcher recalls. “Technology has been rewarding to lowly artists and allows us to produce a show in Sherlock’s attic with a medium that is global.”
Through the evolution of the show, they have changed, and the structure has changed, but their rapport has continued to improve. The show is averaging 500-600 downloads a week, and the numbers are rising.
What is it about their approach to films, communicating their passion and understanding, that is so compelling? It must have something to do with the way they look at the films themselves. Generally, they take notes as they watch the films and naturally work those into the conversation as they record. The more they do this, though, the less they are using their notes as a reference, which they believe adds to the spontaneity.
“The natural ability to bullshit ... is a huge part of the show,” Palcher laughs. “Discussing a film for 30 minutes allows us to gush over the stuff we love but also forces us to find things that may not work.” It is crucial to touch on themes, actors, tone and elements of film when deconstructing them. That may allow the audience to look into the film a bit deeper, as well.
Both Palcher and Sherlock have talked recently about changing their attitude about watching movies since they started the show. “Before the podcast, I always had reservations about criticizing things in a movie that I really liked, for fear of that diminishing my enjoyment. But picking apart a movie in conversation like this really frees us from that type of thinking. If I dislike a movie we watch, it’s not enough to say, ‘I didn’t like it,’” Sherlock explains. Instead, the motivation for why some elements may not have worked pushes the conversation into new, energetic places.
In addition to including guests on the show and featuring two songs by local bands during the breaks between segments, several other regular features help give the show variety. “I feel like we have really hit our stride now with the Top 5 Lists (of everything from ‘Movies that should be boring but aren’t’ to ‘Movies with an actor playing more than one character’) and film-festival format,” says Sherlock. “I don’t know that I would change anything, really. Maybe that my computer spat out a $100 bill every time I uploaded a show. That would be pretty cool.”
If you don’t like spoilers, this might not be your show. “Part of me wishes we didn’t spoil as much, but if you’ve seen the films we are reviewing, it sometimes is unavoidable if we really want to dig deep; I think some people appreciate that,” Palcher explains.
They look for guests who love the show and are passionate about what they are talking about. They say their goal is to have an intelligent discussion about film with a huge side of sarcasm, personal stories and dick jokes. “If anyone fits those criteria we embrace them with loving arms,” Palcher says.
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