Frequently Asked Questions – By Ben Clemmer.
Why Are We Here?
As I contemplated what to write for the first blog post on storytellingbreakdown.com, I figured answering some frequently asked questions might be a good way to begin.
What is Storytelling Breakdown?
Storytelling Breakdown is a pop culture podcast (and blog) created by Caleb Meyer and Ben Clemmer. Our goal is dive deep into the many ways people tell their stories. From film, to books, to games, to all sorts of audio and visual art forms, we’ll cover as many topics as we can fit into the very broad definition of storytelling.
When did Storytelling Breakdown start?
I (Ben) am a lifelong Batman fan. In 2019, Batman turned 80 years old. I had made a habit of every six months or so taking the opportunity to put together a feature for my work at 89.1 WBOI on some sort of pop culture event. After covering the passing of Stan Lee, the release of The Last Jedi, and looking back at Fort Wayne’s Appleseed Comic Con, I reached Batman’s 80th and realized I had let it sneak up on me. I had nothing planned.
Right around the same time, Caleb Meyer and I met to catch up, play some tabletop games, and talk pop culture. Within the first hour, the idea for a pop culture podcast (it took months to come up with the name) was discussed and we came up with a formula that we thought would lend itself to the stories we wanted to share.
Production began in September of 2019 when we took a trip to the Hall of Heroes in Elkhart, Indiana. What was supposed to take another six to eight months, took the remaining year due to the pandemic, but the result was well worth the wait.
How are the shows structured? (a.k.a. What’s the difference between the Breakdown and the Spotlight?)
Caleb and I were inspired by a lot of things when we first started developing this podcast. We’re hardly the first nerds to talk about what we love on the internet. Some of the best at discussing pop culture, especially that which is focused on superheroes, sci-fi, fantasy, and everything in between, are video essayists. If that’s a form you’re already familiar with, then a few are already probably coming to mind. If not, may I recommend going onto YouTube and searching for “One Marvelous Scene.” You’ll find content from Captain Midnight, Nando v Movies, Just Write, and Lessons From the Screenplay to name a few.
While video essayists represent a lot about what Caleb and I like about pop culture deep dives, we knew we had a different form in mind. We wanted to record a dialogue between the two of us. Caleb and I can both get going about pop culture topics, and we’re both sports fans, so we thought of content from SB Nation (the video apparatus of which is now called Secret Base). Many of their videos alternate between two hosts and blend the surprising and informative with hilarious and entertaining. We wanted to strike the same balance.
Once we had our form down, then we thought about structure. We realized if we split the show into two parts, we could double the amount of topics we hit on per episode. The longer portion would be the Breakdown and the shorter portion would be the Spotlight. The two parts didn’t have to overlap in topic, though we have one episode in our first season that’s wall to wall Star Wars. The two segments are bridged by music and there’s the sound of an industrial light being switched on before every Spotlight. John Dawkins did an amazing job on that particular sound effect. He and I joked that it also sounds like the Bat-Signal.
Both Breakdown and Spotlight sections can feature guests and though we see the Breakdown as being more analytical and the Spotlight as being more about being fanboys, there’s certainly overlap.
Where is Storytelling Breakdown recorded?
Thanks to a road trip and recording remotely, the entire season wasn’t just recorded in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Our third and sixth episodes feature audio from South Bend and Elkhart, Indiana. When the pandemic hit, we took the precautions necessary to record safely. Most of the season was recorded in a studio, but much of what came after March of 2019 was recorded in my house.
Who are the dope artists behind your logo and theme music?
Daniel Church and Kurt Roembke designed the logo and composed the theme music respectfully. I highly recommend following Daniel Church on every platform you can to see more of his work and Kurt’s sound design on the SoundWalk app is amazing. He’s also done some game soundtracks that led to us reaching out to him about composing the Storytelling Breakdown theme.
How do you choose the topics you want to cover?
Inspiration comes from a variety of sources. Sometimes there’s an occasion like the Joker’s 80th birthday. Our episode about him missed that date by half a year. We plan out episodes far in advance when we realize we have the perfect guest for a topic like Autumn Schultz (S1E3) or John Kaufeld (S1E4).
One episode that stands out from season one was episode five. Denny O’Neil passed away over the summer and while I knew what a huge impact he had on Batman and other comic book characters I love, I didn’t realize how deep those wells were. That episode was written in two days and tracked a month later.
Caleb and I try to treat our planning sessions like improv. If someone has an idea, the response is “yes, and.” Not every idea we had for the first season of Storytelling Breakdown made it into an episode, but they remain in the planning documents for season two.
How can I support Storytelling Breakdown?
We’re on Patreon. Any contribution is helpful to us as we’ve had to craft this podcast using our own resources to this point. The smallest gift amount available will give you access to behind-the-scenes content as it becomes available.
We have a limited series coming up that is being spearheaded by our writer and producer, Stephen Stachofsky. That will only be available to patrons. We also plan to arrange virtual events and play games with patrons once we have enough people to play Mixtape, Castle Panic, or Betrayal at House on the Hill (or Baldur’s Gate. I love both of them).
Where do you see this podcast going in the future?
Wherever we go, we are going together. Storytelling Breakdown was not designed to be a place where Caleb and I sit separated from you. We want to hear from you. That’s why this blog exists. Our team will share our stories that don’t make it into episodes on here, but it’s also where we want to hear from you. You can send a blog entry to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to get it edited and posted. We might even contact you about joining us for a Spotlight or even a Breakdown if your topic of choice presents the opportunity for Caleb and I to do a deep dive.
What should I write about for the blog?
What is a story that you love and why do you love it? That is the prompt for our Spotlights. We didn’t stick to this 100% with some episodes, but this is the starting point. I think we’ve all consumed more media than we have in a while thanks to the pandemic. We’re excited to find out what resonated with you and why. Everyone has a story.
See you Space Cowboy…
Had to say it.