A trio of Derry film graduates who have set up their own makeshift studio in the Bogside have seen downloads of their weekly movie reviews and banter podcasts soar over recent weeks.
Séan Coyle from Lower Bennett Street, Michael Breslin from the Bogside and Colm Herron from Prehen are the driving force behind ‘Less Talk More Movies’.
Following initial moderate success with their first few episodes, the popularity of the show has soared and their downloads have soared to over 2,000 a week, with positive feedback pouring in from across the world- from America to New Zealand.
We caught up with two thirds of the triumvirate, Michael and Séan, to talk about their success.
Sean and Colm both studied Film at Queens while Michael studied Film at the Barnsley campus of Huddersfield University, and it was the latter’s idea to launch the podcast.
Michael Breslin: “I would just listen to a lot of podcasts, film and games, and I just thought it would be a bit of craic.
“Even listening to film ones, they would say stuff and I would start generating my own opinion and thinking, ‘I could put that out there’. I thought film would be the best thing to talk about because it is what I am into and I could get Sean involved in it because that’s what we do anyway get together watch films and talk about films.”
Sean agreed: “Film is definitely a passion for us. All three of us have studied film and we have all made wee shorts as well.
“Some reviewers you come across are experienced but then you listen to some radio shows or some podcasts where the film section is overlooked- there’s not a lot of thought put into it, or it’s somebody who is not really interested in film; it’s just an assignment, it’s not really done with any sort of care.
“In a local sense I thought it was a good idea as well. Belfast has a big film scene and in Derry, while there is good things going on up in the Nerve Centre and that and with CultureTech, a lot of people that are into film are starved of any sort of resources to follow it up.
“We just want to make it local for people who are into film and make it a bit conversational; to have a bit of craic; to make it informative and give a different look or viewpoint for a film people wouldn’t have had previously.”
So, armed with their knowledge, passion, and a few drinks, the three friends decided to set up their own recording studio- in a spare room in a house in the Bogside. The group describe the set up as basically makeshift, consisting of a “blanket fort and three mics and a light in there”.
Michael’s sister, who has studied Music Technology, helped them get rid of the initial sounding issues and the boys came up with a genius way of soundproofing the space.
Michael said: “I bought a gazebo and we have used metal frame from that and covered it in sheets and blankets and seems to have worked well.”
Sean said: “The first one or two weeks we did it as a bit of craic. We got good feedback, and we were getting over 100 downloads a week where we would have been happy with 15 or 20. The good feedback gives you a nice boost. Touch wood it keeps going.”
The boys’ determination to keep it entertaining and to avoid going heavily into dry theory seems to have struck a chord with audiences across the world.
Sean said: “Our aim is to try and make it accessible, try to make it so it doesn’t come off as pretentious. You do come across some podcasts and if you are just a casual viewer and don’t have a big interest in film and it can be just kind of ostracising and isolate you a because you don’t understand what is going on.
“We wanted to put it in layman’s terms and have a bit of a laugh and it’s laid back. We have a drink during it.”
One of the reviews said that its like learning through laughter because the Derry fellas don’t take themselves too seriously.
“We love film and enjoy having a wee drink so why combine the two- it’s a perfect marriage,” Sean said.
Michael adds: “There are more film like reviews that are kind of condescending or goes too in-depth or says something you wouldn’t understand.”
The boys’ eclectic and divergent tastes in films have helped keep the appeal broad.
“We all have a good range of films we are into,” Michael said. “We are accessible in a way because we have that wide range, and somebody who is listening might not have heard of a certain film or director and say ‘I like the sound of that’, and give it a go. It’s just a way of introducing stuff to someone they wouldn’t have thought of having a look at before.”
“It means we can cover a broad area of films in every episode,” Sean adds. “We not just covering summer blockbusters or being pretentious and focusing on avant-garde stuff or the French New Wave.”
Sean came up with the idea of recommendations to introduce people to films they might not have seen before as well, which are delivered at the end of the broadcasts.
The shows have also featured a string of guests in the form of the trio’s friends, including young history and science buffs who give their own slant on cinema.
And now the guys are preparing to go live before a studio audience during the CultureTech festival by hosting their podcast from the Social Studio at the bottom of Shipquay Street.
And the podcasts have also re-booted the guys own thirst for creativity and film-making.
The guys haven’t ruled out a move into videocasting on Youtube in the future.
“I would watch film stuff on Youtube I think a lot of them look a bit amateurish, just someone sitting in a room with a camera and I think we could do it up, make it like a bit of a set, with a professional vibe on it,” Michael said.
“At the minute I’m just happy enough to ride the lightning and see where this goes,” Sean said. “We never expected to get to 16 episodes or get any listeners, so it’s nice to get a foundation there to build on.”
The guys said that even if listernership where to dip or plummet, they would continue doing it because they enjoyed it so much.
And any film recommendations for Journal readers?
Sean says: “That’s a strange one because you could ask me any day of the week and I would give you a different answer, it depends on your mood.
“For now I’d say The Apartment, Billy Wilder. Ask me tomorrow it could be Taxi Driver.”
Michael adds: “My favourite trilogy is Star Wars, and film would be Garden State by Zach Braff- it’s always just a personal thing; I know that’s not the best film but it struck a chord for me.”
Follow the guys on Facebook at ‘LessTalkMoreMovesPodcast’ or Twitter: @talkmoremovies and you can e-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.