We are Nate Gass and Ryan Ebling. We are simply just two people who have grown to love movies and found a lot of meaning in talking about movies with people, even (or especially) with people we disagree with. We met in college, but we didn't become friends until a few years later. In college, we always judged each other from afar partly based on hearing the other talk in a film class. A major reason we became friends later is because we would discuss (or argue about) movies, but every time we went back and watched the movie we disagreed on, we came away with a new appreciation.
Over the years, we both found a lot of fulfillment in hashing out our disagreements. We called our podcast "Can We Still Be Friends" as sort of a nod to the way that we were so overly passionate about our movie opinions that it kind of kept us from becoming friends earlier. The podcast is most generally about movies, but to us, it's a way to exercise the reflective, critical muscles that get lost when you don't have someone to question you and help you see things you might have missed.
We started this podcast in January of 2014 because we both wanted to make sure that we kept writing and creating in some way as our careers (Ryan is a teacher, Nate is a librarian) and our growing families made it easier to let our dwindling free time slip by unused. In that sense, we really just did it to keep ourselves sharp, and if we found an audience, we wouldn't turn it down. We chose podcasting because we had tried other ways to keep writing and they just hadn't held our interest. With a podcast, we need to both do it or it won't work, so having that accountability seemed to be the best way to keep us going. We also are huge podcast listeners, so we felt like we were learning enough about the medium to take a shot at it ourselves.
Nate has had a fair amount of recording experience with different bands he's been a part of, so we had the equipment and the basic level of know-how to jump in. After we decided to do it, we had a couple planning meetings, and we released our first episode within a few months of having the idea. We knew we'd be learning as we went, so we just went for it and decided to be gracious to ourselves and willing to make adjustments. It's been a learning curve, and it's kind of funny to hear early episodes and see how we've tweaked our process along the way.
As far as funding goes, Nate had most of the equipment already and was hosting another website, so we just worked with what we had. After 2 years we finally replaced our folding card table with a new IKEA table. Finding time is always a challenge. Nate and his wife have twin boys, and Ryan and his wife have a son with a daughter on the way, so scheduling recording time requires a bit more planning. Most of the work on the podcast is done after children go to sleep. Usually we just pick a weekend that works, we meet at Nate's house after all kids are asleep and record it in one go.
Nate does all the editing, so getting an episode ready depends on his work and family schedule and how long we recorded for. An episode is usually ready a week or two after we record it. We used to try to do an episode every two weeks, but it just became too much of a strain and now we release one episode a month. We think it's more important to devote time to producing the best podcast we can, rather than to try to crank out something more often. We also were very aware of making sure it doesn't become a chore so that we can be genuinely thoughtful and interested when we record.
We gain nothing financially. There is no advertising, no donors. The closest we've gotten to receiving something is that we each have a mug with our logo and our names that Nate's wife Andrea gave us for our first episode. She had a coupon. We wouldn't turn down sponsors, but our episode schedule doesn't really lend itself to climbing the rankings list. We mainly gain listeners through word of mouth, people passing us on to others, though some movies seem to attract more listeners just because there's more interest in the topic.
We both feel fulfilled by the process. We've learned a lot about podcasting, about recording, and simply about what it takes to produce a project. It's rewarding to listen to a finished episode and it's a lot of fun to get together and talk about movies. It's something we love to do, but not something that necessarily happens in real life. And though it began as a concept about us arguing, we've become much closer friends, and actually don't enjoy the episodes where we clash as much as we used to.
As far as tools go, we do our recording and editing in Garageband. For microphones we use Shure SM57s plugged into a Tascam US 4x4 USB Audio Interface. It is a bit unusual in podcasting to use dynamic/cardioid mics, but since we record in Nate's office, which is far from soundproof, the 57s cancel out a lot of the room noise and we can isolate each other's voices better during the editing process. With the right amount of compression and EQ we are able to reduce some of those boomy mic qualities and brighten things up a bit. Lately we've been running our episodes through Auphonic's free audio mastering web tool as a final step to give our episodes one last polish and boost them to the standard broadcast volume.
We occasionally have guests, and our guests have really just been our friends and coworkers. Sometimes we'll pick a movie that we'll say, "Oh, I know someone who loves this movie" and we'll ask them to jump in. Other times we'll just ask someone who we want to hear their thoughts, or we know that if it were just the two of us, we'd be unable to do the movie justice. Our guests always come to Nate's house and record in-person. We set up an additional SM57.
Our preparation is pretty bare-bones. We watch the movie we're talking about, we take notes, sometimes Ryan writes his thoughts out, but usually he just goes in ready to go where the conversation takes them. Nate does a little more organizing of his thoughts, but most of our thinking comes as we bounce ideas off each other. We'll do a little research into the making of the movie, scan the IMDB trivia of the movie, read a few articles (especially if there's a strong cultural/social connection), and just generally get informed on the movie as much as we can. Ryan always writes an introduction script for each episode that follows a consistent template so our show introductions always have a familiar feel before we jump into the more loose discussion.
Beyond posting on Facebook and Twitter, we don't really do much marketing. We make sure to interact with people who comment or email us, but with the amount of time we're able to devote to the podcast in a given week, we don't get too stressed about marketing.
Our best advice to people who want to podcast is to jump right in. Make mistakes and explore ways to avoid making those mistakes again. Be willing to admit when something isn't working and adapt. Definitely listen to a wide variety of podcasts, especially podcasts that are in the vein of the show you want to do, but also other genres because people do unique things that translate in ways you might not have thought about initially.
One thing some people might not think about or want to think about, but editing is probably the aspect of podcasting that people should devote time to perfecting. If you aren't the type of person who likes editing, find someone who does. There are many weeks where we end a recording session thinking, "this is going to be unlistenable," but Nate always finds a way to pull it together. You'd be surprised how many podcasts are heavily edited. Editing is the lifeblood of podcasting. Nate actually teaches podcasting workshops at his library and he always recommends listening to an On The Media segment called Pulling Back the Curtain to hear how much even the NPR pros rely on editing. Also there's a comic book called Out on the Wire by Jessica Abel top that has great advice on how to produce a quality show.
Best way to learn about us is to check out the show! "Can We Still Be Friends?" is available on all the popular podcasting platforms and apps. Our website is canwestillbefriends.net. You can find Nate on Twitter @natesbroadcast or check out the Can We Still Be Friends Twitter @CWSBF. We're on Facebook, and people can always email us: [email protected]. No need to donate, but a nice rating on Apple Podcasts goes a long way.