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Miss your summer blockbusters? A new podcast charting the rise of James Cameron has you covered

‘Blockbuster’ creator Matt Schrader doubles down on his inventive biopod (biopic + podcast) format, this time charting the rise of the man behind ‘Terminator’ and ‘Avatar.’

Miss your summer blockbusters? A new podcast charting the rise of James Cameron has you covered
[Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images; Flickr user Ivette Diaz]

In April 2019, filmmaker Matt Schrader (Score) stepped into the podcast space with Blockbuster, a six-episode deep dive into how Steven Spielberg and George Lucas revolutionized filmmaking in the 1970s.

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The topic could’ve easily gone the route of other movie-buff podcasts like You Must Remember This or How Did This Get Made?, with Schrader walking through his research or dissecting movies alongside friends.

However, he merged the best of narrative storytelling with true events, creating what he coined as the “biopod” (a biopic in the form of a podcast).

“We decided with the first season that was the format that would work best, because it allows for an intimacy with the character,” Schrader says. “And that’s not really something that’s as possible in the documentary structure or third-person perspective.”

Clearly it worked.

Season one of Blockbuster received glowing reviews (currently 4.9 out 5 stars on Apple) and was named Adweek‘s Creative Podcast of the Year in 2019.

Now Schrader is doubling down on his inventive format with season two, unpacking the rise of director James Cameron, who’s voiced by The Walking Dead‘s Ross Marquand.

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“The big message that we saw in season one with Spielberg and Lucas was they thought differently—they fought for their unique perspectives,” Schrader says. “And in this James Cameron series, I think it’s more about this endless ambition.”

Like how Cameron fired his agent when he didn’t believe in his early concept for The Terminator, which came to him in a fever dream, and wound up pitching the film with the help of a friend who dressed as the Terminator and crashed a meeting with film execs.

“How ballsy of a move is that? He’s made these moves all throughout his career that would be unthinkable for a lot of people,” Schrader says. “The thing about James Cameron that made him such a perfect character to explore is he is told all throughout his early career that he’s not good enough for this. And he figures out these weird, creative solutions.”

But why tell a story like Cameron’s or Spielberg’s and Lucas’s through a biopod?

Schrader certainly has the skills to spin these Tinseltown yarns into a documentary or traditional biopic. However, aside from the prohibitive costs behind filmmaking, for Schrader it’s more of about bending podcast storytelling in inventive ways.

“We’re starting to see a little bit more exploration in the audio space. Some of them aren’t quite working and some of them are really truly original and revolutionizing,” he says. “I feel like audio is just ripe for being explored in a lot of depth.”

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Season two of Blockbuster is available now.

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About the author

KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America," where he was the social media producer.

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