American Masters: Creative Spark

Arts & Culture Podcasts

How do today’s masters create their art? American Masters: Creative Spark presents narrative interviews that go in-depth with an iconic artist about the creation of a single work. Each episode offers a unique window into the world of art and the creative process of artists and cultural icons across a wide range of disciplines, from music and comedy to poetry and film. Explore more at www.pbs.org/creativespark

Location:

United States

Description:

How do today’s masters create their art? American Masters: Creative Spark presents narrative interviews that go in-depth with an iconic artist about the creation of a single work. Each episode offers a unique window into the world of art and the creative process of artists and cultural icons across a wide range of disciplines, from music and comedy to poetry and film. Explore more at www.pbs.org/creativespark

Language:

English


Episodes

John Waters on the Fine Art of Bad Taste

1/26/2023
John Waters loves to break the rules and make you laugh along the way. The iconoclast has been doing just that over the past six decades with provocative and perverse films like “Pink Flamingos,” “Hairspray,” and “Female Trouble.” Now enshrined as the king of transgressive cinema, Waters is taking on new challenges with his talents. In this episode, he breaks down the creative process behind his first novel, “Liarmouth: A Feel-Bad Romance.” Watch and listen to more from American Masters....

Duration:00:20:32

John David Washington Explores his Past for his Broadway Debut

1/12/2023
Actor John David Washington loves to talk about his craft. The star of films like “BlacKkKlansman,” “Tenet” and “Amsterdam” has now set his sights on Broadway with August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson.” Performing for the stage requires a different skill set from acting for film, and in this episode, Washington describes the intensive process he undertook for this new challenge. To add more layers to his performance, Washington explores the time he spent as a youth in North Carolina with his...

Duration:00:29:39

One more short scene from the life of Buffy Sainte-Marie

12/19/2022
Buffy Sainte-Marie is one of the most prolific singer-songwriters of the past century. For 60 years her music has quietly reverberated throughout pop culture, and provided a touchstone for Indigenous resistance. Buffy is a five-part series from CBC Podcasts hosted by Mohawk and Tuscarora writer Falen Johnson and explores how Buffy’s life and legacy is essential to understanding Indigenous resilience. We are proud to share this excerpt from that five-part series, which gives a glimpse into...

Duration:00:04:44

New season of American Masters: Creative Spark!

12/12/2022
How do the world’s finest artists – from actors to musicians and beyond – create work that moves audiences? What challenges do they overcome in their creative process? American Masters: Creative Spark explores what makes a master by interviewing diverse artists and cultural icons from the worlds of music, comedy, poetry, film, and more in a new season premiering January 12th, 2023. Each episode in the new season presents an interview that goes in-depth with a thought-provoking artist about...

Duration:00:02:42

How Buffy Sainte-Marie Made Her Most Triumphant Song Yet

11/22/2022
Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Cree musician, artist and activist, has always been ahead of the pack. For six decades, she has fought for Indigenous rights and visibility through her work. She spoke out against the Vietnam War with her song “Universal Soldier,” foresaw the opioid crisis with the eerily prescient “Cod’ine,” and wrote iconic love songs like “Until It’s Time for You to Go.” Her music is always doing something new and bending the limits of the form. In this episode, we talk with...

Duration:00:20:15

Jo Firestone Proves Comedy Has No Age Limit

12/2/2021
Comedian Jo Firestone was leading a weekly remote comedy workshop with a group of senior citizens from New York’s Greenwich House when something magical happened. Through in-person sessions, one-on-one interviews and a live public performance, a documentary special emerged called "Good Timing." Join Firestone and her crew of funny seniors as they find joy in the creative act and show how important it is to “make each other laugh in a really scary time.”

Duration:00:19:02

Don Hertzfeldt Animates Stick Figures Into Existential Masterpieces

11/18/2021
Two-time Oscar-nominated animator, writer and filmmaker Don Hertzfeldt is considered one of the most influential figures in animation. In his first-ever formal podcast interview, he breaks down the long journey that went into making his 2012 feature film, “It’s Such a Beautiful Day.” The existential story at the heart of the film often mirrors many of the challenges Hertzfeldt faces as a fiercely independent animator with a do-it-yourself approach. His process is arduous, to say the least....

Duration:00:29:47

Atsuko Okatsuka Jokes Around

11/11/2021
Comedian Atsuko Okatsuka does everything. The touring comic, actress, writer, dancehall dancer and podcast host is everywhere and works tirelessly. She even famously performed a stand-up set in the middle of an earthquake — and got lots of laughs. Okatsuka also just made her late night debut on “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” proving to a national audience that she is a rising star with her quick wit and off-kilter approach. Here she talks about what drives her to create and “nerds...

Duration:00:15:22

How Kim Gordon Makes Music

11/4/2021
Musician and artist Kim Gordon is known for being the coolest person in the room. She is one of the co-founders of Sonic Youth, the band that pioneered alternative rock for 30 years with albums like “Daydream Nation” (1988) and “Goo” (1990). Today, Gordon is focused on her solo work as well as new noisy and avant-garde collaborations. Here the music icon breaks down how she made the satirical song “Air BnB,” a single from her debut solo album “No Home Record,” in this rare glimpse into her...

Duration:00:14:33

Making Movies with M. Night Shyamalan

10/28/2021
For decades, filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan has been telling original stories with movies like the Oscar-nominated hit, “The Sixth Sense” (1999), “Signs” (2002) and “Split” (2016). In today’s Hollywood system, this has turned Shyamalan into something of an iconoclast. Here he breaks down his independent approach to making his most recent thriller, “Old,” and how his deep love for moviegoing as a kid continues to drive the way he thinks about his craft. Watch and Listen to more from American...

Duration:00:21:14

Jericho Brown Takes on Tradition

10/21/2021
Poet Jericho Brown won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his collection “The Tradition.” The poems are vivid works of beauty and agony - each word delivered with a strong sense of urgency. Brown breaks down the process behind writing the collection’s titular poem, “The Tradition,” and the many layers of his ever-changing consciousness that inspired its creation. Watch and Listen to more from American Masters.

Duration:00:23:26

Understanding the History and Mystery of Michael R. Jackson

10/14/2021
“A Strange Loop” has a lot to say in a one-act show. The metafictional musical is playwright, lyricist and composer Michael R. Jackson’s meditation on self-perception, race, sexuality, art, faith, identity and everything in between. The off-Broadway success of this ambitious work earned Jackson the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. He breaks down the emotional journey behind “Memory Song” - the first song he ever wrote music and lyrics to and the penultimate song in “A Strange Loop.” Watch and...

Duration:00:25:28

Errol Morris vs. Steve Bannon

10/7/2021
Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris broke open the documentary form with his early embrace of re-enactments and stylized lighting and music. His film, "The Thin Blue Line" (1988), put this reputation front and center, and his Oscar-winning film, "The Fog of War" (2003), cemented his legacy. He also has an irresistible attraction to controversial interview subjects - and "American Dharma" is no different. He breaks down the process behind this 2018 film on political strategist Steve Bannon...

Duration:00:30:40

Introducing – American Masters: Creative Spark

9/23/2021
How do today’s masters create their art? American Masters: Creative Spark presents narrative interviews that go in-depth with one iconic artist about the creation of a single work. Whether it is Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris explaining the thinking behind a controversial film, comedian Atsuko Okatsuka sharing what makes a joke land, Pulitzer-winning poet Jericho Brown examining the rhythm of a poem, or filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan describing filming during the pandemic, each episode...

Duration:00:02:20

Actor and playwright Wallace Shawn

3/11/2020
Although he became famous for his work as an actor in films like “Clueless”, “The Princess Bride” and “Toy Story,” Wallace Shawn is also an Obie Award-winning playwright and author, known for his experimental and challenging writing on class politics and morality. Josh Hamilton talks with Shawn about this dichotomy, as the duo explore the ways in which we identify ourselves and find value in our work and life.

Duration:00:31:05

Musician Miles Davis

2/26/2020
Miles Davis is widely regarded as one of the most innovative, influential and respected figures in music. To celebrate the new documentary on the jazz legend, American Masters - Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, filmmaker Stanley Nelson talks with Miles Davis’ nephew and drummer, Vince Wilburn, Jr.

Duration:00:25:11

Theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku

2/19/2020
The beginning of the universe might be the greatest origin story of all time, and theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku has made a career exploring this subject and others like it. Dr. Kaku is the co-founder of string field theory, which some suggest will crack the final code toward understanding the universe. Dr. Kaku talks about building an atom smasher in his childhood garage, the influence of his hero, Albert Einstein, and why he thinks science is the greatest tool towards progress.

Duration:00:24:23

Comedian Maria Bamford

2/5/2020
Fresh off the heels of her brand new stand-up special “Weakness is the Brand,” comedian Maria Bamford sits down to discuss her disarming approach to comedy, including the hilarious ways you can turn life challenges into comedy gold. Recently, Bamford has brought her signature honesty and openness to the new interview series, "What’s Your Ailment?!," where she engages in candid conversations around mental health issues with fellow comedians and artists, all while stressing the importance of...

Duration:00:42:20

Writer and director Noah Baumbach

1/22/2020
Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale,” “Margot at the Wedding,” “The Meyerowitz Stories”) talks about how and why he makes movies. Through equal parts comedy and drama, Baumbach’s films frequently deal with the pains of family life with stunning clarity. His most recent film “Marriage Story,” now nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, explores the complicated fallout of a failing coast-to-coast marriage.

Duration:00:26:03

Playwright Lynn Nottage

1/8/2020
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage talks about the origin of her Broadway play, “Sweat,” and the time she spent developing the story through her conversations with working class residents in Reading, Pennsylvania. Her focus on the struggles of this de-industrialized Rust Belt town predicted a national conversation around identity, race and economy that remains a focal point of political discussions today.

Duration:00:38:31