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The Austin Meyer Podcast

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Conversations with the world’s best storytellers in all genres — journalists, novelists, filmmakers, documentarians, photographers, actors, improvisers, artists — about how they got their start and how they tell stories.

Conversations with the world’s best storytellers in all genres — journalists, novelists, filmmakers, documentarians, photographers, actors, improvisers, artists — about how they got their start and how they tell stories.
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Conversations with the world’s best storytellers in all genres — journalists, novelists, filmmakers, documentarians, photographers, actors, improvisers, artists — about how they got their start and how they tell stories.




The Power of Poetry with Pulitzer Prize Winner Forrest Gander | Ep. 029

Forrest Gander is a poet, novelist, and essayist based in Northern California, whose most recent book of poems, Be With, was awarded the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. In this conversation, Forrest and I discuss the life changing moment that made him forego a safe and stable career to pursue life as a poet, what he thinks makes a poem not just good, but great, and why poetry continues to be such a significant art form for allowing people to express themselves and process both the beauty and...


How to Make Your Documentary Stand Out with Charlie Phillips | Ep. 028

Charlie Phillips is the head of video at The Guardian. Before working at The Guardian, Charlie was deputy director at Sheffield DocFest and an editor at FourDocs. In this conversation, Charlie and I discuss the trends shaping the documentary industry, what kind of access and consent lead to great films, and what qualities make a film stand out from the crowd as one that The Guardian wants to commission and share with the world. Thank you for listening! Subscribe to Austin Meyer's Newsletter...


The Dark Side of Sports with Investigative Journalist Benjamin Best | Ep. 027

Trapped in Qatar Benjamin Best is an award winning investigative reporter, filmmaker, and author whose reporting focuses on the dark side of sports: illegal betting, match fixing, corruption, organized crime, and the human rights violations that are often a byproduct of major sporting events such as the World Cup and The Olympics. In 2011 Benjamin Best was awarded CNN's journalist of the year award, he is multiple time winner of Medium Magazine's journalist of the year, and in 2016, was...


Telling Stories with Heart and Humility with Kate Grant | Ep. 026

Kate Grant is the CEO of The Fistula Foundation. An obstetric fistula, the kind that occurs in many developing countries, is a hole between a woman's vagina and bladder, and it is caused by many days of obstructed labor. It leaves women incontinent and often abandoned and ostracized by their communities. As the CEO of the Fistula Foundation, Kate is tasked with telling the stories of this stigmatized and unspoken condition in order to raise money to fund surgeries for affected women. And she...


Unlocking Your Creative Potential Through Improv with Dan Klein | Ep. 025

Dan Klein teaches improvisation at Stanford University where he is on the faculty of the Theater and Performance Studies Department and the Graduate School of Business. His beginning improv class is one of Stanford’s most popular courses, and he has been awarded Stanford Teacher of the Year by the Student’s Association for teaching it. Dan not only teaches improvisation for the sake of making people better theatrical performers, but he also teaches applied improvisation in many other...


Reporting on Humanitarian Crises with Josh Estey | Ep. 024

Josh Estey is one of the world’s top humanitarian relief and development documentary photographers. His work for UNICEF, CARE, USAID, World Food Programme, World Bank, Mercy Corps, and others captures moments of dignity and spirit without ever sacrificing truth or context, and has helped lead the transformation of non-profit photography and videography over the past two decades. Josh is a Pulitzer nominee and his photojournalistic and video work has appeared in every major news outlet from...


How to Write Amazing Plays with Lauren Gunderson | Ep. 023

Lauren Gunderson is one of the world’s most prolific playwrights. At 37, she is the most produced playwright in America and has taken home many of the most coveted awards in playwrighting. In 2017, The New Yorker wrote a profile on Lauren and titled it, “You’ve Probably Never Heard of America’s Most Popular Playwright.” Well everybody, it’s about time you heard! In this episode Lauren and I discuss how a lack of female representation in theater fueled her to write her first plays as a...


Anamorphic Chalk Art with Street Artist David Zinn | Ep. 022

David Zinn's Art David Zinn is a world renowned street artist based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. David’s temporary street drawings are composed entirely of chalk, charcoal and found objects, and are always improvised on location through a process known as “pareidolic anamorphosis.” This technique makes his chalk art appear three dimensional. In this episode, David and I talk about how he makes a living drawing tiny creatures on the sidewalk out of chalk, why he loves the ephemerality of an art...


Creating Art that Butters People Up with Maja Ruznic | Ep. 021

Link to Maja Ruznic’s artwork: Maja Ruznic a prolific artist, currently based in Roswell, New Mexico. Primarily a painter, her artwork often explores themes related to trauma. A graduate of UC Berkeley and the California College of Arts, Maja has exhibited internationally and is a 2018 Hopper Prize winner. In this episode, Maja and I talk through the step-by-step process of how she creates her paintings, how she cultivates her authentic voice by resisting the...


Writing Children’s Books with Froggy Author Jonathan London | Ep. 020

Jonathan London is a children’s book author who has over 100 publications to his name. Jonathan is best known as the author of the Froggy series, which has sold over 20 million copies and has been translated into 7 different languages. The first of the series, which was published in 1992, is called Froggy Gets Dressed, and now there are 29 others. In this conversation, Jonathan and I discuss how he went from a struggling poet to a world renowned children’s book author, what qualities make a...


Developing Stories for Theaters and Smart Speakers with Kat Zdan | Ep. 019

Kat Zdan studied theater at UCSB and got her MFA in ensemble based physical theater from Dell’Arte International school of physical theater. Kat has been performing, teaching, and directing professionally in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond since 2009. Not only does Kat work in scripted theater, she is also a member of Improv Playhouse, one of the top improv troupes in the Bay Area. Off the stage, Kat is a conversation designer at Xandra, a company which brings artists and developers...


Amplifying Voices through Art, Tech, and Photography with Aaron Huey | Ep. 018

Aaron Huey is a National Geographic photographer who has contributed dozens of cover and feature stories to the magazine. His photography details a wide range of stories from Sherpas on Everest, to life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and most recently, Aaron detailed the fight to preserve America’s national monuments like Bears Ears. Aaron is also the founder of Amplifier, a design lab that builds art to amplify the voices of grassroots movements.. He was the design director for their...


Beyond the Box Score with NYT Sports Reporter John Branch | Ep. 017

John Branch is a sports reporter for The New York Times. He won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2013 for “Snow Fall,” a story about a deadly avalanche in Washington State, and was a finalist for the prize in 2012 for his series of stories about Derek Boogaard, a professional hockey player who overdosed on painkillers. . John’s work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing; and his first book, BOY ON ICE, won the ESPN Prize for Literary Sports Writing. . In this...


Creating Stories for Radiolab with Latif Nasser | Ep. 016

Latif Nasser is the director of research at Radiolab, where he reports, produces and creates stories on a range of topics… in 2018 he created stories on everything from life at the southern border, to the blue blood of horseshoe crabs, to voting laws, to National Hockey League All-Star games. . In this episode Latif and I discuss how he went from a theater kid with playwriting aspirations to creating stories for Radiolab, how he chooses which stories to pursue, and then we go deep into the...


Meeting the North with National Geographic Explorer Jennifer Kingsley | Ep. 015

Jennifer Kingsley is a National Geographic Explorer and a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. She is a winner of the National Outdoor Book Award for Paddlenorth, the story of her 54-day canoeing expedition across the Canadian Arctic, and her writing has appeared in various outlets including National Geographic, the BBC, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Her radio documentaries have been broadcast internationally and recognized by the Nieman Foundation for...


Reporting from Conflict Zones with the PBS NewsHour’s Jane Ferguson | Ep. 014

My guest this week is Jane Ferguson. Jane is a Beirut-based Special Correspondent for the PBS NewsHour. She reports from across the Middle East, Africa and beyond, often working in conflict zones. Some reporting highlights include front-line dispatches from the war against ISIS in Iraq, an up-close look at Houthi-controlled Yemen, and reports on the war and famine in South Sudan. On top of her work at the PBS NewsHour, Jane also writes for various outlets including the New Yorker. And before...


Leaving a Legacy Through Storytelling with Susan Milstein and Andi Brady | Ep. 013

This week my guests are Susan Milstein and Andi Brady. Susan and Andi a cofounders Personal History Productions, a company that helps an individual capture their life story and family memories as a legacy for future generations. Writing a life story can be daunting, so Susan and Andi come in and make it easy. They handle everything from interviewing the individual, to writing the narrative, to creating beautiful physical books, and by doing so, help people create a legacy through...


The Three Layers of a Well Told Story with Radio Journalist Jake Warga | Ep. 012

This week my guest is award winning radio journalist, Jake Warga. Jake is a contributor to NPR, Public Radio International, and American Public Media. His stories have been featured on programs such as All Things Considered and This American Life. On top of making his own stories, Jake also teaches storytelling as a lecturer at Stanford University. In this conversation, Jake and I discuss how one of his first radio stories ended up on This American Life, the three layers of a well told...


Taking the Leap: Reflecting on a Life Changing 2018 with Austin Meyer | Ep. 011

Happy New Year! In today's episode I am reflecting on my life changing 2018. 2018 was a year in which I quit my job, moved out of California for the first time to go live in Zambia, and went 100% all in on pursuing my dream of becoming the best documentary filmmaker I can be. To help guide my reflection, I sat down with my good friend and fellow documentary filmmaker, Joe Alexander-Short, who interviewed me about the highlights, setbacks, and learnings from this past year. In this...


Expressing Love and Understanding Through Documentary Theater with Xandra Clark | Ep. 010

This week on the podcast my guest is Xandra Clark. Xandra is an actor, writer, documentarian, musician, performance-maker, and all-around storyteller. On the performance side of things, Xandra is currently a 2018-19 Queer|Art Fellow in Performance, a member of The Bats Company at The Flea, a company member of Poetic Theater Productions, co-leader of Colt Coeur’s theater education initiative, and a performer and experience designer with immersive performance company Odyssey Works. As an audio...