In 2011, as IU Cinema enjoyed its first year of providing transformative cinematic experiences, it also launched its official podcast, A Place for Film. After four years, the podcast released its 169th and final episode… until it was resurrected by regular blog contributor and IU Cinema lover David Carter in 2018. Over time, David and his co-host Elizabeth Roell have discussed everything from Ida Lupino to J-horror to The Matrix — all of which, of course, relates to the programming of IU Cinema.
After a year-long hiatus, A Place for Film is back and just as fun as it had always been. I’ll admit I may be biased. I’ve known both David and Elizabeth for a few years now and I was a guest for a 2018 episode about my favorite director, Alfred Hitchcock. However, David and Elizabeth’s passion for movies is infectious, and it was great talking to them about the podcast’s beginnings, their adoration for IU Cinema, and their plans for future episodes.
David, why did you want to revive the podcast? Had you listened to the previous iteration of it?
David: Well, like when I got on at the blog, I decided to start the podcast for three reasons. One: I always maintain that an arts organization should have something that deals with conversation around the arts and podcasts are such a wonderful medium for that. When the older, scrappier version of the podcast was around, I saw that people in the community really took to it and decided that was an avenue the Cinema should return to but make it a more official part of the tapestry so the Cinema and the podcast could find a bigger audience. One hand washed the other and all that.
Two: I just love podcasts (I listen to way too many) and I like talking about movies with people who are unfortunate enough to be around me. Three: I’m always trying to con my way into a job at the IU Cinema despite being wildly unqualified on paper.
How did you manage to con Elizabeth into being your co-host?
David: Elizabeth came on after I tricked her into thinking we’d be rich by doing this. All the velour tracksuits you could wear, I said!
But seriously, I asked [Founding Director Jon Vickers, current Interim Director Brittany Friesner, and Events and Operations Director Jessica Davis Tagg] if there were any staff members or volunteers who were interested in talking about movies on a week-to-week basis. I knew staff, volunteers, and regulars I could talk to, but I really wanted someone who had a different POV than mine, i.e. someone who didn’t identify as male and someone who I didn’t already know intimately so I could avoid using that familiarity as a crutch.
Elizabeth: Brittany introduced us one night as a film was letting out. …. She was like, “David is starting up the IU Cinema podcast and I bet you’d be a good co-host.” We had never met before that (that I can remember… if we had, I’m sorry, David!) and I told him to email me with more deets.
David: When Brittany threw out Elizabeth’s name as a top choice, I did what I always do: anxiously and awkwardly went up to her after a screening and gave her the pitch and she somehow said yes?!? I still can’t believe it.
Elizabeth: I spent a few days very unsure if I wanted to do it, and super nervous about it. But I eventually decided that because I was scared, I should do it. I can say now that it is one of the best decisions I’ve made.
One of my favorite things you did was a series of episodes that covered all of the Mission: Impossible films. It was so much fun to hear your enthusiasm and appreciation for a franchise I love (even though I can’t condone David’s defense of Mission: Impossible II). You also did a series on films from 1999. Do you have any plans to do something like this again? Is there a particular idea or movie series you’d want to do?
Elizabeth: We loved both those series and definitely would like to keep doing that type of thing! Those tend to be summer series since our episodes reflect the Cinema’s programming during the school year.
David: I’m really happy you and other people enjoy it! I’m also sorry you’re not intellectual enough to understand the joys of a Limp Bizkit movie score and Tom Cruise motorcycle-skiing!
We have discussed other series we’d love to do. We’ve talked about other big industry-shifting franchises such as Lord of the Rings and Twilight (seriously, we have so many people who want us to do episodes on that series).
Elizabeth: I actually tossed out a Twitter poll back when we did the 1999 series with two other choices: the Twilight Saga films and the filmography of Lindsay Lohan, which obviously both lost. I realize that those appeal very specifically to me and the types of media I consumed at a certain age, but I would be very much down to talk about either of those in the future.
David: We’ve talked about covering an actor’s career and reevaluating or just appreciating their work like Lindsay Lohan, or what I’ve personally been interested in for a while — Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I think some performers are just undeniable and some performers deserve to be looked at removed from whatever drama or personal struggles that overshadowed their work or made them special.
But we’re always talking about different things to cover so who knows what the future holds!
Last year, you attended South by Southwest for the podcast. What was that experience like? Am I correct in assuming that it was the first time either of you had been to a major film festival? It sounded like it was both exhausting and exhilarating.
Elizabeth: Correct, that was both our first times. It was definitely, uh… an interesting time to say the least. …. We ended up driving down to Austin, TX in my car because we’re both broke and didn’t have a lot of time to plan ahead for it. And we split a room in an Airbnb. I love David with all my heart, but you could imagine that wasn’t the most ideal way to do something like this. But we came out of it still liking each other and had bonded over the experience. In hindsight, we are much closer friends because of it, I think.
David: Going to SXSW was a dream come true. I had never covered a film festival of any size nor had I ever been to one. Like all things I dream about doing, I went in very unprepared and figured it out as I went. Me and Elizabeth established a game plan for the festival itself and to keep ourselves housed and fed, but you kind of have to figure out for yourself that trying to see every movie at a film festival is pretty much impossible and so exhausting. ….
But man oh man, was it a thrill, getting to highlight films that may have slipped through the cracks like Numa Perrier’s Jezebel, and going to the premieres of Us and The Beach Bum with packed crowds are things I still sit and remember fondly. Walking many miles to the Mondo Gallery (essentially a Mecca for a poster nerd like myself) and covering the exhibition on Twin Peaks: The Return with the artist present was INCREDIBLE. Even the waits in long lines had a charm to them after a while.
Elizabeth: The first few days were just pure bliss. Everything from standing in line for hours and getting to see the world premiere of Jordan Peele’s Us, to watching movies literally all day (all of us dream of that, right?!), talking with other festival attendees about what they’d been enjoying and their experiences, running into some people we know from back here in Indiana, getting to try the amazing TexMex, and just enjoying walking around and exploring the city of Austin. I think David and I both decided we would love to live there at some point in our lives.
Oh, and it was the only non-movie thing I did the whole trip, but I stood in line for a long time to sit front-row at the Good Omens panel, aka right in front of the VERY handsome David Tennant, Michael Sheen, and Jon Hamm. That was definitely a highlight… My only regret from the festival was missing Boyz II Men’s surprise live performance at the Long Shot premiere.
David: Even though we were ragged afterward and a wee bit annoyed at each other, I’d do it again with Elizabeth in a heartbeat for any festival. I’d just save up for a plane ticket and a better location in the city.
A Place for Film has welcomed a litany of guests, including most recently artist Allis Markham from the documentary Stuffed and filmmaker Kris Rey. What do you look forward to most when you have a guest on the show?
David: This one is easy to answer: listening to them talk! It’s why I love going to lectures, listening to podcasts, and watching interviews. I’m very nosy and want to listen to people tell me about themselves and their passions and all the nitty gritty that comes with that. I love researching people and trying to find questions that may have not been asked a million times, but it really comes back to listening to them talk and getting into a rhythm and finding a comfort zone.
Elizabeth: I look forward to getting some one-on-one time (or rather two-on-one, I guess) with the guest, but in a lower-stakes setting than if I were to moderate a Q&A during an IU Cinema event. It is muuuuch more casual than that. I get super nervous about it anyway, but this way there’s less people to see me get nervous. I feel like the casualness of the setting is nice for the guest too, that they don’t have to get all dressed up or put on some kind of super professional façade. It’s great to just chat. We’ve gotten some really great, off-the-cuff tidbits because of this, I think, which I love.
If you could choose any past IU Cinema guest to have on the podcast, who would you be dying to talk to?
Elizabeth: OH GEEZ. Um, I mean, there are the obvious ones that everyone says, ya know, like Meryl Streep, Ava DuVernay… I love Claire Denis and have the utmost respect for her, but I would not want to interview her. She is incredibly intelligent and quick, and I am positive I would be way too intimidated and would not be able to stand my ground with her. I would love to chat with Kelly Reichardt, whose films have such an affect on me. Wendy and Lucy is maybe the most heartbreaking film I’ve ever seen… Josephine Decker for sure; her film Madeline’s Madeline is one of my recent favorites. Oh, and of course John Waters would be an exciting episode.
David: The long answer is tough because there are categories I break down dream guests into: the ones that I think would be affable and easy to get to open up, and the ones I’m intimidated by because of their stature or demeanor. Like, Guy Maddin would be a lovely person to speak to given how easygoing, funny, and open he is. Ruth Carter would have been a dream. But people like Claire Denis and Werner Herzog frighten me despite my intense desire to talk to them. I think someone like Paul Schrader falls between those two categories. I’d be nervous given his stature, but given his, uh… interesting Facebook posts, I’m sure it’d be a wild time.
Though getting to go drinking and smoking with Ana Lilly Amirpour and having the best interview I’ve ever gotten but was never recorded is pretty high up on that list.
You’re both such warm, welcoming people, and that definitely comes across when you listen to A Place for Film. Did hosting a podcast come naturally to you, or was there a period of adjustment?
Elizabeth: Aw, you’re too sweet, thank you, Michaela. Uh, I mean, it definitely took some getting used to, getting into the swing of things. The episodes are broken into two main segments: the IU Cinema schedule breakdown and then the actual conversation for the week. I often feel very wooden and sometimes trip over my words whenever there are certain things I have to read off the schedule, but then that kind of breaks the ice and I can be a little looser for the conversation. So I’d say I’m still working on getting comfy with it, but I love it at the same time.
And David and I became friends through the podcast and not before, so looking back, I can only imagine how awkward some of the earlier conversations might have been as we got to know one another.
David: Despite my enjoyment of talking, I’m inherently very shy, awkward, and anxious, so there’s always an adjustment period to finding my groove when I talk to people. There was also a very small period of time getting used to Elizabeth’s rhythms and helping her open up and find her voice. There’s also the adjustment period of figuring what the show even is and I still think we’re finding it because we haven’t had an uninterrupted week-to-week schedule yet.
But talking about art DOES come naturally to me. So, every week I tell myself I’m just having a conversation with my good friend Elizabeth and take it from there. That’s helped a lot. It’s easy to get in your own head about the things you don’t know and what you might say that the invisible chorus of doubts that live in your brain will scream at you, but at the end of the day it’s chatting with pals and artists about movies and bringing ideas, facts, and awareness that people may have not had before.
Are there any other film podcasts that have inspired your approach or that you’d recommend?
David: I mean, all cards on the table, this podcast is shamelessly ripped off from two key sources: Blank Check with Griffin and David and Fighting in the War Room. The former is a podcast where two friends, critic David Sims and actor Griffin Newman, and (most of the time) a guest discuss directors’ entire filmographies week to week, charting the course of their careers, style, ideas, and the amount of cache they’re given based on how big a hit their movies are. I’ve been a fan since early on in 2015 and it’s probably the best movie podcast out there right now and I recommend it to anyone.
Fighting in the War Room is another movie podcast where four New York film critics (only one still lives in New York at this point) have been getting together for over ten years and talking about current movies and news happening in the movie industry. It’s essentially an excuse for four friends to come together and argue every week — hence the title — due to their different tastes and film backgrounds. I pretty much stole their format of breaking the podcast into segments.
Not a movie podcast, but the McElroy Brothers and their universe of podcasts, especially My Brother, My Brother and Me, have been influential in how, despite me taking topics seriously, I like to keep things pretty light and goofy. It’s fun to riff and bounce things off of Elizabeth, who is sometimes the straight man, and guests. [The McElroys’] brand of good-hearted but non-wholesome humor is something that colors all the dumb bits I do on the podcast. I’d say anyone who wants a good laugh should check [My Brother, My Brother and Me] out.
Elizabeth: I never really listened to podcasts before I was on one, so there wasn’t really any inspiration for me. The first podcast I actually listened to was Kumail Nanjiani’s The X-Files Files (God, my nerd is showing so much right now), right around when I was watching the show for the first time, which made me the biggest fan of both The X-Files and of Kumail. (Side note: I almost physically ran into him at SXSW when we were there — a story for a different time!)
Since then, I’ve taken David’s rec and listen to Blank Check, which I love. I also listen to NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, Bad Feminist Film Club, Bad Romance Podcast, The A24 Podcast, and This Had Oscar Buzz. They are all film-centric but come at it from different angles, and I’d definitely recommend all of them. One that I LOVE (that is NSFW) is called Thirst Aid Kit. They actually just ended their podcast in September of this year, which I was so sad to see, but they have a great back catalog of episodes. If you like talking about and “thirsting” over very attractive male celebrities of all ages and eras, you should definitely check that out.
For me — and I’m sure you’ll both agree — IU Cinema is like a home away home. It’s hard not to think about all of the lovely experiences we’ve missed sharing there due to the pandemic, even though we’ve had a lot of great virtual events to help fill the void. What do you miss most about being at the Cinema?
Elizabeth: What DON’T I miss about the IU Cinema?! Seriously, I miss every single thing, it’s like a second home to me. I would vacuum the floor after a sold-out show in the winter every night to be able to be back in there safely again. (That’s an inside joke for all my Cinema co-workers.) I miss the immersiveness of watching a film in the Cinema and the togetherness of having those experiences with other people. THE PEOPLE, God, I miss the people the most. Some of my very best friends have come from the Cinema. And we have the best patrons in the world, I miss them all so SO much. I’m tearing up just thinking about getting to stand in the lobby and chat with them all again. I hope they know how much they mean to all of us at the Cinema.
David: I will shout about this to the high heavens from now until I’m dead: there is no replacement for a good rep theater. Seeing movies in a crowd with your attention focused on the screen cannot be replicated in the home and Lord knows I’ve tried. I’m a physical-media junkie but home-viewing was always a supplement for theatrical viewing, not the other way around. It’s why I get so huffy when people talk about theaters needing to become a boutique experience like opera because streaming is “clearly” the future. I just don’t buy that people, old and young, don’t like going out to watch things, especially in something as curated and world-class as the IU Cinema.
But my gooey answer is I miss the community. I miss the friends I’ve made over the ten years of devotion I’ve poured into this incredible place. I’ve shed a lot of literal tears over the last few months for the people I want to sit next to and watch a movie I will pretend to understand. I miss dragging people to see weird stuff, I miss planning my whole weekend around seeing every single movie that plays there, I miss the pre- and post-movie conversation. I miss being cranky and/or delighted by an introduction or Q&A. When you love something, you miss everything about it, and I can honestly say I love the Cinema and I hope this dumb state/country can get its stuff together so I can once again sit and watch performers be hot and talented in a dark theater with my pals.
What can you tease about upcoming A Place for Film episodes?
David: Honestly, with the Cinema unable to program like it could before the pandemic, me and Elizabeth have had to deal with burden of choice, which is when you can talk about anything, making it hard to choose a topic. But I’d say look forward to way more Cinema volunteers, guests, friends, and staff being on the pod. Also, we’ll probably be doing another little miniseries come this holiday. I have plans to get some of the existing past episodes uploaded, as well as maybe toying with something scripted and more heavily produced à la You Must Remember This.
And we look forward to having YOU on again in the near future, Michaela. We have much to discuss about Cary Grant!
Elizabeth: Oh, we are definitely having you back on again soon, Michaela. But yeah, I second everything that David said. No specifics, but be ready for more of David and Elizabeth goofing with guests!
I’m in! Especially if it gives me the chance to gush about Cary Grant. Okay, final question: where can people find you on social media?
David: You can find me on Twitter @samuraiflicks, on Instagram @robertdolphy, and on Letterboxd @robertdolphy. I like hearing from people that they’re listening to the podcast and we love feedback!
Elizabeth: Catch me @elizabethroell on Twitter, Instagram, and Letterboxd.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Michaela Owens is thrilled to be the editor of A Place for Film, in addition to being IU Cinema’s Publications Editor. An IU graduate with a BA in Communication and Culture and an MA in Cinema and Media Studies, she has also been a volunteer usher at IU Cinema since 2016. She never stops thinking about classic Hollywood, thanks to her mother’s introduction to it, and she likes to believe she is an expert on Katharine Hepburn and Esther Williams.