Pam Uzzell is Podcast Producer and Host of “Art Heals All Wounds” podcast which provides an opportunity to hear what motivates artists. When we listen to these stories, we recognize ourselves. Then we can find our own creative practices that heal us. Pam is also a documentary filmmaker with credits in over twenty feature films, including Terminator 2, Godfather III, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. She is the director and producer of three independent documentaries, Some Call It Heaven, Unearthing the Dream, and Welcome to the Neighborhood. Pam’s latest documentary, Shelter in Displacement, was selected as part of the de Young Open and is part of the COVIDeos Collection at Filmsight.com.
Find more information and sign up for Pam’s newsletter at: https://www.arthealsallwoundspodcast.com/
[00:00:58] Shelley: Welcome and thanks for joining us today. We hope that you’ll take a moment to share this blog with your family and friends. Remember that once our presentation is complete, it becomes a podcast. Look for the Messages and Methods podcast wherever you download your favorite podcasts.
Did you have any news?
[00:01:29] Toby: I don’t have any news.
[00:01:38] Shelley: I can tell you what I did today was listening to a webinar online that was put out by SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives. They offer great information for small business owners and this particular one was about what’s coming for 2022. Toby and I have been studying up on that because we’re going to be hosting a panel in January focused on what’s coming to digital marketing in 2022. Look for that on January 19th on YouTube at 1 p.m. MST. We’re going to have a panel of at least six other experts in digital marketing.
As I was listening to this webinar put out by SCORE, I found that I agreed with most of the things that the woman was talking about. She’s saying 2022 is the year of transparency and authenticity. To reach that goal in online digital marketing, we need to do more live streaming. If you’re interested in doing that yourself, please do get in touch with us at agkmedia.studio. We would love to speak more with you about that.
One thing that she was talking about that I didn’t agree with is she said, the platforms I want to focus on are Clubhouse and TikTok. That’s okay if you’re trying to speak to that demographic, but my parents are never going to be looking on TikTok for information. They’re going to be looking on YouTube. So you have to take that with a grain of salt, using what platforms you feel will best reach your audience.
Today we’re going to focus a little more on the podcasting platform because our guest today, Pam Uzzell is a podcaster, but she is also a documentary maker. So she has a lot of experience in the field of video and film too.
[00:03:46] Toby: We have a lot to talk about because you have a really interesting background. Let’s start with what do you do now? Then we’ll talk about how you got there.
[00:04:05] Pam Uzzell: Thank you. I want to thank you both for having me on and it’s so nice to see you again. I enjoyed talking with you at She Podcasts Live and to come back and talk to you again is a real pleasure. So the question is what got me here.
[00:04:18] Toby: Let’s start with, where are you? Then let’s ask what got you there.
[00:04:23] Pam Uzzell: I am in Oakland, California. If you want to know literally what got me here, I moved to the bay area as soon as I graduated from college, which was a very long time ago at this point. It feels like home. I’ve lived here longer than any other place I’ve lived in my life.
If we want to talk about how I got to be here, podcasting and talking to you, I started as a filmmaker. When I first started, the only films I thought about were narrative blockbuster films. I was lucky enough to work in that field as part of post-production sound crews. There was a lot of that being done in the late eighties and early nineties here in the bay area. We were known for that. I worked on some really big films and loved the people and teamwork. As I started to think about planning a family, though, it was hard for me to imagine keeping up those hours and that lifestyle.
I did a pivot and began teaching and after teaching for a year, I decided I wanted to go back and get my MFA. That’s where I encountered documentary filmmaking and once I made a documentary film, I never went back to narrative films. I would say documentary filmmaking to me is a natural tie-in to podcasting.
In 2020, when everybody was sheltering in place and staying at home, I did one small film at the beginning of the pandemic. I was involved with another larger film and it was too difficult and that fell through. I wanted some way to keep that connection because what I loved about documentary filmmaking was that you encounter many different people. You get to ask them about themselves and you have an excuse to sit there and hear their stories. Podcasting felt like the next best step. I knew a couple of artists who were inspiring me. So I thought I’m going to make a podcast about artists.
[00:06:42] Toby: It’s amazing to hear you say all of what you just said about documentary filmmaking because that’s been my experience. I spent a 35-year career doing both photographic and cinematic documentaries on behalf of the United States federal government. Once I retired, I had thought there’s no more opportunity for me in this field. I’ve done what I needed to do. Then I met a woman whose name is Janet Bridgers. She’s the president of Earth Alert. I did two documentaries with her. We’ve done several small documentaries.
With the inception of the pandemic, it can be a dangerous effort to be in the field and talk to dozens of people. That’s where we felt like livestreaming could make an impact on storytelling. The documentary is a series of short interviews. In your podcast, Art Heals All Wounds, you have discussions with artists. It sounds like you and we have come to the same conclusion about how to use these tools and how they support our desires when it comes to filmmaking and documentary making.
We have a big filmmaking community here in Albuquerque and a lot of friends within that great community and we miss it. We miss being around them. Livestreaming and podcasting allow us to do what we want. So I’m glad you’re getting to do what you want.
Where did you get your BFA?
[00:08:13] Pam Uzzell: It was a bachelor of arts from Brown University and it was in semiotics, which was a big thing in the eighties. The year I was graduating, I think they changed the name to modern culture and media.
Then I took nine years off before I went back and got my MFA. That came from San Francisco State University, close to home. I do want to mention that I have a brother who works in the film industry in Albuquerque. His name is James Smiley, and he’s also a podcaster on 10 Drink Minimum. He is working in the film industry that you mentioned.
[00:08:54] Toby: We will look him up.
[00:09:03] Pam Uzzell: It’s a live podcast in a similar way that yours is livestreamed.
[00:09:13] Shelley: Brother-sister team. Let’s talk about the last year. How was 2021 in general for artists and specifically for you?
[00:09:27] Pam Uzzell: I think a lot of what artists are used to, crumbled in 2020. Things like exhibitions and live audiences. That yanked the rug out from everybody. But what I saw that made me want to do the podcast was the most incredibly creative pivots. Artists were using online platforms, streaming, and even Zoom to continue practicing their art. That shouldn’t have been a surprise to me because they’re creative in many ways. So why not be creative in how they practice their art? I think that although nobody would wish to have this situation, people did respond in very creative ways.
For me, the tolls of last year would be on an emotional level. My dad is 91 and luckily, thanks to vaccines we are now seeing each other again. It is great to go visit him and also both of my daughters. They are adults, they don’t live here, but to be able to see them again is great. However, it’s still not as easy as it used to be. So that’s challenging. I used to work a lot in public spaces. There are a couple of really amazing cafés here where I could take my laptop and go work there. I miss those sorts of things.
I am grateful that 2020 pushed me in the direction of podcasting and the podcast was released early in 2021. So I have mixed feelings about 2021.
[00:11:26] Toby: How did the school handle dealing with the pandemic? Because driving from Oakland to San Francisco is enough of an adventure without having to deal with the pandemic as well.
[00:11:36] Pam Uzzell: I teach at the Academy of Art University. I teach video editing and like most schools initially, they went completely remote. They went remote early because the bay area did shelter in place very early. They are now finally getting some onsite classes back. This last semester, there were some in a few departments. Most departments are having some onsite classes coming up in the spring.
It was a huge adjustment though. I already taught an asynchronous online class. So for me, there was not that much of an adjustment. But all the classes that had formerly been onsite moved online. It is really hard to teach a lot of these art classes that way. Editing is exhausting to teach on Zoom. But you’re working from a digital editing platform. So you could argue that it’s more possible. Other people were super creative. How do you teach acting on Zoom? How do you teach Sculpture? How do you teach live drawing? How do you teach landscape design?
A lot of things that you might normally depend on being there were not. One class in our department that was amazing was drone video making because that’s something that you really can’t easily translate to online, but they kept it up. Hats off to anybody in any place who taught over Zoom these past months and years. It is not easy and it’s very tiring. It’s exhausting.
[00:13:21] Toby: The drone class would be fun because you could do it based on the assignments, assuming that everybody has a drone in the class. Then you could just make assignments and come back and share your screen.
[00:13:33] Pam Uzzell: There are a lot of FAA regulations that they teach and I think most of the students in the class didn’t have drones. We’ll have a faculty meeting in the spring where I’ll hear from that instructor how things went. I think especially starting in the fall, there were a lot of sanctioned field trips where they could all meet outdoors, masked and still have the class.
[00:14:03] Toby: With the San Francisco weather it’s a great place to have those kinds of meetings.
[00:14:30] Shelley: Getting back into the last year and some of the people that you’ve interviewed on your podcast. What do you find is an underlying theme with all of the people that you’ve interviewed during season one, which was done in 2021?
[00:14:49] Pam Uzzell: It’s interesting that you asked that because I’ve thought a lot about themes. I’m going to use some of the themes that kept coming up in season one as a way to give season two a little more structure.
People talked a lot about the body. Your body can inspire you. Your body can surprise you. There can be health changes and challenges, which can push your practice in a certain way. I am going to have a section in season two featuring artists grouped by that theme, the body.
Then there is family and what things we all bring from our family of origin. That will influence the type of art that we do. Our connections to people and places that make us feel at home, or losing a home, are all things that came up. People do work around their community. We all need community, even if we don’t feel like we do, it’s one of the most valuable things we can have.
Then the self and working through something where you feel like you move into your authentic self. I would say all of my artists could be in that category, but some fit that because they’re hitting their stride as artists by working through issues around their own identity. They work through imposter syndrome and those things that we all deal with really.
[00:16:29] Toby: I’ve always felt that the bay area has a different kind of creative energy from the creative, artistic energy that you find in New York.
I wonder as long as you’ve been there, what do you feel is the difference between the creative energy in the bay area? Mostly San Francisco and other areas that you’ve visited.
[00:17:27] Pam Uzzell: I think that the bay area is traditionally a place where people can come and find themselves and perhaps be themselves in ways that were not so easy in other places where they might’ve grown up. No matter who you are, or what you’re doing, you will find someone more eccentric than yourself. I say that as a compliment to whoever is being eccentric because all of us by our eccentricities give each other freedom. That’s what I value about the culture here.
It’s changing a lot. If you listen to my podcast in season two, I’m speaking about home and things like that. You might hear me talk about how the bay area is changing. But it’s home for me. What I value about it is the sense of freedom that no matter what you’re doing, it’s all okay.
[00:18:35] Toby: What is it you expect your listeners to come away with after having listened to your podcast?
[00:18:44] Pam Uzzell: I hope they enjoy it. I hope they feel interested and inspired by the artist. I also feel that all of us, whether we’re artists or not, we need to find practices that make us feel present and in our bodies and bring us joy. I also hope it helps people to work out some issues, whether it’s around the self or your body, or your home or your family. I know a lot of people who aren’t artists who do have these practices. My partner is a wiz with houseplants and watching him take care of these plants I almost feel like I’m getting a hit off of that practice of his. I don’t think you need to be an artist to come away with this idea that whatever practice you have that makes you feel grounded is valuable. I’m hoping that if an artist is struggling with issues and the listener is struggling with that too, hearing their story is going to be helpful.
[00:20:05] Shelley: I have a friend who is a performing artist. Toby has a couple of grown children who are artists who produce physical products. One of our audience members, Davio, is an artist who produces physical products, paintings and such. How can artists utilize podcasting to promote their work? How does it differ between a performing artist and an artist who produces a physical product?
[00:20:36] Pam Uzzell: I think regardless of the medium, the origin story, the motivation, and the meaning behind the art is always going to be something that people are interested in.
Whether you’re producing something like a physical product or whether you’re performing there’s a backstory of yourself that goes into both of those things. When I think about podcasts, I’ve done them with a printmaker and with actors. They both shared such inspiring stories about what their art means to them. That’s what people who are listening to their podcasts are going to want to know. Going to go back to authenticity, people love to hear stories, and that’s what people are going to connect with, your story around your art. That’s going to create value for them along with the art that you produce.
I don’t do either of those arts. I guess I make products, but not ceramics or a painting or something like that. But that’s what is valuable to me: hearing stories from artists.
[00:22:08] Toby: My two oldest children are both artists in the Spanish Colonial Arts. One is a tin craftsman, the other is a Retablo artist. Their degrees are not art, one is an architect, and the other is an Aeronautical engineer. But they ended up artists and then when the pandemic hit, they at first struggled with it. But before long, they started taking advantage of their online presence, and their Etsy stores. I ended up in a conversation with them about what we do, livestreaming to podcasting, to blogging. My son, who’s not a trained musician and it’s not his living, but he’s a very good guitarist and vocalist. He thought that’s where an artist fits in with podcasting. I said, no, because I’ve heard both of you tell stories about what you do. The traditions of your work go back to the 1500s and you have stories, especially with my mother, their grandmother, their grandfather their great-grandfather. They have all these stories and I would love to hear them in a podcast. If not telling their own stories, then inviting artists that do similar work in the Spanish Colonial Arts to tell their stories.
They’re always interesting stories about how they started and what they do. They’re amazing stories about how their art has a religious component to it because that’s where it started and not all of them are religious. But they do it anyway and they gain something spiritual from that even if they’re not religious.
We thought by now we’d all be done with the pandemic and we’re not. I think they’re past predicting how long it’s going to go on. Tell me about your plans for 2022. You mentioned your podcast is going to change a little. How’s your 2022 going to be different from your 2021?
[00:24:16] Pam Uzzell: I’m stepping back from my day job just a little. I’m still going to be teaching, but slightly less. I do want to put more time into the podcast. I’ve already started recording. I’ve got a lot of people recorded and my whole January break is just full of appointments to record people. I’m also opening up to who is coming on the podcast in terms of how they arrived in their artistic practice because that journey is really interesting to me.
So for example, the first person I interviewed who’s going to be on season two in February is an immigration lawyer named Tamina Watson. Because of the intensity of her law practice, she began photography and illustration practice. It’s grounded her and it’s brought her joy, which she needs because otherwise, her life was at this high volume all the time.
I also have recorded a woman named Vanessa Willow, who is Ojibwe. She lives in Canada. She is a breast cancer survivor and she was given a gift bag with canvas and paints as a way to paint about her feelings after her radiation treatment and her painting has just taken off. It’s beautiful. I learned so much from her work in the Woodland style, which I had not heard of, but it’s a particular indigenous Canadian style of painting. Her paintings are everywhere now. They’re in Canada, the US, and Europe. Either she’s commissioned to paint them or she finds a cause and she gives a painting away.
One thing I want to include in 2022 is people who came through art as a direct way to heal an issue in their life. There will be a lot of people who have been artists their entire professional lives. There are also a lot of filmmakers because that’s the community where I have my ear to the ground.
This is all starting in 2022. I’m still trying to figure out if I have the capacity to release an episode once a week or only monthly as I do now. It depends on how many I get completed before the season two window starts. Also for me, 2022 is going to be about continuing to venture out. I feel like, for all of 2020, I hunkered down and that was challenging for my personality. I’m learning to be myself in a mask That’s challenging. Feeling comfortable flying and all of that stuff, that’s challenging. I feel like 2022 is just part of an exploration of how to live safely in this pandemic reality.
The other thing I’m doing is I started a newsletter. If you want to be on the newsletter list, you can go to my website. I would love for you to sign up for the newsletter. I introduce the guests on the podcast, but I also take submissions for the newsletter of other people writing sections for it. The first one I put out was about grieving and I had this wonderful podcaster named Sarah Davis, whose podcast Breathing Wind is about grief. She wrote a piece about grieving for the newsletter. The next one that is going out has a piece about the joy of being single by my cousin, Tiffany Brayden, who was on the podcast last season in episode three.
I would love to have the newsletter be a place where it’s not just a repetition of what’s being released and the show notes from the podcast but is also something that people find value in or just entertainment from other contributors. So on my website, click the tab that says, sign up for our newsletter.
[00:29:00] Toby: On the homepage of your website there’s a description of the podcast and yourself. You have all your episodes listed as well.
[00:29:41] Pam Uzzell: All of my episodes from season one, yes. I’ve released a couple of bonus episodes, which are not on the website. For those who are following the podcast, they’ve gotten those bonus episodes.
Everybody on there, all of these artists are people who inspire me so much. When you scroll through the photos, my heart is pumping a little more warmly because I love all of these people and I love the work that they’re doing. They’re all amazing storytellers about themselves and their work.
[00:30:30] Toby: So you are communicating with a visual medium, it looks like you’re using Zoom and then turning that into podcasts.
[00:30:37] Pam Uzzell: No, I use the camera for snapshots. I do want to shout out Squadcast. I just switched to using them. Zoom has been a great tool these past two years, but because of internet connections, it can be a challenge. Squadcast has been much easier in terms of getting good quality recordings and they also create videos. But a lot of my guests are not on board for video. They’re on board for me to use a screenshot or little snippets of the podcast, but they’re not on board for me doing any kind of streaming. That could change, or I could do bonus episodes with people who are. Since I’m an independent podcaster I can decide what I want to do in the future.
[00:31:27] Toby: For those of you that are thinking about starting your podcast and don’t want to go the video conference route there are products out there like Squadcast, Trycast, and Riverside that are very specifically oriented to the interview style of podcasts. They also provide tools for editing and publishing your podcasts. So you don’t have to go with the livestreaming option if all you want is an audio podcast. Some of your guests may not be comfortable with the visual component. But there are lots of options for you.
[00:32:15] Toby: What can they expect to see with your newsletters?
[00:32:29] Pam Uzzell: The next one coming up is a wonderful guest essay from my cousin, Tiffany Braden, who, because she’s young and beautiful is constantly being asked, Why aren’t you married yet? When are you going to have kids? When are you going to settle down? The last time we spoke by phone, I did do the annoying How’s your love life? Are you seeing anybody? We had this great conversation about how those aren’t her goals. Not only are they not her goals, but she is living one of her goals, which is to be single and without children. She can spend her time and resources in ways that are completely fulfilling to her. She doesn’t have on her checklist, find someone, settle down, and have children.
I asked her to write that for me in the newsletter because I think that’s very helpful for young people to hear. Not just young people, but people of any age.
[00:33:35] Toby: I was going to say I’m exactly there. I don’t have any plans to get married or have children.
[00:33:40] Shelley: You’ve already done all that so there is a slight difference.
[00:33:45] Toby: I do want to show one more thing on your website and that is Pam’s press kit that comes in PDF form. So you can download that in case you need more information about her work, or if you need to contact her, there’s a contact us button that you can use to reach out.
[00:34:02] Pam Uzzell: I would love for people to contact me. I do have engagement on social media, but I’m an old-fashioned believer in email. If you want to contact me, please go to the website and feel free to reach out.
[00:34:17] Toby: We use Podmatch to get prospective guests to engage, but we always end up talking on email. That enables us to expand the conversation.
[00:34:34] Shelley: Pam, I heard you say that you’re stepping back from teaching to focus on your podcast. Are you going to in any way replace that income through your podcast? Are you looking at monetizing and if so, how do you plan to do that?
[00:34:47] Pam Uzzell: I am always thinking about monetizing. I just am not sure that I’ve gotten very far in terms of what feels right for this podcast. But the other thing that I didn’t mention is that I do have some things coming up in the film industry that are going to replace some of that income.
On January 22nd, there’s going to be a screening of one of my previous films in San Francisco with a panel discussion. Then in the spring, I received a grant from the city of Berkeley to do a public art video installation. I will need to devote some time to get that going and find a place, which has not been easy.
So besides the podcast, some other revenue-producing activities are going to help, and then I need time to do them.
[00:35:48] Toby: It sounds like the transition to the life of an artist.
[00:35:51] Pam Uzzell: I’m going to just leave that out there as an aspiration. I think most of us who work creatively would love to make a living 100% from our work. I don’t want to bash teaching. It’s been very good to me. But yes, that’s always the thought in the back of my mind. How do I create more revenue from these creative projects that I love?
[00:36:17] Shelley: Do you feel that the podcast is going to eventually help you to be found and be seen as an expert in your field so that they’ll call on you more frequently for speaking or doing art installations and work of that sort?
[00:36:32] Pam Uzzell: My previous film got me a lot of speaking engagements. It features the artist Mildred Howard who is going to be on season two of my podcast discussing housing issues in the bay area, specifically Berkeley. That has enabled me to do a lot of speaking accompanying the screening of the film. It remains to be seen if the podcast is going to help with that.
I love to speak because it’s such an exchange. It’s not just you putting your podcast out there. You get to create a product, but then you also get to hear back. I have never gone to a screening and not learned something pretty important from audience members and what they say. I love the opportunity to hear a response. It’s not always in agreement with what I’ve put out there in my production either, but it’s always valuable to hear.
[00:37:39] Shelley: Is there anything that you’d like to touch on that we didn’t get to today?
[00:37:44] Pam Uzzell: I appreciate so much what you’re doing. I know that you have been highlighting a lot of midlife career changes for people, and I appreciate that so much. I’m not a millennial. I’m not a gen Z. Although I learned so much from them, they are real powerhouses who inspire me, but it’s nice to find a place to be able to talk as someone who’s coming to a career change later in life. I appreciate that you’re giving me this platform.
[00:38:26] Toby: We hope that it’s helpful to you if for no other reason than to use it as a promotional tool for yourself when it comes time for you to make that transition. We’re big fans of the older generation and it’s not just because we’re members of it. We like seeing people with that desire to continue doing something rather than play shuffleboard. I’m always interested to hear what they have to say and what they’ve been thinking about because it’s always new and innovative.
I think the tools that have become so popular in their utilization over the past couple of years, as a result of the pandemic will enable them to do so much more. You don’t have to be afraid of livestreaming or podcasting or blogging because the tools have made it so easy. Shelley and I teach a week-long course, on how to go from not knowing anything about any of these new communications tools to being adept at using them to promote yourself.
[00:39:35] Pam Uzzell: I would love if you would send me a link to where I can find out more information because I can podcast, but blogging intimidates me so much and I’d love to blog. But I have no idea how.
[00:39:54] Toby: The course we teach and the program that we implement is based on leveraging your content, taking a livestream and turning it into a podcast, then into a transcript, and the transcript into a blog.
I believe there are two kinds of communication people in the world. One is a speaker, I’m a speaker. I don’t have the patience or the tolerance for writing Shelley is the writer. Each one has strengths. But I can speak into a microphone and we have the tools now to turn that into a transcript. Then all I have to do is edit the transcript and I have more than one blog post.
Set up a conversation so we can talk about all of this together.
[00:40:47] Shelley: There is free training on our website. If you just go to agkmedia.studio and the very first button you see, click on it and it takes you right to that free training. Anybody out there who’s interested in more information, you can do that.
[00:41:00] Pam Uzzell: Yeah, that’s great training. I hope people will listen to Art Heals All Wounds and I also hope that you will let me know what you’re thinking. I’ve gotten so many guests who reached out after hearing the podcast and I’m very open to feedback. So I’d love to hear your thoughts.
[00:42:21] Shelley: Thank you all for being here today, to learn more about Art Heals All Wounds with Pam Uzzell and Messages and Methods with Shelley and Toby.
We look forward to seeing you again next week.
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