PodUK 2020 | Review
A Podcast Event For the Fans
Podcast events have sprung up all over the world in recent years. There are the large American conferences like Podcast Movement or Podfest, not to mention longer established audio events like Third Coast. Most major cities have a podcast festival these days, some of them now huge events. Closer to home, last year saw the third Dublin Podcast Festival and the inaugural Cork Podcast Festival. However, these are all festival and conferences, rather than fan-centred conventions. There are very few podcast cons, certainly on this side of the Atlantic. Which is where PodUK comes in.
PodUK 2020 took place in Birmingham last week, following on from a very successful 2019 outing. There were workshops, Q&As, panel discussions and, of course, live shows all performed to a sold-out crowd of nearly 300 attendees. The event was held in Millennium Point, a conference centre and event space in the middle of Birmingham city. Panels and workshops were held in smaller meeting rooms with the main IMAX theatre reserved for the live shows. The latter had its pros and cons – great sound, and a huge screen for visuals, but a venue that could feel very empty when attendees were split across multiple events. The main area downstairs was given over to the podcasters’ promenade, a lovely space where attendees could chat to performers and other podcasters, discover new shows and podcast companies, and just generally mingle with other fans. The overwhelming friendliness of both organisers and attendees certainly helped in this regard!
The PodUK Line Up
American audio drama King Falls AM was the headline act, and they packed a lot in: a meet ‘n’ greet, a “Behind the Falls” live show, and not one but two workshops, on scripting and voice acting. Speculative fiction (in the form of science fiction, fantasy, and horror) was the mainstay of the day with events on stage and off. Live shows by Escape Artists and actual play podcast Flintlocks and Fireballs alongside workshops and panels by zombie apocalypse podcast We’re Alive and Rusty Quill (makers of the horror anthology show The Magnus Archives) among others.
In terms of live audio drama, a personal highlight was The Amelia Project. Always inventive and original, with top-notch acting and sound, the live show was a treat.
The “something different” stream saw live performances by The People’s Polygraph and a joint show on the history of detective fiction by narrative storytelling podcasts Shedunnit and Words To That Effect [full disclosure: that’s me, so I’ll leave it to others to review that one!]
Finally, for aspiring podcasters or those looking to up their game, there were panels on the business side of things from getting started to pitching a show. All in all, there was something to suit everyone whether fan, creator or just curious.
More To Come
The plan is for PodUK to return again next year, and I certainly hope it does. The event was casual, friendly and great fun to attend, while also impeccably run on the day by a team of real professionals. There will no doubt be other European cities looking on and thinking about doing something very similar, using this event as a model. PodUK can sit back smugly with the knowledge that they were the originals.