When our Student Activities Director said he’d booked Max Brooks, author of the post-apocalyptic zombie novel World War Z: An Oral History, for a visit to Mansfield University campus in November 2012, I asked him if I could have the author for a couple hours to interview him on my half hour talk show “Conversations.”
I also volunteered to take the author to lunch. I knew the novel was a best seller but research showed that Max Brooks is a very respected name in the zombie world.
And the zombie world is huge.
I wanted to do the interview for two reasons.
1. Brooks knows his stuff: geography, politics, climate, plagues, infrastructure, communities and nations working together to rebuild after international calamity. That’s why the Naval War College takes him seriously.
2. Problems plagued the film production. It began with a bidding war between Brad Pitt and Leonardo DeCaprio before the book was even published. Pitt won and the problems began with the script and continued through production and post production. This was going to build to really major publicity. MU could be in the mix.
My show airs weekly on regional cable outlets, but I also have my own Mansfield University YouTube channel where we post all the shows. It was a no-brainer that World War Z the film was going to create a lot of chatter world-wide and I was being handed a gift.
I read the novel , an interesting, intelligent treatise in the manner of Studs Terkel’s oral histories.
Brooks and I had lunch in a quiet restaurant and began talking. Almost immediately he exclaimed: “You’ve read the book! I can tell in the first 30 seconds if the interviewer has it – and 90 percent of them haven’t.”
We had a lively discussion ranging from zombies to his parents to his childhood fears that led to his study of zombies. Later we did two half hour interviews. The first was about zombies, what they represent and how to survive zombie attacks. The second was about the writing life and growing up in Hollywood with parents Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, and, of course, the movie.
Once they were posted, the interviews did respectably for a specialized subject – a few hundred views each. Then, in April 2013, when the Vanity Fair cover story on Brad Pitt and World War z hit the stands, I pulled a five-minute clip from “Conversations” and produced a stand-alone video, and an audio podcast.
I took the information from the interview and wrote a blog for Huffington Post entitled, “World War Z Author Says Movie and Book Share Title Only.” It included links to the two shows and the shorter interview. It went live May 9.
By the end of the day, the video had picked up 48 views. Folks on my FB page began sharing it. Genre bloggers grabbed the clip and posted blogs about the interview.
Ten days later the interview had scored 6,150 views, about 600 views a day. The “Conversations” interviews picked up several hundred more.
Of course, Mansfield University is mentioned at the beginning of the shows and in the Huffington Post blog. I expect all will continue to attract viewers and readers as the World War Z promotion machine kicks into full throttle.
None of the above cost the university a cent other than my time.
Footnote: Producing your own talk show is not complex. I use our TV Services director. We shoot it in the studio and occasionally on location. I give him general directions, sometimes provide photos for B-roll , and he does the editing. It’s great for college-community relations and YouTube, of course, gives you a potential international audience.
I’ll do a future post on hosting and distributing your own show in the future if you’re interested.