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The Austin Meyer Podcast

The Austin Meyer Podcast

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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Leading Creative Teams with Symphony Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong | Ep. 035

Francesco Lecce-Chong is the music director for the Santa Rosa Symphony and the Eugene Symphony where he has been dedicated to innovative programming, commissioning new music and engaging in community outreach. Described by critics as a ?fast rising talent in the music world,? Francesco has conducted orchestras around the world, including the San Francisco Symphony and New York Philharmonic. . In the conversation, Francesco and I discuss what is wrong with the classical music industry and how he is trying to address it, leadership principles to get the most out of a creative team, and why the symphony music hall is, and will remain, a unique and sacred place for building community. . Get access to the Austin Meyer Private Podcast for additional episodes and post shows! Follow Austin Meyer on social media  
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Making Plants Cool Again with Botanical Illustrator Nirupa Rao | Ep. 034

Nirupa's Artwork Nirupa Rao is a Botanical Illustrator and a National Geographic Explorer from Bangalore, India. In beautiful and precise detail, Nirupa uses watercolor illustrations to record and celebrate the unique flora of India. As a National Geographic Explorer grantee, Nirupa just published a children?s book called "Hidden Kingdom?Fantastical Plants of the Western Ghats" that will help young readers explore the wonderful world of plants. In 2019, Nirupa participated in a Plant Humanities program at Harvard University's Dumbarton Oaks Research Centre. She has also been named an INK Fellow and one to 'watch out for' in Forbes India's annual 30 Under 30 issue. In this conversation, Nirupa and discuss how she found this unique niche of illustrating plants, what her creative process looks like from going into the rainforest to getting back to her studio, and why children's books are such a powerful tool for reclaiming cultural identity. Hear Nirupa Rao on the post show! Follow Austin Meyer on social Subscribe to Austin Meyer's monthly newsletter on the craft of storytelling   Notes from the show: The National Geographic photographer that we refer to in the show as an inspiration for both of us is Evgenia Arbugaeva.
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Shining a Light on Neglected Stories with Nicholas Kristof | Ep. 033

Nicholas Kristof is a columnist for the New York Times, an author, and a 2-time Pulitzer prize winner who covers humanitarian crises at home and around the world. In this conversation, Nick and I talk about how he came up with his wild idea to invite university students (me in 2015) into remote communities and conflict zones, how he builds compelling stories around individual characters and statistics, his new book Tightrope (out today!), and what he hopes his legacy will be as a journalist. . Follow Nicholas Kristof on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Order his new book, Tightrope. Follow Austin Meyer  Get exclusive access to the Austin Meyer Private Podcast which has post shows with our guests and additional episodes on the craft of storytelling!
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Pursuing the Dream: Reflecting on my 2019 | Ep. 032

Happy New Year! In this special edition of the podcast, I am reflecting on my past year's storytelling journey. I distill the lessons I have learned, discuss my goals as a filmmaker, and reflect on the experiences that impacted me most this year. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast in 2019. I hope you learned something, felt entertained, and that it helped you on your own storytelling journey. Follow Austin Subscribe to Austin's newsletter Get the Austin Meyer Private Podcast for Post Shows and Additional Episodes  
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Music Composition is an Act of Discovery with Paul Bessenbacher | Ep. 031

Paul Bessenbacher, or PB, is an esteemed composer for film and TV, and also the lead of the band Opus Orange. His music has been featured on TV shows like Broad City, Grey?s Anatomy, and The Detour, national ads for Apple, Google, and Samsung, feature films and documentaries, and is the theme song for this very podcast! In this conversation PB and I talk about the musical and life lessons he learned from studying classical piano at a conservatory, why he doesn't consider himself a quote, creator, and the differences between writing albums and composing for film. I hope you enjoy the episode! Get the Post Show with PB! Follow Opus Orange Listen to Opus Orange on Spotify Follow Austin Meyer Subscribe to Austin Meyer's monthly newsletter on the craft of storytelling  
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Why You Should Be Prototyping Your Stories with Seamus Harte | Ep. 030

Seamus Harte is the cofounder of Only People Media, a media company that helps people working to change our world by making media to share their story. Seamus also teaches story at the Stanford Design School, where he has taught classes such as creative gym and movie design. In this conversation, Seamus and I talk about how he is found his unique voice as a storyteller, how working on the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus developed his directing skills, and why prototyping early and often should be a critical part of the storytelling process. LINKS: Subscribe to Austin Meyer's Newsletter Support the show on Patreon Ken Adams' Story Spine framework Stanford Design School FOLLOW: Seamus Harte Austin Meyer
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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 tragedy in life. Get access to the post-show on Patreon Say hello to Austin on Instagram or Facebook
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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 for short monthly emails on storytelling and creativity! Support the show on Patreon Follow Austin on: Instagram Facebook
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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 awarded Best Director at London's International Film Festival for his feature length documentary, Dirty Games. In this conversation, Benjamin and I talk about his untraditional path into journalism, his advice for freelancers and investigative reporters, and he takes us behind the scenes of his recent undercover report from Qatar where he revealed how migrant workers who are building infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup are being exploited. If you're interested in seeing that video, it is at the top of the show notes. Get the Post Show over on Patreon! Follow Austin Meyer on: Instagram Facebook
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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 has done so valiantly, quintupling the foundation?s revenue since 2005 and earning Nonprofit Marketer of the Year awards along the way. In this conversation Kate and I talk about how she tells the stories of obstetric fistulas in a way that audiences will engage with, the importance of having heart and humility when speaking to others about their trauma, and what advice she has for both storytellers and entrepreneurs when it comes to bringing issues you care most about to light. Support the Fistula Foundation Get access to the Austin Meyer Private Podcast and all the post shows with our guests! Connect with Austin Meyer on Instagram
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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 settings. Applied improv takes the principles and mindsets of theatrical improv and applies them to new contexts to help people become more effective leaders, generous teammates, and happier individuals. Dan has brought improv to some of the world?s biggest companies including Cisco, Oracle, Nestle, and many more. In this conversation, Dan Klein and I discuss why an improv theater class is one of the most popular classes at Stanford, which improv maxims he believes are the key to unlocking creativity, and specific storytelling strategies that you can use whether you?re making up a story on stage or delivering a high stakes presentation at your company. Support the show Follow Austin
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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 The New York Times to the PBS NewsHour, Time, Newsweek, CNN, and many more. In this conversation, Josh and I talk about what it?s like to cover humanitarian crises. We go into everything from navigating logistics in an emergency situation, to crafting images and videos that drive impact.. And we?re not just talking in the abstract here. We?re grounding all these details in stories, as Josh takes his through two of his most recent assignments covering the devastation of the cyclone that hit Mozambique and the Venezuelan migrant crisis. To hear the post-show with Josh, and to support this podcast, visit To see Josh Estey?s photography, follow To follow Austin Meyer, follow @austinmeyerfilms on Instagram and Facebook!
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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 teenager, how she structures stories with an eye on pacing and character transformation, and why storytelling is at the core of what makes us human. To get access to the post show with Lauren, visit Follow Lauren: Follow Austin Meyer: . Books mentioned in this episode: Anatomy of Story by John Truby Backwards and Forwards by David Ball
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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 form that disappears after it rains, and his advice for people who are searching to find their own creative voice. I hope you enjoy my conversation, with David Zinn. Follow David on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter Follow Austin Meyer on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter To support the show, visit! Go out and tell some stories!
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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 pressures of what art should be and what?s trendy, and her advice for aspiring artists/storytellers for how to unlock their creative potential. To listen to the post show with Maja, visit where you can get access the the private podcast feed!
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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 good children?s book, and the detailed, end-to-end process of creating the Froggy series. For more on the craft of storytelling, check out @austinmeyerfilms on instagram and FB. And to get access to post shows and additional episodes, check out! Go out and tell some stories.  
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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 together to create interactive voice experiences for technology like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. In this episode, Kat and I discuss the story techniques she has learned working in play development, what elements create memorable and compelling characters, and how she is leveraging both creativity and logic to tell stories with emerging technology. To get access to the post-show, head on over to!
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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 art project ?We The People? that flooded the streets of Donald Trump?s Inauguration and the women?s march of 2017, and has become one of the world's most iconic artistic movements. In this conversation, Aaron and I discuss how his background as an artist influences his photography, how he is breaking out of the conventional forms of photojournalism to tell more nuanced and powerful stories, and how he stepped across the journalism and activism divide, and helped create one of the most viral artistic movements in history.
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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 conversation John and I discuss his journey from working at Costco to writing for The New York Times, how the evolving interconnectedness of sports, culture, and politics is changing the job for journalists, and how he uses sports as a backdrop to tell powerful human stories that often have tragedy as a central theme. . The CTE story we reference in the episode: John?s Pulitzer winning feature: John?s latest book: . To support the show, visit !
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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 dynamic, collaborative, and unique process that they use at Radiolab to go from initial pitch to the stories that make us laugh and cry on the radio. . I hope you enjoy my conversation with Latif Nasser! . LINKS: Hockey story referenced in episode: Latif?s transom article: . To support the show, check out  
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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 Journalism at Harvard University. In this conversation, Jennifer and I talk about how she developed a love for both writing and exploration, her fascinating 3-year project called Meet The North in which she attempted to make authentic personal connections with those living in the Arctic, and how we can use storytelling to break down stereotypes and prejudices. To go behind the scenes on the making of this show, follow @austinmeyerfilms across social, and check out my new Patreon page, Follow Jennifer Kingsley at
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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 PBS, she reported extensively for Al Jazeera English and CNN International. In this conversation, Jane and I discuss her journey from correcting spelling errors at a newspaper in Dubai to working for The NewsHour, her 2018 reporting trips to cover the ongoing war in Yemen, and the impact she hopes to have in the world when she puts her life on the line to bring us these untold stories. If you enjoy this episode, please share it with a friend, as well as rating and reviewing the show on Apple Podcasts! And if you want to have your questions asked on the show to future guests, head on over to to support the show! Go out and tell some stories
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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 storytelling. In this conversation, Susan, Andi, and I talk about how this business idea came about, the step-by-step process of creating a personal history, and how telling the story of your life allows you to come to terms with, and make meaning, of your life narrative. Hope you enjoy! Also, if you haven't checked out my (Austin Meyer) most recent short documentary for National Geographic, check out: Follow me on social media @austinmeyerfilms and on Patreon at
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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 story, and how the brevity, clarity, and visual nature of writing for radio can teach us all how to tell better stories. Like this episode? Consider sharing it with a friend! Want to ask questions on storytelling to a future guest? Check out the Patreon page at to learn more!
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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 conversation we talk about how I got my National Geographic grant and why that was such a catalyzing moment for my career, how my background as an athlete influences my work as a storyteller, and what my long-term goals are that I use as fuel everyday. If you enjoy this episode, please subscribe! We?re going to have many amazing storytellers on the podcast this year, and I don?t want you to miss out. Also, I launched a PATREON! If you want to support this podcast and my work as a documentary filmmaker, head on over to! Thank YOU!
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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 documentarian, Xandra has worked at StoryCorps and was a cofounder of the True Story Podcast, a podcast of true personal stories told live at intimate gatherings, which has over 6 million downloads. Xandra?s latest work is a show called Polylogues, which is a solo show about nonmonogamy that combines her passions for theatrical and audio storytelling. In this conversation, Xandra and I talk about the process of creating Polylogues, how she blends storytelling mediums to foster an understanding of diverse perspectives, and the power of being open and receptive to the stories that the world presents to you.
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What Literature and Language Reveal About Culture with Annalisa Quinn | Ep. 009

This week?s guest on The Austin Meyer Podcast is Annalisa Quinn. Annalisa is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR where she created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture. Annalisa also writes about arts and culture for the New York Times and the Financial Times, and is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Magazine section First Words, which includes essays on what language reveals our current moment in culture and politics.  In this conversation Annalisa and I talk about life as a freelance journalist, the end-to-end process of reviewing books for NPR, how reading hundreds of books has influenced her writing, how stories benefit from posing big questions, and then just in time for the holiday season, what books she recommends you get your loved ones!
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Diversity, Representation, and Identity in Documentary Photography with Daniella Zalcman | Ep. 008

  This week my guest is Daniella Zalcman, a documentary photographer based between London and New York. She is a multiple grantee of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a fellow with the International Women's Media Foundation, a National Geographic photographer, and the founder of Women Photograph, an initiative working to elevate the voices of female and non-binary visual journalists. Her ongoing project, Signs of Your Identity, is the recipient many awards including of the 2017 Arnold Newman Prize and a 2017 Robert F Kennedy Journalism Award. Daniella?s most recent project on Native American imagery and identity, which is featured in the December 2018 issue of National Geographic Magazine. In this conversation, Daniella and I talk about how and why she made a jump from hard news photography to longer-term documentary projects, how she uses unconventional techniques like double exposures to tell complex stories, and photography?s potential in elevating the voices of those who have been oppressed. 
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Telling Ethically Responsible Stories on Technology with Lauren Goode | Ep. 007

  This week's guest is Lauren Goode, a senior writer at WIRED. Lauren is an Emmy award winning journalist who covers all things tech. Before arriving at WIRED, Lauren was the senior technology editor at The Verge, Managing editor of reviews and consumer tech coverage at ReCode, and a video producer at the Wall Street Journal. In this conversation, Lauren and I talk about her career path, and the lessons she has learned along the way? and then we move into the ethical responsibilities of technology reporters and how she designs stories specifically for the various platforms she works on. Reach out to me on social @austinmeyerfilms and let me know what you think of the podcast!
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Discovering What Your Story Is About with Steve Fiffer | Ep. 006

Today on the podcast I am chatting with Steve Fiffer. Steve Fiffer is a prolific author who has written 16 books, several screenplays, and dozens of articles on a range of topics. Steve writes non-fiction, and has written numerous memoirs, not only about his own life, but as co-author for others working on theirs. His as-told-to memoirs include books by Miami Dolphins football star Mercury Morris, former Secretary of State James Baker, and the co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Morris Dees. In this conversation, Steve and I discuss his amazing personal story, how to write a compelling memoir, and then we also dig into very practical strategies and exercises you can do to get started writing whatever it is that you?ve always wanted to write. Steve's books that were discussed in this episode include: Three Quarters, Two Dimes and a Nickel: A Memoir of Becoming Whole... Jimmie Lee and James: Two Lives, Two Deaths and the Movement That Changed America... Tyrannosaurus Sue: The Extraordinary Saga of the Largest, Most Fought Over T. Rex Ever Found
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Designing Stories for Impact with Lisa Solomon | Ep. 005

This week on the podcast I am chatting with Lisa Kay Solomon. Lisa does it all. She is a speaker, an author, and an educator focused on helping leaders learn how to be more creative, flexible and resilient in the face of increasing complexity and change. She is a currently a Designer in Residence at Stanford University?s Institute for Design and founding Chair of Transformational Practices and Leadership at Singularity University. Lisa co-authored the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations that Accelerate Change, and, more recently, Design a Better Business: New Tools, Skills and Mindset for Strategy and Innovation. In the first half of this conversation we take a close look at that best selling first book, Moments of Impact. Specifically, we talk about the idea of Designing Conversations. What does that mean? How does it relate to telling stories? And what are strategies we can use to design for impact? In the second half, we talk about the class Lisa is currently teaching at Stanford called Creativity Rules: Inventing the Future, and discuss the value of telling stories about the future. Hope you enjoy!
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The Keys to Telling Stories Through Music with Max Cowan | Ep. 004

  I'm so excited to welcome our first musician to the show: Max Cowan. Max is a keyboard player based out of Berkeley, California. In his music, Max uses elements of funk and jazz and blends them into grooves that will surely get you up and moving. Max co-leads the East Bay meets New Orleans funk group, Atta Kid, and has played alongside some of the most accomplished musicians out there today. In this conversation, Max and I talk about how he tells stories through chords, melodies, and by playing with the musical conventions that we all know so well. We talk about everything from creative process, to finding your authentic voice, to musical history, to what makes someone a composition wizard, and if you stick around until the end, you?ll even get to hear Max compose a song on the spot. I had so much fun with this one. Hope you enjoy!
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Bringing Community Together Through Local News with Chris Smith | Ep. 003

This week I am joined on the podcast by Chris Smith. Chris Smith is a columnist at my hometown newspaper, The Press Democrat -- a paper which recently won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage. Chris has been working at the Press Democrat for 41 years, and his role is unique. Chris writes human-interest stories. He is a master of the vignette... of bringing these human-interest stories to life with vivid scenes, stakes, and emotions, all while fitting into the space constraints of a print newspaper. In this conversation Chris and I dive into the state of local newspapers, how he reports and crafts the stories he writes, and what their value is to the community. Hope you enjoy! . Follow me @austinmeyerfilms on Instagram and Facebook to see behind-the-scenes content from the podcast and to follow my journey as a documentary filmmaker and photographer!
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Producing Academy Award Winning Movies with Steve Starkey | Ep. 002

On this week?s episode I am joined by academy award winning movie producer, Steve Starkey. Starkey, who always teams up with director Robert Zemeckis, has produced films such as: Allied, The Walk, Flight, The Polar Express, Cast Away, and Contact. In 1995 he won an Academy Award for Best Picture with Forrest Gump. Early in his career, Starkey was an associate producer and assistant editor on Back To The Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and a couple of indie films called Star Wars Return of the Jedi and Empire Strikes Back. In this conversation, Starkey and I talk about his path into filmmaking and what storytelling strategies he uses to produce some of the greatest movies of our time.
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Lisa Rowland and the Power of Improvisation | Ep. 001

"When we're playing really well together but we're also creating characters and moments that make the audience gasp, that's like... the best." Lisa Rowland is a professional theatrical improviser. She is a member of BATS Improv, Northern California's most acclaimed and longest running improvisational theatre company, and in 2012, Lisa was voted Best Actor by the SF Bay Guardian's Reader Poll. Off the stage, Lisa is a lecturer at Stanford University in the Theatre Department, teaching the same beginning improv class that put her on the path of improvisation. In this conversation, the first episode of The Austin Meyer Podcast, Lisa and I discuss how she became a professional improviser, what it takes to captivate an audience when a story is being made up on the spot, and what other storytellers can learn from the spontaneity of theatrical improv.
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