Some films tell their entire story on screen. For Josh Ruben’s feature film debut “Scare Me,” the screen only scratched the surface.
From the casting process to the Sundance Film Festival debut, season one of the “Make Cool Shit” podcast follows Ruben through the creation of “Scare Me,” taking an in-depth look at how a feature film is made.
Make Cool Shit (MCS) Media founders Mike Bulger and Donny Dykowsky invested in the production of the film in exchange for access to document it through the podcast’s inaugural season. Aaron Kheifets served as the narrator of season one, having known Ruben for years through their time on CollegeHumor and at UCB Comedy.
“What this is really about is how it’s supposed to go in the textbook — and then all the shit that actually happens, all the curveballs and unexpected hurdles,” Kheifets, 35, said.
The “Make Cool Shit” podcast intends to follow different creators through their passion projects each season, starting with Ruben’s feature film debut. Kheifets said the goal of the podcast isn’t to pursue the most famous subjects, but the most ambitious.
On-set interviews had already taken place when Kheifets joined, which he then structured, as well as doing supplemental interviews. The podcast features interviews with the cast and crew of the film, including comedic heavy hitters Chris Redd (“Saturday Night Live,” “Kenan”) and Aya Cash (“You’re the Worst,” “The Boys”).
Kheifets accredited the in-the-moment style of interviewing to helping produce a unique show.
“It puts you there,” he said. “There are definitely scenes in the podcast that just sort of feel like hanging out with Chris Redd and Aya Cash. That feels very special to me. It’s these very talented, incredibly smart people not doing it in a very rehearsed way.”
The podcast goes off set for interviews with Woodstock locals, the Woodstock film commission and people who knew Ruben since his childhood. One of Kheifets’ favorite interviews was with Dean Holtermann, who’s not only owner of Woodstock Film Studios, but allegedly an honorary member of the Wu-Tang Clan as well.
Despite following the creation of the film, Kheifets said listeners don’t need to watch “Scare Me” to enjoy the podcast. He cited “Make Cool Shit” as more of a motivational “character study” of a creator’s journey, wanting viewers to take away the message that success can be fostered by kindness.
Kheifets said young listeners have reached out to him and identified “Make Cool Shit” as being inspirational to them in kick starting their own journeys, which he believes is due to its authenticity.
“You are constantly being shown a very polished facade through Instagram and other social media,” Kheifets said. “And all of the stories and behind the scenes features that one typically comes across are that same very polished facade that are much more of a marketing tool for those properties than a real story of unexpected circumstances and hurdles and blizzards and cancellations. … This is the real look at what it takes to actually get something done — not the nicey-nice version, the warts-and-all version.”
Kheifets said he’s elated the podcast is finally available after working on the editing process throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“You work on something in quarantine for a year, and you’re like, ‘Is this any good?’” Kheifets said. “And then for it to be released and for people to get something out of it is hugely gratifying.”
MCS Media plans to start production on a second season soon. Kheifets said they have a few “hot leads” for a potential subject, but fans can email firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions of their own.
All episodes of “Make Cool Shit” season one are streaming now.