A New Podcast Makes History Come Alive

1895 Films, which uses an entertaining approach to bring history to life, has expanded into podcasts. Tobiah Black, host and producer of new series Artifactual, explains how the treasure hunt for archival material – spanning politics, sports, mystery, crime and travel – makes for fascinating storytelling.
 
What makes Artifactual’s storytelling unique?
Artifactual tells human interest stories disguised as history. We love history, and we obviously have a deep interest in historical narratives at 1895 Films. But what we’re also interested in (and what we don’t often have a chance to delve into in our documentaries) are the people who keep history alive—the historians, curators, archivists, collectors, and enthusiasts. These are people who have devoted significant portions of their lives and attention to creating, maintaining, and making archival material—the stuff of history—available. What distinguishes this podcast from other straightforward history podcasts is that it’s really about those people.
 
Another unique feature of Artifactual is that it gives you a glimpse into one of our favorite parts of the documentary filmmaking process—the treasure hunt for archival material. This is a very deep dive into a very narrow, but very important, part of the filmmaking process. If you’ve ever seen an old photo in a documentary, or an old news broadcast, or a grainy home movie—Artifactual shows you the process of how it got there.
 
What are the elements that make a podcast compelling?
Characters. The archival material—the objects—that we talk about in Artifactual are fascinating. But they don’t come alive until you hear the enthusiasm in the voices of the people who care about (and care for) this stuff. There are lots of elements that go into making a compelling piece of audio storytelling—pacing, suspense, planting seeds at the beginning that germinate at the end. But the one thing you can’t do without are characters. We’re drawn in by human voices of all types, and it’s hard to not be interested when someone is talking about something that they really care about, even if to the subject matter itself is totally unfamiliar to you.
 
How will Artifactual with tied creatively to 1895 Films? 
The germ of the idea for the podcast was born out of specific pieces of archival material we had come across while making our documentaries that had great stories behind them. And many of the episodes have direct connections to particular documentaries we’ve made. But we hope that these podcast episodes stand alone as complete stories as well. In the course of our work and research, we come across so much fascinating archival material that ends up having nothing to do with specific documentaries we’re working on; we’d like to keep Artifactual’s umbrella wide enough to encompass any archival material that can lead us into an amazing story with amazing characters.

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