Bringing two weekly, in-depth episodes to Now Playing Podcast listeners is no easy task, and the largest share of the work often falls on the editing team — those who work behind-the-scenes but rarely get the spotlight. This week, Now Playing editor Heath Chamerski celebrates his 10th anniversary with the show.
As one of the longest tenured members of the team, Heath has been witness to some of the craziest off-microphone moments in show history. To celebrate the anniversary, Heath took some time to talk about his journey to Now Playing and what he loves about being an editor.
Q: How did you get involved with Now Playing Podcast?
Heath: I started out just as a listener who discovered the show in 2010 and it instantly became my favourite podcast out there. After being a listener for a couple of years, I saw an ad on the Now Playing website that they were on the lookout for audio editors and it’s something I enjoy doing so I decided to put my hand up and volunteer my services, initially as a way of sort of giving something back to the podcast that had given me so much entertainment over the span of a few years at the time. So I ended up doing my first show in 2013 and have been part of the team ever since.
One thing that was helpful was that because I was a fan I knew the style and rhythm of the show so I think I got the hang of how a Now Playing show should sound right away, which definitely helped when learning everything with Arnie in those early days.
Q: Can you talk about your prior editing experience before coming to Now Playing?
Heath: I majored in Multimedia at University which involved doing a bit of everything – from computer animation, radio production, filmmaking, graphic design, creative writing and audio production, so I think I got a lot of editing experience in lots of ways during my time doing that course. I’d also hosted a community radio show about movies for years so that taught me a lot about audio editing as well.
I think the biggest thing that always goes through my head when editing a Now Playing show is to try and make my contribution invisible. If an editor’s work is noticed it’s usually because it’s not terribly good, so Now Playing has taught me that an editor’s contribution should be invisible and that’s the best thing I’ve learnt in my time with Now Playing.
Q: How does the distance, being in another part of the world, play a role in your editing workflow?
Heath: Actually most of the time the time difference doesn’t really cause too many issues. I think there is at least a 17-hour difference between US and Australia time. I’m guilty of checking my phone during the night and I’ve definitely spotted the occasional email from Arnie needing an urgent fix or resend and have jumped out of bed at 3am to sort it out, but aside from that I don’t think being based in Australia makes much difference most of the time. The only real downside is that I’ve never been able to meet any of the rest of the team in person sadly.
Q: What was your favorite Now Playing episode to edit?
Heath: Despite being two of the longest shows I’ve done at three hours each – I think Grindhouse and Titanic were two of my favourite shows to edit, as the discussions on both of the shows were so in-depth and entertaining it made editing so much fun to do for both of those. I actually find when the hosts review a truly great film it usually feels much quicker and easier to edit than when they review a bad film. For example, Titanic felt quicker to edit than something like the 2012 remake of Total Recall despite the show being three times the length.
Q: What’s been your favorite Now Playing retrospective?
Heath: It’s tough to go past the Stephen King retrospective as my favourite, just for the sheer variety of movies the hosts have covered so far. What other series could you get The Shawshank Redemption, The Running Man and The Mangler? So that’s one that is always fun no matter how good (or bad) the King film the team is reviewing is. Stuart mentioned on a show recently that they still have 40 more King movies to review before the series is done so it looks like it will be around for a while yet.
Q: If a listener asked you to recommend one Now Playing retrospective, which would it be and why?
Heath: I think the Alien series is a great example of everything that makes Now Playing great. Really in-depth discussions, great analysis of the series’ themes and the filmmaking, lots of trivia and other info about the franchise as a whole, and perhaps most importantly, just a lot of laughs in this series. I think this series is a great one that any listener could enjoy.
Q: What’s been the most rewarding part of being on the Now Playing team?
Heath: Honestly, it’s seeing the passion and love listeners of the show have for the podcast and seeing the enthusiasm fans have for the show. To read online how excited people are to listen when a new episode drops that I’ve spent the past few days editing really does make me feel good and remind me of why I love being part of the team.
The other great thing has been (virtually) meeting the entire team over the years and getting to know Arnie especially so well the past decade or so. Hopefully we’ll get to meet in person in the next year or two as another trip over to the U.S. is definitely on my to-do list in 2024-25.
Q: What advice would you have for novice or even experienced editors looking to join the Now Playing team?
Heath: I would say go for it and get involved if you can spare any time to help. I find it endlessly rewarding and wouldn’t have stuck around for so long if it still didn’t give me a buzz working for the show and satisfaction in seeing the end results. But I find editing relaxing and a great way to relieve stress oddly enough so if you’re looking for a way to get rid of those sorts of things, I would highly recommend joining the team.
Q: Why do you love doing what you do?
Heath: The thing I love about the Now Playing team is how valued every member of the team is, whether on the air or not. The hosts are the face of the show but there’s so many people behind the scenes who the show could not run without. It’s also great to be a small part of the team for a podcast that is still my favourite of all time (I might be a little biased these days, but I think it’s still the best podcast out there). And I hope if Now Playing is still around in another 10 years, I’ll still be here helping out as well.