Self-described international man of misadventure, Jason Hewlett is a film critic and radio personality for We Came from the Basement in Kamloops, BC. Edgy, honest, and funny, the video production covers everything film and movies, including interviews with film and movie stars.
Here is what Jason has to say about his venture:
“I have to credit my wife for We Came from the Basement. My buddy Shawn Knippelberg, along with mutual friend Anthony Michael Bosa, met weekly to watch movies, usually bad horror, action, and sci-fi flicks. We’d generally give a running commentary while watching the show, and have a somewhat heated discussion about it afterward. Jess, my wife, told us we should post what we say to the Internet, as, according to her, we were pretty entertaining to listen to.”
That was 2010. Shawn and I created a twice monthly podcast at first, before moving to a weekly radio show at 92.5 FM CFBX, which is the campus radio station at Thompson Rivers University. The format of the show was simple, two guys reviewing and talking movies, along with playing music and interviewing people in different parts of the film industry.
Our friend Mike Stewart, who is a wiz at social media, listened to the show and tweeted a running commentary to it. He continues to do this with our segment on the Radio NL 610 AM Morning Show.
Over the years we’ve interviewed dozens of people, including actors Corey Feldman (The Lost Boys, Goonies, Friday the 13th Part 4), Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, The Crow) and Leah Cairns (Battlestar: Galactica, 88 Minutes), author Steve Alten (The Meg, The Loch), directors Jen and Sylvia Soska (Dead Hooker in a Trunk, American Mary), writer/director John Fallon (The Shelter), composer Harry Manfredeni (Friday the 13th) and filmmaking collective RKSS (Turbo Kid, Summer of ’84).
In 2012, we partnered with the Kamloops Film Society and created Dark Fest, which became the genre arm for the annual international film festival.
We quit the game in 2014, but that only lasted about three months. The show continued as an on-again/off-again podcast for the next four years, until Radio NL came calling this past June. The station was in the midst of a revamp, and they asked Shawn and I to come on Friday mornings and talk movies and other entertainment news. It took us about 30 seconds to say yes, and we’ve been back in full force ever since.”
Jason does an eight to 10 minute segment every Friday during the Radio NL morning show, where he and his crew highlight what’s new in theatres and what to watch in the home market.
“Every Friday morning I join NL Morning Show host Howie Reimer and talk what the weekend’s big movie releases are, what to watch on Netflix and other TV platforms, what’s going on in the world of entertainment, and, when we can land them, we run interviews as well. Shawn comes on as often as he can slip away from work. We hit the air at about 8:40 a.m. and run for eight to 10 minutes.
What was interesting about the NL segment is our long-term fans were a bit “upset” that we’d gone from a hour-long variety show to something so short and, dare I say, so professional.
It was Shawn’s idea to go with an extended cut of the segment, and record additional material that had more of a “Jason and Shawn vibe” to it. This extended cut podcast, complete with the NL material, debuts every weekend, and Shawn and I recently started live streaming us recording the podcast on Facebook.
I’m not sure what the ratings are for the NL segment, as those numbers don’t come in until some time in December. However, we’ve received positive feedback from everyone at the station. We’ve noticed our podcast traffic has increased. We’re getting thousands of listeners a week and climbing, with people tuning in from all over the world.”
Jason and Shawn have known each other for almost 25 years and have a chemistry that is a big part of what has made their We Came From The Basement show successful. Mike Stewart fills in for Shawn when Shawn is unavailable.
“Back in 2015, we added actress and podcast personality Amy Wickenheiser to the show. We met her via John Fallon, as she played a role in his film The Shelter. However, since we returned this June, she’s sadly been too busy with her own ventures to come on the air. I say sadly because she’s awesome and we miss her, but we’re super happy she is finding success.”
When watching Jason and Shawn’s show, it is pretty clear to see that the two of them are having a great time. Jason claims he is having a ton of fun. And their years of experience working together speaks for itself.
“Shawn and I have been doing this long enough that we’re pretty dialled in. We used to spend hours prepping for our show. Now, we have a quick discussion about what we want to say and push play. The majority of what we say is off the cuff and, as a result, doing the show — and the NL spot — is pretty stress free and a joy to do. Doing the NL spot and the podcast is the best part of my week, hands down.”
I wanted to know what the challenges are for the crew in running a regular production. Here is what Jason has to say:
“It used to be time, but as I said, Shawn and I have been doing this long enough that it’s become second nature. There’s technical issues that come up with audio and computers, but Shawn understands that stuff so well, that we can get through pretty much anything.
In the past we struggled to keep things fresh, I think, but by focusing on what’s current in entertainment, we’ve always got new things to talk about, and say.”
The small crew has recently made the jump to video, and Shawn and Jason are keen to see where they can take that. The hope is to monetize it, so they can make some money doing this.
“The Internet is moving away from word-heavy content to images and video, and so we’re doing less newsy articles on our website and looking to create content people can read quickly, or listen to while they drive or workout, or watch. In a way, the Internet and current popular culture is our biggest challenge, because you always want to keep up with it and stay relevant that way.
I was always concerned with creating something people liked, and would try to push us in a direction where I thought we’d generate the most listeners. Shawn maintained that, if we build it, they will come, and this should be what he calls a “fun-do” as opposed to something we have to do. He was right all along.
When we quit in 2014, this felt like work. Now, it’s pure fun no matter how much effort we put in. So, really, doing this show has taught me how to have fun doing something I’m passionate about.
I love hanging out every week with my bro, talking about a subject I enjoy. We don’t care if we’re politically correct or if people are offended by our language (we have been known to swear a lot and say what our current society would deem inappropriate things). We just say what we say, and have fun with it. It’s great that people dig it, and have stuck with us for eight years, but we’d be doing this even if they didn’t.”
contributed by Jason Hewlett
To learn more about Jason, follow the links. To hear a podcast with him click and/or subscribe here! kameopodcast@kameopodcast