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Twitter Is Under Fire. It’s Also What Led Documentary Filmmaker Andy Ostroy Into Podcasting.


Andy Ostroy, the producer of television and films like the 2021 HBO documentary “Adrienne” about his late wife, the actress and writer Adrienne Shelly (Waitress), says his podcast The Back Room is partly a “natural extension” of the work on screen. But he sees it more as a next step to the conversation he has on social media – specifically Twitter where Ostroy has nearly 92,000 followers.


“Leave Twitter if you must. But no one’s ever won a battle by running away,” Ostroy fired off recently after many of his fellow progressives howled about the company’s reinstatement of former President Trump to the platform. Some on the left are making noise about leaving Twitter while Ostroy is staying put, even as his podcast offers a new outlet.


“The podcast is an outgrowth of my experience on Twitter,” Ostroy says. “I've been on Twitter for many years now, building up what I consider to be a pretty appreciable following. I'm not Taylor Swift, I don't have over 100 million followers, but to have 92,000 followers, and as I saw that following start to grow, and started to get feedback from some of my followers I realized that I’m speaking for them. That was a real pivot. And as I saw the podcast movement grow, I realized that that would be a natural evolution for me.”


The Back Room launched in June, and the weekly series has had a series of high-profile names from the worlds of politics and media as guests, as well as a bit of Hollywood too with actor Paul Rudd and musician Finneas on the list.


“I've been involved tangentially in the entertainment business. I was married to an actor and filmmaker, so I know people that way. Twitter is where I've also met a lot people,” Ostroy says. But the podcast medium itself is also an alluring outlet for many people he invites in front of the mic. “As you know, podcasting is an interesting medium because it allows people to tell their stories in a much deeper way than they're used to telling them,” he says. “And so guests like to come on, not just on my podcasts, but a lot of podcasts, because it affords them space to expand on their narrative and their opinions.”


Ostroy won critical acclaim last year for “Adrienne,” the HBO documentary he produced and directed about his late wife’s November 2006 murder. He also founded the Adrienne Shelly Foundation in 2006 which supports female filmmakers with grants and scholarships and serves as the organization’s executive director.


“Making films and interviewing people on a podcast, the intersection is storytelling,” he says. “On my podcast, I bring people on and we are retelling stories. So in a way, I feel like I'm directing not a film, but I'm directing a storytelling vehicle and the people in it.”


As many podcasts are being developed for television and film, for a documentary film maker like Ostroy, there is not an obvious leap to the screen for The Back Room – although he won’t shut the door completely. But with well-known guests, a YouTube version may have appeal to some people who would rather watch a podcast. “We're looking at everything that can help promote the pod and amplify the awareness and further build the audience,” the former marketing entrepreneur says.


Ostroy says he is not out to make a living at podcasting. His show is based at the community-programmed Radio Free Rhinecliff, the freeform streaming radio and podcast platform in New York’s Hudson Valley.


“Twitter was like my short film and the podcast has become my feature film where I get to expand on the story,” he says. “I want to have some impact and some fun – and it wasn't a complicated process to get started. I think I bring a unique voice to the conversation. I don't pull any punches. I do like to press my guests in ways that touch upon perhaps the controversial if there's an elephant in the room kind of thing. But the conversations are usually very civil, respectful, pleasant, fun, lively. And I think that's why they tend to go on for an hour, because if people felt that they were not being treated right they'd be gone in five minutes.”

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