[This is the story behind Movies For the Blind, from its creator, Valerie Hunter, Valerie H Productions, in April 2018.]
Movies For the Blind (MFTB) is a weekly audio
podcast of public-domain movies and TV shows with audio
description added so anyone can listen to a movie like it's an audiobook
or an audio drama. The episodes are each 25-45 minutes, so some
movies are broken up into 2 or 3 episodes. Each episode also has a
host segment (like the late Robert Osborne would do on TCM) with a
little info about the show or the stars in it. The source material
comes from the Internet Archive, which is also the host for the podcast.
In fact, Internet Archive made MFTB its own collection (https://archive.org/details/moviesfortheblind),
but it's also available from the blog (http://moviesfortheblind.com/),
where you can also find links to more information about the movies/TV
shows. You can subscribe via iTunes, Stitcher, Android, and any
podcast app that takes an RSS feed.
I started MFTB in 2007 after I left Audio Vision Canada, which is now part of AMI in Canada. They used to sell described videos, but also something called "AudioCinema", which were the same movies but audio-only and put on audio cassette or CD. When I started getting into podcasts in the mid-2000s, I wondered about putting AudioCinema on-demand online, but besides the movies playing on the weekend on the VoicePrint reading service (now AMI Audio), no one was interested. So when I left, I decided to do it on my own, to keep my chops up and hopefully raise awareness of description.
That time was during the first wave of podcasting, which was still on a fairly small scale. By the time I'd done 300 episodes independently, a lot had changed. Also because of the podcast, I'd gotten a fair amount of description work to the point I was having trouble finding the time to do new episodes (a great dilemma to have). So a couple years ago, I decided to stop and just start back from the beginning and rerun them, sometimes tweaking the sound quality, editing out sponsors that had left and updating information. I'm a little more than halfway through this second run [as of April 2018].
I've never done a lot of analytics for the show. To the best of my knowledge, I have a couple hundred subscribers and a couple hundred visitors to the blog each week. The podcast's Twitter (@movies4theblind) has over 2000 followers and the Facebook page (which is less active) has about 500 likes. Once I get through this second run, I may have to consider ratcheting things up another level. I may also build on the YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/moviesfortheblind1), which has some of the featured described shows with video.
Most of the feedback I get is from people who are blind or vision-impaired, and it's really gratifying. Making the connection to sighted people has taken more time, but it's improving as AD has had a raised profile in the last couple years and since original audio drama is becoming more of a trend in podcasting. MFTB is in a weird grey area in that it's audio drama but not *completely* original - just the description is - but I think being associated with audio drama is the way forward.