Twelve months ago, I took a leap of faith. I put myself out there, my thoughts, my critical analysis, out into a fandom full of amazing theories, strong personalities, and, the scariest part, full of criticism. This was a strange and scary step that thankfully, has worked out amazingly. I want to take you on my journey, as best as I can recount it, because it has been a whirlwind.
When I started Blabba the Hutt I had no idea what kind of beast I was about to create. In my mind, I was going to give it a blast. Aware that it would probably never take flight, and within a month, maximum two, I would be putting a digital tombstone on top and striking it off the bucket list of things to try.
Make a podcast
In order to tell the story, and to help you understand the story better, the excitement, the fear, the anger. I must bring you all back to that moment in time.
2015/16 for me was personally saw the hardest 18months of my life. It had a lot of ups: I got engaged to my long time girlfriend, I was excited for a brand new Star Wars movie, professionally I was thriving, I was involved in an amazing sports team and I had the greatest bunch of friends anyone could ask for. Everything from the outside looked great. Internally I was the most unhappy I had ever been, I battled with myself for months, before deciding to seek help. I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and stress issues. This hit me like a train, I finally had a diagnosis I could sit under. I took my meds which were supposed to supress me and bring me back to the Jamie I was used to being. Unfortunately, sitting down and letting it roll over you whilst you medicate yourself was never going to end up with a positive results.
Internally I was the most unhappy I had ever been, I battled with myself for months, before deciding to seek help. I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and stress issues
My personal background is in media production, I have a 2.1 Honours degree in Creative Digital Media. This gives me the base knowledge to create Audio and Video work to an extremely high standard. For the first 2 years of my career, this is exactly what I did, I shot video for companies, web videos, instructional, commercials, Audio advertisements, it was great. I was learning how the marketing end of this worked and I decided I would move my career in a marketing direction. Learning how to promote the content I was creating I became a bit of a Hybrid Creative/Marketer.
Professionally I was thriving, working in a great company, for a great salary, but everything became a bit ‘Same-y’ and as a creative, my creativity was not being expressed and as a result I lost interest. What was ‘Same-y’ became mundane, and then routine. I had stopped learning. You should never stop learning, the minute you stop learning, is when you know you need to shake everything up. I knew I needed to change something up.
“You should never stop learning, the minute you stop learning, is when you know you need to shake everything up. I knew I needed to change something up”
I am a divil for taking on too much at once, and committing to anyone who needed help. So first thing I needed to do: Cut any of the external pressures that I could, clear my brain in order to make space for me to be able to creatively build something that would give me creative satisfaction, and that maybe, just maybe others would enjoy too. A new project.
I sat on the logo for Blabba the Hutt from January – July 2015 knowing I would eventually come back to it and actually summon the courage to put myself out there. The time was right. I had cleared the head space, I had and Idea of what I wanted the show to do, how I wanted to express myself, all I needed to do was hit ‘Record’ button.
After I finished the first episode – an amazing 15 minutes and 16 Seconds I sent this tweet.
— Blabba the Hutt (@blabbathehutt) July 25, 2015
By sending this tweet I had to upload the debut episode of ‘Blabba the Hutt’ – I wasn’t even sure if I liked the name at this point! If I didn’t uploaded it, my entire audience of 3 followers would have been very disappointed.
The first episode went live. It seemed to have landed pretty well.. we got a good few downloads, we gained a few more followers on Twitter, a few favourites. When we interjected with people’s conversations on Twitter they didn’t tell us to piss off… this community was nice, people were even complimenting the 15 minutes of nervous content I had published, I thought ‘Could this work?’.
Episode 2 landed, then 3, 4, 5 and we were away! People were downloading, engaging and more than anything were enjoying the content. I was thrilled with the response and loved recording every minute of Blabba the Hutt. Each episode focused on a different area of Star Wars Fandom, Comics, the collectible card game, cosplay, news #ForceFriday. One thing I learnt very swiftly was that I worked better when I had someone to engage with, I needed a co-host.
— Blabba the Hutt (@blabbathehutt) September 18, 2015
Luckily around the same time I was asked to go on another podcast, Who Wars it was called, a split Star Wars/Dr.Who Podcast. So I knew that 50% of this conversation had the potential to go way over my head. This is where Kate Dubinko came onto my radar. We had a 20 minute slot on the Who Wars show, and spoke extensively for 45 min to an hour. I knew all the time that I 100% absolutely needed to nab this girl from Who Wars and transition her to Blabba the Hutt.
After the Addition of Kate, I felt Blabba had everything in place to become a really strong player on the Podcast scene. I had a nice brand, that I 110% believed in, I had the technical know how, a few episodes behind me, and a new co-host to bounce off.
“We had a 20 minute slot on the Who Wars show, and spoke extensively for 45 min to an hour.”
Kate brought a whole new dimension to the brand, some aspects that that I didn’t even see coming. Kate offered an 8 hour time difference from Dublin, which allowed Blabba the Hutt to operate a 24/7 social strategy, which was especially handy when the trailer for The Force Awakens was shown during Monday night football – around 4am in Ireland -. As well as her unique personality, her quirky love for all things droid like, and her sheer enthusiasm for star Wars, Kate brought gender balance to the show, something that, though I understood was important, I didn’t realise how important it was going to be. Rey was going to open Star Wars to a whole new level of female Star Wars fans, and Kate offered a female perspective for Blabba the Hutt. Since September 2015, I have grown a great friendship with Kate, and even welcomed her to Ireland ahead of Star Wars Celebration Europe!
I was on a solid path, I had a nice show set up, the community was growing, people were downloading the show, the dynamic with Kate was working exactly as I thought it would. It was all looking pretty good. But I needed to make sure growth never levels out, I began reaching gout to people, asking them to come talk to Blabba the Hutt. One piece of advice I would always give to people starting anything: Talk the big game, make sure whoever you are talking to knows you’re a big deal, even if you know you’re not. Be careful though, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Thankfully the Irish have the playful confidence down to a T.
“Talk the big game, make sure whoever you are talking to knows you’re a big deal, even if you know you’re not”
Snowballing: Places to be, People to see..
Within our first year we have secured interviews with some of the most interesting and exciting people within the Star Wars universe, We’ve had Actors, Voice Actors, Authors, Animators, Production crew, cosplayers and more. These conversations have been secured due to a mixture of persistence and luck. I managed an early look at the Force Friday toys in the Disney Store Dublin, I was invited by Disney Ireland to the Irish premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I’ve been to the set of Episode VIII and I’ve presented at Star Wars Celebration Europe. Its been a rollercoaster.
Blabba the Hutt is great fun, it’s amazing to see the reaction every time we release an episode, Its incredible to get a tweet to say that people enjoyed the episode, or even better they leave us a positive iTunes review. It’s not always a walk in the park, It is a lot of work to keep the ship afloat, and believe me, I have considered packing it in more than a few times. Then I sit down, record and release an episode and see the elation it bring and I realise again why I do this. Because you guys enjoy it, and it gives my creative journey meaning.
“I have considered packing it in more than a few times. Then I sit down, record and release an episode and see the elation it bring and I realise again why I do this.”
The Expanded Blabbaverse
I decided in February that this was getting too big for Kate and I to manage alone, so I recruited. I offered some of the most engaged people in the Blabba community an opportunity to give back to the Star Wars fandom. And #TeamBlabba was borne. This paved the way for new articles, opinion pieces, speculation, reviews and even a YouTube show ‘Carkoon Collectibles’. I expanded the team and then swiftly expanded the content offering – back to my desire to keep pushing this brand further and further. We joined the RetroZap family, a great collection of crazy super fans whom I learn from every day. Giving Blabba the Hutt another opportunity to grow.
I’m a year down the line with this project, and I’ve never been happier. I’m delighted to be able to say that I have fixed everything that was troubled in my life, my headspace is busy, but in a very positive productive way. A lot of the patchwork, I owe to Blabba and the community of diehards that comes with it. Podcasting has been an extremely positive healing experience for me, I have met a lot of cool people, attended a lot of cool events and made some great friends along the way.
“Podcasting has been an extremely positive healing experience for me”
Today not only marks a year since I decided to create Blabba the Hutt, but a year since deciding that I needed to right the Jamie Hickey ship, and a lot of the correction has been a direct result of the positivity I draw from the Blabba Community.