Game director, producer, writer and designer Neil Rennison is the original founder of Tin Man Games, a company that brings the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks of Eighties childhoods back to life as apps. Neil has worked in the computer and video games industry for over fifteen years. He’s been involved in over fifty published games including such high profile titles as the Need For Speed series, Nascar series, The Sims series and the Tiger Woods Golf series for a variety of platforms including iPhone, DS, PSP, and Wii.
Neil has had a number of articles published in 3D World magazine & PC Format, has dabbled in university lecturing, is an adjudicator for government funding in games, and has given talks at various gaming conventions and gatherings of the International Game Developers Association.
Listen in for a great chat about the snowball effect, going freelance in the video game industry, being asked by the superstar in your business to adapt one of his works and that odd sensation of, “I could be perfectly happy staying where I am now – but…”
Geek collectable company owner Shaun Paulet decided to take a slightly different approach to the collectable market than most vendors. Instead of sourcing all the usual lines of stuff from the producers for the toy and collectable business, Shaun levered his passion for affordable collectibles to create, in conjunction with a collection of top Australian artists, a line of limited edition collectable prints available online or nationwide at Australian conventions for his company COMICS2MOVIES.
But after finding success within the artistic world of prints, Shaun decided to bring his own creativity and passion for comic books to the table, and thus was born XCT, a comic book series about clones of mythical monsters and ancient warriors like Spartacus fighting to the death for an audience of billions in the Xtreme Champion Tournament. XCT was successfully launched in Australia, New Zealand and the US in 2014.
Shaun and I have a great chat about high school sporting achievements, being the most funded Australian comic book crowdfunding project on Kickstarter, letting other people play with your stories, competing with the iconic American comic books for shelf space in Australian stores and ensuring your daughter shares your love of comics!
Cosplayer and YouTube show host Feisty Cuffs has been in love with the cosplay community since her very first convention. She enjoys the creative process of constructing her own costumes and props, and picks her next cosplay projects based on whether she can learn a new technique or skill.
Feisty loves attending conventions as a cosplayer, panellist and cosplay judge, and connecting with like-minded geeks. You may even recognise her as one of the hosts and of the Kapow! Comic Book Show on YouTube.
Feisty and I have a great chat about being that friend you invite to a fancy dress party, a love of European comic books, meeting those crazy people you just click with, the awesomeness of being asked to host a cosplay competition at the Rooster Teeth Expo and her favourite comic book character of all time!
Keep listening after the chat wraps for a retrospective on the first 100 episodes of The Paid to Play Podcast!
Hybrid paranormal romance author Lauren Dawes writes the Half Blood series, four novels of the Helheim Wolf Pack, and the Dark trilogy, tales of ancient Norse gods living and battling amongst humanity. The Dark series are published by Pan MacMillan, while Lauren self-publishes the Half Blood series.
Lauren was born in South Africa to English parents who then raised her and her brother in Sydney. She loves reading, naturally, but also travelling and, perhaps unsurprisingly given the action-packed nature of her novels, muay thai kick boxing. Her love of urban fantasy and paranormal romance sprang from reading authors like Laurell K. Hamilton, J.R. Ward and Charlaine Harris.
Lauren and I have a great chat about what Stephenie Meyer did to the vampire genre, the author’s burden of the rejection slip, juggling writing with raising a youngster while the armed forces make off with your husband, the work of world building, going from writing a novel in private to speaking at panels in conventions.
Television host and actor Steven O’Donnell is better known to gamers across Australia as Bajo, one of the four hosts of the ABC television show Good Game. Bajo’s prestige amongst the Australian geek community has made him a go-to guest and MC for pop culture conventions.
Bajo has acted in close to 40 short films and 6 independent features and is part of a team developing a new children’s TV show for the ABC, which has just been green-lit after four years of development. If that’s not enough, Bajo and fellow Good Game host Hex have written a children’s book series called Pixel Raiders for Scholastic.
Bajo and I have a great chat about night-long Counter-Strike marathons four days a week, making children cry at Warner Bros. Movie World, the sheer amount of work involved in making multiple television shows each week, seeking out challenges that make you feel uncomfortable and how community is at the heart of any passion!
Veteran of the acting scene Barry Duffield moved from the UK to Australia with family as a youngster but found acting success after moving to New Zealand, where he studied at the South Seas Film and Television School in Auckland. This led to recurring roles the New Zealand medical drama Shortland Street.
Genre fans, though, undoubtedly know him for his portrayal of Lugo, the Germanic warrior in the Starz TV series Spartacus: Vengeance and Spartacus: War of the Damned.
Listen in for a great chat about how Berry got his big break thanks to a motorbike, the unique experience that is “Option Hell,” working on Young Hercules, his (spoiler warning) epic death in Spartacus: War of the Damned, helping a young boy who had beaten cancer get to a Spartacus convention and how he’s just as big a fan as anyone else!
Huge thanks to Glenn Hodges for connecting Barry and I up, and also to Patreon backer Paul Cockrem for the awesome question!
Independent film maker Travis Bain has been in love with movies and the making of them most of his life. His day job is filming weddings and corporate videos, but he pours his spare time into movies like the indie horror film Throwback, the upcoming disaster thriller Landfall, and a currently in preproduction love letter to the works of H. P. Lovecraft, Starspawn.
We chat about how a Mexican singer led to Travis committing to the course of his life, the difference between producers and directors, how hard it is to get your hands on the works of H.P. Lovecraft outside a major city and how kids these days substitute ambition for genuine love and curiosity.
Self-published author of urban and erotic fantasy Kimberley Clark is determined to make sure that every item on herbucket list is crossed off. One of those items was to write a novel – yet after completing that project, Kimberley discovered that rather than moving on to the next thing, she had to keep going as a writer.
Kimberley is now the self-published author of a trilogy of erotic urban fantasy novels, the Battles in the Dark series, which are on sale on Amazon. We had a great chat about pursuing your dreams, the struggle in finding a good editor and the choice between self-publishing and seeking out a traditional publisher.
It’s interesting how things tuned out: The recording order of my chat with Sharna, owner and operator of and performer in Ever After Parties, comes out twelve months after she started the company!
Ever After Parties specialises in making make-believe a little more real by bringing beloved characters from animated movies to children’s parties. It’s cosplay in one of its purer forms; it’s no coincidence that Sharna was a cosplayer before she got into performing at kids’ parties.
We chat about Sharna’s love of anime and Disney, going from a princess party company employee to staring her own company at just sixteen years of age (while still at high school) and the support you can get from the most unlikely quarters as long as you stand by your paid play!
Sam Powers is a stage illusionist of international acclaim. Since witnessing his first magic show at the age of three, Sam has delved into the world of illusion as entertainment. His slick, stylish shows have taken the breath of audiences across the continent and the globe and earned Sam the respect of his peers!
Even though Sam was lucky enough to discover his calling young, it still takes commitment to make that calling a reality. It was a privilege to spend some time with Sam, the managing director of International Magic, discussing just what it means to manage the business side of show business.
Thanks to Matt Bond for getting Sam and I in touch!