My guest today is Mike Zipser, co-producer/co-host of Fast Forward, a monthly cable television series covering the genres of science fiction, fantasy and horror. It is a show by fans for fans which is shown on several public access channels across the United States. Interviews and special reports are also posted on the Internet on the Fast Forward You Tube Channel.
SCy-Fy: Mike, Fast Forward has been running for a long time already. Where to from here?
MZ: We want to keep the show going. We have been around for nearly 25 years and want to keep going for more. Right now, all the interviews are in person, but we are looking at doing Skype interviews as well. We are also hoping, at some point, to be able to curate and archive the 25 years of interviews so that they can be available for researchers and others who may want them.
SCy-Fy: That all sounds great. What do you think will be the major challenges to overcome in future?
MZ: I’m not as big a techie as our other producers (Kathi Overton and Tom Schaad), who are both professionals in TV production. However, from what I see, the changing technology in both production and distribution will keep challenging us.
SCy-Fy: How do you prepare for a show?
MZ: For an author interview, we try to read (and often re-read) their latest book and as many of their previous works as possible. We also do research online, reading the person’s website, blog, reviews, and even other interviews. We pride ourselves on being well prepared for our interviews and for having read a good deal of an author’s work.
SCy-Fy: What is your most useful general resource?
MZ: It used to be the Science Fiction Encyclopedia, but now, it is the internet. Google is your friend. Go back through blog entries, that lets your guest tell you ahead of time what they are interested in.
SCy-Fy: What advice would you give anyone presenting?
MZ: Prepare! Know as much as you can about what you are presenting. In our case, it means knowing your interview subject and their work. In the case of interviewing, the other important thing I’ve learned is to listen. If you are prepared, then you don’t need to be thinking about what your next question is. Listen actively to what your guest is saying and let the conversation flow naturally.
SCy-Fy: Points to watch out for?
MZ: Don’t get too fanboy with your guests (this can be really hard sometimes). Stay professional.
SCy-Fy: What has most kept you going for so long?
MZ: The fact that I get to meet really interesting and cool people and hang out with them. Some have even become friends.
SCy-Fy: What is the most popular show you’ve presented?
MZ: The popularity of our shows is completely dependent on our guests. The bigger names (Neil Gaiman, GRRM, etc) get the most eyeballs.
SCy-Fy: What have been the best books and TV shows you have read or seen recently?
MZ: I just finished James Morrow’s Galapagos Regained and loved it. I’m a big fan of Jim’s work. Also, Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon, Tom Doyle’s American Craftsmen, Myke Cole’s Gemini Cell, and so much more.
TV-wise, I’m a fan of Gotham, Walking Dead, Doctor Who, Forever, Once Upon a Time, among others. Orphan Black blew me away and I can’t wait for the new season.
SCy-Fy: Which forthcoming books and TV shows are you most looking forward to reading or watching?
MZ: Laura Anne Gilman has a new series starting which I’m looking forward to – it starts with Silver on the Road. Any new book by Nalo Hopkinson too. I don’t really keep up with forthcoming books until they come out, so it’s hard for me to answer this.
As far as TV goes, I don’t know about new series, but I’m looking forward to the new season of Doctor Who and Orphan Black.
SCy-Fy: Anything to add?
SCy-Fy: Thank you, Mike, and good luck for the next quarter century!