Off Camera with Sam Jones is gearing up for one big birthday—the show’s 100th episode! To celebrate, we sat down with the man himself, Sam Jones, to see what makes his show special, what keeps him engaged, and who he wants to interview next! Read our exclusive interview below and tune in to the 100th Episode of Off Camera with Sam Jones with special guest Ron Howard, Monday, April 24th at 8/7c only on AUDIENCE.
You’ve had in depth conversations with some of today’s most popular public figures. What do you think the key is to having an authentic conversation with a stranger?
I think environment plays such a big role in having an authentic conversation. When guests come to do an episode of Off Camera, they are coming to my office, and it feels nothing like a TV studio. There is a very relaxed feeling to the whole deal, and I think that just helps people be comfortable. Also, we don’t have any agenda on the show, other than to have an honest conversation. I am never trying to get any information or gossip out of a guest, so there’s no sense that they’re being manipulated. The biggest compliment is when a guest tells me how good of a time they had doing the show, and that they could’ve kept talking for another hour. That happens often enough that I know we’re doing something right.
What element of a good conversation gives you the most satisfaction?
I think when I forget we’re being filmed, and I’m just enthralled by what our guest has to say—that’s the best situation. I learn so much about the craft and thought process of creatives on this show that I can apply to my own life. When I’m selfishly indulging in a conversation for my own enjoyment, and it’s simultaneously interesting to the audience that’s the most satisfying.
Music is obviously a huge passion of yours. How has working on feature length documentaries for musicians helped shape your other artistic pursuits (like your photography)? They’re such different media, but they must inform each other to some degree?
I see very little difference between Off Camera and the documentaries I have made. In both, I am trying to understand, through the media of cinema, an individual’s creative processes. I am lucky enough with my life that I’ve been able to pursue many different creative paths—photography, music, film, etc. and to be able to talk about that with artists I admire and respect is the most wonderful thing. I think what I’ve found over the course of doing this show is how related these different pursuits are. Musicians and actors both experience similar creative challenges, as does anyone in a creative field, and it’s interesting to draw parallels. When I go do other things, like directing a doc or a TV show, or photographing someone, I feel now that I have that much more in common with the artists I am working with. The show has been great for that reason.
Do you envision Off Camera ever taking on other forms of media like podcasts? Or perhaps more interactive online forums that allow for audience interaction that could ultimately inform your conversations with guests?
I really feel like what makes Off Camera special is how personal it is. There’s no audience, very few crew members, and no interaction from the public, and that’s on purpose. We want to give the audience an experience that is as similar as possible to being in an artist’s living room listening in to a private conversation about craft and the creative journey. There are plenty of shows out there that invite audience participation, and that create more of a public forum, but truthfully Off Camera wants to be the opposite of all that. What we strive for is a unique, intimate, adult conversation between two people—whether you watch it, listen to it, or read it.
Who’s left on your bucket list that you’d love to have on the show?
I would love to have Vin Scully on the show!