Nicholas Haskins has been putting a comedic twist on film reviews with Justin Esquivel on the Epic Film Guys podcast for nearly 200 episodes. While the podcast launched in 2014, two years ago they decided to create a charitable live streaming event featuring a selection of guest podcasters and encouraging listeners to donate to the Cancer Research Institute (CRI): Livestream for the Cure. This year’s live stream lasted 30 hours and raised over $5,500 for the cause, exceeding Epic Film Guys’ original goal. We had a chance to speak with Haskins about how he prepares for Livestream for the Cure, why he chose us as a charity partner, and the lives he’s touched along the way.
Tell us more about the Livestream for the Cure event and how you prepare for it.
During our Livestream for the Cure, we are continuously streaming to a worldwide audience. Some of the programming is based around our show, which is a film comedy podcast, while other content is prepared as a featured “block” where we welcome other shows on the air with us and do content related to their show or a mish-mash of the two.
Preparations are done mostly via grassroots organization. We reached out to those we know in the indie podcasting community and scheduled them for a time. I kept them up to date on preparations they’d need to make on their end while preparing the graphical overlay, setting up the page on CRI, and doing outreach for the event via social media. It can be a little nightmarish as we had shows on during the event from Australia and New Zealand and everything has to be timed precisely to keep the event flowing from block to block.
What inspired you to host Livestream for the Cure?
An overwhelming sense of social responsibility. We are content creators who have enjoyed a relatively decent amount of success in the indie podcast market, and while our footprint doesn’t come anywhere close to Marc Meron or Kevin Smith, I still feel it is our duty to do good in the world. I have been personally affected by cancer as have most people, so I felt this cause would galvanize the most people as it touches everyone around the world, no matter their social status, race, gender, sexual orientation, or what have you. We want to help people, and if we can raise money to fight cancer and that money eventually leads to a cure, that’s all we could ever hope for.
Why did you choose the Cancer Research Institute as your charity partner?
When we decided to do the event, I wanted to partner with an organization that used the money for actual research. When you really look into it, it is shocking how many organizations out there only put ten or twenty cents or less per dollar toward actual research. Not only do I believe in the work that CRI is doing, but I am also extremely grateful that 86 cents out of those dollars goes toward cancer research and not into some CEO’s pocket or whatever other frivolous nonsense.
Do you have a personal connection to cancer and/or immunotherapy?
When I was 25 years old, I lost a very close friend of mine to cancer. He was only 23 years old at the time he died from a rare form of cancer. I still carry that with me to this day. When I raise money for the Cancer Research Institute, I see his face. I see the faces of many, many others who are also affected by cancer, and it breaks my heart. It also galvanizes me to work as hard as I can to try to help as much as I can, because no one should have to watch their loved ones suffer and die.
What has the response to the livestream been like, especially this time around?
Overwhelming, and we are so grateful for it. Last year’s Livestream for the Cure was a quite different affair: one day, twelve hours. The idea was similar, but I planned everything for the event, and our footprint wasn’t quite as large, so we didn’t hit our goal and it really dampened my spirits.
This year, I quintupled my efforts on outreach and organization. We decided to do 30 hours over the course of a weekend to have more time to raise money. I had the CRI event page up months ahead of time for early donations and event information. I actively sent stickers and thank you cards to everyone who promoted the event, either with our audio promo or word of mouth.
I went into this year’s livestream determined to not only surpass last year’s total raised, but to double the original goal from last year, and we utterly smashed it. We went from raising just under $1,200 last year to over $5,500 this year, which is the most amazing feeling.
Have any of your followers shared their personal stories of cancer diagnosis with you?
So many did share their stories, either as part of the event or privately. One of our guests from New Zealand had lost a family member to cancer only a week or two before the event; another of our guests was actually diagnosed with stage IV cancer of the stomach and esophagus about two weeks ahead of the event as well. They were really strong proponents of the event before they got the diagnosis, being the first to buy our merchandise and doing a lot on their own to spread the word, so the event became that much more important for them.
We had amazing groups of people reach out to their own fans and raise a ton of money for friends and family that they had also lost. The response was just breathtaking, and we are so grateful for it and for everyone who took the time to watch, listen, donate, or even help the event on social media.
What can we expect for next time?
I’ve been actively brainstorming about the future of the event. It will absolutely return next year, but we’re doing even more than 30 hours. Right now, my dream is to do it for three to four days straight, 72 to 96 hours, never going down, never going offline. We’ll have other hosts rotating during different hours of the day while we/they sleep. I’d also love to do it on-location with our other hosts as well; while we’d definitely have guests connecting online from across the world again, I want to have hosts and guests in-studio at whatever location as well.
Considering the amount of work that this year’s event took, I’m already laying preliminary groundwork, but I’m confident we can get it done, especially with this year’s success. I want to set a goal of at least $10,000 to $15,000 for the event if we’re going to be live for that length of time, and I know we can do it. We will do it!