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  • Writer's pictureIan Tuason

An Ode to the Podcast Community: We Are The Gatekeepers

From unearthing the lost blog posts of a suspected serial killer, to telling science fiction tales about hard-boiled criminals with mysterious powers, DimensionGate transports you into stories that defy reality—if there is such a thing.

I’m Ian Tuason, Founder of DimensionGate and creator of the DimensionGate Podcast Channel. Here’s a little about me. I was born in Canada to Filipino parents. I'm a talkative introvert, a youngest child, a filmmaker, and I used to write ads for a living. In 2015, I put on a pair of virtual reality goggles, and by doing so, changed my life and career trajectory forever.

I grew up obsessed with stories–comic books, films, novels. I have a degree in Creative Writing from York University, where I wrote screenplays and novels that were all rejected by the “gatekeepers” of media business models that have been highly exclusive since inception, from Hollywood to the big publishing houses.

So I put my dreams on hold and worked a job I hated, stuck in a cubicle for 45 hours a week, writing print ads, mailers, and webpages for brands I didn’t care about, like DHL and Xerox.

Then in 2015, I put on an Oculus Rift for the first time, back then it was big clunky thing toggled to a huge computer, and then I discovered a new medium with no business model and no gatekeepers - virtual reality. It was new, well, new as in the technology was new and worked better than the first attempts in the 60’s before today’s tech caught up with the idea. So yeah, it was new, and no one really knew what to do with it.

So I went ahead and experimented independently and made a short live action horror film in 360-degrees for the Oculus, but first I published it on YouTube on the day it supported 360-degree video. The next day it has 20 views, then 30 the next, then one day I woke up one morning and saw it had 1 million views and didn’t know why. Until a friend told me he saw my name on Ashton Kutcher’s Facebook page. He shared the video, and then later Lil Wayne shared it. Now, the video is still up and has just under 10 million views. But even more importantly, the video has 34 thousand likes, 2 thousand comments and 39 thousand subscribers, from what I felt like was… a community.

This turned into a job offer on the 2017 horror movie “It” based on Stephen King’s story. So I quit my advertising job and worked with Warner Bros and their ad agency to do the VR promo for the movie. I even got to work on the movie set.

It was like I was in a dream. I've been a fan of "It" since the original 90's tv series. Me and my girlfriend were even Georgie and Pennywise on Halloween.

Then that job lead me to shooting VR for The Chainsmokers and Snoop Dogg, the Canadian Film Centre, the Canadian Football League, and Epic Meal Time. VR brought me to Nigeria and, Florence, and a 14-acre cannabis farm. I spoke on panels at media conferences like SXSW and the Cannes Film Festival.

And just I was learning about this new medium, I discovered another storytelling medium that also connected communities, Wattpad, which is a free ebook platform, like YouTube but for Authors. So I wrote and published a story there that eventually got 2 million reads, 82 thousand likes, and more importantly, like a mentioned before, it got 20 thousand comments from readers engaging at each paragraph and twist in the story, who I felt like was a community. The story won me a Watty Award, the world’s largest writing competition. I felt like everything was falling into place with me, as a storyteller and creator.

But then, 2020 happened. The pandemic. All TV, film, and even VR production work was shut down for the year. Lost my income stream from VR. Wattpad wasn’t bringing in any income. I lost my condo. I lost my biggest fan–my mom. I spiralled down into depression. And I lost all interest in storytelling.

But during all this, mostly stuck at home, trying to to stay sane, the familiar happened again. I put on some headphone and I discovered fiction podcasts. And then I learned that podcasts are sustained and supported by a community. I was late in the game, but to me, it was a new medium–the Podcast medium.

The storyteller part of me went into hyperdrive yet again. It was podcasts that got me out of my dark place. Particularly episodic fiction podcasts, like Homecoming, Limetown and the Black Tapes.

So I started writing again, with a clear destination in mind. And writing what I loved to write. like psychological mystery thrillers told by an unreliable narrator, like myself, narrating my true crime podcast, Everyone and No One. And by the way, everything I tell you is true.

I also like combing genres, like the 70’s kung fu film genre, gangster novels like "The GodFather", hood films like "Menace II Society", and science fiction from the books of Philip K. Dick, and movies like the Matrix, which is what inspired me to write my scripted sci-fi podcast, Five Deadly Rebels.

So now, with the pandemic over, and life feeling a little bit more normal now, though, I’m still unsure what normal is supposed to feel like, I have a brand new story I’m starting for myself, as a podcast creator, and where it goes from here, who knows? There are no gatekeepers in the podcast space we’re in. Here, we are the gatekeepers.

But still, pandemics may happen again. Recessions will happen. War, social unrest, the environment going to shit. But just remember, storytelling has survived the ages. Cinema, TV, radio, although it’s on the internet now, have all survived recessions. Art has survived the milleniums. Mediums will change. Technology will change. But stories, culture, and community will continue on. We’re all gonna make it. For real.

So I hope you join me in my own story, and follow any one of my poscast shows, like "Everyone and No One: A True Crime Podcast", on Apple Podcasts, Spotify Podcasts, and Google Podcasts. Or "Five Deadly Rebels: A Kung Fu Sci-Fi Scripted Podcast" featuring music by Wu-Tang Clan producer Cilvaringz. Also on Apple Podcasts, Spotify Podcasts, and Google Podcasts.

So that’s it. I really hope you join me on this new story of mine, but either way, I’ll be sure to let you all know how it ends. And remember, the message is the medium.

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