Behind Manifest, “Breakthrough with B. James”

What inspired the creation of “Breakthrough with B. James” and how did the idea evolve from inception to execution? What motivated your involvement in developing this project?

What inspired the creation of “Breakthrough with B. James,” believe it or not, was a Faye Webster song. I really liked how whimsical her music was, but at the same time, she was also very deep and emotional. I wanted to create that same vibe for the show. Then, later, inspirations like “Emergency Intercom” and “Bottoms Up with Fannita” came to mind. That said, my first challenge was creating a wacky yet comfortable space for my guests. I pulled ideas from popular podcast shows I see now and used our prop closet to pull something together while listening to songs I thought captured the vibe of the show. I found this to really have fun and experiment with a series of media in visual and technical ways, so that mindset is what really motivated me throughout the production of the series.

As a key contributor to “Breakthrough with B. James,” what specific responsibilities did you undertake during the project’s development? Can you share any noteworthy experiences or learnings from your involvement?

This was a one-man show. I did everything but be the guest. If I could share any notes, I’d say perfection is impossible. Instead of focusing on that, just have fun, and you’ll see the process move by much quicker than you’d imagine.

In curating individuals to feature in the series, what factors or criteria guided your selection process? Were there any unique challenges or considerations you faced when choosing subjects to highlight?

I wanted to select people who not only have insight or an important role in Manifest, but people who also have an impact on Manifest. I then wanted to break down that impact and explore the motivations behind that impact and the emotions that arose then and now, because of the impact. If I had to recall any challenges it would probably just be scheduling conflicts, other than that my supervisors and I knew exactly who I needed to interview early on.

Looking back on your experience with “Breakthrough with B. James,” what standout moments or breakthroughs did you encounter during its creation? How do you believe this initiative has impacted the promotion and representation of Manifest within our college community?

Every episode, I either fixed a problem, found a problem, or both. As you can see throughout the series, the set changes almost every episode. That was because of the little technical conflicts I’d find while editing the episode. So, I can say no episode came out 100% perfect, but it did allow me to experiment with different solutions, which will help for future projects. I feel like this gave the show a sense of depth at the same time, by having the set change often, while having some things stay the same, almost like traditions. When I think of traditions, I think of communities, so I hope that these little details helped when creating a community-type feeling, which will motivate more people to attend Manifest. So, every episode was a new Breakthrough for me.

From being behind the scenes during the development of Manifest, how did your role in shaping the festival’s narrative influence your approach to creating the social media series?

I first started by researching our archives to see what was done in the past. I noticed a strictly commercial narrative, and I wanted to create something that the audience could watch for personal joy while being fed the Manifest information. With that in mind, community was one of the main themes of the show, and I wanted my guests and senior audience to feel as if they were shaping the narrative of the festival because they really are.