American Podcast is hosted by Shane Simonsen. It’s an interview styled show, based on the premise that we all have different passions, experiences, hopes, and dreams. But, there are some things that bind us together. Hopefully the listener is able to learn about themselves from someone else’s experience.

American Podcast – Episode Descriptions

Ram Denison being interviewed on the street.

EP 14 – Ram Denison – Filmmaker, Director of “What Happened in Vegas” and “Money Machine” discusses Police Brutality, Corruption, 1 October and the Killing of George Floyd

Ram Denison is the director of the award winning film “What Happened in Vegas”. He is set to release his latest film “Money Machine” to the festival circuit in the summer of 2020.

Both are feature length documentaries that analyze corruption in the Las Vegas Metropolitian police department.

“What Happened in Vegas,” was sparked by Ram’s own experience with police brutality, which led to his investigation into reports of corruption in the LVMPD.

“Money Machine” takes a hard look at Las Vegas and how it responded to the October 1 Mass Shooting in 2017, in light of Ram’s discoveries in the first film.

Ram Denison’s 2020 film “Money Machine” examines corruption linked to 1 October.

In this episode, we talk about Ram’s trajectory from working at a small tv station in Florida to editing television shows in Los Angeles. We talk about Ram’s approach to filmmaking, the festival circuit, and how the market for independent film has changed over the last 20 years.

We discuss the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota and what Ram sees as victory in his own quest against police brutality and corruption.

Reviews on “What Happened in Vegas”
Hollywood Reporter
LA Times
Rotten Tomatoes

Click to Watch “What Happened in Vegas”

Author Jim Cornelius talks with us about Frontier Partisans, Running Iron Report, his love for songwriting and how he was an early part of the Sisters Folk Festival.

EP 13 – Jim Cornelius – Author, Editor, Founder of Frontier Partisans and Running Iron Report

Writer Jim Cornelius talks about his work with Frontier Partisans, The Running Iron Report, and what it’s like to edit a small town newspaper, and how he helped start the Sisters Folk Festival which has become internationally known.

Jim’s research has culminated in the book Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisansclick to purchase Jims Book from Paulina Springs Book Store in Sisters, OR.

Our conversation ranges from exploring the mixed cultures that exist on the edges of civilization to exploring his own observations of the frailty of modern society, and how he believes localism could be the answer.

Jim talks about his upbringing in Southern California, how Disney helped foster his fascination with the frontiers of the world, and how the later influence of songwriters like Waylon Jennings and Steve Earle impacted his approach to writing and performing his own music.

Collin Henderson, founder of Master Your Mindset is a mindset coach, author and speaker.

EP 12 – Collin Henderson – Part 1 of 2 – Mindset Coach, Speaker, Author, Founder of Master Your Mindset

Collin Henderson coaches businesses and athletic teams on how to deal with stress. Collin shares how his own personal journey with anxiety, panic attacks and stuttering led to a career in public speaking and mental skills coaching.

This episode is stacked with stories and advice from how parents can be better parents to their student athletes, to why businesses should be investing in the mental health of their employees.

Collin shares some of the skills he teaches to major companies across the United States, and illustrates the context of how relevant these teachings are to major athletics programs and Fortune 500 companies. 

We talk about Collin’s experiences at Washington State University where he was a two sport athlete under legendary coach Mike Price. We talk about Phil Jackson, the Yankees and how their implementation of mind coaches changed the landscape of professional sports.

This episode is part 1 of 2. Part two delves into how Collin coaches businesses and athletic programs. Part 1 explores Collin’s own personal trajectory and mindset.

This is a video I made for mindset coach Collin Henderson in 2019. Check out episode 12 of American Podcast where I interview him about his mindset coaching and approach to life.
Collin Henderson is a client of mine. Here is one of the videos I made for him in 2019. Check out episode 12 of American Podcast where I interview him about his mindset coaching and approach to life.

Eli Pyke with his wife Kelly and their two Children. Together they’ve created the documentary series The Far Green Country while living on the road off and on.

EP 11 – Eli Pyke – Filmmaker, Cinematographer, Producer, Editor of “The Far Green Country”

Eli Pyke, his wife Kelly and their two young children have built a life around filmmaking and being a family while living on the road off and on. In the process they’ve produced two autobiographical documentaries about how they’ve processed life while living on the road.

This interview was recorded in February of 2020. Eli is joining us from inside a Winnebago Adventurer, in the southern desert of Arizona.

In this episode we discuss the ups and downs of living full time in an RV, on the road, and what its like to be a traveling filmmaker. Eli talks about the first film of The Far Green Country documentary series, and discusses how learning to mourn the death of his father has led to a sequel The Far Green Country 2: At Road’s End.

Click to watch The Far Green Country on Amazon Prime

Casey Casseday at the Streamy Awards.

EP 10 – Casey Casseday – Producer / Director of “Sushi Size Me”

Casey recently produced and directed the award winning film “Sushi Size Me,” which documents a high school teacher and basketball coach, who accepted the challenge to eat $1500 worth of sushi over the course of a month, and document the experience.

Watch the Trailer Here

Casey has a strong background in what has become known as Reality TV. We discuss his experiences on these types of shows which include hidden camera, and hoax shows like Scare Tactics a Punk’d.

We talk about Caseys work as a director of photography on the documentary “The Green Rush”. which told the story of illicit marijuana farming in Northern California.

I attended college with Casey at the Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University. We compare our time in college, editing tape to tape versus the current state of technology. We discuss ethics, and comedy, and how content has changed over the years. 

Chef Cory LaFranchi in his element, cooking food for the people.

EP 9 – Cory LaFranchi – Chef and Food Truck Owner Gives Free Food to The Homeless and Those in Need

When faced with an having too much food after an event, Cory LaFranchi decided to drive into the neighborhood he grew up in and pass out the extra hamburgers for free — to feed those in need. Inspired by the experience, Cory is finding ways to keep giving away free food as he grows his business, which is coincidentally, named Street Eats Mobile Eatery.

We talk about how Cory first got into the restaurant life We learn how he left a lucrative Union job to start a small independent business, and what the future might have in store for him and his family.

Lance Roberts discusses his life as a missionary in Ukraine.

EP 8 – Lance Roberts – Thoughts of an American Missionary in Ukraine

This is part 2 of our conversation with Missionary Lance Roberts. Lance share’s his observations and thoughts on Ukraine , Russia and the United States. He tells us what it’s like to live as an American in a former communist nation. We hear Lance’s take on what it’s like to experience the culture of the United Sates after living abroad for extended periods of time.

Lance and Shane discuss the history of Ukraine, its historical importance in the world, and the effects of being a part of the Soviet Union for the greater part of the 20th century. We hear lance discuss the effects of communism and capitalism on Ukrainian communities, and the varying effects of Russian and American influence. 

Toward the end we explore the ethnic diversity of Ukraine and how it may or may not relate to ethnic relations in the United States — culminating in an examination of White Nationalism in America and how the label may be misplaced. 

The coffee shop ambiance was provided by Lamppost Coffee Roasters in Bonney Lake, WA — which is where the interview was recorded.

EP 7 – Lance Roberts – Part 1 of 2 – YWAM Base Leader in Ternopil Ukraine, Raising a Family in the Mission Field, Valuing the Creative Arts in Ministry

Shane Simonsen hosts missionary Lance Roberts in 2 separate podcasts. Part 1 gives us a look at who lance is and what is work is about. Part 2 is a deeper look at Lance’ thoughts and observations of the United States and Ukraine.

Lance and his wife currently lead a YWAM base in Ternopil Ukraine. We hear his thoughts on raising children in the mission field, exploring castle ruins, how Ukraine is similar and different from the US and how the creative arts can be used in ministry.

Lance describes his vision and hope for Ukraine as nation that can impact the world in a positive way.  He talks a bit about Ukraine’s unique history and place in the world, and how he started a photography club to help the people of Ukraine develop a sense of place and identity.

Lance and Megan’s Blog
Lance’s Instagram
Glorious Ruins’ Instagram

Singer Songwriter Erin Cole Baker’s music spans the globe between New Zealand and the USA.

Ep 6 – Erin Cole Baker – Singer Songwriter from New Zealand Lives the RV Life While Touring the United States

We catch up with singer songwriter Erin Cole Baker, as she, her husband Bruce, and their two small children, tour the United States in a 26 foot RV, playing music and exploring along the way.

Erin who has dual citizenship in the United States and New Zealand, shares her thoughts on how the two nations she’s called home are different.

She talks about the creative process; playing in various musical groups; and why she chooses to pursue music in the States rather than New Zealand.

Erin discusses how she stepped away from music for a time to focus on parenting; and what prompted her return to recording and performing.

Bryan Reynolds of Anthem Coffee sits down to talk with American Podcast.

Ep 5 – Bryan Reynolds of Anthem Coffee – Entrepreneur, Business Coach, and Speaker

Our guest on this episode is Entrepreneur and Business Coach Bryan Reynolds of Anthem Coffee. Bryan, and his family have built a small coffee empire in the Tacoma / Puyallup area, South of Seattle Washington.

Their success with Anthem Coffee can be attributed to certain core principles such as “Heroic hospitality” and “live your anthem”. These phrases stem from a strong desire to build and serve the community they live in.

Bryan has transferred this success into coaching businesses nationally, hosting podcasts, and speaking into the greater coffee industry.

In this episode Bryan talks about his approach to starting, managing and expanding a business. The importance of hiring the right people and how he’s grown to handle criticism. 

Bryan shares his insights on marketing, branding and social media. He talks about balancing the boundaries between his family and a career that he loves. 

Bryan shares tips on how to find community and mentorship no matter where you are in life or your career. He gives some pointers on how he uses facebook live to build his business and brand.

Photographer, Owner and Creative director at Harbor Studio.

Ep 4 – Nick Balera – Photographer, Creative Director / Owner of Harbor Studio

Nick Balera tells us how taking photos at a concert led to a career in photography. He talks about his time at Hillsong College in Australia. And, how he came back to the US to start a creative space in his hometown.

Nick talks about driving across the U.S. to write a book; shares how this journey led to a full time job at the Filson Flagship Store in Seattle, WA.; and ho his passion for relationship and community is taking root with The Harbor Studio in Gig harbor, Washington

Comedian Brett Hollis explains why he has a casket in his living room.

Episode 3 – Brett Hollis – Comedian, Speaker, & Storyteller

At the tender age of 42, Brett Hollis left his career as a pastor, to become a stand up comedian. In this episode, Brett talks about his current and future projects. He discusses famous comedians who have impacted his life, and tells us why he keeps a casket In his living room.

We discuss the culture of comedy in America, and why he prefers clean comedy. Brett shares how he balances his passion for preaching, with his love for comedy. He talks about his writing, and what he likes to do when not on stage.

Episode 2 Lisa Mitts – Multi Genre Singer Songwriter

Lisa Mitts is currently nominated for a number of independent music awards. We discuss her early years in music, transitioning from being a worship leader in Israel to a celebrated independent singer-songwriter. We talk about the recording process, making music videos and why she appreciates being referred to as being a multi-genre artist.

Lisa’s explains how her Jewish heritage mixes with her Christian faith. She talks about how her own experience with trauma and how it contributed to an award winning music video, which led to Lisa starting a ministry to help the victims of sex trafficking. We learn how Lisa and her husbands search for truth led to their writing multiple books, starting a ministry and moving to Israel at one point and back to the Seattle area.

Click to read about my work with Lisa on her Music Video “To Be Loved”

Samuel Pyke
Samuel Pyke operating camera in New Zealand for Frontier Unlimited.

Episode 1 – Samuel Pyke – Outdoor Director of Photography

The first episode of American Podcast features Samuel Pyke. He currently produces Frontier Unlimited and Day One Outdoors. On this episode we learn how Samuel went from making movies with his brothers, in Central Oregon backyard, to traveling the world, telling stories with a lens. We discuss the film industry, storytelling, hunting, ethics and pursuing a career that honors one’s faith, hopes and passions. Sam offers his thoughts on having a proper work/life balance. He shares why sometimes the best tool or the job isn’t a popular choice.