View Full Version : Behind the Scenes Doc DVD Extras & Special Features

03-11-2006, 08:47 PM
I was wondering if anyone could suggest documentary DVDs that have extras and special features that cover the making of the documentary itself. I've watched the Radius and Broken DVDs, which both have great "indie making of" extras in the context of drama/fiction. I'm looking for something similar on the documentary front. Doesn't necessarily have to be indie, just any doc that has "making of" special features. Thanks for your suggestions...

Duct Tape Films
03-17-2006, 03:36 AM
Hmmm. Never heard of that, most docs spend their production budget on subject matter crews only. I do that for a living though (shoot EPK/BTS/Docs). What do you want to know? Or is it just doc production in general you want to know more about?

03-23-2006, 05:24 PM
For docs check out "the corporation."

For indie filmmaking in general check out "open water."

For big budget studio productions check out all of the lord of the rings dvds.

discs of tron
03-29-2006, 12:20 PM
i just checked out the ken burns jack johnson dvd. ol ken likes to toot his horn, and the dvd's "making of" extra gives him the venue in which to do so. it's not especially production oriented, but it might be instructive if you like to work from archival material and historical stuff.

Bus No. 8
03-29-2006, 12:44 PM
One of my favorites is the "making of" for "Dark Days". It's a real primer in guerilla filmmaking. The documentary is about people living underground in the Amtrak tunnels in New York. The filmmaker started hanging out with them and, in response to pending eviction by Amtrak and the city, they decided together that they should make a film to document their stories (some people had lived in the tunnels for 25 years or more).

The film itself is good, but it was the behind the scenes extra that I purchased the DVD for. The filmmaker describes how this disparate group of people, none of whom had ever made a film, worked together to make this film and solve problems of lighting, sound and dolly shots in some really creative ways. Definitely worth a look.

Another is the director's commentary on "Sister Helen", about a foul mouthed nun who ran a half-way home for men battling alcohol and drug addiction in the South Bronx (I guess all the good documentaries are about NY?). I think there might have been a little making of feature, but it's the commentary that I really remember because it had some great insight into how the story was structured, the interpersonal dynamics of invading a persons life, and really opened my eyes to some of the harsh realites and enormous time committments of making a documentary (sleeping on a living room floor with rats running around for two years? Well, it's a great movie, so I guess it was worth it).

Also, one of my favorite books on documentary is "Documentary Filmmakers Speak" by Liz Stubbs. It features great interviews with Albert Maysles, D.A. Pennbaker, Ken Burns, Ross McElwee, Liz Garbus, Nick Broomfield, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, Irving Saraf and Allie Light and Barbara Koppel. Interesting to read how some of these pioneers of the modern documentary have had to accept, and in many cases, enthusiastically embrace DV.

I'll post other making of's as I think of them.