Extra, Extra — Extras Are Important18 Sep, 2007 By: Stephanie Prange
I recently watched the DVD of Paramount Home Entertainment's Zodiac, the fictionalized account of the search for the infamous serial killer. I faithfully watched the film, giving it my undivided attention (which a film of that complexity demands) and, after watching it, looked eagerly for extras.
But there weren't many to speak of.
After watching such a dense feature based on historical events, I expected evidence files, interviews with the participants, various documentaries on the subject or an interview with the author whose book upon which the film is based.
But there was nada.
I suspect the extras will likely come on a later edition, but it's still frustrating being denied instant gratification. After I watch a film I really like, I want to see extras.
I don't want to pick on one title or studio. I know things are difficult in the DVD producing arena right now — what with two high-definition formats, exploding genres such as TV DVD and a brutal production schedule — but I don't want the industry to lose sight of the importance of extras.
I really do watch them, and so do my kids.
After I've finished a particularly engaging movie or one that sparks my interest on one level or another, I almost always look for more information on the menu. (I've watched the extras on Oliver Stone's JFK more often than I've watched the feature itself.) My kids (5 and 9) do the same thing. In fact, if she is waiting for the family to gather for a viewing, my 9-year-old will often try out the special features first, looking for games or making-of featurettes to whet her appetite for the main feature.
By the way, trailers, good sound, widescreen presentation and advertisements are NOT special features. They are expected. One recent DVD (Paramount's Demetri Martin. Person) made fun of this, noting “non-special features” such as plastic security stickers, UPC code, legal information and (most funny of all) atoms.
While the feature film may be the star of a DVD or high-definition disc, the special features are important supporting characters. As the industry is increasingly preoccupied with the new formats and digital delivery, here's hoping studios don't forget the extras.