Elevating the Craft of DVD Production6 Apr, 2003 By: Kurt Indvik
The crafting of a top tier DVD these days shows just how far the disc has propelled the home video industry into the mainstream Hollywood filmmaking community.
Just five years ago, movies were slapped onto VHS with, perhaps, some trailers for other upcoming videos and, maybe, some contest or other promotion. Now the process of crafting a DVD can begin even before the first day of shooting the movie itself. The fact that DVDs are a new form of entertainment, not just a new platform to deliver a movie, is something I think retailers need to convey both to their employees and, in turn, to their customers. Studios, too, need to make more of an effort, I think, to highlight the elements of this new form of entertainment in their marketing.
Video Store Magazine has embarked on a regular series of articles focusing on the DVD producer; what he or she does and how they are developing this craft. This week's issue features Mark Rowen, DreamWorks head of DVD production. For Rowen the work often begins the minute the studio gives the greenlight to a project. That meant, in the case of Catch Me If You Can (streeting May 6), going through the script even before shooting starts to learn the story and plan DVD content. From there he deploys a variety of talented people, like documentarian Laurent Bouzereau and others, to create the content that enhances the film's impact and fits the director's artistic vision.
More and more, DVD producers are being brought in before a film begins production because the director and the studio understand that the DVD is a creative extension of the film itself and can add value to the overall “brand” extension of the film. It's not just that home video has become a major financial element in a film's success — often outperforming the theatrical take — that's pretty much a given. But that financial reality, combined with the technological capabilities of DVD, have propelled the DVD producer and the resulting home video product to a new stature in the Hollywood community.
I think one area where studios could do more to educate consumers as to the extra value of DVD is to use some of their marketing efforts to highlight DVD extras. For instance, one of the great things about the Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron DVD was the very cool “Learn to Draw” feature, and the make-your-own-movie application. These were terrific and unique extras that, I think, were great selling points, but I don't recall DreamWorks highlighting these in their advertising. There is no arguing that home video is still all about the movie, but the skill and effort going into many DVDs these days needs to be given some extra exposure so that consumers place a greater value on the extras one finds on DVDs.
This will only serve to keep the perceived value of DVDs high in consumers' minds even as they see prices falling on catalog product.