Kristin Thompson has posted another good entry in her series on DVD supplements that actually tell you something. This reminded me of a good featurette on the Gamer DVD, “Inside the Game.” Although it does include some of the usual “he/she is so great to work with” crap (and the basically useless commentary is full of it), one of the things I really liked about it is that they interviewed the producers as well as the creative personnel. The producer perspective is very interesting for presenting the kinds of creative constraints on a production. I felt the same way about the special features on the recent “Ultimate Cut” of Blade Runner, where they interviewed the producers who had lost faith in the film during production and forced the controversial changes. It was fascinating to get their perspective, even though in their case they were ultimately proved wrong about the worth of the movie, both artistically and financially.
There’s another featurette on the Gamer DVD about the Red digital camera they used, which Kristin Thompson says is also the subject of a featurette on the DVD of The Social Network. Gamer was apparently the first feature film shot with the Red, so the documentary focuses on the collaboration between the Gamer crew and the developers of the camera in working out some of the kinks. But the most fascinating thing to me was the developers talking about how Red is not a video camera. It shoots 24 frames per second just like the previous generations of film cameras, and it is specifically an attempt to mimic film cameras.
So much for the good stuff. I also want to mention one little source of nerd rage caused by Thompson’s article. She talks about a supplement on the District 9 DVD where apparently the following claim is made: “It’s fairly typical of these sorts of supplements, but there is a discussion of how the space-ship design was consciously imitating the style of sci-fi films of the 1970s and 1980s. That is, Alien (1979) introduced the notion that space craft could be corroded and dingy … as opposed to the squeaky-clean interiors of the ships in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).”
Alien did not introduce the crusty-looking spaceship. My candidate would be the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars (1977), although for all I know there were earlier ones than that, but I’m old enough to remember how remarkable it was that the Millennium Falcon looked so battered. We talked about it at the time.