Why Behind the Scenes Matter

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By Paul Cezanne [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (left); Me eating lemons in Beyza Boyacioglu's In a Manner of Speaking (right).

If behind the scenes make up the recipe, is the film the meal? We buy bananas; we make a smoothie. We go apple-picking; we make an apple pie. Life throws you lemons; you make a lemonade. We write, direct, animate, edit a film, and voila! Everybody watches it on the big (or small) screen.

I think you get what I'm trying to say but let me try again. There's the making of a film, and then there's the film. In other words, one leads to the other. That's the obvious way to look at it. In this blog, I will attempt to answer the following question: If you were to compare the making of (behind the scenes) to the end product (the movie), which analogy would be the best fit?

a) Lemons --> Lemonade

b) Fruits --> Fruit punch

c) Apples --> Oranges

The answer is tricky, and it could really be any of the above depending how you look at the question. If you view each scene in a movie as a lemon, then all of the scenes combined will result in a lemonade. Pretty straightforward. If you think of all the different components that go into the making of a movie, such as writing (strawberries), casting (bananas), directing (pineapples), and editing (oranges), then you'll get a fruit punch. But, have you ever thought of the behind the scenes and the film itself as completely different animals (or fruits)? In a story and/or production sense, the two are inseparable. But in a promotion and distribution context, they can be easily separated and treated as different content. The question is how?!

Back in the day, no one except the cast and the crew of a film had the priviledge and the pleasure to experience the making of a film.  In the 90s, thanks to the insurgence of DVDs, we got the chance to watch the behind the scenes footage in the bonus features. I remember watching one of my favorite films by Robert Altman, Network, with Altman's commentary (the original sound was muted), and it changed the way I looked at storytelling and making movies forever. Discovering and understanding the way my favorite filmmaker made his movies was an extremely joyful moment for me. And, it was a completely different experience from watching the movie itself. In a way, the making-of was a movie of its own. 

Now, the Internet makes it easier than ever. So many filmmakers post making-of(s) and behind the scenes videos online, but the videos alone don't make up the treasure. Animators post their drawings, actors post their casting tapes, cinematographers talk about why they chose a particular camera and how they lit a scene. This is utterly the filmmaking heaven, and we are lucky to be living right in the middle of it. 

One of the first things we tell filmmakers when they start uploading their films on Film Annex is to also upload their behind the scenes videos. Lately, some of our filmmakers like Grzegorz Jonkajtys, Kevin Parry, Ken Turner, and Marius Herzog have been posting their drawings, photos, and videos to tell the stories of their storytelling. When you think about it, it's super meta. This content is not only entertaining, informative, inspiring, and fun to watch, but it's also another way for filmmakers to monetize their content online. As the revenues are based on impressions, every new video, every new blog, and drawing becomes an extra dollar in the filmmaker's piggy bank. 

If you're a filmmaker with skill and passion, then sharing your making-of(s) with the world is a great way to connect with your viewers. It is for a fact that they will appreciate your work more than ever, and they will be inspired to create after watching you make everything work. So here are some links for starters:

Abel Ferrara shares his entire behind the scene collection for his latest film, 4:44, with his fans.

Ken Turner shares a video in which he compares his storyboard to the final animation.

Kevin Parry explains how he built this puppet in his blog. 

Amy Hill writes about how she made Kyle.

Concluding from what I've been talking about, I'd like to finally state that behind the scenes aka making-of(s) and the movie itself can easily be apples and oranges, and as fruit lovers, we can enjoy both.

Till next time, 


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