Six steps to a better DVD
20.11.47 - Mark
Having been watching a bunch of movies recently, most of them on DVD, I'm finding myself annoyed by the same few "features" of the DVD's I've been watching.
1) Kill off the cheesy anti-piracy propaganda
First off, I really don't want to be reminded that piracy is illegal, when I've legally acquired the DVD I'm viewing it on. You really have to wonder what the MPAA's logic is in including their anti-piracy videos on legal media. You never see them pirated material, so they're beating honest customers over the head with propaganda.
2) I've been warned, can I watch my film now?
To be fair, the FBI and Interpol copyright warnings are somewhat excusable, in that by forcing everyone to view them for 10 to 20 seconds takes out any reasonable claim of ignorance. However, do you really need to force me to view them every single time I put the DVD in? Either make it something I can skip, or put it somewhere where it doesn't feel like I'm getting browbeaten with it.
3) Intrusive Marketing. Part One
Then there is the various branding and trailers that used to plague VHS tapes. I think its fine if you want to include some in the special features, however sticking in half a dozen trailers - often on top of the various piracy warnings - is pretty damned annoying. More so in a few months (or years) when I come back wanting to watch a movie and am forced to watch trailers for movies where I've long since forgotten and had no interest in to begin with.
4) Intrusive Marketing. Part Two
Don't feel obligated to loudly pronounce who you are before showing me the film either. I honestly don't care is the DVD I'm watching came from United Artists, Fox, Paramount, or the struggling artist down the street. I just want to see the movie
5) More than a movie
There's only one real reason I buy movies, rather than watch them on TV or add them to my Netflix queue, and that's special features. It should be a crime to release a DVD without any special features, and yet they keep doing it. By far the worst offender I've seen has been the DVD release of eXistenZ which is a spiritual brother to Dark City and The Matrix (the first one) in that the movie totally fucks with your mind by questioning how we perceive reality. It's one of the few movies where I have really, really wanted to watch it again with some form of commentary, but for some bizarre reason the DVD has a total lack of special features. (Just for reference, Dark City, The Matrix, and eXistenZ were all released in 1999. Dark City - despite its relative obscurity - and The Matrix both had feature packed DVD releases)
6) More does not mean "anything"
While I really want to see special features on any DVD I pick up, that does not mean I want to see steaming piles of crap. Short documentaries, production sketches, commentary (director's, actor's, or even a critic's or a fan's) all add to a film. However, some things should be left to die. Many deleted and alternate scenes were left on the cutting room floor for a reason, usually good ones. Simply adding them back in to flesh out a special features menu can be a waste of space (and almost always a bad idea if the deleted scenes don't come with commentary), and anyone who so much as proposes putting cast and crew biographies into the special features should have their eyes pried open and forced to moderate flame wars on IMDB
Compared to actually making a movie, putting together a decent DVD release should not be that hard. For the cost of a few beers you can get fans to create audio commentary (look at what podcasting has done already) and a little common sence should make it easy to create clean intuitive DVD interfaces that don't bombard viewers with MPAA/RIAA propaganda and other Hollywood marketing BS, or at least you would think.