DVD Commentaries--How They Are Put Together

How are commentaries put together? Do all the people who make the commentaries sit in a room together and watch the movie on a huge screen? Is it like a voice-over studio?

Yup. They don’t usually watch it on a huge screen; generally just a monitor. Each participant will have a headset, so they can listen to the original soundtrack without it showing up on the commentary track (so they can adjust the levels accordingly afterwards). But yeah, they just sit at a table, watch the film, and comment away. Oh, sometimes the participants do their commentaries seperately, and they’re mixed together later. This is the exception, rather than the norm.

Obligatory plug: I got to do it once. It’s fun!

Ooh, Anamorphic. Nifty DVD. Saul Bass. Cool.


If you want to watch a commentary actually being made, several of Kevin Smith’s DVD’s have the option of letting you switch from the movie to a tape of the commentators.

I definately prefer spontaneous, everyone-in-one-room commentaries to those separately recorded ones. The latter just always seems very dry and formal, whereas the former always has more of a personal feel to them.

An exception to this rule is the commentary to the gore-sleaze classic “Cannibal Ferox.” Director Umberto Lenzi and star John Morghan were recorded separately, as they totally hated each other and refused to even be in the same room together, but their commentaries were fused together to hilarious effect.

At one point, during a sequence in a jungle village, Lenzi talks about how beautiful it was to shoot there, how the locals were the friendliest types around, a great time for cast and crew, etc., the usual movie spiel…and then the track cuts to Morghan, who calls the village location “the asshole of the whole fucking world” and described the natives as hostile cocaine-addicted illiterates who stole everything in sight while the cast and crew were fed nothing but bread and butter by the producers.

This unique juxtaposition of comments carries on throughout the entire film…at one point Lenzi saying, “I feel like this is my best film” and Morghan following right up with “this film is a piece of shit, but I hope you, the viewer, liked my performance.”

The Goonies commentary also switches back and forth between the movie and a studio filled with the cast. At some points they all talk at once making it difficult to follow though.