How were "the making of" docs shown before the DVD age?

So, I bought a new DVD yesterday. The film was made in the 1970’s, well before the DVD age, but it included an interesting “the making of” documentary detailing, naturally, the making of the film. Now, it seems to me (and perhaps I’m wrong) that nowadays directors or producers will make these kinds of documentaries specifically so that they can be included on the DVD’s “special features” section. But what about these kinds of documentaries that were made for films in the past? How and when were they shown? In the theatre briefly before the movie started? On TV? Limited theatrical release on their own? Shown to distributors? I’m confused.

HBO showed “the making of” specials as far back as the 1980s, from what I can remember. Since HBO and Showtime were around in the 1970s, they might have been shown even back that far.

I don’t remember VHS/Beta tapes with “special features”

I have a few VHS tapes that had some quick comment before the movie started that dsaid “Stay tuned at the end of the movie for an interview with” kind of stuff. I specifically recall one on my VHS tape of The Manchurian Candidate, where they interviewed Frank Sinatra.

They were often shown on Tv to publicise the theatre release = free advertising.

I believe they are mostly produced now to fill out the larger capacity of DVDs compared to VHS - to supposedly " add value" but the little which I have seen would hardly have merited any paid for screentime in a proper documentary.

They made them at least as far as the 60’s, after the movies stopped seeing TV as a competitor and instead as an ally. Networks would show them as filler when movies on TV would run short on time, to promote new releases

example: The Dirty Dozen

I have a VHS copy, either from the late 80s or early 90s (I was born in 1988 and know we had it before 1994) of The Wizard of Oz with special features after the closing credits: the reconstructed Jitterbug scene and the extended “If I Only Had a Brain,” plus I think something about Buddy Ebsen.

My mid-1990s VHS copies of the Star Wars films have interviews with George Lucas before the main feature.

Very occasionally on TV, you’d see a special documentary on how some famous film was made, but it was rare and almost always for a huge blockbuster like the Wizard of Oz, or 2001: A Space Odyssey — not the thousands and thousands of more ordinary films, like say The Goodbye Girl.

In modern times I’ve been surprised, when renting or buying DVDs, how often they have interviews or special “making-of” footage to show, even on older movies. For example, my DVD of Monty Python and the Holy Grail has interviews with the cast, done during filming back in the early 70s. If this “making-of” documentary was ever shown in US theaters, or broadcast on US television, I never saw it or heard of it. It was probably only ever shown on British TV, I’m guessing.

I remember seeing “making of” documentaries on regular tv for “Empire Strikes Back” in the 1980s. It was usually like a special event thingy.

Hmmm, interesting. I don’t remember having any tapes with special features on them in the past. I remember the first X-Men movie had deleted scenes on the VHS after the film, but I just assumed they were included so that the VHS could compete with the DVD. I always assumed most consumers in the early days of DVDs started buying the new format for the special features as much (or moreso) as for the improved clarity.

Hell, does VHS even exist anymore?

Dating from the 1960s? How about “And She Learned About Dames” from 1934?

It “shows” the movie Dames being filmed (with a frame tale about a girl winning a contest and going onto the set). It was made to promote the film in Warner Brothers theaters (movie companies owned theaters in those days).

I wouldn’t be surprised if other films of that nature were made during the 30s.

Slightly different was The Epic that Never Was, from 1965 about the attempt to make a film out of I, Claudius in the 1930s.

Does anyone know where I could get “The Making Of DVDs”?


Many VHS tapes would have the special features BEFORE the film, meaning that even if you fast-forwarded through them, there was a good chance of seeing things that would spoil the story. Disney was notoriously bad for this. The Beauty & The Beast VHS had a clip of the end of the film…not that we didn’t know how it was gonna end anyway.

The first Making Of I ever saw was for Star Wars, and that was in 1978 (as the film was released late in 1977 where I lived). The second one that I can remember was for Raiders of the Lost Ark, which must have been in 1981.

There were probably others in between, such as for Superman in 1978, but I have no memory of them.

Both were shown on TV, a convenient half hour filler before the News started, or for a Saturday afternoon after the Cricket finished early. This is still a common spot for them.

Movie theaters used to show “short subjects” between double-features ( Some of those short pieces would be about the making of features. See which lists shorts that Olivia de Havilland was in, including a “making of” feature about “Anthony Adverse”

No, sorry, but I do have the Betamax and Laserdisc versions. :stuck_out_tongue:

Film festivals?

WAG: These days movie companies produce “electronic press kits” to send to media outlets. I presume that this practice goes back decades. These usually aren’t cohesive documentaries, but a collection of sound bites, movie clips, and behind-the-scenes footage, which could easily be repurposed into DVD extras.