We’re all about comics here at Panels on Pages, but a geek cannot live on comics alone. Outside the Longbox is our chance to spotlight something outside our typical four-color realm – be it movies, music, TV or whatever.
As a lifelong movie fan, I have always been fascinated by the filmmaking process. Nearly every trip to the library as a young man involved checking out a book that chronicled the making of some of my favorite movies. The advent of DVD and Blu-Ray technology gave us all easy access to behind-the-scenes featurettes and director commentaries that shed even more insight onto how certain films progressed from the page to the screen. With physical media slowly being phased out due to the rise of on-demand streaming media, these features may be harder to come by in the years to come, but one website now exists that combines the “making of” features and commentaries we all know and love into feature-length documentaries that offer some of the most comprehensive accounts of how the most loved films of all time were made. This website, named Filmumentaries.com, is the brainchild of budding filmmaker Jamie Benning who has so far compiled four amazing documentaries documenting the making and marketing of the original Star Wars trilogy and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The videos featured on Filmumentaries.com play the entire movie being featured in sequence while providing frequent voice-over commentaries from the people involved in making the film. These people include familiar voices like the director and stars of the film but also include the producers, writers, and various crew members and special effects experts who worked on the movie. Occasionally a scene or shot from the movie will be replaced with a shot of the scene being filmed or a storyboard that shows what the scene and/or specific characters looked like in the planning stage. There are also text commentaries placed throughout the film giving more inside information and trivia about the movie and the scene being shown. Watching a Filmumentary may be disorienting at first, but once the formula is established, it provides a fascinating and highly entertaining look into the collaborative world of filmmaking and gives the viewer an idea of just how much work and planning goes into creating a well-made and popular film.
In addition to the four main Filmumentaries, which can also be found on Youtube and Vimeo, Benning’s site also includes many written interviews with members of the cast and crew from the films he features as well as other like-minded people interested in film history and preservation. He also includes as frequent blog postings filling his readers in on his progress regarding his next project. These entries really give the reader an idea of just how much research and compiling goes into making these features, which all pays off once they are complete. I still wonder just how he gets his hands on some of this footage, but it definitely shows how hard he works at them and how committed he is to this project. Benning is currently working on a Filmumantary detailing the making of Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic Jaws as awareness of his site continues to grow. In this day and age when many up and coming filmmakers get their start by making DIY short films on the Internet, much like Dan Trachtenberg did with his wonderful Portal: No Escape, this project will more than likely lead to bigger and better things for Benning in the realm of filmmaking, documentary or otherwise.
Click here to visit Filmumentaries.com for all of Jamie Benning’s features and updates regarding the making of his upcoming project, Inside Jaws.