Mark Evanier sheds some uncomfortable light on what it’s like to be asked to be part of a DVD bonus feature. Too often, valuable sources like him are asked (even expected) to participate without compensation, regardless of the effect on their schedule. Many times, they aren’t even given a copy of the resulting DVD.
More and more, I don’t buy DVDs unless they provide substantial bonuses. (Especially when it comes to classic films, which I can otherwise record from TCM.) I want studios to create and include that material to make it worthwhile for me to own that movie, and I want them to fairly compensate the talent who contributes to that bonus material. If not, everyone loses out. The customer doesn’t get the benefit of added information from sources with substantial knowledge. The studio doesn’t sell as many discs as they could have. What we often end up with are lame examples of company executives telling us things we already know.
Unfortunately, given the way corporations think, I predict that, if valuable sources refuse to participate, the studios will simply quit doing bonus material and then continue complaining that home media sales are declining. Few companies these days are willing to give away a penny to make an extra dollar, although that’s the sensible strategy. As Evanier sums up,
You don’t have to make a buck off everything you do. But there are some things in this world that are done for a profit and by not insisting on a share, all you’re doing is charity work for Disney. Or Time-Warner. Or some other financial force of nature.
Scott is right. Those of us who were privileged to work with guys like Bill and Joe and Bob and Tex and men like Jack Kirby… we have an obligation to share what we heard and observed. That’s one reason I have this blog and do other things like articles and convention panels, gratis. But I have to remember not to be so quick to do it for free for people who are going to turn around and sell it… because that’s not a commitment to history. That’s a commitment to being a chump.