The Case for Streaming Bonus Features
Anyone who works in television has probably had a version of a conversation that goes something like this -
TV Exec Type Person (vaguely ominous): “Welp, sure looks like everything is ‘moving to streaming’ now.” You: “Yeah.” TV Exec (starts sweating): “Heh-heh. Not sure how that’s gonna affect us over here in good ol’ fashioned TV.” You: “Yeah. I dunno. Probably everything will be streaming eventually.” TV Exec (eyes dart around the room): “Boy howdy, I tell ya one thing, not sure how it’s all going to shake out.” You: “Yeah, I-” TV Exec (bursts into tears): “OH GOD I HOPE MY JOB DOESN’T DISAPPEAR! OH PLEASE LORD I JUST BOUGHT A SECOND YACHT! NETFLIX! HULU! FUCKING QUIBI I DON’T CARE PLEASE HIRE ME SO I CAN ESCAPE THIS SINKING SHIP!”
They then politely pay for the check for your Happy Vegan Salad™ on the company card and you go your separate ways. Anyway, the point is, TV is already shifting to streaming across the board. I don’t know many people who still pay for traditional cable or satellite TV; even most people who work in television don’t have cable subscriptions to watch the shows they make. The number of cord cutters in the US already reached 33 million people in 2018 and will surely keep moving in that direction.
If you were a film & TV nerdling of a certain age like I was, you got your de facto TV-making education primer from the wonderful world of DVD extras. I remember the excitement I felt going to a local video store and picking out a movie (or TV series box set), sitting in my parent’s basement, and popping it in to watch the film in its entirety, only to immediately watch it once again with a commentary track by the filmmakers.
I would gobble up every minute of bonus content, watching how they made the puppets in Team America: World Police, listening to the writing process and jokes that were cut from my favorite Simpsons episodes, or hearing Tim Burton talk about making Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.
As soon as I could get my hands on our family’s now-prehistoric black and white home video camera, I was making homemade shorts with my brother and friends. However, I was still a kid who hadn’t the faintest clue about how “real” movies and TV were made — that is, until DVDs came into my life. Not only did I learn about the process that goes into making TV and movies, but I was inspired to see this as a possibility for myself. It looked fun, it looked exciting, and it looked like something I could maybe even do myself one day.
Unless you’re a weird old man like me, hoarding a cabinet of DVDs (and some duplicate Blu-rays) like a brain damaged squirrel stashing up inedible plastic acorns in case of a cloud-storage apocalypse, you probably watch most of your TV and film via one of the major streaming services. If you’re a film nerd person, there aren’t a lot of places to go these days for behind the scenes featurettes and commentary tracks (besides the occasional YouTube page with bootleg fan uploads or niche streaming services like the Criterion Channel).
As other streaming contenders enter the ring, it would be wonderful if the top streaming services like Netflix and Hulu would include bonus content and commentary track options, if not for film geeks like myself, then for the future-filmmaker-nerd kids out there who might be inspired by such materials.