Part 2: The Art, Craft and Business of Compelling DVD ‘Bonus’ with David Naylor

Daniel Dae Kim and David Naylor on the set of "Hawaii Five-O"

In part II of our interview with director/producer David Naylor, we continue to discuss his experience and unique perspective when it comes to producing ‘value-added’ material, primarily for DVD and Blu-ray.

Question: You have a reputation for earning the trust of filmmakers and producers, including such household names as J.J. Abrams, Glenn Caron (Medium), Chris Carter (The X-Files), Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Peter Lenkoff of Hawaii Five-O and Leonard Goldberg for Blue Bloods and getting unique access because of these special relationships. How do you think you’ve done this?

Answer: The most important thing when building up these relationships is earning the trust. Once you earn the trust of one, it becomes a lot easier to build on that with the next. If you’re trusted with scripts and schedule and confidential details of a major production and you’re careful about not letting that info out, and not releasing spoilers, you’ve demonstrated that you’re there to do the work you’re there to do and not to use it for your benefit for something else. Be professional…if you’re professional, then they appreciate that. It’s really no more complicated than that.

Q: What would you say to content owners who on the fence about whether producing bonus for a DVD release?

A: It’s a bit of a self-serving answer, of course, but I’d suggest that you definitely do it. I mean, who doesn’t want that extra surprise, that extra gift accompanying a film or a series you’re interested in. It’s not a very expensive part of the production and it’s highly appreciated on the consumer’s part. It also enhances the preservation process. People’s memories of iconic shots or moments in movie history are preserved within bonus content. I think there are many more arguments for it than against it.  Especially now that physical product seems to be taking more of a backseat to digital distribution, the need to differentiate the physical product is greater than ever.

Q: What do you think fans like to see within a disc’s ‘special features’?

A: I think there are two kinds of viewers: consumers and fans. Consumers tend to go for bonus like deleted scenes. Fans like deleted scenes, sure…but fans like to see more than just this. True fans really like to get into how films are made and all the various elements are part of that. True fans want to hear from the actor who made the show…they want to hear from the director about how a certain shot was achieved. They want to hear first hand from the people involved. Fans love to see behind the scenes of a production, character and story. They love to see things that really show the amount of work that goes into the show…like the stunt rigging or the prod design. I like to showcase certain departments which work behind the scenes, who don’t get the limelight, but their work is so critical to the filmmaking process. I think fans really like to get into a show at that level. Of course, you want to create bonus which appeals to both groups, so when things like deleted scenes or bloopers are available, you definitely want to include them in the bonus package.

Q: How do you see the rapidly-evolving interest in ‘second screen’ or companion apps complementing traditional ‘value-added material’ on disc-based releases?

It’s an interesting question. From a creative point of view, I would love to see how this develops. Apps open up such an intriguing interactive angle which really augments the viewer experience. My previous work for DVD and Blu-ray-based bonus has tended to be more linear. I like to showcase certain departments which work behind the scenes, who don’t get limelight, but their work is so critical to the filmmaking process. For example, if you’ve watched a show without music, it’s a whole different experience. But apps allow so much more to be available to the viewer — imagine being able to dynamically create a new score for a key scene. Something like that is possible within DVD and Blu-ray spec, but the possibilities available via an app-based bonus feature are much more interesting. Who knows where this new technology will lead us?

Not long ago, Giant’s app development team created a companion app for A&E’s America: The Story of US which provided access to primary documents and maps, additional supporting material, a trivia and social media connections. We were a bit ahead of the curve there – it’d be interesting to see that project come back to life. I know our Interactive group is actively collaborating with other clients on even better stuff.

As for ‘second screen’ apps, apps which are synched to the program, I think there’s a lot of potential there to create a very compelling experience. There have been some good ones released, but there’s still so much potential out there…the sky’s the limit.

Q: What’s the show/who’s the star who ‘got away’ – the featurette you haven’t been able to do, but wish you had?

A: There are a couple, but I still hold out some hope that the stars will align and I’ll still get to do them. So I don’t want to say too much now. Sorry!

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I’m wrapping up season two of Blue Bloods and Hawaii Five-O and working on a new pilot project about Ralph Lamb with Nick Pileggi (writer Good Fellas, Casino) and Robert DeNiro called NYC-22. And waiting for Common Law to start airing so we can start on some interesting stuff for that. It’s looking like a very busy spring.

Q: Thank you.