Lumet: Film Maker (1975)

2011 #43a
Elliot Geisinger & Ronald Saland | 10 mins | DVD | PG

This ten-minute documentary short is made up of behind-the-scenes footage of some of the filming of Dog Day Afternoon, with the occasional on-set interview with some (to be honest, minor) crew members, snippets of audio interview with Lumet himself, and a voiceover narration.

Today it’s the kind of material that would come out as part of the EPK and be included on the DVD — it has a largely promotional tone, talking about how great Lumet is to work with, how great Pacino is, that kind of thing. From a modern perspective, much of the information is duplicated elsewhere on the DVD, but for those not interested in a two-hour audio commentary it’s here.

What it does still add is footage of Lumet at work. Based on what we see, you can well imagine how he managed to finish the shoot a whole three weeks ahead of schedule, and how he produced such an authentic-feeling final result. There’s the soundman, for instance, who humorously has to dash off halfway through his interview for the next setup.

It feels a bit daft reviewing what would today be just an EPK and/or DVD featurette. But as this comes from a time before those things existed, when it wasn’t designed to go straight to the DVD just for the interested (though I don’t know where it was shown — in cinemas as a kind of extended trailer, I presume? It doesn’t look like a TV special, especially at just ten minutes), it’s a “documentary short” — look, IMDb says it is.

But then, are feature-length DVD ‘making of’s a kind of film too? Lost in La Mancha would have just been the DVD extras, had the film not gone tits up. What about Hearts of Darkness, which is now, pretty much, placed as ‘just’ a Blu-ray extra?

Oh dear, I fear there may be another lengthy and inconclusive waffle coming on…

4 out of 5

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