Transcript: DVD producers
J.M. Kenny and Jeff Lerner
on Home Theater Forum
following is a complete transcript of the on-line chat with DVD
producers J.M. Kenny and Jeff Lerner of New Wave Entertainment, held
on Tuesday, November 11th on
Home Theater Forum. Thanks to Ron Epstein, Parker Clack and
the staff the HTF for all their hard work, and for providing the
transcript for all to read. Enjoy!
Home Theater Forum
Subject: J.M. Kenny and Jeff Lerner chat
Date: November 11, 2003
[RonEpstein] I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome DVD
Producers J.M. Kenny and Jeff Lerner to this live chat.
[jmkennyjefflerner] Thanks for having us...
[RonEpstein] You guys have a huge body of work under your belt
including Citizen Kane, Jurassic Park, Casper, The Blues Brothers
and Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory.
[jmkennyjefflerner] Not to mention all of the Harry Potters to date
[RonEpstein] That's right. Right off the bat, I gotta ask you both,
how did you end up getting in the business and eventually working
with each other?
[jmkennyjefflerner] I (JM ) have been doing this for close to seven
years but have been with jeffreyand new Wave for the past three
years. I (Jeff) have been working with New Wave for nine years and
spearheaded the creation of the DVD department here about three
[RonEpstein] Let's begin by opening the floor to anyone that wants
to ask a question.
[ParkerClack] Mr. Kenny. Welcome to our chat. I was wondering if
you could talk a little about your involvement with Willy
Wonka...especially involving getting the cast together
[jmkennyjefflerner] finding the cast was not an easy task - but the
web was an integral part.. i found a guy who wrangled all of the
kids to a convention in NJ called Chiller. We were able to interview
them all in one day adn create the commentary in one night. They
were a blast to work with.
[RonEpstein] I understand you approached Warner about doing the
Anniversary disc and that Gene Wilder was very helpful in pulling
things together. Correct?
[jmkennyjefflerner] Yes on the Warner part and Gene was the last
interview we did after we interviewed the kids. He was the crown
jewel of the piece.
[Anthony_I] How do you go about finding interesting and useful
material that people WANT to see for special features??? Especially
for older movies where material may be harder to find
[jmkennyjefflerner] Great queston. We scour a variety of sources
from the internet, libraries and archival houses and even personal
mementos. We have a staff of researchers who help us gather the
materials to produce the speciall features. Our best source is the
studio and the filmmakers.
[RonEpstein] A question for each of you....what are your personal
favorite Special Editions you have done and why?
[jmkennyjefflerner] (Jeff) I really enjoyed working n The Right
Stuff Se which was released this past May. I met with director
Philip Kaufman and talked with several of the cast and crew who were
very helpful ingetting us materials. I also had the opportunity to
talk with the Mercury Astronauts and the great Chuck Yeager. Also I
loved doing the Citizen Kane and CAsablanca commentaries with Roger
Ebert. And Harry Potter 1, 2...
[ParkerClack] The Right Stuff finally done right.
[jmkennyjefflerner] (JM) Well, Wonka is up at the top with Dances
With Wolves, The Omen box set, MASH and Dogma. For me the
retrospective documentary is the most attractive element.
[jmkennyjefflerner] Thanks for the Right Stuff props.
[MikeS] Do you have any advice for someone who is trying to enter
the DVD producing field?
[jmkennyjefflerner] Mike, that's a good question. Everyone has a
different story on how they became involved in the DVD business. We
both recommend that you have a passion for a particular film and
learn to research and develop interesting features that others would
[Anthony_I] The average DVD costs ~$30, Of that how much do you get
from each one sold, and how much is lost each year due to piracy?
[jmkennyjefflerner] Unfortunately, we do not get revenue from the
sales of DVDs. We are work for hire producers who are contracted to
produce the special features. On piracy, it is a very serious
concern for all of us. We see a lot of DVDs on e-bay that are
knocked off. We all suffer because the price of the DVDs to all of
you will go up.
[RonEpstein] What generally happens when you start a DVD
project....do you begin with a budget or do you gather materials and
then give the studio an idea of what you need to produce the DVD?
Perhaps it's a little of both?
[jmkennyjefflerner] We go through a proposal stage, literally
kicking ideas around, get the studio to approve the proposal, and
they set a budget. Then we start our production phase where we
contact people, gather materials, shoot new interviews and start
editing. The process takes from a few weeks to a few months to get
[ParkerClack] Since the space on a DVD is limited do they also give
you a time alotment to work with?
[jmkennyjefflerner] The delivery dates dictate what goes on a disc,
and how long we have to find those hard to get people. We extend as
long as we can to get people, but sometimes we have to move on
[jmkennyjefflerner] Parker - great question. Absolutely. Space is
always issue. We try to always come up as much material as possible.
[Anthony_I] Basically do you get to take movies home before the
[jmkennyjefflerner] no. Never. We have a secure vault where the
film stays. We can only view it here at our facility. It never
leaves the building and the studios appreciate that. And we take
that very seriously. Although we do get to view them.:)
[ParkerClack] The production values and quality on the Potter DVDs
was fantastic. Any inside stories about them?
[jmkennyjefflerner] (Jeff) Thank you Parker. We have a very
extensive process in producing the DVDs. Paul Hemstreet (VP of DVD
Special Features) at Warner Home Video gathered a great group to
help develop the special features. Most of the fun stuff happens
when we are in London trying to get materials for the DVD during the
filming of the movie.
[RonEpstein] That has to be exciting. Can you gentlemen perhaps
give us an idea on anything you are working on now for future
[jmkennyjefflerner] We just finished SWAT for columbia tristar. It
comes out later in the year. It's hard to talk about titles that are
currently in production, although we are trying to find one that we
might be able to talk about.
[jmkennyjefflerner] How 'bout this. What do you guys like to see on
a DVD SE?
[ParkerClack] The best possible picture and audio available
[MikeS] interviews, retrospective documentaries, commentary
[RonEpstein] Behind-TRhe-Scenes material that are not
[jmkennyjefflerner] We agree
[RonEpstein] Those HBO/Showtime promos are really bad
[ParkerClack] Original Aspect Ratio and Original Audio. No rebuild
of the audio from mono to 5.1, etc.
[jmkennyjefflerner] We always try to give you more than publicity
[ParkerClack] Set the menus so that the DVD starts with the film
and doesn't make you jump through hoops to get to the movie.
[jmkennyjefflerner] We like that too.
[RonEpstein] You did a great job with Wonka because you got the
entire cast together. MGM recently did CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG and
made no attempt to get the child stars included in the supplements.
[MikeS] At the beginning of commentaries, I like to know who is
talking with who, instead of trying to guess it for 10 or 20
[jmkennyjefflerner] We always have our guests introduce themselves.
But when you have 5 or six people it can be difficult to follow who
[MikeS] You mentioned Gene Wilder - are there any other
stars/directors you are particularly proud of getting to participate
in a DVD, or some that have continuously eluded you that you'd love
[jmkennyjefflerner] It can be extremely difficult to get people. We
make every effort to try to get folks but there are a multitude of
reasons why we can't. Location, health, commitments, etc.
[ParkerClack] I liked Costner's involvement with Wolves on the SE.
[jmkennyjefflerner] Mike, I (JM) love working with Kevin Smith,
Wolfgang Petersen, and Kevin Costner. Costner gets DVD and respects
the fans of his films.
[jmkennyjefflerner] (Jeff) I recently worked with Jonathan Mostow
on T3 and he really was helpful and supportive of what we wanted to
do with the DVD.
[RonEpstein] DVD has changed the entire industry as to how films
are made, because I imagine the DVD extras are put together at the
time of the filming
[ParkerClack] Do you get the chance to start with a movie from the
git go with the idea that you are going to produce the DVD later on?
[jmkennyjefflerner] What we find interesting is that many directors
will tell us they have saved materials for the DVD in production.
Many of the direcors are becoming DVD savy and want us to
captureand/or have access to things they feel are important to
preserve during the production of the film.
[MikeS] I was wondering why the alternate ending from Vacation
wasn't included on the DVD.
[jmkennyjefflerner] Good question Mike. We had heard that it was
around, although the studio did'nt have it and the further we looked
the more we realized that no one actually has it. We tried.
[Steve_Simon] Hey guys, was curious what your thoughts are on the
future High Definition DVD format, and was curious if you guys have
been shown any prototypes of the technology being you'r in the
field?? Being this will be the future for us Home Theater , It must
be exciting looking foward to your works being in 1080i
[jmkennyjefflerner] We have seen the Blue Ray technology, which was
cool, and are being asked by the studios to consider shooting
materials in Hi-Def. Right now there is no officially recognized
format for hi def by the studios.
[jmkennyjefflerner] Anything that makes our stuff look better - we
are for. done
[Steve_Simon] Is there any sort of timetable the studios are
talking about, or will this be delayed In your opinion for years?
[jmkennyjefflerner] Hard to say. We don't think it will be years.
As soon as a format is decided on, we will probably see fast
movement to start producing content for Hi-Def. Keep your fingers
[RonEpstein] You guys have a lot of control over the content you
put in a disc, or are the studios very controlling over what they
will permit you to do on a DVD?
[jmkennyjefflerner] It is a collaboration, although they will
always have final say. All the studios we work with pay close
attention to what you guys like and try to come up eith stuff that
[ParkerClack] I hear a lot of talk about 2K and 4K resolution. Is
the hardware out there for this or still just in the development
stage? Wouldn't it make sense to shoot in 4K and then just
downconvert to 1080p or such for the end market?
[jmkennyjefflerner] The reality is who actually has the viewing
capacity for the material at this time. There are ways to convert
images, but until there is enough viewers who can watch it is hard
to make the jump. New compression algorythms are being developed to
maximize image and not take up huge amount of disc space.
[jmkennyjefflerner] You guys watch and review many SE's. What makes
a complete SE?
[RonEpstein] That depends, Special Editions come in many shapes and
sizes -- 1 disc, 2 discs, etc. Sometimes studios label a disc a
Special Edition and it has nothing special on it.
[jmkennyjefflerner] Right, so what makes a good one?
[RonEpstein] My idea of a Special Edition is a top-rate audio and
video transfer, followed with a commentary by actors or director (or
production team), trailers (a must!), behind-the-scenes journals
that are not fluff pieces. An effects movie should have a complete
analysis of all the effects work
[jmkennyjefflerner] In Lieu of special features?
[ParkerClack] For me it is making the film look like it just shot
yesterday. I like the extra features but give me the best picture
and audio anyday over extras.
[RonEpstein] If given a choice, audio and video quality over
[Steve_Simon] I would love to see more of the added content be in
Anamorphic if possible I hate it when your watching a perfect 16:9
transfer, and the footage seen in the bonus mats. Is 4:3 or non
[RonEpstein] For the hearing impaired --- subtitles on all the
[Anthony_I] I like to see things like how the movie was
made/filmed, commentaries special effects info (Just think about
LOTR special extended editions) I ESPICALLY love outtakes and
deleted scenes (and picture/audio quality is must)
[MikeS] On older films, I love director and cast commentaries.
[ParkerClack] I like two discs sets because it allows you to have
the best picture and audio on one disc and the extras on another.
[Anthony_I] Parker agreed
[peterkurpiewski] I really like seeing trailers on the discs and
deleted scenes as well. Deleted scenes in particular because you get
to see some of the other things the creators had worked on during
making the movie.
[jmkennyjefflerner] We are shooting materials 16X9 . Publicity
tends to shoot b-roll 4X3, but they are changing.
[Anthony_I] Outtakes on "serious" movies are the best
[RonEpstein] Agreed, Anthony
[Anthony_I] or movies like Monsters Inc, Toy Story, etc.
[peterkurpiewski] I also agree with having very good picture/audio
quality, but one would hope that the initial release would have just
as good quality as well.
[jmkennyjefflerner] I agree anthony - they are funnier
[ParkerClack] I mean take a look a some of the best selling DVDs in
the past year. They are all two or more disc sets with the extras on
another disc. They all sell well.
[jmkennyjefflerner] Yes they do. Studios are putting their best
effort into making their new releases special.
[Steve_Simon] Do you guys have a favorite dvd, which you would
consider the pinnacle in dvd production, and why??
[jmkennyjefflerner] (JM) For me I am really proud of "An
Evening with Kevin Smith" because it is truly an original
production and is not centered around a movie.
[jmkennyjefflerner] (Jeff) I thought the recent 60th Anniv. Edition
of Casablana really included a lot of variety from historic to fun
like the "Carrotblanca' short.
[RonEpstein] Kevin Smith sounds like one of the best people you
would want to work with. He seems like a genuinely "cool"
guy who just loves to make films.
[jmkennyjefflerner] Kevin is a delight to work with. He goes into
his movies thinking about DVD. My first experience was Mallrats then
Dogma and having the ability to travel to 5 colleges and film his
speaking tour was great.
[Anthony_I] Just general here, but i was always wondering why
outtakes arent included on all DVD's i know there are bound to be
tons of "goofs" during production of any movie.
[RonEpstein] Good question. You don't see many blooper reels, and I
know many "wrap parties" show them to the cast after the
film is done
[jmkennyjefflerner] Sometimes filmmakers would rather leave them
out. Also, talent has approval rights on many films. They are shown
to the cast a wrap parties because many of the "Gag reels"
have inside jokes that we as a viewing audience won't get.
[ParkerClack] Besides I think Dick Clark has got the rights to all
of those anyway. :)
[jmkennyjefflerner] No only the ones that aren't funny...:)
[Steve_Simon] What kind of experience does one need to get into
your field of being a Dvd Producer.. I have a degree in Computer
Science, and was wondering if Computer programming has a big role in
what you guys do on a regulat basis??
[Steve_Simon] Is your field a growing field??? Alot of demand?? Or
is it a pretty closed specialized field??
[jmkennyjefflerner] No computer experience required. Interviewing
skills are a must and understanding the narrative process in telling
[jmkennyjefflerner] There are a lot of opportunities out there,not
only in content but in menu design, authoring, duplication,
interactive content. Anyone interested should develop a knowledge of
the industry and try to learn all they can.
[Steve_Simon] With DVD becoming so mainstream, what are your
thoughts on the average GIA Joe out there viewing your works,
inteneted to be viewed in 16:9... 5,1 Auido .. Buying cheap 80
Dollar dvd players, and buying HT In a box systems... I know you
guys take a lot of pride in your works looking the best it can be,
its a shame people can now buy 50 Dollar dvd players... What are
your thoughts on the way Home Theater Gear pertains to dvd
[jmkennyjefflerner] We strive to put the best picture and audio
quality out there in all of our features. We hope that the
homeviewers will try to experience what DVD can offer. We also are
aware that many of you have great home set ups and that's who we
have in mind when we are producing content, Shoot for the best.
[Anthony_I] We cannot all afford top of the line systems with which
to "enjoy" the DVDs and in most cases all poor people like
me could afford is an HTIB or a cheap DVD player. What
hardware/software do you guys use to master the DVDs when its all
ready to go?
[RonEpstein] Anthony, nothing wrong with that
[jmkennyjefflerner] We don't master DVD's. We turn over the content
on digital tape and the studios handle compression and duplication
per their own specs.
[ParkerClack] What would you say over the past couple of years in
the biggest change that you have noticed in the area of DVD
production as a whole?
[jmkennyjefflerner] Shortened production schedules
[ParkerClack] 6 months?
[jmkennyjefflerner] it can be as little as 6-8 weeks. Catalogue
titles tend to have a longer schedule, but not by much. The appetite
for DVD's is immense.
[RonEpstein] On behalf of the membership, Parker and I want to
thank you both for being here tonight.
[jmkennyjefflerner] Thanks guys. We really enjoyed being here.
[RonEpstein] We also want to thank you for some really outstanding
DVD products over the years and for continuing to make these Special
Editions with the fanbase in mind.
[ParkerClack] I really really appreciate all the great work that
you have done. Keep up the great work.
[jmkennyjefflerner] You do the same. Thanks.
[RonEpstein] You guys are welcome to talk here anytime. Please keep
reading our forum for feedback - we think we have the best DVD
enthusiasts of any site out there.
[jmkennyjefflerner] okay. We wished there were more folks here, but
we had fun.
[RonEpstein] We were surprised. Don't feel bad -- it always depends
what is on TV that night. Good night, guys.
[ParkerClack] Good night all!
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