Making-of Documentaries: Historical Precedents, Conventions and Visualizing Production Work (SCMS Panel, Seattle, 2014)

full name / name of organization: 
Daniel Steinhart/UCLA
contact email: 

Seeking papers for proposed panel at SCMS conference in Seattle, March 19-23, 2014.

A staple of DVD and Blu-ray extras, cable TV programming, and online publicity campaigns, the making-of documentary (MOD) has brought the public a privileged if somewhat hyped look at the filmmaking process. But more than a disposable component of promotions, MODs are rich texts for the study of film, television and their making. The late Paul Arthur once described the MOD as the "quintessential pop culture antispectacle" with a long history and enduring themes. More recently, scholars such as John Caldwell, Kelly Hankin, and Nicola Jean Evans have demonstrated that MODs are important texts for understanding the cultures of production work and the public's attraction to peeking behind the scenes. This panel aims to contribute to this discussion by analyzing the MOD's history, aesthetics, thematic conventions, and visualization of production work. Topics may include:

-Historical precedents of MODs: studio tours, promotional featurettes, exhibitor sales trailers, studio TV programs (e.g., Disneyland, Warner Bros. Presents)

-Themes and aesthetics of MODs: stylistic and formal conventions, the use of the source film or TV show as a metaphor for its making

-The visualization of production work and the filmmaking craft

-The public identity of filmmakers, TV creators, actors, studios, production companies, and media industries promoted through MODs

-The creators and production of MODs

-MODs and promotional campaigns

-Analyses of feature-length MODs: Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One, Burden of Dreams, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, Lost in La Mancha

Please submit an abstract of no more than 2500 characters, 3-5 bibliographic sources, and a brief bio to Daniel Steinhart ( by August 10. Notification by August 15.