For much of film history, the only people making movie commentaries were the actors, directors or producers directly involved in the making of any given film. These commentary tracks, usually included on a DVD version of the film or in subsequent special releases, were a great way to learn more about the film or to hear some behind the scenes stories, but they almost always featured a bias or predisposition to the film being shown. All too often, actors or directors in movie commentaries would stop being interesting and instead start being self-congratulatory, causing many listeners to simply turn off the commentary and enjoy the film on its own.
These days however, with streaming services and other internet services taking over the film and media industry, just about anyone can create awesome, insightful movie commentaries for their audience. Using platforms like Revid, comedians, podcasters and content creators around the world are now able to watch movies, comment on them, and share those tracks directly with their audience with ease!
But what makes a good movie commentary? How can you be sure that your audience listens to the whole thing and stays interested throughout? Here’s a few tips on how to keep listeners engaged!
Offer Technical Advice or Filmmaking Tips
Few viewers listen to a commentary the first time they watch a film, so it’s likely that, if a listener is engaging with your commentary, they’ve seen the film you’re discussing already. For this reason, if you can, it’s not a bad idea to take a cue from the classic director/actor commentary method and offer technical or filmmaking advice to your audience.
Is there a really cool or challenging scene in the film that you’re commenting on? Do you know how the director was able to shoot it? If so, this is the type of content and behind-the-scenes action that listeners love to hear. If you have any sort of filmmaking or technical knowledge, be sure to share it, as this type of information is almost always interesting to listeners and film buffs alike.
Make it Fun or Silly
Sometimes the best commentaries are the ones that can make listeners laugh. If you have comedic talent, consider making commentaries that are full of jokes! This is a great way to interact with an audience, as commentary tracks almost always make so-bad-it’s-good movies all the more fun to watch. Think about how much more fun it would be to watch The Room if you had someone there making jokes the whole time!
The success of properties like Mystery Science Theater 3000 or Muggle Hustle proves that this riffing, improvisational comedy format can work really well, for good and “bad” movies alike. And why wouldn’t it? There’s nothing better than the feeling of sitting on a couch cracking jokes with some friends. If you can give this to your audience — making them laugh at a bad movie or causing them it through an entirely different comedic lens — they’re sure to keep listening to hear the next punchline! Add in a group of friends and maybe even a few drinks to loosen up, and audiences are sure to let the track play to its completion and come back for more.
Give Important Context
Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate a piece of art if you don’t have the right context for viewing it or if you don’t know much about what went into creating it. If this is the kind of value you can offer to your audience, it’s a great idea to focus on such things in your movie commentaires. Though this is similar to offering filmmaking advice to your audience, the ways you can offer context goes far beyond that.
Are you a history expert? Perhaps you can explain on your commentary track the intricacies behind historical films like Seven Samurai or Dunkirk. Do you know a lot about sports? Offer insights into movies like Moneyball or Rocky, and explain whether something in the film is realistic or not. Whatever you’re knowledgeable about, use that knowledge to offer value in your commentaries. Audiences are hungry for artistic context, and, if you can provide it, they’re sure to keep the track playing!
Change Someone’s Mind
Lastly, one of the best ways to keep audiences engaged with your movie commentary is to focus on trying to persuade your audience of something. One of the most magical things about movie commentaries is their ability to make viewers completely change their mind on a film or topic. If you have an insight or argument that you think could make a viewer do an about-face on a topic, that’s a great thing to include in your commentary tracks.
If you’re fiercely passionate about a film widely considered bad or mediocre, making a positive or persuasive commentary track about why you love the film is something that will be sure to attract an audience. Similarly, if you think a movie that many people love is actually bad or problematic, consider making a commentary track trying to convince others as to why. Taking a controversial or unpopular opinion is a classic way to attract attention on the internet, but if you can offer interesting and insightful commentary as to why you think the things you do, viewers and listeners are sure to come listen.
So, now that you know some ways to make a great movie commentary, how should you go about doing it? Well, with Revid, a platform that allows all users to create and listen to movie commentaries, it’s simple. Content creators are able to record their own commentaries and upload it directly to Revid’s site, which includes a browser addon that monitors the current position of a streamed movie and automatically adjusts the commentary to ensure the two are synchronized, even if the user pauses, or fast-forwards the movie. With this, as well as with all the tips above, you’re sure to be able to create a movie commentary that will keep audiences engaged for hours on end! So get out there, pick a movie, and start making your tracks today!