DVD Audio Commentary Behind-The-Scenes
a fan I had been looking forward to the DVDs for Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers & Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland with the excitement
of a virgin on prom night, but as a webmaster in 2002 I got the rare chance to
participate in their production. Producer/director Michael A. Simpson has
given the releases his close personal attention, first as representor of
rights to strike a deal with Anchor Bay, then in getting as much extras
from the archives as possible loaded onto the discs. A commentary was also
on the cards and early on, and only Michael was a confirmed participant.
I looked into the possibility of attending myself, since I wanted to hang
out in Hollywood sometime anyway. So before you could say 'Just Taking
Care of Business' I hopped aboard a plane and rocked into LA on a chilly
Bay co-ordinated a hotel nearby the recording facilities (thanks guys!),
the Comfort Inn. Michael and I made plans to meet up,
and on Monday afternoon we went to meet Fritz Gordon, who confirmed he
was attending the commentary. Dinner and a prep session would occur at
Angelis on Melrose. We couldn't find the place since it was so exclusive
they didn't feel the need to advertise it. Before we got there however,
I did pass Jennifer Love Hewitt who does in fact resemble Angela (a post-LA
report wouldn't be complete without celebrity name-dropping).
Angelis I shook the hand of Fritz Gordon. I was humbled to be dining with
him, since he came out of a self-imposed exile to join us. I gleamed alot
of info about his Sleepaway Camp gigs and just generally had a fun
shoot-the-shit session with a pair of cool movie guys. Fritz seemed befuddled
at times at the whole concept of his long ago projects being cult hits,
as is the norm with the pros from the sequels who have since gone on to
a plethora of projects. I think it's set in for him now.
morning, after a late night viewing of Jason X I ventured to Crest
National where Michael, I and Fritz arrived at the same time. We made our
way inside where we were kindly greeted by the staff. The respected company
works with Anchor Bay to produce and duplicate discs here. This Aussie
was suitably impressed. We met with Bo Altherr, friendly DVD Production
Manager for Anchor Bay Entertainment.
then went into the recording tech room where George Bours (above) would
be recording our commentaries, to be done back to back just like the movie's
productions! The Sleepaway Camp Geek in me was awed at the epic
projection of the sequels onto a large screen George had up and running.
Through the heaviest door mankind ever yielded, a thick steel beast manufactured
for soundproofing, we took our seats in the recording room. Michael on
my left (your right speaker), Fritz on my right (your left speaker) and
me in the middle (middle speaker on your stereo, what a Dolby honor).
had a bit of chit chat, and Firtz posed for this candid photo, his generous
mullet bringing a tear to my eye (Note: Fritz asked that I tell all fans
that he is not as fat as the photos make him appear). Moving right along,
we were briefed by George on the do's and don'ts, which basically ammounted
to trying not to make any unnessecary noise with feet or talking away from
the microphone. These hiccups are natural though, so we could stop at any
time and loop our voiceovers, which proved to be a lifesaver.
had a little TV monitor to watch the films on. As Sleepaway Camp 2:
Unhappy Campers started up for a test run of the movie running, I was
bowled bowled over by the quality of the print. Not only was it letterboxed,
the movie looked its sharpest, most vivid ever. Visible is the grotesque
detail of Phoebe's sliced off tongue, previously a casuality of the inferior,
washed-out video print. Amazing as the prints looked to me, I was told
work had not even finished on optimizing their quality.
the sync recording began I introduced myself, my site and the guys then
we got down to business. Michael had an interesting anecdote about Brian
Patrick Clarke during the campfire scene. Fritz had fascinating insight
about Angela. My role was to basically cajole this information out of them
and present the fan viewpoint, even if that meant poking fun now and then
- keeping in the tongue of cheek tone of the movies. Through the taping,
I also brought up (with my hopefully bearable Aussie accent) script changes,
songs/musicians, special FX, etc. But the table belonged to them, and let
loose they did with amazing revelations for fans. It was a blast and a
from the recording
of the SC2 Commentary, we finished up in time for lunch. I had
a grilled cheese, vegetarian pasta and a some coke (the drink that is).
But you're not here to hear about my eating habits - I will say this though
- a hilarious little moment during lunch was when Fritz needed a stretch
so he did a handstand there and then. The guy had such a kind of cynical,
manic energy. An inspiration to all. Anyway, I also had a chat with George
(the sound tech guy) about Anchor Bay's forthcoming Neon Maniacs
disc, a personal favorite, before finishing up lunch.
inside 'The Vault', Michael and Fritz were going over some notes regarding
points to discuss during the SC3 commentary. Seeing these two chat away
was very cool - yes just cool - no use using complicated words to describe something so fan-geeky-tastic - it was
something very simple and satisfying since none of us fans were lucky enough
to see the union of these two minds back in 88 when the films were shot.
But being here almost approximated it.
Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland rolls and off to a great start - I flub my
introduction four, maybe five times. Fritz can be understood for lashing
out at me. I got it together and we went ahead with the commentary, only,
this is the funny thing, it resembled the making of SC2&3 somewhat:
doing the commentaries back to back. So by this time, in the afternoon,
after lunch and working on them all day, we were all somewhat twitchy and
liable to laugh out loud at the slightest funny thing - evident when I
crack a joke about Herman being a "dirty old man running around in his
pyjamas". We burst out laughing for almost a full minute. Thank God for
the ability to go back and redo/edit our dialogue. During the taping, Michael
continued sharing his memories of shooting the camp classics, Fritz continued
revealing depth and tibits only the writer would know, and I continued
pointing out mistakes, pointing out tits, and making a general nuscience
of myself - hey, there were hard questions that needed to be answered!
No lightweight asskissing and blind movie praising here. But seriously,
I got to vent my lifelong love of these movies, and for that I'm very thankful.
finished up in the late afternoon - whew! Michael gave us the thumbs up.
"We did good", he says. After a full day of talking about Sleepaway
Camp - okay, make that after a full day of talking non stop
we're glad to see the commentaries' completion. I think it was good for
Fritz and Michael to get out the things they've had on their minds about
these movies that were made fifteen years ago. It afforded a sense of full
circle finality, to assess something they were close to from the distance
of time. All in all they were informative and entertaining and we all contributed
to that feeling, I reckon.
some enquiries about the menu screens and stuff planned for the DVDs and
was fortunate to tour the Crest facilities (I didn't mention I already
made my own informal tour when I got lost looking for the bathroom - awesome
place for movie fans). We got to see where the menu screens for various
DVDs are made. I asked a few questions on my mind and to my surprise, menu
screen graphics are done just the way the graphics on this site are done
- on Photoshop! The guy that was going to be making the SC&3 menu screens
wasn't in, I took a snap anyway. Hey, memories!
finished up our Crest Tour with a chat to Anchor Bay's Bo Altherr, and
while Michael went to deal with some business about the extras he - and
even Fritz - had assembled, I got some cool info from Bo about the DVDs
- most commonly know by now - and mentioned the cuts to the original SC
disc (that's me, always ready to look like a fool for the sake of fandom)
and discussed the particulars of rereleasing it, since it's a topic fans
always email about. It was too late in the production but I let him know
where to get an uncut print, and there just may be a rerelease in the future,
time will tell. But back to the sequels! Bo was excited about the plans
for the box set, which showed Anchor Bay were the best place for them to
be, and you can now see that for yourself in thier pristine - loaded with extras - form.
Thanks to Michael Simpson, Fritz Gordon,
Bo Athner, Roy Brubaker, Peter Weyrauch, Anchor Bay, Double Helix Films,
and the folks that put the DVDs together:
National SC Team
Bours - Audio Commentary recording
Merritt - DVD bonus materials video editor
McDougle - DVD Menu Artist
Cossack - DVD Author
Vislar - DVD Project Director