With a background in story development and the resume of an author and film scholar, documentarian Laurent Bouzereau is the go-to guy for DVD featurettes chronicling the work of A-list directors including Brian De Palma, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. Having already created what he thinks are landmark DVD versions of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, Cape Fear and Raging Bull, Bouzereau just finished up a two-disc version of Casino, which comes out this month.
For Casino, Bouzereau hooked up with Alfonso Gomez-Rejan, a second-unit director who worked as a P.A. on Casino and thus had first-hand knowledge of the shoot. "We had a relatively short deadline and were dealing with people like Marty and Sharon Stone who were extremely busy," Bouzereau says. "While I was in New York interviewing Marty and Thelma [Schoonmaker], someone else might be available the same day in L.A. So we kind of split duties on this one."
Bouzereau says the key to his style is staying out of the way of his material. He eschews "easter eggs" or other interactive devices that were once the rage in DVD-land. He’s not a great fan of audio commentaries – if the filmmakers themselves are available, he wants them to tell their stories on camera. "I don’t think I’ve ever used voiceover narration," he says.
Considering the volume of revenue the discs generate for studios, the DVD producer works with a fairly ordinary toolkit. Bouzereau figures HD will become a factor soon, but nobody’s asked for it yet- which is just as well, since it would strain current DVD budgets. As it stands, he shoots mainly BetaSP, or sometimes DigiBeta. "The interviews are very well lit, and I try to make sure they look great, but they have to look different from the films themselves," he says. "I’m not much of an advocate of creating an interview format that’s so stylized that it clashes with the movie. It becomes a real burden if you’re trying to be too creative with it. You need to create a comfortable environment with a minimal crew."