Ever wondered what hidden treasures lie gathering dust in the archives of Hollywood's biggest movie studios?
So have Academy Award-winning filmmakers and historians Craig Barron and Ben Burtt. Their new Criterion Channel series, Secrets of the Hollywood Archives, intends to answer that question.
Secrets is a series of five-minute mini-documentaries, "presented in the spirit and style of an archeological dig," according to the show's press release. Through their archives search, Barron and Burtt promise to discover never-before-seen production clips, outtakes, stock shots, sound effects and other behind-the-scenes materials, all while diving into a single shot within a classic film.
"In the spirit of explorers of old who returned from far-off adventures," Burtt says, "our series brings back new discoveries on how classic movies were made."
One episode explores a shot of the C-57D flying saucer in MGM's Forbidden Planet (1956), directed by Fred M. Wilcox; other current and upcoming episodes provide new insight into films like Lloyd Bacon’s Action in the North Atlantic (1943) and Henry King’s 12 O’Clock High (1949).
"We hope to enhance the movie watching experience by revealing something fun people may not have known about the filmmaking techniques and illusions they’ve just watched," Barron says.
Barron and Burtt are well-known for their contributions to visual effects and sound, respectively. Barron, a specialist in matte painting, worked on the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series, and established his own visual effects company, Matte World Digital, which would go on to contribute shots to Academy Award-winning pictures like Titanic (1997). He previously served on the Academy's Board of Governors, representing the visual effects branch. In 1992, Barron received an Academy Award nomination for Achievement in Visual Effects for Batman Returns; in 2009, he won the prize for his work on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Burtt, a sound effects artist and sound mixer, has had an indelible effect on the sound industry, creating the iconic voices of the aliens, creatures and droids in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), and even voicing the titular character of WALL-E (2008). Burtt has won four Academy Awards: Best Sound Effects Editing in 1982 for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and in 1989 for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Special Achievements for Sound Effects Editing for Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). He has been nominated for an additional eight awards.
Episodes of Secrets are now available to stream on the Criterion Channel.