Our partners in the distribution of Manos, Synapse Films, has begun talking publicly about the disc release. Announced so far as extras are the audio commentary from Jackey and Tom Neyman, the documentaries (one long, two short) that I produced with Daniel Griffith at Ballyhoo Motion Pictures.
Disc authoring, duplication, and packaging on a retail scale is a far more complex and lengthy undertaking than one may be aware of. Everything, right down to the bar code on the packaging, requires sufficient time and money to put in place. The contents of the disc itself are inspected with care in a series of test pressings- hence this image posted by Synapse:
The retail release of the disc is determined not only by the length of this quality control process, but by when the company’s resources will best support the mass duplication and distribution of the final product. This is an exciting time, though I’m only slightly involved at this point. I’ll share what information I get as it arrives, and the most immediate updates will be found on our Facebook page.
Above are a few frames from the first 35mm film-out test, straight from the lab. This five-minute selection of scenes serve the purpose of testing out our color density, grain and sound levels for accuracy before the final output. So far I’ve checked it through a loupe and have found it very helpful, but in a few days I’ll be seeing how it holds up on the big screen.
Here is the width of these five minutes of film:
It’s easy to forget, with the way digital currently dominates our landscape, that any movie ever made or shown on film has a very real weight and substance to it. Holding it you are immediately struck by the feel, the texture, and even the faint scent from the chemistry that made it possible to do this.
If you wonder whether it’s excessive to do a film-out for Manos, consider for a moment the alternative. Currently, there is no guaranteed solution for long-term storage of digital assets, only various systems of copying and recopying precious data. On the other hand, polyester-based film stocks can keep an image stable for over a century. Though you’d be hard pressed to see film projected in the multiplex today, major studios still rely on it for the shelf-stable storage of their product.
The work that we’ve accomplished here- for what is by all accounts a very neglected film- is something to be proud of. Preserving not only the movie, but the work we’ve done on it, necessitates a film out. And if you’re a backer of this project, your name in the restoration credits will also be there for as long as Manos continues to survive.
Though a 2K DCP of Manos has already been made to enable easy projection in today’s digital cinemas, and there’s nothing at all wrong with enjoying it that way, there’s something truly special about watching it projected traditionally. Here’s hoping that as many people as possible get the chance.