Document Type

Journal Article


In the 1980s, producers of 'making of' documentaries for special effects movies worried that telling the audience too much would undo the magic of cinema. In a radical shift, contemporary 'extras' offer hours of behind-the-scenes information, sometimes before the film hits cinemas. Has what constitutes the magic of films changed, or was it other than we imagined all along? This essay draws on media and film theory in an effort to understand the attraction of looking behind the screen. Focusing on the Superman franchise, I track the shifting relationship between feature film and the 'making of' featurette from 1980 to 2006. A central aim is to challenge the assumption of a clear line separating the feature film from its 'extras' and to consider how the ubiquity of such supplementary materials may reconfigure how we imagine and what we consume as the film text. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.