Sunday, April 07, 2013

The Wonderful World of Oz

And a fellow Oz fan and friend has finished a long-time project. Aaron Pacentine finally got his documentary The Wonderful World of Oz: Celebrating the Oz Community finished and put on DVD.

I worked with Aaron on my own documentary series The Wonders of Oz, which I'd like to redo someday. As such, I was one of the first people Aaron contacted when he was getting the idea together to go to Oz conventions and events and conduct interviews for this documentary. At one point, he even wanted me to appear, but it didn't work out. This was probably about 2008. (I've moved twice since then.)

This DVD was partly funded by a KickStarter campaign to get it finished. I was actually surprised it worked for Aaron since it ran through the Christmas season. Since I was buying a ton of gifts, I couldn't pledge anything then. I did, however, preorder a DVD.

The DVD arrived yesterday, and for being an independent release, I had to admit, it actually looks really good. The cover features a nice piece of artwork by Ryan Vox with a yellow brick road, an Emerald City, some ruby slippers and poppies.

Popping the DVD itself in, it began with a slideshow of families and the company logo. The menu looked good, so I started the feature and saw the same slideshow again opening it. Make of this what you will.

The trailer I'd seen online had me worried about the sound mixing of the DVD, however, it sounded just fine. The music was nice. The narration was mainly factually accurate (except for saying that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was self-published: Baum and Denslow helped pay for the production costs, which wasn't the same thing), but it did have some pretty big gaps. It also helped lead in between the interviews, which are really the main appeal of the DVD. Just about the only line that I thought really didn't work was "The phone is ringing again, and this time, it's a woman."

As I said, the interviews are the main appeal of the DVD. There's video interviews with Eric Shanower, David Maxine, Aaron Schultz, then-president of the International Wizard of Oz Club Angelica Carpenter, Celia Foster. There are also a number of interviews with members of the Club as performed at the 2008 Winkie Convention (two years before my first, consarn it!), so there were quite a few familiar faces there: Anthony Tringali, Eric Gjovaag, Peter Hanff and Karyl Carlson among them. There was also an interview with the late, great Patrick Maund whose work for The Baum Bugle I enjoyed so much that I was really gutted when I heard he died.

Aaron also gets to show a couple collections of Oz fans Aaron Schultz and Foo Travetto and also shows some footage of the late Donna Stewart-Hardaway (who claimed to be one of the children playing a Munchkin in the MGM Wizard of Oz, though evidence of her involvement has yet to turn up) sharing memories of Judy Garland.

There's a couple audio interviews done over the phone. The sound quality here is very iffy. You can hear what's being said, but it's not the greatest.

The whole documentary is done with the conceit that you're on a trip to visit all these fans, however, to visually get this across, we zoom into map websites. There's some video shot from a plane, but I can see why this was only used once.

The documentary ends with a music video for "Over the Rainbow" performed by Delinda Layne.

The DVD contains bonus features in the trailer, biographies for the producers, two Oz audio dramas Aaron wrote, and a slideshow of other Oz fans and their collections. I would actually have enjoyed seeing extended versions of the interviews on the DVD most of all.

Overall, I gotta be honest. To dedicated Oz fans, there's plenty here to interest you. To casual fans, they might be put off by some of the visuals between the interviews. It's not a perfect package, but there's enough to justify adding it to your collection.

Get your copy here.

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