'Making Of' Documentaries By Jamie Benning

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Credit Where Credit is Due

Today, I starting adding credits to the end of Inside Jaws.

It soon became apparent that I should have been doing this since I began the project. I thought I had compiled a list somewhere (on my phone maybe). But no.  So today, I made it my aim to trawl through my emails, facebook messages and tweets, as far as they would allow to find the names of the individuals who have helped me along the way.

If you have helped me and feel you deserve a credit. Please do get in touch. Its been a while since I began this project and without my notes, its easy to let one of two slip through the net. Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 19.30.02


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Backup Backup Backup

Following the loss of about 70% of my files during the creation of Star Wars Begins, I clearly understand the importance of backing up. So, for both Raiding the Lost Ark and Inside Jaws, I’ve had a fairly regular regime backing up not just the FCP project file, but also the media files. I remember the hours of relinking media to a semi corrupt project file quite well. Something I didn’t want to repeat.

Earlier this week, I was happily editing away on Inside Jaws when the Mac OSX beach ball remained on screen for a little too long. It soon became apparent that dropping the drive on the kitchen floor the week before had in fact been more damaging than I had originally thought. After trying to remount the drive a dozen times, it was clear that I was in trouble.

I had made a backup a fortnight before, meaning that about 10-20 hours of work would be lost. However, fortunately and after 6 hours of tinkering, the drive came back to life in fits and starts and long enough for me to copy the smaller files across to my system disc. Voila, the media files, apart from two which only took a few hours to re-rip, were all back!

The only problem I have now, is that I don’t have a fast drive to actually do the editing on anymore. The system disc is no place for video editing. So, along with the wedding, my fiance leaving work due to ill health and my lack of work at this end of the year, I have to find the funds to by a new RAID. Two very kind individuals donated some money that has gone straight in that pot! THANK YOU! So, by the end of March, when the F1 season is back in full flow, I should have enough money to keep this project swimming along nicely.

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Donations to Charity

As you know, or should know by now, goodness me I’ve been banging on about it for long enough… I do not make any money on these filmumentaries. That was never my intention and never will be.  ”What about the site donation button?” I hear you ask. Ok, I have accepted a few donations over the years totalling enough to run this blog domain for just under one year, but never any more than that. I also turn down every single request to buy copies of my filmumentaries. In fact I go further and report anyone trying to sell them on ebay.

What I am here to say, or more to the point, ask of you, is  that I’d be very grateful if you consider donating to one of my chosen charities. Particularly if you have enjoyed my work and feel compelled to show your love.

Yesterday, I added a donation button to a charity that I think does really great work for those with autism.  ”Ambitious about Autism works to improve the services available for children and young people with autism and increase awareness and understanding of the condition”. Now who can argue with that?

So, again, if you have a sudden need to be grateful for the work I do (remember its for fans like you), then please do think about a donation.

Thank you for your time.

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Message from Colonel Dietrich

14/01/2013 by filmumentaries | 0 comments

One of the great things about creating these filmumentaries is making contact with the very people that starred in the films or helped to put them on film as a member of the crew.  I’ve been fortunate enough to be in contact with the likes of Carl Gottlieb, Robert Watts, Wolf Kahler and Howard Kazanjian to name a few. What I love is being able to have an ongoing relationship with these people, even if it is only via email.

This week I was thrilled to hear back from Colonel Dietrich himself, Wolf Kahler in a warm message of new year wishes.  He went on to tell me that he’s recently worked on a film (I won’t give it away just yet), using his wonderful voice doing lots of ADR for multiple characters.  It’s a film I’ve been waiting to see for some time and actually has a connection to another part of my life. Now of course I am looking forward to it even more.

Storyboard Comparison

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Making Slow Progress

Two nights ago I watched the first third of Inside Jaws (so far). It is clear that this is once again a different kind of filmumentary. Whilst I’ll be using all the available material in a constructive way, there just isn’t the amount behind the scenes footage available.

I reckon I am at about 60% or so complete at this point. Perhaps the end of February 2013 deadline is a little over optimistic. I am still to make a trailer actually so there is nothing firm about that release date.

Last night I edited for an hour or so and promised myself I would do another five or six hours this week. I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE: I’ve started working on a Storyboard Comparison sequence much like the ones in Building Empire (asteroid scene) and Raiding the Lost Ark (in the map room).  This is all thanks to the very generous Joe Alves, who has kindly sent me great scans for use in Inside Jaws.

You can buy a limited print of Joe’s incredible storyboards at his site.

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The Imperative to Preserve

Many of my fellow fan editors feel an absolute imperative to preserve. Whether it’s Garrett Gilchrists restorative edits of Star Wars or Puggo’s 16mm and 8mm restorations or Adywan’s brave and successful efforts to preserve the feel of the original Star Wars films, there seems to be a real feeling amongst the community, that if the studio aren’t delivering, its up to us to do it. Many are turning to and

Indeed after making Star Wars Begins and particularly Raiding the Lost Ark, in which I interviewed Wolf Kahler, now 72 years old, I felt almost an obligation to start interviewing more of these unsung heroes of the movies.  Whilst my contact with Michael Ford, the Academy Award winning set director didn’t lead to an interview, it did lead to many chats with him over email and in person.  The stories him and his colleagues told me over lunch, the names they dropped, were all absolutely fascinating and I am sure, would be to many others.  Unless we start preserving these tales of movie making, many of them will just disappear, forever.

Whilst making my current filmumentary, Inside Jaws, I was fortunate enough to make contact with a fellow film maker who had interviewed many of the local actors and extras for a documentary that was never finished.  He was very gracious in letting me use this interview material for my commentary track.  Whilst I was editing several into my timeline, it occurred to me that at least two of these were probably the last time these people were interviewed about their experience of working on Jaws.

With this imperative to preserve comes a certain obligation. Not a begrudging one of course, but a certain self imposed contract to get the job done and to do it well.  Jaws has been a difficult one to tackle and for that reason its taking longer than I had intended.  Having said that, I’ve made a promise to myself that it will be finished by the end of February 2013.

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A Shark Is Not Just For Christmas

A while ago, my family and I decided that we should do the secret Santa thing at Christmas.  Rather than spending a fortune on each other and on the kids, we now pick a name out of the a hat and can spend up to £35.  My sister was always good at buying presents for me.  The kind of item that made me say, “I didn’t know that even existed. If I did, I would have bought it myself”.  This year I was lucky enough to get a great retro Jaws poster by a rather talented chap on Etsy. And guess who bought it for me? My lovely sister!

I am chuffed to bits with it. In fact, as soon as I get home from work tonight, I am hanging it up!

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Back at Sea!

Tomorrow, 3rd December 2012, marks my first day of work on Inside Jaws for a couple of months.  My (paid) work has taken me around the world for the past thirteen years. It’s difficult enough trying to balance life and work at the best of times. But this year in particular has been a busy one. Not only have I had to head up a department (along with my colleague), but I started to do some directing and producing. In short, my hobby in the form of Filmumentary making has taken the brunt of this busy period. I’ve barely done a minutes work on Inside Jaws in the last quarter of the year. But tomorrow, I intend to reignite the project. I have already made a list of what needs working on, so I should be able to work quite quickly.

I have several previously unreleased interviews to listen to. I’ve already logged a couple of them and there is some great material in there. And I have my graphics guy James Bruhl to chase up (he’s been busy too!).

My aim is to release it by the end of February 2013.  The second month of the year is a good luck charm for me. Both Star Wars Begins and Raiding the Lost Ark were released on that month in 2011 and 2012 respectively.  My fingers are firmly crossed. Between tapping the keyboard and moving the mouse that is!

Remember you can also follow daily progress on Twitter



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Aspects of Fandom

One of the only other areas of Star Wars that I’ve always loved is the range of vintage action figures. So I recently dug out my collection from the loft and thought about a way to display them that didn’t dominate the house. Within a few days I found a “shabby chic”, glass fronted case with little compartments. Just enough to display twenty or so of the little fellas. So I took the risk they would fit and placed a £25 bid. A while later it arrived so I selected some figures and purchased some brightly coloured card from the local stationary shop. I then combined the three elements to create a pretty cool looking, Empire Strikes back cardback inspired display case.

I’ve had quite a lot of positive feedback, so I contacted the guy I bought the plain case from to ask where he got it. His reply –  ”I have no idea, I’ve had it in the garage for years”. So the only advice I can give is –  keep your eyes on ebay for something similar.



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Cut Price Inside Jaws Posters

Want to own a signed Inside Jaws poster? They are on sale at £5 including postage in the UK. Send money via PayPal. This link is just to the right. Mention whether you’d like the portrait or landscape poster. If you are out of the UK, please contact me first.

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Popcorn Taxi Screening

Once again, thanks to the power of social media and the coverage which Star Wars Begins and Raiding the Lost Ark received, I was contacted from ‘down under’ by Popcorn Taxi.  They are a Sydney based film event group that screens films both classic and modern, often with Q and A sessions.  They wanted to screen Inside Jaws side by side with a 2k screening of the newly restored Jaws.  I quickly told them that Inside Jaws would not be finished in time, but that I would happily send them a few snippets that I’d been working on.

So on 15th August, 2012, that very thing happened.  Here are a few snaps from the screening.

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Filmumentaries Recap and the Making of Inside Jaws

After tackling Star Wars I soon went on to create Raiding The Lost Ark, an exhaustive view of Indy’s first adventure from the other side of the camera. Thanks to the wide range of contacts I’d made on my other Filmumentaries (yes, they finally had a name), Raiding was seen far and wide too. It was on this basis that I was contacted in March by a Jaws collector from the U.S. One of the biggest collectors in the world in fact. “Would you ever consider doing a filmam..docu…thing on Jaws?” he asked. I’d considered Temple of Doom or Back To The Future as my next project. Two films that seemed to further define my generation. But, no I hadn’t really considered Jaws. Until now I had been picking the low hanging fruit so to speak. Subjects that I knew well and knew where to go to get what I needed. Jaws was a different kettle of fish altogether. A blockbuster, granted. But a more grown up film in many ways. In truth it had scared me since I had first seen it as a nine year old. Could I tackle it? I like a challenge. So in late March 2012, I set about collecting material, reading books, logging documentaries, hunting down and extracting interesting sound bites and clips. All the time with amazing guidance from my new collector friend Jim Beller. He’s like a Jawswiki!

I’ve spend the last four months trying to fit this all in, in between looking after my two young kids and travelling the globe as a live TV editor. I go through phases of a complete motivational vacuum. Other weeks I can go to do some filing in the spare room/office and find myself editing for two hours or more. Nevertheless, I have grown to love Jaws. I always thought it was a very effective film. Too effective perhaps. I am not a strong swimmer probably because of Jaws. But now I appreciate it on so many levels. Watching Dreyfuss and Spielberg excel so early in their careers, watching Shaw at the top of his game and feeling huge admiration for Scheider’s performance as the neurotic family man stuck in the middle and ultimately becoming the hero.

Thanks to publications such as Edith Blake’s making of Jaws, Carl Gottlieb’s The Jaws Log, and the Jaws bible of sorts – Memories from Martha’s Vineyard, one gets a rare glimpse of a single event from several different angles. I can’t think of another film that has offered us this gift. By reading these books and watching the film almost endlessly as I edit bits in an out, I’ve started to feel part of it. Rather than the creation process it’s more like delicate dismantling and recycling. Trying to preserve the precious resources and let people experience them in some new way. That in essence is the ethos of the filmumetary really. If I can find something ‘new’ for somebody along the way, all the better.

The story of the making of Jaws is very well known. I’d seen many of the documentaries but I hadn’t seen any of the convention interviews with cast and crew, who often give more details than they would in an official Universal release. I was also delighted to see Robert Shaw on set in his Quint constume talking to two New England interviewers about how boring he found it in the company of Dreyfuss and Schieder. A glimpse of his hard edge sitting right alongside his sharp whit and charm. It was also great to include snippets from Dreyfuss from 1974 in which he says he’s made a mistake by being in Jaws. Then later when he is so proud to be part of it all. It reminds us of the fragility and unpredictability of film making. Another Jaws collector was kind enough to tell me the story about how he came to be the current owner of Quint’s chair. Without doubt an absolutely iconic film prop. And ideal fodder for a Filmumentary.

Thanks to the power of social media, one of my followers, Jenna Stern, I was put in contact with the great screenwriter Carl Gottlieb who was very giving and pointed me in some good directions for further material I had not already seen. We had email exchanges over a number of weeks. He was kind enough to wish me well with my “very interesting” project.

Inside Jaws should be released by the end of the year. My hope was to get it finished in time to coincide with the blu ray release but I’ve just been too busy in ‘real life’.

In the next week or so you’ll be able to see two new snippets. Keep watching for details.

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