Commentary tracks in podcast mode via iTunes

Filmmakers behind 'The Comedy' record offering while movie's still in theaters

Commentary tracks aren’t strictly for homevideo anymore.

For the release of the controversial dramedy “The Comedy,” Tribeca Films paired up with filmmakers Rick Alverson and Tim Heidecker to produce a podcast, available exclusively through Apple’s iTunes store, that gives audiences insight into the making of the movie.

In the past, distributors waited until the release of a DVD or Blu-ray to offer commentary tracks as a way to encourage consumers to buy the discs. But more indies are starting to see the recordings as a marketing tool and inexpensive incentive to boost sales considering it’s free to post a podcast on iTunes or other digital platforms.

“The Comedy” became available on demand on Oct. 24 and has been rolling out in theaters since Nov. 9. It expands its run to 13 locations across the country through Dec. 9.

While the 90-minute podcast is considered bonus content to promote “The Comedy,” Tribeca also saw the commentary as a way for auds to further connect with the film — and encourage second viewings — rather than have to wait until its homevid release.

“It creates a unique viewing opportunity that isn’t normally available in the first release window,” said Neil Marks, Tribeca Films director of marketing.

After the pic played the fest circuit over the past nine months, with screenings followed by Q&As with Alverson and Heidecker, the commentary enables auds to replicate the festival experience and discuss the movie at home since “it’s a very provocative film in the way it uses comedy to push buttons,” Marks said. “The commentary was a way to bring a unique experience to the living room. If there was ever a film that requires additional discourse, it’s this one. It’s such a challenging, polarizing film. The audience (at festivals) enjoyed it, but you could tell they were a little shell-shocked afterward and wanted to talk about the experience.”

In the pic, Heidecker plays a middle-aged Brooklyn hipster who has become restless with his complacent existence and tests the limits of acceptable behavior.

The podcast is meant to be downloaded and listened to as the film unspools, but can be played separately on its own, as well.

While iTunes does not offer up download figures, “The Comedy” podcast ranked 25th among podcasts on Monday, while the film has been selling well among indies.

Alverson and Heidecker recorded the podcast via Skype through their home studio and were given few rules by Tribeca other than not to be libelous or infringe on copyrighted material. No changes were made to the final recording. An earlier version was recorded by the duo while in bed in a hotel room during South by Southwest, but “we thought that was terrible,” said Heidecker, who also produces the “On Cinema” podcast.

“It’s a simple thing to do,” Heidecker said. “The technology exists now where it’s so easy.” In the future, he said, multiple commentary tracks could be recorded for a film, even some by hardcore fans. “It’s a really fun enhancement to the experience,” he added. “When the movie is really small and needs all the help it can get, this can be a natural fit,” especially as people buy fewer and fewer DVDs.

Their podcast isn’t the only commentary track available for a film playing in theaters. Rian Johnson also recorded one for “Looper” to encourage repeat viewing. Tribeca is now considering simultaneous commentary tracks for other upcoming releases.

“We’re not a studio,” Marks said. “It’s an interesting tactic and has been successful so far. But it needs to be right for the right film. We really want to challenge consumers and if there are ways we can give them a deeper experience that’s what we’re here for.”

More Film

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Russ Tamblyn's Career Had Legs After Childhood

    With an acting career that spans work for Cecil B. DeMille and Joseph Losey to Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch, Russ Tamblyn’s creativity and longevity is proof that there’s life after child stardom. In Tamblyn’s case, there’s also been a bounty of juicy film and TV roles long after his legendary legs no longer kicked [...]

  • Olivia Wilde Booksmart Director

    Film News Roundup: Olivia Wilde to Direct Holiday Comedy for Universal

    In today’s film news roundup, Olivia Wilde has landed another directing gig following “Booksmart” and revenge thriller “Seaside” and “Woodstock: The Directors Cut” get August release dates. PROJECT LAUNCH Olivia Wilde will direct and produce an untitled holiday comedy project for Universal Pictures with her “Booksmart” partner Katie Silberman. Universal outbid five other studios for [...]

  • Choas Charles Mansion and the CIA

    Amazon Studios Takes Film Rights to Manson-Centered Drama 'Chaos' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Just in time for the 50th anniversary of the grisly murders executed by the followers of Charles Manson, Amazon Studios has optioned film rights to a nonfiction title about a journalist who spent decades obsessively following the case. The studio will adapt “Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties,” from [...]

  • Sword of Trust

    Marc Maron on 'Sword of Trust,' Lynn Shelton and Conspiracy Theories

    Marc Maron has interviewed everyone from Bruce Springsteen to President Obama, so he’s probably learned a few things about being a good interview. Of course, as he points out, he generally has over an hour to talk leisurely speak with his guests in his home and draw out stories beyond the public narrative; it’s a [...]

  • Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The

    Andrew Lincoln's ‘Walking Dead’ Movies to Be Released Only in Theaters

    The first planned movie centered on “The Walking Dead” character Rick Grimes will now run in theaters rather than on AMC. The announcement was made with a brief teaser video played at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday, with the video ending with the words “Only in Theaters.” The film will be distributed by Universal Pictures. [...]

  • Jennifer Beals The Last Tycoon

    Jennifer Beals Seeking SAG-AFTRA Board Seat as Matthew Modine Ally (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jennifer Beals is running for a SAG-AFTRA national board seat as a member of presidential candidate Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate. Beals is best known for starring as Bette Porter on the Showtime series “The L Word” and for her lead role as Alex Owens in the 1983 hit “Flashdance.” She’s starred in the [...]

  • Alamo Drafthouse Opens New Downtown Los

    Alamo Drafthouse Storms into L.A. with New Location

    “Cinema is alive and well tonight!” Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League declared at the theatrical venue’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday night, where a gathering of 160 employees cheered and sliced into a strip of 35mm film in keeping with the company’s tradition. Despite dire predictions heralding the end of the theater-going experience, League was upbeat [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content