How to Shape your Film’s Extra Content: A Lesson Learnt from “Birdman”

There is little doubt that Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Oscar-winning Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was one of last year’s most interesting films in terms of direction and cinematography, not to mention how the whole project was conceived from the beginning.

Filming Riggan Thomson’ attempt to adapt Raymond Carver’s short story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” into a Broadway play, while struggling with his alter ego Birdman, famously required a tour de force from cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, as Iñárritu wanted to recreate the look and feel of one long shot with (almost) no trace of editing.

Poster for "Birdman"

Aside from the technicalities, Birdman is one of those movies that make me want to explore its mise-en-scène. When production and post-production look very complicated, I always want to know more, watch the behind-the-scenes, access the extra content and delve into the backstage. This film gave me great satisfaction in that respect: not only was a promotional official site launched, but an additional platform was created to provide all the material an avid viewer like me could be searching for.

Screenshot from BirdmanBackstage.com

BirdmanBackstage.com gives access to a range of content that can be explored through a map that reproduces the St. James Theatre, where the action takes place in the film. Featurettes, memes and GIFs are arranged in 14 rooms, which also introduce the official fake trailer for Birdman Returns, the 1992 flick where Riggan/Michael Keaton reprised the signature role that made him a blockbuster superstar.

Map_Birdman_Backstage

The different sections also explore Academy Awards nominations, style of filmmaking, score and the infamous Birdman’s quotes. Overall, BirdmanBackstage.com respects the following to-do list when it comes to shaping your film’s extra content:

  • provide something meaningful that your viewers/users can easily share
  • organise your extra content in a way that is accessible and prevents users from getting lost while exploring it (maps are always useful)
  • think about original material for each and every channel you are going to use
  • make sure you also gather channel-specific material on one main platform
  • create funny stuff for social media, such as GIFs and memes
  • design the experience in a way that is consistent to your film: as much as possible shape the extra content on the look and feel, tone and mood of your film
  • keep it playful.