Judge Clark Douglas says that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself...and this DVD set.
American political oration at its finest.
The Case How to ensure that your DVD compilation of famous speeches sells rather poorly (or "Judge Clark Douglas reviews The Speeches Collection: Volume Two").
First, look at the previous DVD set you have released. For instance, you might be the group of people that released The Speeches Collection: Volume One, a compilation featuring notable speeches by a wide variety of individuals, ranging from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Ronald Reagan. Look back at what you did previously, and completely ignore that when creating the next installment. Rather than providing a lot of speeches from a lot of people, limit this next collection to a small handful of people.
Okay, let's move on to the next step. Now it's time to pick a theme, because "Great Speeches" simply won't cut it this time. Let's say you want to go with "Republicans vs. Democrats." We'll assume that you want to limit this category to former Presidents. Your packaging should offer the promise of speeches from "Four Great Presidents," so you should probably include Roosevelt and Eisenhower. However, like any good politician, you shouldn't feel a need to keep your promise. Pick two Presidents that aren't looked upon kindly by history. How about Truman and Nixon? Good choices. Also, you should be sure to give the most time to the worst president. Nixon needs about, oh, 73 minutes. You had better not give more than 50 minutes each to Eisenhower and Roosevelt.
Now, obviously this set needs to appeal to history buffs, and absolutely no one else! Make sure that most viewers are unfamiliar with the context of any of the speeches you present. I suggest not including any narration or title cards to help give viewers a sense of what is going on. If those who purchase your DVD aren't willing to invest hours of their time trying to understand everything, they don't deserve to hear these fine speeches that you're offering. Be sure to avoid presenting everything in chronological order, too. Just jump back and forth as you please.
You're doing a nice job, and you're well on your way to creating a DVD collection that won't be of much use to anyone. Now that we've eliminated much of the mainstream, it's time to start irritating your target audience. We need to be sure to ruin the usefulness of this release as an archival teaching tool. The best way to do this would be to only offer little snippets of speeches. Cut out some of the interesting parts, leaving only sound bites and tasty tidbits. Never, under any circumstances, include an entire speech from start to finish. What you're going after is a context-free, poorly-organized montage of video clips of these four different people.
Let's move along to the technical portion of things. First, put up a notice at the beginning of the DVD informing everyone that you've done everything you can with this archival footage. Then, let the footage itself indicate that you've put little to no effort into cleaning up the material. Make sure that as much of this footage as possible sounds weak and looks worse. Pick a lot of segments featuring severe audio distortion. You can get away with it, because obviously all historical footage is supposed to look that way. Do not include any subtitles on the DVD. The hearing-impaired can find transcripts on the Internet. If you're lucky, those whose hearing is just fine will do the same thing.
At this point, you'll have done just about everything you can. However, be warned that some unsuspecting people may still buy your DVD. The promise of watching Presidents talk will always have some small level of appeal, no matter how poorly those speeches are presented. Hopefully, most viewers will realize that buying something like The Presidents Collection (a fantastic box set of documentaries this presents this material and much more in a very compelling way) is a much smarter investment, and that your release has nothing unique to offer. Best of luck. Oh, and if it will help, I'll be glad to do my part to drive DVD Verdict readers away. The Speeches Collection: Volume Two is guilty.
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