'Movies That Made Us' digs deep on 'Ghostbusters,' 'Die Hard,' more

Fred Topel
Dan Aykroyd discusses Ghostbusters in Netflix's docuseries The Movies That Made Us. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Dan Aykroyd discusses "Ghostbusters" in Netflix's docuseries "The Movies That Made Us." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 28 (UPI) -- On his Netflix documentary series The Toys That Made Us, creator Brian Volk-Weiss spends one hour exploring the complete history of popular toys like He-Man, G.I. Joe and Barbie. Now he's taking that approach to films in The Movies That Made Us.

Like Toys, a season of The Movies That Made Us features four episodes. Season 1 will tackle the films Die Hard, Ghostbusters, Dirty Dancing and Home Alone. Volk-Weiss knows those all are movies that have been thoroughly covered -- on their own DVD extras and through outside sources -- but he was determined to uncover new information about each.


"We watched every Die Hard making of, DVD extra, everything," Volk-Weiss told UPI in a phone interview.

He added that the episodes would still cover the basics about the making of each film, but go further. "We can do 500 hours of research and find so much stuff that hasn't been covered and put that in, as well," Volk-Weiss said.

Volk-Weiss put his research to the test when he interviewed people who should have known everything there was to know about the movie in question. When he stumped them, he knew he was onto something.


"One of my favorite things is finding the president of a Ghostbusters fan club and saying, 'Do you know this?'" Volk-Weiss said. "[The president would reply,] 'No way, that's not true.' So we were able to do that because we were given the time and the budget to do that deep dive."

The series differs from other programs, such as CNN's The Movies, which looked at an entire decade in each two-hour episode. Volk-Weiss would rather spend one hour, but focus on an entire film.

"Why shortchange Die Hard by spending 20 minutes on Die Hard, 20 minutes on Under Siege, 20 minutes on Speed?" Volk-Weiss asked rhetorically. "There's enough to do an hour on all of those movies."

Most other movie documentaries, even behind-the-scenes DVD features, are simply talking heads recalling their experiences making the film. Netflix also gives Volk-Weiss the resources to visit filming locations, with the creators in tow. He said that will give The Movies That Made Us a new perspective on the classics.

"We were able to take Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd, put them on an airplane, fly them to New York and go back to the library, go back to the Ghostbusters house," Volk-Weiss said. "Certain stuff like that we could do that other docs couldn't do."


It's the same philosophy that made The Toys That Made Us unique.

"We were not the first people to make a documentary about Transformers," Volk-Weiss said. "So we're always working hard to make a better, cooler thing than had come before us."

The Toys That Made Us also was a strong calling card to solicit subjects to discuss their films with Volk-Weiss.

"Ivan Reitman was already a fan of the show and trusted us," Volk-Weiss said. "I was interviewing Ivan Reitman for about 90 minutes, and then he just looked at me and he goes, 'Hey Brian, are we going to talk about Ghostbusters?' So not many people are able to do that when they're doing an interview. We had the time."

Of the first four episodes, Volk-Weiss said he was most reticent to cover Dirty Dancing. By the time he finished the episode, it became the film about which he was most excited. The same thing happened on Toys, where Volk-Weiss said he was not a He-Man collector growing up.

"Just like the Seasons 1 and 2 of Toys, the one I was least excited about going in became my favorite episode," Volk-Weiss said. "Our Dirty Dancing episode might be the hour of content I've produced that I am the most proud of."


The Movies That Made Us premieres Friday on Netflix.

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