Dear TWEED Editing:
My roommate is doing a paper on a film and wants to quote the director from the director’s commentary. Do you have a website recommendation that would explain how one could properly format that in their ‘Works Cited’ section?


Esteemed TWEEDLE,

The answer will depend somewhat on what citation guide you are using—usually Chicago, MLA, or APA. Because you work in the arts, I’m going to assume that APA is not your format and move on to the others.

MLA is probably your citation style if you are using parenthetical citations in the paper, with a works cited list at the end. MLA does not give a specific format for citing director commentary on DVD, but here is an excellent—if I do say so myself—paradigm to follow:

Gondry, Michel and Charlie Kaufman. Audio commentary. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Dir. Gondry. Perf. Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, and Kirsten Dunst. Focus Features, 2004. DVD.

(Remember to use a hanging indent for works cited entries!)

To break that down, all participants in the commentary are listed first. If you are citing a specific quote in your paper, then do introduce the speaker of that particular snippet in the body of your paper. The parenthetical citation would look something like this, for instance: (Gondry, 2004).

The director is always indicated after the film title, but I also included what MLA calls “other data that seem pertinent”—here, the marquee performers. You might also want to include the screenwriter or producer, for instance. These would also go between the title and distributor, after the director.

If your film has an original release year that is different from the year of the DVD you’re citing (my example Eternal Sunshine does not), then you would put the original release date—on its own, followed by a period—before the distributor name. Then the date of the DVD version you’re citing goes exactly where the year is in the example above.

Chicago requires different information and treatment:

Gondry, Michel and Charlie Kaufman. “Commentaries.” Disc 2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, collector’s ed. DVD. Directed by Michel Gondry. Universal City, CA: Focus Features, 2004.

If you needed to cite this as a footnote, it would look something like this, were Gondry the speaker of the quote extracted:

9. Michel Gondry, “Commentaries,” disc 2, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, collector’s ed, DVD, directed by Michel Gondry (Universal City, CA: Focus Features, 2004).

(Remember that the first line of a Chicago footnote is indented!)

Were there an original release date in addition to this DVD release date, that year would be inserted in the parentheses before the city, followed by a semicolon.

Remember, everyone: don’t lose sleep over citation formatting! Documentation systems are only useful insofar as they make finding sources easy. You do want to be as consistent as possible with your citations but ultimately only because that furthers the goal of easy source-finding. When you cannot find the exact paradigm for a particular source type, find the closest model and then adapt to your needs. When in doubt, err on the side of including too much information rather than too little.

Happy citing!


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