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I Lost It At the Video Store: A Filmmakers' Oral History of a Vanished Era
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I Lost It At the Video Store: A Filmmakers' Oral History of a Vanished Era

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  214 ratings  ·  44 reviews
For a generation, video stores were to filmmakers what bookstores were to writers. They were the salons where many of today’s best directors first learned their craft. The art of discovery that video stores encouraged through the careful curation of clerks was the fertile, if sometimes fetid, soil from which today’s film world sprung. Video stores were also the financial ...more
Published September 22nd 2015 by The Critical Press
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Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
The premise of this book really intrigued me, as I too remember walking through the aisles of the mom and pop video stores gawking at covers and renting everything I could. I didn't really have an experience of not having movies readily available at all times, so maybe the sheer grandeur of video was a bit lost on me. Anyway, going into the book I was excited, especially to hear from filmmakers with their take on the video era. However, from the opening pages my excitement was quickly tempered. ...more
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book will age well. In thirty to forty years, it will make for a great historical curio of a bygone era. As non-fiction, however, it's too thin and unfortunately structured as an unconvincing, faux conversation. That said, it's a breezy read. It's 160 pages that feel like 16. That's both its strength and its weakness.
Aug 13, 2015 rated it liked it
ARC for review from NetGalley.

A book in interview snippets from some directors, producers and writers for whom the video store was one of his/her (well, only one or two hers, which was disappointing) primary influences. The usual suspects are here (Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith, who always manages to elevate (OK, maybe "elevate" is the wrong word) with his humor) as well as some unexpected voices (I loved hearing from Morgan Spurlock - since he's from small-town West Virginia I have a
Rayjan Koehler
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I somehow found this book in the online catalogue for my current local library system, and I just had to read it.

I do not think this book is a good fit for most people, but it hit a home run with me. If I had an idea of the kind of format the book is in I probably would have skipped it.

There were some things that resonated with me, but not everything. I do want to get more into filmmaking, but with YouTube I don't think it will end up being a career with so many filmmakers on the platform, and
Melissa French
Dec 08, 2015 rated it liked it
This was kind of a 3.5 for me. I enjoyed the interviews a great deal. But for people who know a good deal about late 20th century pop culture, there's not a lot new here. I wish that there had been a little more analysis or insight provided by the author--something other than just the interviewees.
Steve Moudry
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Quick, fun, nostalgic read with some interesting antidotes on video store culture.
Zach Koenig
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
As an individual who grew up smack dab in the heart of the “video rental store” era of entertainment consumption, I am always fascinated with and nostalgic about the meteoric rise and equally dramatic fall of those businesses. In this book, a number of stories/interviews from famous filmmakers (Quentin Tarantino, Darren Aronofsky, David O. Russell, to name a few) are collected to show how the Video Store affected their lives in film.

First and foremost, I want to point out that “I Lost It At The
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Film Buffs
Because of my age, I am the video store generation. I was there at the beginning when one would go to the local video store with their family to pick out the weekend's movies. I was there when large corporate chains emerged carrying hundred to thousands of VHS then DVDs of all genres. And I was there when the entire system collapsed and went away.

I truly miss wandering the aisles, picking up the boxes, and looking at the description of the movie. I even miss working in a video store, seeing all
Sep 28, 2017 rated it liked it
I grew up in this era too, so I had a certain nostalgic fondness for what the filmmakers talk about. While I thought this book was too short at first, by the end I realized that it was just about the right length, as certain people would already start being repetitive.
Saint even
Jan 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Twenty-two page intro for a 150-page book. should probably have just been a piece on one of the millions pop culture websites.

i don't hate mumblecore like a lot of people but i will probably not see any joe swanberg movies any time soon.
May 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Nov 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Having been an owner of one of those long forgotten mom and pop video stores I was anxious to see what was written about them here with this book. It was nice to discover that so many movie makers of today were educated and had their thirst for film fulfilled by the tons of stores like mine that were found across the country. The chains may have offered multiple copies of the mega-hits but the mom and pop stores were the stalwarts of the business, offering classics and unheard of movies to fans ...more
Aug 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ahhhh the video store. And all the nostalgia that it brings. I’m a video store geek. I even married the guy behind the counter. I spent many days wandering up and down aisles, playing this endless game of “You can’t consider yourself a critic if you haven’t seen XXX yet.” Each Tuesday was like Christmas. Working in a video store was one of the many dream jobs I never got to have. The closest I got was being a film reviewer. The VSG
Luke Schwiebert
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm probably one of the few remaining people of my age group who still loves going to the video store, AND has the resources to regularly do so (being a Los Angeles resident with Vidiots and Cinefile practically right outside my door). So you can imagine my mixed feelings about this book's subtitle- sure, the age of video stores as a major cultural force has, without a doubt, passed, but dammit, don't jinx the last of them by claiming that they've vanished entirely!

Ah, well. The book itself is
This was a brief but pithy look into the lost world of video stores and the influence working in them and having access to so many VHS copies of movies had on the upcoming generation of filmmakers back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The breezy chapters consist of interviews from such turn of the 21st century cinematic luminaries as Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Darren Aronofsky, Morgan Spurlock, and others as they discuss how working or renting from video stores shaped their approaches to the medium. ...more
Sebastian Zavala
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book's been receiving some harsh reviews, stating it's not as deep as it could've been. Well, yeah, it kinda only touches the surface of the subject, and yeah, the interviews are not very well balanced. We get a lot of Kevin Smith, for example, and quite a bit of Quentin Tarantino, but people like James Franco or Luc Besson only appear sporadically.
Nevertheless, I really liked this book. Being a "90s kid", I'm really nostalgic about the whole video store sub-culture, even though here in
Nov 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty fun, if not a little slight, oral history of the influence the video store had on the classic "indie film" generation of the late 80's and 1990's. It's not super deep but the reminiscence factor is pretty strong and if you spent any time as a fan of film during that period then this will almost surely resonate with you. The most insightful moments of this book deal with the real power the direct to video agents of the era had and how that power begat some of our most influential ...more
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For those of us who came of age in the VHS era, this book is pure gold. Tom Roston provides us with a fast-paced, detailed oral history of the rise and fall of the video store era, with the unique perspective of talking directly to filmmakers like Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, David O. Russell and many others about the topic and its impact on their work. This approach gives the reader the feeling of sitting at a coffee house, bar, or video store discussing the progression that led us from ...more
Jake Jarvi
Dec 20, 2015 rated it liked it
A two-sitting read. I picked this up because of how much I love the directors Roston speaks with and because of how much I loved the video store experience.

Especially interesting when they outline how the video rental boom created the formula that lead to the rise of the 90s independent film movement. It created the avenue by which unconventional voices could make original stories with budgets of a million dollars or over. Absolutely fascinating.

I miss the video stores. A lot. So does
Feb 19, 2016 rated it liked it
A very quick read - it is basically a compilation of interviews with Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, Tim Blake Nelson, Doug Liman, John Sayles, and about a dozen other directors/producers/actors in Hollywood. The subject matter is the effect that video stores had on these different people, the open access to a variety of movies and classics, the interaction with customers, and the way that the marketplace changed with the advent of DVDs and ultimately streaming video (Netflix, etc.). This is an ...more
Aug 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
I Lost It at the Video Store, compiled by Tom Roston and written by, well, many people is a free NetGalley ebook that I read shortly after trivia night in early September.

This book breezes by incredibly fast - most likely because I read the successive dialogues in the way that I listen to a lot of my movie critic friends speak. They each have their own pet projects, their secret troves, their swan songs, and illicit, nawkward teenagerhoods. With the way that the interview topics unfold from the
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book involves some interesting points about how the video era aided a few of the seminal independent filmmakers of the 90s in financing their films, but by-and-large it is insubstantial fluff. The “conversational” format is often jarring–sometimes the interviews seem completely unrelated to each other, other times they are directly commenting on one another. Notorious chatterboxes like Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino feel like they take up the bulk of the pages (with lengthy sections on ...more
William Bevill
Sep 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-read
I wish the author had inserted himself into the interviews letting us know more about his love of VHS. I connected with so many of these interviews and relate well as I too browsed and lived in the VHS aisles of video stores, eating up classics and oddball films, and often illegally taping them to my own blank VHS tapes (I still have them; shh, don't tell). It was a magical time that cannot be replicated, and yet I understand the opposing viewpoints that love digital and Netflix, because I am ...more
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was ok
Disappointing collection of interview snippets cobbled together to read like a huge 'round table' discussion. Too much focus on distribution scenarios, and not enough on the actual impact that video store culture had, not only on those interviewed, but on the media as a whole.
Too few voices are utilised here, and by the end (where streaming services such as Netflix are discussed) it just comes across as a group of middle aged white guys ranting about modern technology, with only one or two
Sean McCloy
A very engaging history of video store culture in the U.S., mostly told through interviews with film-makers. My one minor criticism is that it's quite short and I would gladly have read more!

If you're feeling nostalgic about video stores, why not check out Neon Phantoms: A Tale of Movie Obsession!

Neon Phantoms A Tale of Movie Obsession by Sean McCloy
Dan Taylor
Nov 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Filmmakers and artists gather to discuss the impact of video stores and VHS culture in this glorified magazine article. It would have been nice had the net been cast a bit wider than the likes of Tarantino and Kevin Smith, though they easily provide the book's funniest moments and the two should really consider a speaking tour with one another. Always nice to see my beloved BLOODSUCKING FREAKS and RE-ANIMATOR get mentioned and read about how straight to video horror sequels like the SILENT ...more
Joe Kearney
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fun, quick read! I'm a big fan of quite a few of the directors interviews in the book, so it was really cool to hear their input & influences about the video store.
I really related to the book, I remember the first year I could drive I'd head down to Video Update every Tuesday for the 2 for $.99 deal. I'd stock up on a ton of movies from every genre. I wish I had kept a record of how many movies I watched that summer.
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I used to work at a video store for 2 years back in the day. This was a really quick read, but it was interesting to get input from other filmmakers that either worked at video stores or frequented them. If you are a filmmaker or aspiring for some more information about video stores (for all you young people) then this is for you.
I was hoping for a little more insight into video-store culture and a little less about how the movie-industry sausage is made, but this was still a brisk and pleasant introduction to the subject. (I love what an obvious loudmouth Quentin Tarantino is even in text form and with a lot of the swears removed.)
Feb 11, 2016 rated it did not like it
Full of nostalgia about video stores by film makers and actors like Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith and James Franco, I lost interest after the first chapter. I can understand how watching films influenced their eventual exploration into making films, but the cut up style of each person's descriptions got tired. Might be useful for others more involved in the cinema...
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