29 Nov 2016

Digital killed the video store

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:36 pm on 29 November 2016

Dan Slevin from RNZ‘s Widescreen recently bemoaned the demise of the neighbourhood video store and paucity of classic film available online.

So what can a film buff do to access the good stuff Netflix Neon and Lightbox just don’t have?

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Photo: 123RF

Dan told Jesse Mulligan the film selection available online are so threadbare he likened them to “the kind of selection you used to get behind the counter at the motor camp when you were on holiday".

But a flicker of hope remains for film fans in the form of the now 20 year old DVD, a scattering of specialist surviving rental outlets, public libraries and mail order services.

“Wellington public library has over 30,000 different items of video and they’re adding to that by about 300 plus a month,” Dan says.

There are still specialist video stores around and Dan gave a shout out to Video Ezy in Grey Lynn

Another good resource is the mail order service, Fatso, he says, which has 32,000 individual items.

"There’s an element of last man standing about this, if you’re local video store has disappeared Fatso might be the only game in town for the really deep catalogue we’re talking about.”

And while there are still options with the doughty old tech of DVD, the problem is the discs themselves and the machines that play them are wearing out.

“I bought my first DVD player back in 1998 and discs get bashed around a bit. What happens when they fail?

“We were promised, with this new online future, that everything would be available to us all the time and being digital it was always going to be perfect.

“I worry that, first of all, discs themselves are wearing out and [so are] DVD players. 

"It’s hard to find a laptop now that has a DVD drive in it so the whole trend is away from that physical media.”

As this tech shift continues apace and the previous technology becomes obsolete we’re losing out cinematic cultural heritage, he says.

Meanwhile, he suggests like-minded folks with extensive film collections should collaborate

“It’s still legal, as far as I’m aware, to lend stuff to your friends - you can’t lend an iTunes download to anybody.”

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