Hello, Beyond friends near and far! Here’s a quick roundup of some fun conversations we’ve had this month about our non-profit video library, video-store history, and home-video culture.
Two Beyond co-owners, Kevin and Eric, guested on a recent episode of The Female Gayze podcast. It was awesome having having Ashley and Tina visit us from the D.C. area and have a safe, full-vaxxed in-store conversation about Beyond, our earliest video-store memories, and Cheryl Dunye’s pioneering film The Watermelon Woman. Dunye’s feature debut was itself shot in a video store—Philly’s late, great indie chain TLA—and offers a loving portrait of video stores as important places for fostering friendship, community, diversity, and even academic research. Naturally, we carry The Watermelon Woman at Beyond. Look for it and other work by Dunye in our ever-growing LGBTQ section!
Next, Eric conducted an e-interview with Justin LaLiberty, the passionate and knowledgeable (not to mention Letterboxd-famous) film archivist on staff at cult-film specialists Vinegar Syndrome. Fans of that label and the state of home-video in general should be sure to check this one out! Beyond proudly carries dozens of VS titles; if you’re new to their work, this piece shouts out quite a few great starting places.
We have a pretty great collection of Vinegar Syndrome titles at Beyond, including most of those mentioned in our interview with Justin… but if you’re feeling generous, here’s our Vinegar Syndrome-specific wish list. They happen to be having a big sale this weekend (Friday May 28-Monday May 31).
“I want to see that movie, but it looks like they only have it on blu-ray.”
Is this you? Not so fast, gang!
If you don’t own a blu-ray player, maybe you (understandably) pass by those smaller blue cases throughout Beyond Video. But if so, you’re missing out on close to 1000 DVDs in our video library, especially among our New Releases.
Why? The answer is: dual-format cases.
You probably know that blu-ray players do play DVDs, but DVD players don’t play blu-rays; blu-ray is the newer and higher-definition format (although it’s been around for roughly 15 years now).
Beyond Video strives to own most popular and essential titles on both formats. When we do, in most cases that results in one rental case for the DVD, and another rental case for the blu-ray, as you see above for Memories of Murder and Daughters of the Dust, and below for Horror Noire and The Wild Goose Lake. We only put out one case per format per title; in other words, whether we have 100 copies of Memories of Murder on DVD in stock or just one available, you’ll see one DVD display case out on the floor.
Pretty simple, right? To make things even easier, we stickered all cases that represent blu-ray rentals with the “blu-ray edition” stickers you see in those pics.
As regulars have probably noticed, you don’t actually often see a blu-ray and DVD of the same title faced out side-by-side at Beyond Video like we arranged them in the pictures above.
Instead, we frequently array the smaller blu-ray case in front of the larger DVD case of the same title, especially on our New Release wall, so that we can face out more films. Again, one case for each format, and you can see the DVD’s case peeking out from behind the presumptuous little blu-rays, as below. Still pretty straightforward, right?
But then along come the dual-format releases.
“Dual format” just means that the distributor sells the given movie on both the DVD and blu-ray formats, bundled together in one case. That case is almost always blu-ray sized.
Economically, that’s great for a video library like ours: for one purchase price, we get two rental copies of those films (one on DVD and on blu)! Check out a dual-format release of one of our best-renting titles, Kelly Reichardt’s First Cow.
In terms of browsing, though, these dual-format releases pose a challenge: we’ve got just one display case that looks like it’s for just the blu-ray, and need a way to tell y’all we also have the DVD.
So here’s how we handle dual-format releases. Instead of the “blu-ray edition” stickers we put on most blu-ray cases, dual-format cases have a sticker that reads “Available on both DVD and Blu-ray. Which would you like?” as you see atop the display case for First Cow, below.
A dual-format display case like the above lets our members know that we own the film on both formats, but just have the one case. The case will be out on the floor for rent if *any* copies of First Cow are available on DVD *or* blu-ray. So when you want to rent First Cow, you bring this case forward and let us know your format preference; we’ll check behind the counter to confirm we have it in stock for you. In the case of First Cow, don’t worry: we have 3 DVDs and 3 blu-rays, and it’s been out for about a year, so our supply is plentiful!
This isn’t just true on the New Release wall. A lot of boutique cinephile labels have issued dual-format releases: Criterion used to (as with our set of Persona below), as have cult-film archivists Vinegar Syndrome (Sweet Sweetback’s…), art-house and genre-film adventurists Arrow (La Grande Bouffe), and silent and film-noir specialists Flicker Alley (The Man Who Cheated Himself), to name just a few.
So you’ll find blu-ray sized dual-format titles all over the Beyond Video library, potentially opening up many hundreds of DVD titles you didn’t know were available.
And dual-format display cases are always blu-ray sized, right? WELP…
Every now and then someone will put out a dual-format set in a DVD-sized (or irregularly sized) case, just to keep us on our toes. This was the case with the very fun Go-Gos documentary, above (so nice we stickered it twice!). But this is only true of a few titles in the store, and in any case the solution is the same: slap a sticker on it.
We do our best, then, to not only make titles available on multiple formats, but keep you informed of your format options for each title. Usually if we only acquire one copy of a film, we do so on DVD, since both DVD and blu-ray players open up that content. But there are some recent releases (and lots of back-catalog reissues) these days that are only issued on blu-ray in the U.S.. We don’t have a pre-made sticker for that, so we have to settle for Eric’s borderline-illegible scrawl (and this is me trying my hardest — sorry gang! –Eric) as below for Monos and In Fabric to get the information across, so you’re not looking time and time again for a DVD that doesn’t, so far as we know, exist.
Why do distributors issue dual-format releases? Reasons vary. Some labels, we suspect, are doing so in the spirit of an archive maximizing access to their holdings; others may have been using dual-format releases to save money (less plastic and lower shipping costs if you consolidate the formats), and some may have used dual-format releases as a way to get their customers hooked on blus so they could eventually phase DVDs out.
Whatever their reason, we have a lot of ’em — and we wanted to make sure you knew you could access ’em!
Following the mayor’s recent announcement that non-essential Baltimore City businesses can re-open at 50% capacity, Beyond Video is excited to announce we’re re-opening this Saturday, June 20th from 3-9pm. Social-distancing precautions will be strictly enforced.
Our re-opening hours will be Saturdays and Sundays, 3-9pm until further notice.
To minimize exposure and maximize safety for you and us, we are implementing the following requirements. Please read the following carefully:
Masks must be worn at all times; gloves are strongly encouraged
Customers must maintain social distancingof 6 feet or more from clerks and fellow customers at all times
A maximum of 4 customers in the store at one time will be enforced
New Memberships and Membership Renewals will not be done in the store until further notice. However, we will be happy to schedule a call with you to handle renewals or new sign-ups remotely and contact-free.
For the safety of our customers and us, please do not come to the shop if you have any COVID-19 (or cold/flu) symptoms, or have any reason to think yourself or anyone you live with have been exposed to COVID-19.
We greatly appreciate the return of any outstanding rentals prior to our re-opening Saturday through our mail slot, to avoid a backlog of returns
Our clerks will be wearing masks and gloves, regularly cleaning our counter and other shared spaces, and sanitizing all returns. All rentals returned during shutdown have already been thoroughly sanitized upon their return.
For your safety and ours, we will continue to closely follow Baltimore City mandates and public-health information about COVID-19 to determine our hours of operation and precautions. Please follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and/or Facebook for more immediate updates.
Please contact us via email should you have any questions or concerns: baltimorevideocollective “at” gmail.
Thanks for reading! We’re excited to start renting to you again from our awesome collection of 16,000+ titles and counting!
The video rental store experience has returned to Baltimore at last! Our shop at 2545 N. Howard Street is now open each Friday-Sunday 3-7pm through December, with expanded hours coming in January, 2019!
Our video store will be cashless; members will establish a recurring monthly donation to join, and thereafter there are no rental costs or late fees. We have 2 affordable membership plans to choose from. Check ’em out!
Our collection of about 10,000 unique titles on DVD, blu-ray, and VHS is entirely crowd-sourced, and we only get more comprehensive and awesome with each donation, whether a dusty ol’ disc or a fancy new box set. Feeling even more generous than you already have been? Here’s our WISH LIST: http://bit.ly/2pycBgF
Thanks to all of you who helped make our non-profit video dream a reality!
Whew! We’re all still reeling a bit from the excitement of the end of our campaign. Feeling so grateful that we can call it successful with $32,250 raised!
Infinite thanks to all of our backers, supporters & cheerleaders! Please stay tuned for information about rewards and updates on our progress. If you reached out with offers of help in our next stages of cataloging, renovating, etc, we will be in touch.
Follow Beyond Video on facebook & twitter and check back here for news & updates.
We’re beyond excited to reinvent the video store in Baltimore!
Thank you so much to the 387 and counting kind folks who funded Beyond Video’s dream of a non-profit, collectively run video store in Baltimore!
Before launching this Kickstarter, we did a gut check and compressed our initially higher ask to $30k. To open with as banging a collection as possible, we could use every penny beyond that we can get. Each and every dollar from this point forward goes to making the collection that much more awesome.
With that in mind, 2 of our collective members are offering matching challenges!
Eric Hatch’s HATCH MATCH is an offering of a collection that is very meaningful to him.
Eric says: “I discovered the films of Fassbinder at Video Americain in 1996 when I first moved to Baltimore. His singular filmography helped me through a rough time then (and many more since). I’d like the store to open with as many of his films as possible, so other people can discover and explore his work. If we reach $35k before our Kickstarter closes, I’ll donate all these Fassbinder DVDs I’ve been hoarding for years, from Ali: Fear Eats the Soul to Why Does Herr R. Run Amok. And then we can spend your generous donations on other cool items for the collection!”
& filmmaker Joe Tropea is offering a DVD of his documentary Hit and Stay to any pledge of $25—in addition to the ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS perk.
COME CELEBRATE WITH US TOMORROW NIGHT! Join us for drinks, sights and sounds. The evening will be hosted by the wonderful folks at The Golden West Cafe.
Wednesday, June 21st
10 pm – 12 am
1105 W 36th St, Baltimore
Wow! We’re less than $3,000 away from reaching our goal! An anonymous donor pledged $10k to our campaign this weekend, putting our dream so very close to reality. Help us get through the final push!
Collective member Eric Hatch has generously offered a matching challenge: if we reach our goal by midnight tonight, he’ll make a $600+ donation of very cool discs the store couldn’t otherwise afford! This includes $400 of limited-edition (and in many cases out-of-print) blu-ray titles from specialty label Twilight Time from his personal collection; ordering the spectacular limited-edition blu-ray of his favorite film, POSSESSION ($65); and ordering the first 5 films by legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman ($150).
Let’s keep those pledges coming and bring video store culture back to Bmore!
Thank you so much for your support, good vibes & enthusiasm!
We’re over 35% of the way to our campaign goal, thank you so much to everyone who has donated & help spread the word. 7 days left!
If you want to come out and celebrate, New America is hosting us tonight, June 14th at 9 pm. We’ll be screening movies by local filmmakers as well as Les Blank’s classic short documentary Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe. Stick around for DJs, drinks & more!