Interview | The Story Behind The Last Blockbuster Video Store
We live in an era where everyone is striving to be first. To be the last at anything is a mark of failure. For a clandestine clan from Bend, Oregon, being the last Blockbuster Video is a badge of honor that they wear proudly like a navy blue polo with butter yellow trim.
The Last Blockbuster is a feature-length documentary about the rise and fall of Blockbuster video and the last remaining store in an idyllic Pacific Northwest city.
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Film director Taylor Morden and producer Zeke Kamm take us back to a kinder, stream-less time before Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video revolutionized the way you watched movies at home. The filmmakers spent the past nine months interviewing the people behind the Bend Blockbuster while digging through the fascinating history that surrounds not just this store, but the Blockbuster Video legacy.
We spoke with Morden and Kamm over email about the making of The Last Blockbuster and how you can help them finish their passion project (and score some retro gear) via their Kickstarter campaign.
The Last Blockbuster from PopMotion Pictures on Vimeo.
Mandatory: Documentaries are often passion projects. What sparked the idea behind making The Last Blockbuster?
Taylor Morden: Driving around Bend, Oregon, seeing the sign, and feeling like I had to stop in and find out how and why there was still a Blockbuster Video open in this town. Then, being in the store and being instantly taken back to the ’90s and my teenage years where I spent countless hours in Blockbuster Video. I would tell people from other cities that we still had a Blockbuster Video here and they wouldn’t believe me, or they’d say “Why?” So I started digging to find out.
What Blockbuster Video movie rentals influenced you as filmmakers?
Zeke Kamm: I’ve always loved quirky character comedies. I must have rented What About Bob 30 times before I finally bought the Laserdisc. That’s right. Laserdisc. Bill Murray made me want to make films.
Morden: Revenge of the Nerds was my go-to VHS rental, but once DVD came out, as a filmmaker I was more drawn to the special features than the movies themselves. I would often rent anything that had a “making of” or a directors commentary.
Some would say that Blockbuster got what they deserved because they were the chain that wiped out local mom-and-pop movie rental stores. And, let’s not forget about the rewind charges and the extortion-like late charges. Do you touch on those subjects?
Kamm: We are covering the history of Blockbuster. And that is part of their history. But our main focus is on the last remaining store which started as a local mom-and-pop place and kept the same owners even when they took on the Blockbuster name. Now that Blockbuster corporate doesn’t own any stores, this last Blockbuster is still owned and run by the same people that always owned and ran it. You’ll see in our movie how much of a family-run store it is. It’s a lovely thing.
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Sell us on why we should contribute to your Kickstarter campaign.
Kamm: The Last Blockbuster is a fun, nostalgic ride back to a time when the world seemed more tangible, a simpler time. If you ever enjoyed browsing the aisles of a video rental store for that perfect movie, you’ll love The Last Blockbuster.
Morden: We’re making an indie film about a major corporation, so I get why it seems weird to ask for help. But the key word is “indie,” and the story is fascinating. You’ll want to see the movie! Kickstarter is a great way to cut out the middle man between filmmakers and people who are interested in stories like this. But mostly, you’ll want to contribute so you can get a 2018 fully functional Blockbuster membership card.
Do you think the last Blockbuster will survive?
Kamm: I think selecting movies to watch works better in real-life at a video store. So I hope it does. We’ll see.
Morden: I hope so. The hype of being the last one seems to be helping, and maybe this documentary will help too. As a customer, I hope they stay in business forever. As a realist, I doubt they will, and as a filmmaker, I’m hoping for a happy ending to our story with them.
If you want to contribute to the The Last Blockbuster Kickstarter campaign, do so here before it closes on Sept. 10. Follow the #thelastblockbuster #lastblockbuster for the latest updates.