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'Video World' Recalls Bygone Age of Video Stores

Ben Churchill’s documentary “Video World” was released Friday, a film that chronicles the “life and death of video stores” starting with one local favorite.

Photo courtesy of Radio Trip Pictures.
Photo courtesy of Radio Trip Pictures.

For locals, Video World was a landmark. It wasn’t just the place you went to rent videos, it was the place where you met your friends before grabbing a pizza, where you asked for recommendations from friendly employees, chatted with fellow movie lovers, and maybe tried to weasel out of a late charge or two.

Churchill grew up in Woodbury and worked at Video World in the late 90’s because of his interest in film. He went on to work in radio, television, and film, and moved to the West Coast. But when he heard Video World was closing in 2010, he asked the owner, Ed Kaczynski, to film a documentary during the final days of the store’s 23 years in business.

“I wanted to make a film about the life and death of video stores,” Churchill says, “and to try and figure out what’s missing, what’s been lost?”

Churchill and his crew filmed 57 hours of footage and interviewed dozens of loyal customers and employees, resulting in a 16-minute documentary called "Video World" that captures the experience of going into a video store—an experience members of current and future generations will probably never have again.

The unassuming star of the film is Kaczynski, the affable small town business owner that was clearly the heart of the store. Churchill speaks fondly of his former “mentor,” who taught his employees about “customer service and good business practices.” His affection for Kaczynski shines through in the film, with just enough sentimentality to make you wonder why you ever joined Netflix.

Video World closed its doors for good on March 31, 2010, but Churchill’s documentary lets it live on.

“Video World” is available for rental ($0.99) or download ($1.99) on Vimeo.com as of Friday, Dec. 6. The downloaded version includes deleted scenes and extra footage.


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