Now it is no secret that I am a huge fan of VHS, and since you’re reading this I would guess that you are too. In the last few years the VHS medium has been plucked from near extinction by devoted fans who just love the notion of the format. Homemade horror movies can be found online which proudly show that this is a VHS only film and sites such as Horror Boobs and Lunchmeat have sprung up all over the place supporting VHS. These VHS only movies are mostly made by fans of the medium and one such fan Dan Kinem, who with his fellow director Levi Peretic have created a documentary called Adjust Your Tracking, which focuses on what it is like to be a collector of VHS. I managed to grab an interview with Dan about the documentary, his other upcoming projects and why he loves VHS so much.
GB: The first thing I wanted to ask is could you tell us a bit about the documentary, and why did you decide to embark on this project?
DM: Well, Adjust Your Tracking is a passion project made by two VHS enthusiasts all about VHS collecting and the people who still cherish what many call a “dead format.” We decided to take this project on because it was too great of an idea to pass up. I knew through talking to and meeting other collectors that they could easily hold a feature-length movie and be entertaining and engaging; not just entertaining to other VHS collectors, but to all people who remember growing up and watching tapes.
Like you, I am a big VHS fan and my love came from going to video shops as a child and seeing the walls filled with movies. Where do you think your love of VHS came from, especially as VHS was winding down when you would have been starting to collect?
My love of VHS came from my parents who had a large VHS collection growing up. I used to try to watch a new tape every single night in my room before bed. I will never forget those times and watching VHS reminds me of that. My love of the format really came when I realized that not only could I build up a collection very cheaply because DVD had taken over, but also because I could see a lot of movies that weren’t available in any other format. It also gave me reason to go on long hunts with my friends trying to find old video stores or thrift stores that still had tapes.
Did the recent resurgence of VHS releases from big studios like the V/H/S movie and the home-made released on VHS movies made by fans become the inspiration for your documentary or had this idea always been in your mind?
The documentary has been in the works for quite a while, and at the time we started it there weren’t too many modern VHS out there. There were a few, and I could definitely see the writing on the wall that more tapes would soon be coming out and that VHS was becoming more and more popular again. That was just yet another reason we knew we had to do the documentary.
Did you see any quirky or weird VHS stuff on your travels?
I couldn’t even begin to tell you. We found so many amazing tapes and saw so many weird VHS-related things along the way. We ended up filling the entire car with tapes before we got home and overall had an amazing time. I don’t want to spoil any of the things we saw though, that’s what watching the movie will show you!
The appeal for me of the VHS genre is getting hold of tapes that would otherwise be lost to the world and the glorious sleeve art these tapes had. What is the appeal of VHS to you?
I love finding things that not many people know about, too. It’s always amazing uncovering a movie that has never been released on any other format and that no one else is talking about. I, of course, love the art as well. I love all the small details of VHS like the box types, the trailers, the video logos, etc. Everything about VHS is just fantastic!
What was the first VHS you got or the one you most fondly remember that really sparked your VHS collecting bug?
The first one that really sparked my collecting bug was Birds II: The Land’s End, which is an absolutely terrible made-for-TV sequel that has never been released on DVD. It made me start looking at what other obscurities that were out there that had never been released!
What advice would you give for aspiring VHS collectors or anyone interested in collecting VHS?
I would tell them to dig. It is really easy to build up a VHS collection if you go around to all the thrift stores, video stores, yard sales, etc. Also ask your friends and family if they have tapes. You never know what you’ll find. Then as you start collecting more and more you can start developing your tastes more and start focusing on exactly the types of movies you want to hunt down. It’s a super amazing and fun thing to collect and hunt down so just have fun with it. It isn’t a contest. I hope this movie makes many more people start collecting!
You are quite the busy guy at the moment with working on Tapemold magazine, VHShit Fest and this documentary. What type of release will the documentary be getting and what are your plans for the future?
Ha Ha, I agree. I am super busy. I have even more stuff on my plate than just those things, too, including a new release of the documentary Invasion of the Scream Queens. I’m also a full-time college student so that really doesn’t help either! The film will work the festival circuit and have screenings around the country and hopefully some overseas, too. Then hopefully, early next year it will get a DVD and VHS release! As for the future, we have many more documentaries ideas that once this is done we will start developing. Can’t give away any spoilers, though!
Adjust your Tracking will be showing at the Severed film festival on May the 11th 2013 with other screenings soon to follow. You can also follow the film via it’s Facebook page or if you just want to see what other stuff Dan is up to then try the VHShitfest website which he works on with fellow VHS fan Tim May .