Christine Schoenwald

Christine Schoenwald
Glendale, California, United States
September 29


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JANUARY 28, 2011 1:44PM

But Where Will the Film Geeks Go to Graze?

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If you've ever been to Vidiots in Santa Monica, you know it is more than a DVD/video store; it is a community and an archive. The selection of movies they carry is astounding including some very rare films that haven't made it to DVD. Vidiots is going to die and die soon if people let it. Netflix and downloading both dealt Vidiots damaging blows, business has been dropping off for awhile now. People don't like paying what they think are high prices but Vidiots is an independent store, it doesn't have the resources of a chain, they are the specialty boutique of movie rental stores. Along with the fee you get a really knowledgeable staff who is very happy to help you. The owners are sending out a letter stating if you love the store and want it to remain in business, then rent a movie once a week or rent out the screening room. Come back, little customer, come back!
I've worked there for nearly 20 years- yes a testament to change avoidance. I'm not saying working in a DVD store was ever my dream or is it now. Working there allowed me to pursue writing and performing, it was flexible and it was a family. I've made so many friends there. I've learned so much. I've had some truly unique experiences like having a disemboweled rat fall on my head, witnesses a sudden swarm of bees over traffic on Pico only for the swarm to suddenly die and turn Pico blvd into a street made of dead bee cobblestones, had the late great Gregory Hines kiss my hand and my cheek, have my favorite customer ( who turned out to be a massage molester after he moved to Utah) bring me homemade bread and wine)and had a low budget director return three VHS tapes with a used condom smashed between two of them. Yes we've had all kinds of characters. There was an actor once who would come to the store for hours ( no exaggeration) and then not rent anything. He liked being in that environment where people talked excitedly about movies. I always felt too like we were a substitute for bartenders for the sober set. People would come in and just want to talk. If someone was getting sick the first thing after picking up juice and cough medicine was to get some movies! Family event - get some movies, you might not be able to keep the conversation up otherwise. Obviously since I work at Vidiots I have never Netflixed. I can't understand how one knows what they want to watch a week from Thursday. What will film students do when they miss the film they showed in class, or the old customers who have renting a film as part of their routine? I sincerely think if Vidiots closes there will be a huge gap- a wound in the film community and in Santa Monica.

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Vidiots seems much like the Upstart Crows of video. It sounds like a fascinating place to have worked all these years. We've missed the closings of our own local stores. Even the chains are now gone. We used to rent golden oldies for the boys but those aren't popular enough to be available on Netflix or Amazon. We're just out of luck.
Vidiots is really special. It would be a true shame if indeed it must close. Honestly it isn't just that I will have to find another job, which understandably terrifies me, it is the fact that there really isn't another store like it anywhere, even the independent stores that manage to stay open in places like Seattle and Portland.