VIDEOSYNCRATIC

WITH A FOREWORD by SUSIE DENT

 

From the early 80's until just a couple of years ago, the video shop was a little part of everyone's life in the UK. Except mine. It was a really big part of my life. And across those three decades, I spent a lot of time in them.

 

I was the wide-eyed kid staring at the gory painted covers in the horror section. I was the teenager hanging out that they couldn't get rid of. I was the surly bastard till jockey. I was the stressed-out manager and eventually I was the guy who got to open his own chain of kick-ass cool indie video stores.

 

I'm a filmmaker and a film writer now, but through my teens, twenties and thirties I worked in a total of thirteen different video shops - from monolithic corporate outlets, chains that desperately tried to emulate those monolithic corporate outlets, to long-forgotten back street Mom n' pops, to raging, vibrant high street indies. And I have stories to share.

 

Videosyncratic is my book about my adventures in, and observations of, that industry. Think 'Kitchen Confidential' but replace the hardworking kitchen staff with a bunch of lazy, rude, wisecracking bastards, sitting around watching films and finding new and creative ways to upset customers.

 

For an entire industry that came and went in our lifetimes, the UK video shop culture has been woefully undocumented - it was a bizarre clash of failed homegrown entrepreneurship and the awkward application of American customer service values onto a confused and apathetic British workforce.

 

In this book, I'll guide you from the early 80s to 2010, when I closed down my own video shops and left the industry in its death throes.

 

The book has everything you could want from a book on video shops - video nasties, late fees, corporate sleaze, indie hijinks, triumph, failure, romance, adventure, grown adults being dragged out of shops by their ears, awkward sex in the VHS section and, most importantly, film geekery of the highest order.

 

THIS BOOK IS THE EXACT SIZE AND SHAPE OF A VHS TAPE. WHICH IS COOL BEYOND WORDS.

PRAISE FOR VIDEOSYNCRATIC:

"I love this book. It is funny and sad and sharp and clever and, every now and then, fantastically naughty. It will make you feel both keening nostalgia for the lost days of video shops and joyful relief that you never have to go into Blockbuster ever again."  

- Sam Jordison, Guardian critic, editor of Crap Towns, co-director of Galley Beggar Press.

"A snortingly-funny read full of incisive commentary on the birth and death of an industry, what it is like to be an adult, and exactly how to get the world’s largest shit to flush."

Pop-verse.com

Horrible Imaginings Podcast #167: Talking Video Shop Life with Videosyncratic Author Jon Spira VIDEOSYNCRATIC
00:00 / 01:04

LISTEN TO JON DISCUSSING THE BOOK/

VIDEO SHOP LIFE ON THE HORRIBLE IMAGININGS PODCAST.

THE FORGOTTEN FILM CLUB - BOOK ONE: MORONS FROM OUTER SPACE

 

WITH A FOREWORD by FRANK TURNER

 

What is The Forgotten Film Club?

 

The FFC is a journey through unseen, unloved and unremembered movies.

An ongoing series of books exploring films forgotten by society.

 

This is not an exercise in kitsch and not a hilarious plan to 'out' films which have dated badly. It's about finding and exploring films which attempted to, but ultimately did not, make a mark on the mainstream. Taking a look at them critically and philosophically, talking to people involved in their production and having a think about their place in the world now.

 

Each book deals exclusively with just one film. A forgotten film. Maybe it'll be a diamond in the rough, an overlooked masterpiece or just a film which ultimately didn't work but had a great story behind it.

Basically, if you love films and are fascinated by how they get made and what happens to them once they're released, you should join the club.

 

The first book in the series explores the film MORONS FROM OUTER SPACE, a forgotten British sci-fi comedy vehicle for comedians Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones, directed by legendary film director Mike Hodges (Get Carter, Flash Gordon, The Croupier)

On 30/01/2019 I hosted a sold-out live Forgotten Film Club event. We screened Morons From Outer Space and then I conducted a live Q&A with director Mike Hodges (who had a far better time than it appears in the photo above) and star/writer Griff Rhys Jones. A good time was had by all, you can hear a recording of the Q&A below.

FFC LIVE: MORONS FROM OUTER SPACE Q&A