VHS Obsessed: Adjust Your Tracking Interview

Before the DVD era, there was a time when VHS showcased the most extreme advancement in modern day technology. Nowadays the format conjures up a sense of nostalgia instead, as people sift through pre-loved tapes in thrift store dollar bins for novelty’s sake more than anything else.

VHS obsessives Dan Kinem and Levi "Dabeedo" Peretic have tapped into this love for the old fashioned videotape with their documentary, Adjust Your Tracking. The pair tested their own dedication to the format by collecting over 100 interviews with vociferous VHS collectors and clocking up over 1,000 of footage that they then condensed into an entertaining snapshot into VHS life.

Adjust Your Tracking’s co-creator Dan Kinem and co-founder of VHShitfest, dedicated to exploring the most obscure films found on tape, checked in with FRANK to talk about why VHS conjures up so much love in the hearts of viewers around the globe.

You and Levi are both VHS obsessives. What is it about this medium that you love so much?
Well, I'd say first and foremost you can find so many movies, TV shows, etc. that have not made the jump to DVD. That was my main draw to VHS from the beginning. I was able to watch tons of stuff that never made the jump to any digital format. But then as I got deeper and deeper into the collecting world I fell in love with the hunting aspect of it. I could travel and dig through thrift stores, video stores, flea markets, etc. for rare and interesting movies that I didn't have.

Can you give us a brief rundown on the history of the VHS?
Well, it became a usable home video format in the late ’70s. The technology had been around for a while, though, before you were able to actually buy a VHS tape and watch a movie in your home. It started off and was way too expensive for anyone to build a big collection of movies. Video stores began to pop up in the early- to mid-’80s and the shelves needed to be filled so that's when a large portion of the direct-to-video and shot-on-video movies really started.

At that point basically anything you could think of was on VHS. Throughout the rest of the ’80s and early ’90s, formats tried to compete with it but most failed. That's also when VHS became cheap enough to actually collect. It wasn't until the late ’90s when DVD came and people slowly but surely began to forget about VHS despite it being one of the most important things to ever happen to film in my opinion.

This project took two years to put together. Can you tell us about what went into getting Adjust Your Tracking off the ground?
Well, first off, our blood, sweat, and tears, haha. We literally had to put every penny and free minute into making the movie. We are both full-time college students and were while making the movie. We had to make it in between classes and try to make any extra cash we could in order to fund the very early interviews and travels. From the very start, much to my girlfriend's chagrin, I put all my time into the movie. Whether that was promoting it, filming it, setting up interviews, or whatever. And Levi did the same. In order to get the film done we had to start a Kickstarter to get the gas money to travel around the country and collect the rest of the interviews.

Thanks to the great VHS community and supporters we reached our goal and began collecting the interviews and footage. The amount of work we did in that time period, looking back, is crazy. I'm surprised I didn't die. We collected over 100 interviews, over 1000 hours of footage, traveled (by car) across the entire country, all the while attending school and working. We actually didn't start doing any filming until January 2012 so in a little over a year we made the entire film. And we edited all that footage all while trying to live our normal lives and not fail out of school.

Because of the amount of time and effort we put into this I couldn't be more proud of the final product. I hope people can see that work and passion when they watch the movie. I'm actually kind of excited for when we do special features down the road because we will get to tell all the crazy behind the scenes stories we have.

The film taps into a tight community of VHS collectors. What are some of the common traits you've noticed amongst all of these VHS lovers?
They're all crazy. Haha, myself included. Actually, I'm somewhat kidding. They all were very passionate about this format and appreciated what it did for film history and recognized that it's not a "dead" format. It's still worth caring about. Overall, I love the VHS community and of course relate to them and share many of the same opinions with them.

Can you tell us about some of the most memorable collectors that are featured in your film?
Well, I don't want to spoil much, but there was a collector who converted his basement and personal collection into a fully realized video store. It was out of this world. Like walking back into the ’90s/’80s. Beyond that we saw some of the most impressive and coolest collections whether they were 100 tapes or 10,000 tapes. It was a great experience and you'll get to see a lot of that amazingness from watching the movie.

Do you think that the DVD format will ever conjure up the same nostalgia as VHS does now? Why, or why not?
I don't think it will ever reach the level that VHS did but I do think some people will remember it fondly. I feel like after 20 years there's always a group of people who become nostalgic for what they remember from their youth. I personally will never look at DVD and think anything more than a disposable, flimsy, and convenient way to watch a movie, though.

Adjust Your Tracking will be screening in NYC at Tribeca on May 24. Details here.

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