Mar 13, 2012

Building a Movie Library

To own a library of films has been a passion and goal of mine since about the age of 12. It was around the same time that I started shooting my own short films that my collection really began.  I had about 100 VHS tapes before making the switch in late 2001 to DVDs.  Things began to snowball from there.

For a long time my movie collection has been as much a personal identifier as my daily slurpees, wearing sandles in the winter, or my affinity for my car. The luxury of building a library seems to have faded with the growth of Netflix, iTunes, and YouTube though, and my collection itself has started to plateau with the downfall of Blockbuster and my own desire to not dedicate anymore than the 5 shelves (stacked 2 DVDs thick) of the current space my nearly 1500 titles already take up.  

I think of myself like John Cusack's character in High Fidelity except with movies instead of records.  The cases are stacked any which way, but the discs themselves are stored alphabetically in binders to make them easy to find.  In fact, it wasn't long after my collection started that I began inputting every movie I owned into a database so I could keep track of what I had.  What's a true collector if not a bit obsessive, right? If you think about the fact that my collection started around Christmas just over 10 years ago, that's about 150 additions a year - or a new movie every 2.5 days.  Seeing as I maybe buy one or two movies a month now, it's not hard to see where my student loans were going during those formative film school years.

Back in 2008 I wrote about my collection reaching 1007. My database had the ability to compile all kinds of different stats, but having upgraded my computer several times since then, the list is just a list now.  The reason I actually felt like writing this is because I just did a clean sweep of my collection recently and ended up donating about 40 films to the public library.  It made me miss Blockbuster, because almost all of the films I donated were foreign films and documentaries that I'd bought previously viewed.  They weren't bad flicks either, but I figure if I'll only watch them once every 5 years than they're not worth holding on to.  

My library took years to assemble, but I eventually crossed off every classic film title I had on my wish list.  I own all of Charlie Chaplin's features, almost every single Best Picture winner, almost every single film listed on the American Film Institutes Top 100 films, and a slew of critically acclaimed movies from some of the most influential directors of all time that would fit perfectly into any film school lecture - Scorsese, Allen, Spielberg, Truffaut, Eastwood, Hitchcock, Wilder, and the list goes on and on.  It's no exaggeration when I admit that I've spent thousands of dollars building my dream collection of blockbusters, cinema greats, and pure popcorn flicks.  

To be honest, it's surreal to realize that I've caught up to my wish list in completing something that I was building for so many years.  I'm sure eventually everything will go digital, but as long as I have a way to play these movies I can't see myself ever starting from scratch again.  Maybe now I can start dreaming about a house with a dedicated film library room. Yes, that sounds like a perfectly ridiculous next step.

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