Film critic Aaron Hillis—editor of GreenCine Daily and programmer at indie cinema and gastropub reRun at reBar in DUMBO—is bringing a new spin to a retro business venture: He’s taking over a beloved video store in Cobble Hill.
According to Filmmaker Magazine (and first tipped by McBrooklyn), Hillis’ operation of decade-old “Video Free Brooklyn” at 244 Smith Street, will now be all artisanal and perhaps co-op. “I want to reinvent the video store experience and make it fun again,” he says. Hillis will be at the front counter as of June 1.
Filmmaker muses, “At a time when the independent film world is obsessed with VOD, downloads and streaming, Hillis is time-traveling back to the world of plastic cases, late fees and, on the more positive side, savvy clerks who know you, your tastes and are vocal in their recommendations.”
Hillis tells the magazine:
Video Free Brooklyn (has) been a real staple, an institution in my neighborhood of Cobble Hill for the last decade. The owner, Dan Wu, has lived in Kentucky for a few years and wants to pursue another endeavor. And the store has been sustainable. It’s in a well-trafficked area and caters to a media-savvy (clientele), a community that needs to be served with a well-curated video store.
I’m not scared of things like Netflix, because that’s so impersonal. I’ve got 200 movies in my instant streaming queue and I’m not watching any of them because I click on them and I feel that’s good enough. It’s like a Facebook friend: It doesn’t have the same perceived value. And I’ve had so much interest from people within the film industry—critics, filmmakers, programmers—that it may end up like a co-op, mainly staffed by film-minded people, many of whom will have full-time jobs already and will be working their required monthly shifts. I want to reinvent the video store experience and make it fun again.
Read the full Filmmaker interview with Hillis here.