THIRTEEN QUESTIONS WITH the marketing coordinator at scarecrow video, MATT LYNCH

with William Pennington

Much has already been said about Scarecrow Video. It’s legendary, it’s the greatest video store of all time, etc…heck, they even released their own book! It’s all true. Scarecrow IS pretty neat, and for someone who was a volunteer there, I can say it IS everything you can imagine the greatest video store would be like.

One of my favorite videos about Scarecrow lies here, with the head of Marketing, Matt Lynch. He not only gives a tour of the store, but an in depth analysis into the lifeblood of what makes the store great. Small notes from staff members, kooky signs with amazing insight into a film, which are categorized by the most interesting sections you can think of. The Trucker section might be my favorite, but there are also sections of every major horror villain. Halloween (the film), is located in the Stalker section of the Psychotronic Room, for instance. The Ted Bundy made for tv film (starring Mark Harmon) is located in the Serial Killer section of the Murder/Mystery/Suspense room. There are still a few computers throughout the store to help you search.

At first, Matt may appear to be the biggest movie guru in the city. But after volunteering there, I realized that just about every employee knows about almost every great (and not so great) movie in the store. The staff is incredible. Movies are their life, they’re in their blood, unable to separate life from reality. I thought I knew movies, but they actually KNOW them, and aren’t judgy about what you watch. They just want you to have an enjoyable video experience. The store has over 130,000 titles to choose from, which is more videos than human can watch in a lifetime.

I feel honored that Matt took time out of his day to answer a few of my questions. Feel free to Get Involved like I did, and immerse yourself in video bliss.

Watching a film seems like a solitary thing to enjoy, yet extremely social. What is your favorite way to watch a movie? At home alone with popcorn? At a small movie theater? Maybe watching at a drive in?

Honestly, I don't have much of a preference. I've watched some great films on just the worst imaginable transfers on a tiny window on my laptop just because it's the only way something was available. Obviously optimal conditions are ideal, but sometimes you have to take what you can get.

What is your favorite section or shelf in the store?

Probably the Blaxploitation or Sexploitation sections.

One thing I have long wondered about...did Scarecrow ever have a mascot?  Either a real pet Scarecrow, or maybe a costumed employee out on the sidewalk handing out flyers?  Something like that...?  Where exactly did the "Scarecrow" come from?

Scarecrow comes from our departed founder George Latsios, whose favorite movie was THE WIZARD OF OZ. We've had some different variations of a logo with an actual scarecrow on it, and then some more with a bird, which seems to have stuck.

Why aren't Kevin Smith movies in the famed Directors section of the store? What did he do (or didn't do), exactly? Either way I understand.  Are there other directors like that?  I wonder if he knew about it, if he'd come to the store and try and change your mind.  Or realize he's gotta make better movies.

It's basically that we think he's not a very good filmmaker. There are plenty of people various staff members think do or do not deserve a section, but it takes a lot to reach consensus about who we include. Kathryn Bigelow didn't get a section for years after HURT LOCKER won Best Picture simply because our inventory team at the time uniformly hated her films. It happens.

Practical question: What is the best way to clean a disc?  Does it matter if it's a DVD, Blu Ray, or even a Laserdisc?  

A soft cloth on the shiny surface, like a t-shirt, wiped in straight lines out from the center.

What is the most universally loved film by staff and customers? Is there ONE movie that everyone should see?  

There really isn't one specific universally loved movie. We all have different tastes and ideas, that makes for a good and diverse staff.

How do movies make people better?  If this is too broad, how do movies make YOU a better person?

Personally I think you can learn a lot about the world by seeing art from other cultures and systems, and by seeing how those artists view their own societies and customs.

Which movie critic is/was your favorite? Is Roger Ebert the only one with his own film festival?

I don't read a ton of film criticism unless it's about a film I'm not settled on. I find it tends to color my responses.

Is it true that Scarecrow has the second largest video selection next to the Library of Congress? What are the exact numbers on that? Are there titles you have that the Library of Congress doesn't have? 

We have around 131,000 titles. I'm not sure how many are in the LoC, but I do know there are a few that we have that they don't. 

Also, since Scarecrow has such a vast collection, might it ever become a film library?  Perhaps the city could incorporate you into their collection somehow, and keep the building...?

Personally I wouldn't like to see this collection fall into the hands of a local bureaucracy.

Will Scarecrow ever make or produce films?  Or have you already?

Nope and nope.

Has there ever been a famous guest in the store where you were too nervous to think clearly, or perhaps one that made you feel like you couldn't move?

Not that I can remember. Tarantino was here once, but that was before i worked here.

Finally, IS every film online? If not, can you give a ballpark percentage?

I would say that 90% of films are not online. 


WP - September 2018