Posted August 27, 2013 by Jeff in Flicks

Adjust Your Tracking: The tale of the tape caught on film

Dan Kinem’s would raid his parents’ huge video collection and when he was a kid growing up in Erie, Pennsylvania. “One year, they got me a tiny terrible TV,” he explains. “But it had a VCR attached to it and every night before I went to bed I would pull a movie out and watch it.” He had a couple of video stores nearby and would often go and hang out. “I’ve always been drawn to that,” he says. “But when I got older, I got into foreign movies and have been trying to watch as many films as possible.” In his directorial debut, the documentary Adjust Your Tracking, Kinem interviews countless VHS collectors and provides a terrific overview of their unusual world. He recently phoned in from a remote part of Idaho to talk about the movie.

What’s it been like to tour with the movie?
It’s been great meeting the people come out to see it and we’ve had VHS swap meets at almost all the movies that have gone really well.

How’d you get interested in this topic?
I’m a huge collector myself and I have about 8,000 tapes. I was always meeting other collectors and it kept building and building. We would interview one person and then they would recommend someone else. It went from there.

Who’s the most obsessive collector you spoke to?
Ed McHale has over 20,000 tapes and he’s always buying new tapes and buying out video stores.

The guy who had a video store in his basement seems pretty obsessive.
Bradley Creanzo has thousands of tapes. He’s really obsessive because he had a collection of what he wanted and what he loved. When he came up with the idea to make the video store in his basement, he wanted to make it as realistic as possible. He started buying movies you would find in a video store, so he has a drama section and all the titles you would find at a store in the mid-’80s.

But people don’t obsess over DVDs in the same way as they do tapes?
No, but a lot of the people in the movie buy DVDs too.  So many movies aren’t available on DVD and that’s a huge draw for these collectors. It’s the only format they can see them on.

So many movies aren’t available on DVD and that’s a huge draw for these collectors. It’s the only format they can see them on.

I didn’t realize how many titles didn’t make it to DVD.
It’s crazy. Everything from low budget horror movies to more mainstream stuff to foreign films.

Did you make movies before this?
I haven’t made anything before this. The co-director was a film major and I’m a journalism major. We teamed up. He knew the technical aspects. I made short films but none of them turned into anything. Given the passion I had for the topic, I figured this was the perfect first movie.

Do you have plans for the next film?
Yeah, it’s definitely a documentary. We found a couple of ideas that could be our potential next movie while on this tour.

You must have had trouble fitting everything in the film.
We had over 100 interviews and 1,000 hours of footage. There’s so much that didn’t make it in and so many interviews we wanted to get in. But we will have lots of deleted scenes and extended scenes for the video release.

Will you release it on VHS?
Yeah, we’re doing a VHS release and DVD release. Hopefully down the line we’ll have a digital release as well.

I didn’t realize movies still came out on VHS.
Three or four years ago it blew up and people started releasing movies on VHS again. One of the early ones was House of the Devil and movies like Trash Humpers and The Taint did VHS. Those companies have a sole goal to put out weird movies.


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].