The video rental store where Quentin Tarantino began his career

“I like that I will leave a 10-film filmography. It’s not etched in stone, but that is the plan. I do think directing is a young man’s game, and I like the idea of an umbilical cord connection from my first to my last movie. If I get to the 10th, do a good job and don’t screw it up, well that sounds like a good way to end the old career.”

That’s what Quentin Tarantino said in a recent interview. In his 22-year career he was able to always shock and conquer the spectator, becoming an icon on our generation. But what is the place where it all began?

Tarantino was born in Knoxville, Tennesee, on March 27th, 1963. He never met his father, Tony Tarantino, an American musician with Italian origins. His mother Connie McHugh married a musician and moved in El Segundo, in Los Angeles’ South Bay area. The screen where the filmmaker started watching movies was the little one in that house. When he was a little kid, he used to record on VHS the classics that were broadcasted on TV at late night, and that’s how his first movie collection started.

When he was 22, Tarantino started to work at  Video Archives, a movie store in Manhattan Beach, California, for $200 a week. There he get in touch with with many colleagues and become friend of Roger Avary, with whom he collaborated during his subsequent film career (he wrote the screenplay for Pulp Fiction, with which he won the Oscar).

Video Archives, the video rental store in Manhattan Beach

“[In 1985] the owner asked if I wanted to have a job there. He didn’t realize he was saving my life.”

Quentin said in several interviews that he didn’t become a cinephile because he worked there, but just the opposite: they hired him in that store because he was already fond and expert on movies.

In 1986, while still working at Video Archives, he began to study acting at Allen Garfield’s Actor’s Shelter, in Beverly Hills, but his interests moved gradually from acting to writing screenplays and directing. His first attempt as a director was My Best Friend’s Birthday, based on a screenplay written by Tarantino and his friend and colleague Craig Hamann. All members of the cast and crew were also Video Archives employees, and participated in the project financing it with $6,000, deducted from their salaries. It took three years to make that movie, and the project finally ended up destroyed by mistake. The film is today visible on YouTube. You can find it below.

Quentin Tarantino - My Best Friend's Birthday [1987 Short Film]

In 1992, his first movie Reservoir Dogs was released. Sales at the theatres were not really good, but the movie became a cult classic as home video. From here on, every millimeter of film and script made by him is studied by anyone who loves cinema. The Video Archives store, however, closed in 1994, sign of the hard times for video rental. Today probably we no longer have places like those, which could catalyze the passions of young talents ready to explode. Another sign of the Internet era, where everyone can potentially enter the Olympus of Art, but the birthplace of a phenomenon is not easy to identify.


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