Reel Change

By Joel Longnecker

VHS tapes, DVD's, and Blu-Ray discs at Film is Truth. Photo by Joel Longnecker.
VHS tapes, DVD’s, and Blu-Ray discs at Film is Truth. Photo by Joel Longnecker.

One of the last remaining video rental stores in town, Film Is Truth, re-opened last month at its new location inside of The Public Market shopping center at 1530 Cornwall Ave, alongside Terra Organica, Ambo Ethiopian Cuisine, and Mount Baker Books. Along with a new address, the move from their storefront on W. Holly St. is followed with a new nonprofit business model as well.

“Since Film Is Truth 24 Times a Second has been a for profit retail business for nearly twenty years, from a technical standpoint we’re actually creating a whole new organization to continue its work.” said Sam Kaas, Vice President of the Film Is Truth Nonprofit Corporation in an email.

“Right now, from a legal perspective, there are actually two Film Is Truth organizations – the for-profit retail business and the nonprofit. The nonprofit is currently an incorporated nonprofit in the State of Washington, and what we’re waiting on now is our 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS. Once that comes through, we’ll dissolve the retail business”

The new nonprofit classification will not change the stores’ normal practices. The founders and owners of Film Is Truth, Karl Freske and Emily Marston donated their entire collection of VHS, DVD, and Blu-Ray films to the nonprofit so that they can continue to rent out all of the films that they always have.

Film is Truth’s manager, Dee Dee Chapman said that the nonprofit business allows the store to do new things like take on volunteers and participate in fundraisers, such as the one used to help them with the transitioning costs of opening the new store

Moving the store into the Public Market cost $30,000 and another $5,000 in legal fees to become nonprofit. A Kickstarter campaign was started to help the business and had good results. The Kickstarter page announced that a donation goal of $12,000 was surpassed by approximately $2,500 dollars given to the cause from 188 backers. Many individuals supported without using Kickstarter and gave money in person.

“A regular customer gave us a check for two grand.” Chapman said.

“As a nonprofit, our goal is to become a gathering place and a resource for people who love film, so it makes a lot of sense for us to be located in a place that is a natural stop for many of our patrons” said Kaas, “our goal as we become a nonprofit has always been to expand our offerings to better serve our community. We’re not just here to rent videos to people – we’re here to keep great films accessible to everyone.”

Chapman said that the store hopes to start its community outreach by engaging in activities like film education for middle and high school students and networking with local film establishments Limelight and Pickford Cinemas. Although currently the business is still sorting things out after the big move.

“We’re catching our breath right now.” said Chapman.

The Public Market assists Film Is Truth achieve its goal of community outreach by the infrastructural benefits of its location. Chapman says that the business hopes to make use of the conference and meeting room in the market to host film club meetings and other public events.

Nicholas Potter, English adjunct and film professor considers Film Is Truth more than a movie shop but as a film database for the community.

“Acting as a comprehensive collection of American and world cinematic culture available to all. It’s akin to the community having their own private Criterion Collection, only much, much cheaper,” said Potter over email,  “Whether you want to see a classic, new or modern cinema from around the globe, popular television, Hollywood blockbusters, or [name that movie], Film is Truth has it.”

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