Walkden Entertainment (aka Peter Walkden) had the honour and pleasure of chatting with Brian Vining, director, writer and executive producer of The Last Video Store (2023), which is Now Available on major streaming platforms in Australia on Apple TV and Tubi and in the US and UK on Prime Video, Apple TV, Tubi and Reveel.net.
I’m guessing you were a fan of video stores. If so, what do you miss the most about them?
I miss the ritual of it. You got in your car, drove to the local video store, looked through the Horror, Comedy or Romance aisles and picked one or two films for the weekend watch. On the way out, you grabbed a box of caramel popcorn or mixed lollies. The whole process of watching movies was different. With video rentals, you caught up on films you might otherwise have missed in the cinema and then have to watch straight away to get it back the next day to avoid a late fee. For some strange reason, it seemed easier to decide what you wanted to watch than it is today with all the digital choices around.
Why did you want to make a film set in a video store?
Video stores were inherently interesting places with lots of colour and, dare I say, tacky atmospheres, which I love. You had movie character standees or cutouts, movie posters, movie nostalgia everywhere, junk food and knick-knacks and, of course, VHS/DVD/ BLURAY heaven. Not to mention all the colourful characters that came and went through the doors. I always liked the idea of making something in a single (closed-in) location for efficiency and cost reasons as well.
Where did you get your inspiration to make this film?
Anything by the Coen brothers or Tarantino. Growing up in the ’70s and 80’s, I loved films like Star Wars, Grease, Raising Arizona, and Midnight Run and looking back at 50’s classics like An Affair to Remember and Hitchcock’s seminal Vertigo (my favourite film). There is a lot of myself in the movie as well, and it’s very personal in a lot of ways, but I’d rather keep the audience guessing on which bits.
Where was The Last Video Store filmed?
The Last Video Store was filmed at That’s Rentertainment on the Gold Coast in Runaway Bay. Producers Nicole Leo, Nicole Acworth, Berry Salem, Iain Ewing, Ahmad Popal and myself had fantastic support from the local store owner David Hooklin for the entire duration of the shoot. Sadly the That’s Rentertainment store has now closed along with many video stores in Australia and the rest of the Western world.
What was your biggest challenge while making this film?
The biggest challenge was actually finishing the film, the post-production. It’s no surprise that a lot of big Hollywood films have hundreds of people in the credits. The post-production process is quite time-consuming and expensive to do correctly. The shoot went like clockwork, though with no reshoots or extra days, thanks in part to our killer camera crew Vito Leo, Damian Hussey, Hannah Smith and gaffer Rob Stocks, with special mention to Kim Lodington, our 1st AD.
I noticed that most of the film occurs during the late evenings when the video store is trading. Was this for budget reasons? How late would you and the cast work to make this film? How many days were spent making it?
Well spotted. The video store scenes were filmed on location at That’s Rentertainment store in Runaway Bay for 15 days, starting at 8 pm and ending before dawn. The store was open during the daytime as a functioning Video Store. It is funny to think now that the movie was filmed while neighbours all around us slept. Particularly when you consider we filmed three robberies at the store without permits!
I noticed there were plenty of minor details (especially in the background) that went into this film, such as fake DVD movies. How many fake DVD movies and other props were created for this film to create the classic atmosphere?
We made 700 (or so) fake DVD/Blu-Rays with original titles and artwork by Steve Osborne. We were worried at first about just how long it would take to place down the DVDs etc., covering real in-store DVDs on the shelves. But we soon realised that it was only necessary to cover the DVDs that were in the shot. So the process would be, rehearsing with actors, blocking out the scene, figuring out where the camera would be, and then looking on the camera monitor to decide what shelving would need to be covered or replaced with our fake DVDs.
The film has many random and witty moments, particularly in the dialogue and the many customers who visit. Did you ever allow the cast to make lines up and ad-lib, or was the filming process always kept tight to the original script?
Thank you. Yes, there is a particular scene where a lot of colourful characters come in to interview for a job. This scene was all filmed in one night, and we definitely had a lot of improvisation. The cast and crew cracked up a lot of the time during takes. There was probably four times more footage filmed than what made it into the final cut of the film. Maybe we could release it as a DVD extra or something in the future.
What was it like working with the film’s leads, Jayden Latcham & Danni Clowes, and how well did Jayden and Danni work together on-screen?
Jayden and Danni are both true pros and massive talents and had great romantic chemistry together. I would work with them again in a heartbeat. I remember Danni, Jayden and myself doing rehearsals at my house, and a lot of nuance, slang and flirtatious banter was added to the script. I definitely think it’s a great idea to do this kind of improvisation and rehearsal with actors to improve the scripted dialogue and interaction as much as possible before shooting.
Would you like to continue working in the romantic comedy genre in the future?
Definitely, without hesitation. I have many other scripts written and in various stages of development for both live-action and animation, and I’m speaking with producers currently. Let’s see what happens.
Do you have any upcoming projects you can reveal?
I have two newish feature projects that I’m very serious about at the moment: a comedy caper film and the other a horror film. I also have several kids’ tv shows written for live-action and animation. Looking for the right collaborators at the moment.
As our interview ends, what would you like to say to the people of Australia as to why they should check out The Last Video Store?
If you are looking for a sweet tale of love, mystery, and movie nostalgia? Look no further than “The Last Video Store.” The story of two young employees as they fall in love amidst the shelves of a Gold Coast video rental store, only to be threatened by a shady ex with a terrifying secret.
Making the film has been a labour of love and a dream come true. I’m incredibly grateful for all the talented cast and crew that worked on the film. I genuinely hope it’s a springboard for everybody to get noticed for their talent and initiative.
A big thank you to Brian Vining for making himself available to chat about his new comedy film! For more information, check out the link here: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8560648/
CAST & CREW
Director Writer Producer, Brian Vining
Producer, Nicole Leo
Producer, Nicole Ackworth
Producer, Iain Ewing
Producer, Berry Salem
Producer, Ahmad Popal
Unit Production Manager , Giorgia Stawaruk
1st AD , Kim Lodington
Director of Photography , Vito Leo
Assistant Camera , Damian Hussey
2nd AC , Hannah Smith
Grip / Onset Art Dept , Matthew Hussey
Runner / Onset Art Dept , Ahenata ah mu
Gaffer , Rob Stocks
Gaffer / Best Boy , Jali Rodriguez
Gaffer / Best Boy / BTS , Teko Mariussen
Data Wrangler / BTS , Shaun Lister
Sound Recordist , Callum Taylor
Backup Data Wrangler / Boom , Bowen Hopper
Backup Data Wrangler / BTS , Jesse Seeley
Production Photographer , Dinah Ding
Media Designer , Steve Osborne
MUA , Brandi Jasmine
Production Designer , James Flett
Art Director , Mat Hussey
Casting Coordinator, Krystal Shuttleworth
Art Dept Coordinator, Berry Salem
Art Dept Assistants – Pre-Production, Carol Wong
Art Director – – Carey Ryan
Motorbike Rider / Supplier, Macca Maclachlan