Armak Productions

About the VHS-C shooting format.


The first 4k DLSR came out this week. RED, Alexa, Viper... In the era of breakneck technological advancement, why does vinyl outsell CDs? Why are chubby hipsters trading mix tapes on cassette? What's going on with Eddie Vedder and the buskers on the stoop who noodle on ukuleles the live long day? What the fuck is up with your mustache?

Exactly. The faster we race ahead, the more we long to look back. We lean into the future even as we crane our necks to get a glimpse of the past. You paid $300 for original-issue Chuck Taylors and then tweeted a photo of them to Instagram.

Now you read this on an iPad and ask yourself, "Sure, VHS is super-cool, but VHS-C? Isn't that whatever the opposite of gilding the lily is?" VHS-C is a forgotten 80s format using half-sized tapes that could only be played back by literally putting the tiny cartridge inside a VHS tape shell, leading Noam Chomsky to describe VHS-C as "an Ouroboros of video shame."

Co-director Bill Evans has another opinion: "The medium of a generation. Not ours, but somebody's. Perhaps after the apocalypse. Also, the opposite of 'gilding the lily' is 'auto-tuning the swing jazz' (or if you're Canadian, 'pooping the poutine.')" He then phlegmed into his hat until nurses grew concerned.

Other co-director Randy Mack moved to New Orleans after a disastrous internship with Betamax and paradoxically discovered both the future and the past. "I live in an 8mm world striving to become 16mm, with no idea the world is 35mm. And that's what makes it 70mm," he said, alternating between shots of Jameson and refreshing the vomit bucket carried by his trembling intern Lucas, filming it all on his worthless 2k HiDef camcorder.

Later he typed it up on a Selectric, sitting on a milk crate in a pork pie hat by a coffee shop near the train tracks. His storage was in the cloud but his head was not. He knew none of his sentences were meaningful unless they were popular. The last carrier pigeon flew by, unnoticed.

As a character in a Baz Luhrmann film once said, "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." A movie on VHS about fetishizing laserdiscs is so au courante there should be an app for it.