Sporting a chic red-and-black design, the posters that advertise Cinema Revolution, a new DVD rental store in south Minneapolis, read like post-Marxist propaganda for digital filmmakers, declaring "Burn Hollywood Burn" and "The Revolution Will Be Digitized."
Some patrons may note the irony in this radical outfit's upscale location at 28th Street and Hennepin Avenue. But the Revolution, first launched in October, shows genuine signs of having an underground agenda.
"I see this place as a hub for local filmmakers," says store founder and all-around digital fanatic John Koch. "The film community here in the Twin Cities is solid, but really disjointed. I hope to help bring [filmmakers and viewers] together."
An MCAD graduate who runs his own commercial production company by day, the 30-year-old Koch aims to stock a shelf full of DVDs by local filmmakers, placing the collected works of Minnesota splatter auteur Jon Springer ("Heterosapiens") across from those of world-class experimentalist Matthew Barney ("The Cremaster Cycle"), and music videos of the Soviettes near a row of classics by Sergei Eisenstein.
Thus far Koch has only gathered a handful of local films amid his nascent collection of indie and foreign titles on DVD. However, he has banded together with numerous Twin Cities filmmaking networks and companies such as DV-Cinema, a St. Paul-based digital distribution company that sold him one collection of local shorts and another of music videos showcasing the above-mentioned local artists.
Koch's first feature comes from a fellow MCAD alumnus: Ryan Becken's Smoke Fire, which premiered at the recent MCAD Alumni Film Festival. Having approached IFP MSP and MCAD to draw in more films and customers, Koch has far-reaching dreams that include an online resource directory for local filmmakers and regular meetings and screenings at the store.
"I would like to make filmmaking accessible for the people at the very bottom," says Koch, standing behind the counter. "IFP serves its purpose, but, in my experience, some filmmakers are left out. I'm all about the little guy."
Koch may well need Castro-like longevity to realize the full vision of his Revolution. For now, however, he's pretty busy working nights as the store clerk and soliciting crowds at the Lagoon and Uptown theaters with flyers and oral manifestos on the order of "Local Indie Auteurs of the Twin Cities Unite!" Every firebrand revolutionary has to start somewhere, right?