About this project
Updated with our new Stretch Goal!
Uniting people with film.
This simple vision has been the core of Scarecrow Video since its inception in 1988. The past 25 years have seen Scarecrow’s collection grow from 600 titles to over 120,000, to become the single largest library of VHS, laserdiscs, VCDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs. In fact, it's very likely the largest single archive of movies in the world. The passion that built this collection continues to drive Scarecrow as it moves into the next chapter of its history…one that’s beginning right now.
This Kickstarter campaign is the first step to ensure that the collection will belong to everyone.
Under the guidance of a non-profit collective and with your generous support, Scarecrow Video is taking its place in film history supported by a four-pillared mission: Preservation, Access, Education and Community.
• Preservation: The American Film Institute, UCLA Film & Television Archive, The Film Foundation, American Genre Film Archive, the Film Noir Foundation… With the success of the Kickstarter Scarecrow Video will be joining the ranks of these venerable organizations in its commitment to preserving film history.
With the explosion of home video in the 1980’s came the birth of the direct-to-video industry. Countless direct-to-video films have never been released as16mm or 35mm prints. Thousands of these films never made the jump to DVD, and continue to be overlooked during the digital migration. Scarecrow keeps these nearly lost classics alive and available to viewers. Funds from this Kickstarter will allow us to continue to preserve these titles, while actively expanding our collection by actively seeking out other titles available in physical media that have been deemed to have a historical or cultural value.
“Scarecrow Video is a treasure that we just can’t lose. I travel the world, and it’s the most comprehensive video store I’ve ever seen.” -- Thelma Schoonmaker, film preservationist & film editor, Raging Bull, The Wolf of Wall Street and everything in between
• Access: Bringing people and films together. That’s what it’s all about. Scarecrow’s massive collection has always been available to the general public through rentals, and it’s our number one priority to make sure that continues.
Our dream has always been to provide a place where movie lovers can fall in love with film all over again. In addition to our incredible rental catalog, we offer free nightly screenings of films selected by our knowledgeable staff, and other members of the film community. We also sponsor screenings at non-profit festivals and cinemas, and provide content to theaters and researchers from around the world. We are committed to finding new ways to help the film-loving community discover vibrant and inspirational films.
• Education: The staff of expert cinephiles and video geeks at Scarecrow has always been at the ready to answer questions, make recommendations and guide movie lovers of all stripes into uncharted film territories. We love nothing more than the feeling of introducing people to films that are perfect for them. Our staff members have watched thousands of movies and are always pleased to share their knowledge and insight.
The Scarecrow Screening Room is also a great tool for education. Acting as an incubator for cinematic exploration we have invited the public to enjoy a diverse range of films both shallow and deep, from crowd-pleasers like the summer blockbuster hits from 1984 to obscure Hong Kong musicals from the 1960s. We also provide many films to local schools and film programs. We have already begun laying the groundwork for some new and dynamic ways of using the collection to broaden folks’ understanding of film history, or as a tool for just learning about life. Stay tuned for more details on these plans.
“Scarecrow Video is a stunning jewel in our local cinematic crown. It’s an unbelievably fantastic resource for filmmakers and film lovers alike, and our city is beyond lucky to have it.” -- Lynn Shelton, director of Humpday and Your Sister's Sister
• Community: Without a dedicated community of film lovers, there is no Scarecrow. In addition to renting from our massive catalog of titles, filmmakers and festivals are often invited to curate their own sections within the store. Our Screening Room is an excellent community space which provides a venue for new and emerging filmmakers to show their work, or for local film clubs to meet. Nurturing the film and media arts community – both near and far - is yet another way that we excel at bringing people together with film.
“I live exactly 2,341 miles from Scarecrow Video, yet I refuse to imagine a world without it. It’s an actual, bona-fide miracle that Scarecrow is here to bring so much to the world. As a society raised in the rich glow of the big and small screen, it’s both our duty and our privilege to celebrate it, support it, and defend it.” -- Zack Carlson, author of Destroy All Movies!!!: The Complete Guide to Punks on Film
So, what’s changing?
It’s easy to get caught up in the heady notion that this unparalleled collection will remain intact and available. However, it’s important to not lose sight of some exciting and vital changes that are afoot:
• More ways to love Scarecrow…including memberships! Rental discounts, special deals, and early entrance into our blowout sales are just a few of the perks members of Scarecrow can expect. Memberships will become available in the fall (pending the success of our Kickstarter). Check out the Kickstarter rewards for a few special opportunities to obtain a founding Scarecrow membership.
• More ways to get to know Scarecrow… including volunteering! That’s right, the curtain will be drawn back and the inner-workings revealed to those few and dedicated people who are willing to give some spare time as volunteers. This is a great opportunity to support the local film community and help Scarecrow continue to offer the great service for which we are known.
• More going on at Scarecrow… In the last year The Screening Room has hosted DVD release parties, interactive press screenings, book signings, local film previews, shadow puppet shows, and presentations by Seattle art legend Larry Reid, Troma film founder Lloyd Kaufman, and Oscar winning film editor Thelma Schoomaker. With something going on every night of the week, one can also find free movie screenings, weekly trivia nights, fan meet-ups, and film club nights. But this is just the beginning. It is just laying the foundation for The Screening Room to reach its full potential with more events with local filmmakers, more collaborative, cross-purpose events, more guest visitors/speakers, and even more innovative ways to use the space that haven’t even been dreamed of yet.
• More learning to do at Scarecrow… With education as one of the cornerstones of our mission, we are constantly looking for ways to engage younger generations, expand the cinematic experiences of all generations, and create ways in which we can place our love of older films into a broader context of social and cultural history. Whether that means working with teachers to help with their film curricula, or providing insightful introductions to screenings, we are constantly seeking out new and interesting ways to share our knowledge and love of film with the public.
Where are our Kickstarter donations going?
As a new start-up, we need to raise enough money to open the doors in October and secure our ability to continue operations as we find our non-profit stride. The money you donate will go directly toward start-up and transition expenses, beginning operating expenses and cash flow to allow us to continue to expand the library and begin implementing some of the changes elaborated above.
Most importantly, your generous donation is not life support for a dying dream… it is an investment in the future of physical media in film history.
Scarecrow Video never has been a museum piece and with your help never will be. It is a shared vision, it is living organism, which needs your love and support in order to thrive.
Donate now to ensure the future of physical media, and share in the dream of uniting people with film!
Risks and challenges
Closing a for-profit business and opening a non-profit one requires paying attention to A LOT of details. There may be some road bumps that we hit during this process that may demand more of our time then we are anticipating at this moment.
We also have the exciting task of bringing in volunteers and doing a little internal reorganization. Since this is brand new to all of us, we ask for everyone's patience while we get our feet under us.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Did you know your donation is 100% tax deductible? That's right! The Grand Illusion Cinema, our fiscal sponsor, will be processing all donations. As a 501(c)(3), all money going to the Grand Illusion, even money earmarked for The Scarecrow Project, is tax deductible. Don't be surprised if you see "The Grand Illusion Cinema" on your credit card statement - you are still supporting The Scarecrow Project.
Carl Tostevin & Mickey McDonough, the current owners of Scarecrow are 100% supportive of our efforts. Here is a link to their letter of support: https://www.scarecrow.com/40/9803/a-letter-from-our-owners.html.
In the age of digital downloads and streaming services like Netflix, do we really need something like the Scarecrow Project? Aren’t DVDs, Blu-Rays going to be obsolete?
No, not for a long time. As cinephiles, we love these services for their convenience but no matter how good they get, there are certain to be countless films that are left behind. Thousands of movies and TV shows may never make it to streaming services or even new formats like Blu-ray, but as long as the Scarecrow Archive has, say, a VHS copy, they can remain available. Our customers are able to watch virtually any movie they want, not the ones a megacorporation picks. In this way the Scarecrow Project remains dedicated to making sure the community has access to the broadest possible collection of motion pictures in the best available format. For many films, today, that means DVD/Blu. Tomorrow, who knows?
Yes! The Scarecrow Project will assume operation of the U-District storefront.
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