Other Video Station alums

Christopher B. Duncan (TV/Film actor, "CSI," "The Jamie Foxx Show," "Three Kings" etc.)

Carl Quintanilla (Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of CNBC morning show "Squawk Box")

Carlos Doerr (First Camera Assistant, "Angels & Demons")

Brock DeShane (Producer/Actor)

Anne Hockens (Director of Communications for Film Noir Foundation)

Phil Satterley (Editor, National Cinemedia)

Pablo Kjolseth (Director, International Film Series)

Bradley Traver (Cinematographer)

Chuck Loomis (Former director of Library Film Series)

With the closing of North Village Video this past Memorial Day, the Video Station is now the only independent video store in town. It also boasts an impressive litany of former employees who are today vital contributors to the international film community at large.

"The Video Station stood for something in the corporate world of mediocrity," said Derek Cianfrance, the store's most widely recognized erstwhile employee, in an email. Cianfrance wrote and directed 2010's Academy Award-nominated "Blue Valentine" starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. He says he worked at the Video Station from roughly 1994-1998.

"It was a library of film," wrote Cianfrance who was making his feature film debut, 1998's award-winning "Brother Tied," after dropping out of CU's film studies program and while working at the Video Station. "It was like a second film school to me. One where the tuition was paid in $3 rentals."


"It was like having all of film history at your fingertips," said Video Station alumn Jim Helton who lived with Cianfrance while the two attended CU's film program. It was Cianfrance who brought Helton, 38, aboard the Video Station team, later utilizing Helton as the soundman on "Brother Tied" and as editor of "Blue Valentine."

"It was a great time to be there," said Helton whose evocative end credits sequence for "Blue Valentine" earned the editor an award for Best Title Design at this year's South by Southwest Film Festival.

Helton is grateful for his time spent at the Video Station, saying that whenever anyone asks him how he became so knowledgeable in film, he brings up former employer Scott Woodland who first opened the Video Station in 1981, selling to current owner Bruce Shamma during a health scare in 2002.

Woodland essentially "fired" aspiring filmmaker Helton, reasoning that if Helton wanted to work in the film industry, he had to go make it happen. "I realized later it was the best thing that ever happened to me," said Helton.

Former employee and CU grad Susan Arosteguy -- now a senior producer for prestigious film distributor and publisher the Criterion Collection -- blogged in 2007 that Woodland and partner Ivory Curtis ran the store "with as much love and dedication as a parent would give to a child."

"It was here that I first discovered Criterion," she wrote.

In a phone interview this week, Arosteguy lamented, "The climate has changed so much since then. Now it's just a business for most video stores. These days, it's about transactions, not interactions."

During Woodland's reign, any Video Station applicant was put through a rigorous film culture examination with subsequent tests every other month.

"That's the way I wanted to run it," said Woodland, now retired at age 60. "It was almost like a film school. I wanted my workers to be immersed and educated in film so that they could better help customers with recommendations. That's what kept customers coming back. You can't get that depth of film knowledge or interaction with Netflix."

"People at TCM (Turner Classic Movies) ask me all the time how I got to know so much about movies," said TCM vice president of digital and new media Richard Steiner. "Working at the Video Station, you could absorb so much so quickly. I don't even think you can get that kind of thing at film school anymore.

"I don't think I'd be working at TCM had it not been for Scott and Ivory," said Steiner. "I owe so much to those guys.

Despite -- or perhaps because of -- his fond memories, Steiner is ambivalent about his work with TCM. "I'm working every day on products that eliminate home video and what the Video Station was. It's very unfortunate. People watching TCM's movies won't have the incredible experience of going to a video store."

Keeping that video store experience alive is current owner Shamma, 53, who said that the days of "famous folks" at his store was long before his time, that there are no more of the Woodland bi-monthly exams and that the employees working at the Video Station these days are mainly "video store folks" who talk about their former colleagues "only in passing."

Longmont resident Leslie Swallow is one such employee who has worked at the store since 1990. Swallow, who was Video Station's manager for five years, is an operations manager at local greeting card company High Concepts and now works at the Video Station only on a part-time basis.

"The string is pretty elaborate," said Swallow about her former colleagues. "Clearly I love that place dearly, which is why I've remained there. I remember the lives of everyone who has worked there."

Hoping to continue the legacy of filmmaker Video Station alums is 22-year-old Jeremy Huddle who graduated from CU with a degree in Japanese this spring and has worked at the Video Station for two-and-a-half years.

"I feel like it's an important kind of place," said Huddle.

This August, Huddle will be traveling to Japan where he will teach English. He also aspires to make a documentary about Japanese street art and performance during his free time.

"The Video Station is a place that really tries to bring not just Hollywood but more obscure films to the Boulder community. Being in an environment with people who know so much means that every day I can learn something I didn't know before. It's really helpful for people who want to get into film."