[Interview] Magnetic Magic!

I’ve recently taken to imposing myself in Magnetic Magic’s business. That is to say, I’ve made them aware of me and how obnoxious I am, which may be to my benefit or my detriment. Regardless, when I discover a cool company, I like to get the skinny on how they do it and why they do it. I can attest that their releases are the tits and their website should definitely be visited by all genre fans. On to the interview!

Who is Magnetic Magic Rentals?

So, Magnetic at the core of it is technically just me, haha. However, you’ll see me referring to it as the “Magnetic Crew” or “we/us” due to the fact that while I’m doing the production and art, there’s still the crucial components of the directors, their cast and crew, sometimes I’ll reach out to Bryce (aka Forever Bogus) for help on projects, once in awhile I’ll bring in guest artists to work on a cover, etc. and I definitely include them as parts of The Magnetic Crew because it wouldn’t all come together without all of their help! Magnetic definitely wouldn’t be what it is today, or at all, without the contributions and help of all of these talented individuals – and every last aspect of what they do is important to the final outcome.

Right off the bat I’d like you to list 5 of your most favorite horror movies.

Jerry MaGuire, Jerry MaGuire, Jer- haha, just kidding. I actually have been asked this a lot, so these are my definite diehard go-tos:
1. The Puppet Master Series (Don’t ask me to pick one – all of them)
2. May
3. Nekromantik / Der Todesking (I could never pick between which of these I love more – Jörg is a genius)
4. Video Violence
5. House of 1,000 Corpses

What is Magnetic Magic Rentals? WHY is Magnetic Magic Rentals?

Basically, Magnetic is an online-based Analog Media Distribution Company. I used to say ‘VHS Distribution’ but I’ve sort of quickly bridged the gap into releasing on whatever form of magnetic media I can obtain, ha. Right now that’s VHS and Cassettes, but I’m in the process of playing with Betamax and a few other more obscure magnetic formats to release on. It’s a slippery slope, man.
The ‘why’ of Magnetic comes from two main areas, really. One reason is why I assume a lot of the VHS Community are here, and that’s because we were raised in the time of video stores and rental shops – where your Friday night highlight was bustin’ in the double-doors to your local movie spot and raiding the ‘Horror & SciFi’ section for whatever box art would offend your parents the most. You know, the one that would leave searing marks in the back of your brain and change your train of thought well into your teenage years, haha. The nostalgia of those nights coupled with the artistic inspiration I still, to this day, get from the lost box art of hundreds of sleazy and cheesy flicks is definitely what (partially) brought Magnetic into existence. The second reason is my want to contribute to, and champion for, the fucking awesome work that comes out of independent film and filmmakers. I’m an artist myself and have been for years – well into my childhood years too, when I was doodling short, gory comics on a pocket notebook in the back pew during a local church service. During those years of growing my art, movies were always my main source of inspiration – more than comics, more than video games, more than music. Like I said, going to the video stores on Friday night was my damn highlight man, and that’s what kept me going and excited to create. But instead of taking to a video camera (which I did, occasionally), I went for pen and paper and paid close attention to box art, movie posters and title cards for new flicks. Once I got older, the internet came more into play and I dug deeper into the breadth of what film had to offer, and I started to discover independently made movies and what people were doing to create these. My thirst for that kind of shit only grew more as I got on in years and started to become friends with people in that scene – all the while I was still keeping to my design and illustration. Eventually, those two worlds started to collide when people would get ahold of me to help with flyers and posters and whatnot and I finally started finding ways for myself to help contribute to these insane films that I couldn’t get enough of and to embed myself into the scene that inspired me so much as I was coming up in the world. Fast forward to a little later on when I re-discovered my love of VHS box art, began collecting again and yet again found another way to use this love to help out my friends in the film scene. Only now, my talents had been expanded upon even more to the point where I was creating the art for these movies as well as finalizing the physical forms of the movies to accompany the art. A number of brainstorming sessions and a handful of paychecks later: Magnetic Magic Rentals was born!

You collect and distribute VHS. I think that means your childhood either rocked or sucked ass. What is it that draws you to analog?

Haha, I enjoyed my childhood – I wouldn’t be who I am today without it. We were definitely on the poor side of growing up, but that meant that my family held onto renting VHS longer instead of immediately switching to DVDs when they first hit. I really didn’t care then because I was still getting to watch movies regardless, but looking back now I’m pretty glad we had to keep to the cheaper option.
There are several things that draw me to tapes, magnetic media and analog in general. One, of course, is the nostalgia for the old days like I mentioned earlier and like a lot of people will probably agree with. The harkening back to a simpler time when we were first discovering all these crazy movies that would shape who we are today. That and the fact that tapes and analog are completely tied to the nostalgia of the video store culture – something we sadly no longer have almost at all today. It wasn’t just discovering these movies by ourselves, like you would today when scrolling through Netflix, but it was actually going to the video store, spending time walking through the aisles and, a lot of times, meeting other people in that aisle and striking up a conversation about the horror genre and recommending movies! You can’t get that from Netflix or even Redbox and that culture is laid to rest with the various analog formats, at least for now. Another reason, though, is the aesthetic – being that I’m a designer and illustrator and very tied to the visual arts. One big factor in all of this collecting and niche culture is the long lost art of the VHS sleeve. When you didn’t have YouTube and the internet to spoil the shit out of movies for you, you HAD to rely on that crazy ass box art and a small description as the deciding factor of whether or not to rent this movie. The other side of that is the quality and look of the movie itself under the grain of VHS tracking. The marriage of a sleazy, bloodbath of a horror film and watching it through fuzzy, snowy glitches on the screen just gives each of these movies an immense extra level of charm that you absolutely do not get when the picture is crystal clear on BluRay or DVD. Some people don’t have the patience for that, and that’s why BluRay and 4K exist – but for us weirdos who love the degradation, it becomes part of why we love this format and media so goddamn much.

You also do screenings of movies once a month. Can you touch on that, and, how do you choose which movies to show?

That I do! So shortly after I erected Magnetic as a company, a tradition began with Bryce and I and a few friends where we would gather on Sundays, each contribute a couple weird tapes to a watch pile and just marathon through them while stuffing our faces with junkfood and brainstorming / working on new releases and ideas for Magnetic. We dubbed this tradition ‘Analog Sunday’. Not long after, though, we felt inclined to share this with more than just our handful of friends to see who else in Kansas City would dig this tradition if anyone at all. We had been getting deeper into the VHS community on Facebook and Instagram at the time and saw that other labels like Lunchmeat and Nemesis and LoFi were consistently hosting VHS Swaps and Tape Screenings in their parts of the country, so we figured we would take a crack at it too. My friend Adam owns local sister theaters here, Screenland Armour and Screenland Crossroads (aka Tapcade), where we always tend to hang out if not at my place and I have other friends whom I help host special events like Slaughter Movie House at these theaters. Aside from Alamo Drafthouse’s Video Vortex, no one had anything like this at the time, so we brought it up to Adam who was sold on the idea immediately and within the next few months, we began Analog Sundays.
To give you more of an idea of how the event works, each month I’ll pick a new tape from my own personal racks to screen (from the original tape, projected from a VCR onto a theater screen). I try to pick a somewhat obscure tape that not a lot of people will have seen, but something that’s cheesy and dumb enough that it will have the whole audience captivated and wanting to laugh and yell at the screen because of the ridiculous acting and plotlines absolutely encourage heckling during Analog, most times I will be the one to start). I will screen the entirety of the tape – previews beforehand, any bonus features or extra content after, the whole shebang. In addition to screening the tape, I also personally compile a “preshow mixtape” for each showing that is themed around that night’s movie consisting of anything from trailers and clips from similar movies to short films we’ve shot and previews for next month. The preshow is then loaded onto a tape by myself, so everything you watch that night is playing from an original tape. I also include trivia and giveaways after the preshow, before the movie starts, and I encourage our fans and friends to come out early to the venue for our Tape Tradepost that we have set up as well as my Magnetic merch booth and to grab some brews and talk tapes with Bryce and myself. I work hard to make Analog Sunday a full experience so that tapeheads will know that they have at least one kickass Sunday to look forward to once a month.
Oh! I also just started this thing last month where I’ve created a pack of trading cards for Analog and Magnetic. Each new showing will guarantee you a new card to add to your collection that consists of the original box art for that night’s movie with a few stats like the director, year it was made, runtime, genre, etc. It’s been a pretty fun hit so far seeing as how most everyone who comes out is a collector of tapes or something, so the collectability of the cards resonates will with them.

If you could create a “Massacre” film tomorrow, what sort of Massacre would it be?

This is probably the best interview question I’ve ever been asked! Uhh.. I’m gonna have to go with ‘Toy Shop Massacre’. Like I said, man, my heart is held by killer toys and demonic dolls.

Which MM release are you most proud of?

That’s a bit of a hard question, haha. I’m so proud and enthralled with every release I’ve done and get to do so far just because each one has such a special and unique vibe with the most killer director and crew behind every one of them. The appreciation that comes from the director and crew for what I’m doing to help them has been beyond amazing every time so far and I love keeping up with everyone one of them so we can help each other out with upcoming projects and films they’re working on next.
If I really have to narrow it down, I probably can’t pick just one but I will say I’m extremely proud of my releases of ‘Blackhearts’ and most recently, ‘Elliot’. Blackhearts connected me with documentary filmmakers from Norway, making it my first global release for Magnetic, and I still can’t believe I got to release a documentary about black metal which included doing all the cast artwork, poster art, a specialized OST Cassette release and plenty of crazy promo items. I’m a HUGE black metal maniac, so that one was something special. Elliot is definitely one of the most innovative and crazy releases I’ve had the pleasure of doing so far, from the wicked minds over at Dreams For Dead Cats Productions, and it’s basically a completely Shot-on-VHS, DIY cyberpunk epic – all practical effects and setwork, Suspiria-style lighting, shot all on VHS cameras – it’s like a SciFi acid trip on film. I absolutely love Craig and Cassandra and all the insane passion and work they put into their films and I cannot wait to work on more releases with them. Working with incredibly talented and innovative people like those two are exactly the reason why I continue to run Magnetic and feel so inspired and passionate about each and every project I put out with it.

Any upcoming releases you can tell us about?

I am currently juggling a whole hell-load of releases between Kickstarter campaign commissions and ones that will be coming to our StoreNVY, but I don’t wanna spoil anything just yet! However, you guys will definitely wanna stick around for what’s in store for October.. I have one title tentatively coming down the pipeline and it’s gonna be a w-i-l-d one starring a certain Re-Animator..

What are your goals going forward with MM? 

Well, I definitely want to keep pushing on the independent cinema scene and doing whatever I can to help out all these talented people – that’s always my number one goal for as long as Magnetic exists. But, eventually, my end goal will be to open Magnetic as a brick-and-mortar rental shop here in Kansas City. I’ve begun to look at spaces and get an idea of what it will take, and it’s probably not going to happen anytime soon, but I’ll get there. That’s always been on the horizon for me as an endgame goal. Who wouldn’t want to own / run a video rental shop in 2018?

How can people follow your goings-on?

Everyone can keep up-to-date with everything Magnetic through the Instagram Page (@magneticmagicrentals), YouTube Channel and our StoreNVY Shop (mmrentals.storenvy.com)! You can also follow my other art project, Nightclub ‘Zine, on Instagram(@nightclubzine) and my personal Twitter Account (@ElijahKilgannon) if you’re so inclined! I also keep all of my artwork housed on a Tumblr Page (elijahlafollettedesigns.tumblr.com) if anyone is ever looking for a designer/illustrator for projects and collabs!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thanks for chattin’ with me and helping to spread the Magnetic word, man! Lookin’ forward to spreading this to the community!

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