Auteur House: The Best in DVD Rental

Sometimes I forget that I am living on the opposite side of the world from my hometown of Mahwah, New Jersey. In many respects, New Zealand simply feels like another one of the fifty states. The music is very similar, the food is comparable, and the style of living isn’t all that different. Landscape wise the country can even be compared to Oregon. But thinking back to when I first arrived here in January, I remember the unexpected culture shock. I needed to get acquainted with the Kiwi accent, learn to drive on the opposite side of the street, understand the rules of cricket and rugby, order a coffee the New Zealand way, and adjust to other little cultural quirks. But one thing I was surprised to find were video rental stores. Back stateside video rental stores had all gone out of business years ago; in New Zealand video rental stores can still be found in every town. How? Why? I knew this topic would somehow fuse into my project.

New Zealand has its own version of Blockbuster Video Rental; it is called United Video and they are commonplace in many communities. However, some larger cities are fortunate enough to host independent rental stores. My host city of Hamilton is lucky enough to have the Auteur House located in City Central. This hidden gem is a cinephile’s paradise.

Located¬†up the stairs between Mark 1 Comics and Little J Espresso, the entrance is lined with impressive, custom sketches of notable film directors. Passing the drawings, one can’t help but feel a personal connection with the movie industry.

Once up the stairs, walking into the store instantly overwhelmed me. I have never seen such an impressive collection of DVDs to choose from. There are several factors that make the Auteur House worth a visit.

Firstly, the film selection does not promote the latest Hollywood G-rated films, action thrillers, or romantic comedies; it is a collection of movies that make top 100 lists – art house films, Oscar winning classics, and cult favorites. Every shelf offers a film that you have never heard of, but you will want to watch. Shelf after shelf you will be adding a queue to your movie watching list.

Secondly, all of the DVDs are categorized not by genre, but by director. Orson Wells, Steve Spielberg, Ken Burns, Stanley Kubrick, Charles Chaplin, Yasujiro Ozu, Jean Renoir, Kathryn Bigelow – the list of names is endless. Personally, this method of categorisation allowed me to explore a video rental store like never before. It is a living IMDB page of directors. Do you like the work of Peter Jackson? Well alongside The Lord of the Rings series and King Kong you will be able to find his earlier, lesser-known films like Meet the Feebles (1989) or Bad Taste (1987). I found myself wanting to watch movies that I didn’t even know existed.

Thirdly, the staff at the Auteur House is invaluable. Looking for a movie recommendation? They can direct you to the exact film you are in the mood to watch, guaranteed to be your new favorite movie. Besides their impressive business hours (10am-10pm), the commitment level of keeping everything stocked, organized, and clean impressively promote the Auteur House as a welcoming environment.

The devoted owner of the Auteur House is Dr. Richard Swainson. He is certainly the film expert in Hamilton. He and his partner Janine even got married in a cinema, the Regent in Te Awamutu.  Just watching Richard talk with his customers, it is evident how much of a passion Richard has for his store and the community. He even hosted a movie themed quiz night at the bar across the street for his customers to enjoy. All of the money raised from that night went into his rental business which seems to be doing fairly well. You can read a local article on Dr. Swainson below.

I am confident that the Auteur House will outlast competing chain video rental stores in Hamilton. With a loyal customer base and committed staff, in my eyes, this DVD rental location has a bight future.

Below you can watch a video I made for Richard and the Auteur House that showcases a visual overview of the store. You can also explore the Auteur House Facebook page by clicking here.


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