Jaume Ripoll Vaquer (Palma, 1977) was a little over 20 years old when, after the unexpected death of his father, inherited the Casablanca video store and the commercial representation of the distributor Manga Films. In April 2006, he was, along with Juan Carlos Tous and José Antonio de Lunaone of the three people who participated in the founding meeting of the filmin platform, in which he currently holds the position of editorial director. Ripoll, who is also responsible for the Atlàntida Mallorca Film Fest, has been a privileged witness and actor in the changes that the film business has undergone in the last four decades, from the end of town cinemas to the emergence of television platforms. ‘streaming’, and now turns his experiences of all those years into ‘Videoclub’ (Ediciones B), a book of cinephile and professional memoirs that is also a stimulating learning story and an exciting family photo album.
When you claim your status as a son of the video store, you do so in a literal sense. His father owned three.
Yes, but beyond the personal adventures, I think that what I explain in the book is an experience shared by many people. A good part of those born between the 70s and 80s grew up, in one way or another, in the video store, and that marked our lives.
Is the streaming platform the contemporary video store?
That’s the idea, keep the best of both worlds. Both Juan Carlos (Tous) and José Antonio (de Luna) and myself were clear from the beginning that Filmin had to incorporate the spirit of the video store. Not only the commercial purpose, but the very idea of creating a convivial space in which to share and celebrate the love of cinema with other people. A place to spend time and learn before even watching the movies.
The choice dilemma faced with so much offer can be a source of considerable anxiety, right?
Of course, there are people who go to Filmin and when they have spent a minute and a half and have not found what to watch, they get very nervous, but there is another who has a great time simply browsing the catalogue. And then there’s what we call ‘FOMO Filmin’ (Fear Of Missing Out), that idea that you’re watching something but maybe you should be watching something else. I don’t know if that anxiety that we have now is limited to the platforms. I think it also happens to us in clothing stores, when looking at restaurant menus, when we listen to music… The counterweight to abundance can be impatience, but also restlessness, interest, discovery, and that’s good.
In many towns and neighborhoods far from the center, the video store functioned as a center of cultural and social activity. That has been lost and it does not seem that there is a replacement.
I wish that role would be played again by movie theaters. I am thinking of the experience of the Cines Embajadores in Arganzuela, in Madrid, which have that concept of neighborhood cinema. And the same can happen in other places. I sincerely believe that there is a business opportunity here, because people want to leave home and find themselves in a space for coexistence and sharing experiences.
Hadn’t the pandemic scared the audience away from theaters forever?
That has happened while people were feeling the echo of the pandemic, but now that that echo has faded, it may be a good time. Of course, the level of demand from the viewer is much higher; in comfort, in quality, in uniqueness… If you want to recover the public, you have to do more than what was done before. And I’m not talking about the price.
In various passages of the book he speaks of nostalgia as “the legal drug that moves the most money in the world”…
Yes, and I say that between nostalgia and coffee, what will lose sleep is nostalgia, not coffee. I know that this is a book of memories and, therefore, nostalgia plays a role, but I have tried not to get carried away by the idea that all past times were better and to distance myself from memories.
Isn’t there something nostalgic in your defense of the physical format?
I celebrate the physical from a certain nostalgia, yes, but also as a form of homage to all those who collect DVDs or VHS tapes. And as a claim. If you go into a friend’s house and they have 2,000 books, you think: “Oh, how cultured and sophisticated he is!”. But if he has 2,000 movies, you think “Uh, this guy has social problems & rdquor; (laughs).
What do you think is the reason for this difference in perception?
Perhaps the very image that cinema has transmitted of itself has had something to do with it. Those Kevin Smith-type figures, Tarantino… middle-aged straight men who have grown up in video stores. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but we have associated movie collecting with those profiles. And that has contributed to our certain perception: the one who collects vinyl records is a collector, but the one who collects VHS tapes is a freak. Something similar happens to the comic. It is a cliché that must be fought.
The arrival of Netflix in Spain in 2015 changed the history of Filmin.
For us it came at the perfect time. Netflix normalizes something that was previously exceptional, which is paying to see a work on the internet. And, when that happens, Filmin is prepared because it has been filming for a while and has not yet lost all the money. It benefited us because we had always been clear that we could not pretend to be a generalist platform, as Netflix was going to be, but that we had to focus on acquiring a personality.
Is that personality what distinguished Filmin from other platforms that fell by the wayside like Waki or Yomvi?
Personality and a cinematographic origin. We came from domestic distribution, and that has meant that we are always looking for formulas to reach the viewer and make them interested in works that a priori may be outside their field of interest. It’s the same thing we did when Manga Films tried to sell (Takeshi) Kitano’s tapes to some video stores that wanted Stallone movies.
He vindicates the concept of “plasticine cinephilia & rdquor ;.
In a plasticine puzzle all the pieces end up fitting together. And I think there are many viewers whose plasticine cinephilia includes classic European cinema, classic Hollywood cinema, the most daring contemporary cinema, commercial cinema… People who appreciate Ernst Lubtisch, Albert Serra and Tony Scott equally, to say three names a bit randomly. Just as we talked about the cliché of domestic collections before, there is also the cliché that there is a binary audience: that of auteur cinema and that of commercial cinema. And that is a lie. We can all be many types of viewers. And indeed, we are.
Without going any further, you are a spectator who is devoted to musicals and confesses that you have not seen ‘The Sound of Music’.
Yes, and I have no special reason not to have seen it, because I also adore Julie Andrews. I’ll see her some day. Or not. It also seemed important to me to say that nothing happens, that you don’t have to see movies to prove anything to anyone, that you don’t go to the movies out of obligation but by seduction.
What seduces you about ‘Dubliners’, your favorite film?
‘Dubliners’ has all the elements that I like about cinema and about life: there’s family, there’s politics, there’s literature, it happens almost in real time, it has a wonderful voice-over, the music is very remarkable and it’s also snowing. Maybe the only thing missing is a sense of humor, but the rest has it all.
That’s because it’s not remastered! But they are in progress and I suppose that when we can have it in conditions it will return to the catalog.