Years before he sat on the business side of a Video Americain counter, local filmmaker J.R. Fritsch sold a couple of compilation tapes of his short films to the video-store chain for $7 a pop. Not only did that provide Fritsch with a little pocket change; it also gave him a more consistent venue for his work than is typically available to low-budget indie filmmakers via the mercurial theatrical and festival circuits.
Later, when Fritsch worked as a clerk at the Video Americain in Charles Village, he looked forward to feedback from customers who saw some of handiwork.
“It’s easy to fall into a niche when you do creative work where the only people who end up seeing it are other filmmakers and other videographers,” he says. “It’s nice to have a venue that’s accessible to the public.”
Fritsch was one of the earliest beneficiaries of efforts by the local video-store chain (which has locations in Roland Park, Charles Village, and Lauraville in Baltimore and in Takoma Park and Washington, D.C.) to support the local film community on the most basic level—by increasing opportunities for area artists to get their work seen.