The Target Shoots First

  • Posted on
  • in

Funny story -- a couple of years of ago I was involved with an improv show that was based around documentaries. Part of our rehearsal process was to watch regular documentaries. Watching all those docs, I half-remembered one I had heard about and got pretty obsessed about finding it. Two months later, I discovered that a VHS copy had been lying on Erica's coffee table the whole time. I converted the VHS to DVD and then... never watched it. All that effort, and I just... eh.

I had told this story to some friends and then a few days later ran into them again. They had just been to a live This American Life taping and the director of the new TAL TV show, Chris Wilcha, mentioned his first big project... The Target Shoots First.

And then I came across the digital files I had made in the process of creating the DVD. I ran them through Instant Handbrake to make a file that could play on my new video iPod. And, over the course of several train rides, I watched it.

In 1992, Christopher Wilcha was hired by the marketing department at Columbia House (the record club people) largely on the basis, it seems, that he was a Nirvana fan and the music industry giant has no idea how to market to the growing alternative music culture. He took a brand new Hi8 camera with him to work and began taping everything. The 200 hours of footage he shot became this 75 minute documentary. It's an inside look at Columbia House, but certainly not an expose. If anything, it's largely about office culture, and Wilcha's struggle to adapt to his new job. It's great, though, and if you can get your hands on a copy, please do.