I just looked up the word cinephile. My husband is one, and technically, I am too. The computer told me it wasn’t spelled right when I sounded it out as I typed it and I thought – maybe it isn’t a word? I used it when I was out with friends a few nights ago because I called myself one. I enjoy movies and I made a funny joke about movie jargon that was uncommon knowledge and said. “welp, l’m a cinephile!”. Welp, it IS a word. For your edification, here is the definition.
a person who is fond of motion pictures. “the film is mostly known only to dedicated cinephiles“Definitions from Oxford Languages
So now that we have addressed that, the title of this blog isn’t “Chelsea’s vast Vocab,” it’s finding a home for movies, AKA DVDs, as my cinephile husband would build himself a king of thrones style chair out of those cases if I would make space for him in the living room. These cases are an enigma, still mass produced and protecting blue rays or DVDs with mostly non recyclable plastic (the newer ones are catching on thank goodness and often feature the recycle arrows now). For this blog post, DVD and blue ray cases, albeit different in size and color, are interchangeable. It makes no difference to me if one is slightly thinner, just pretend like every time I write DVD, I am writing “DVDs and blue rays”. I have enough of them so they could line the walls of every single room of my home, spread out in all their glory, like the flat, angled, media shelves at a library. Don’t get me wrong, I have LOTS of things ALL OVER my walls, but floor to ceiling shelves featuring every movie my husband ever watched makes my semi-minimalist heart start to pound.
Some people I know don’t even OWN a DVD player let alone hundreds of DVDs but that’s not us – and this is NOT a commentary on whether or not I appreciate / condone OWNING this many movies. They’re here and we are going to figure out what to do with them so they don’t drive one particular person in this house into madness (although the king of dvds throne might come in handy then?).
There are a few different methods to organizing the vast movie collections we have amassed in our homes. While our virtual library also grows, the dvds take up actual space and many solutions include a combination of shelves, plastic drawers, and entertainment centers built around your TV. Our TV is over our fireplace and the mantle is a NO storage zone. Even beneath the fireplace, we could put baskets of DVDs, but the same problem always presents itself. In the existing cases, unless you can spread them out and ALWAYS see the title, how can you see what you own, how do you find movies you think you own when you want to watch them, AND how do you keep them safe from little hands? It is quite the conundrum.
When I was in college, I threw away ALL of my cases and put every disc I owned into a black CD binder that I still have to this day. One could say it is a great system! I don’t have any DVD cover art, or movie descriptions, but I can flip through the pages and glance easily at each disc, sometimes squinting when it is a plain silver one and the title is directly left of the “widescreen” indicator of the inner clear plastic circle. I offer this an example if you have a handful of DVDs that you don’t want to get rid of. There is a space for each movie, and you can flip through it to see all of the titles that you own. This gets to be quite cumbersome when you have 100s of movies that you have collected over the years. As I don’t have storage for the movies in general, I also may not have storage for MANY black binders filled with them. In comes movie sleeves.
Now, usually I abhor plastic anything but in this case it is NOT single use. These babies, when handled with some amount of decency, will support safe dvd watching for years and take up about 1/8 the space! So, What’s the trade off? Besides not letting your kids ravage them, they can rip with some force and that’s no good but we’ve all seen the plastic cover ripped off a dvd and the movie seems just fine right? So yes, there are few but one sticks out in particular. You don’t have the title of the movie on the side of the case you are searching for and you have to have some sort of vessel to keep these movies high and tight – easily searched through – to avoid you dropping them all like a heavy, slippery, deck of cards. The identification issue I solved with an app, below, and the on the vessel front, I went through a few options.
Glass jars were out on this round obviously (just kidding, but still save them!) so at first I used baskets I had on hand. As the number of sleeved movies grew, I wanted a more consistent look to all of the storage instead of a hodge podge of “not quite the right size” in every color and texture that was developing. I went to Michael’s and found some cute woven baskets, but these were too pricey to keep purchasing more as I needed them. In the end I found that I like to use IKEA paper boxes. They come in fun patterns, are fairly sturdy and are very reasonably priced. If you have an IKEA near you, they are in the office supply area where the various magazine and paper sorters are These are often on sale and have a few different, rotating patterns and most importantly, also come in WHITE! Link HERE is for one of the current patterns they offer. This size and dimension works for the sleeves I have been purchasing from Amazon Smile HERE.
Now that you have a place to keep these sleeves filled with your precious films, you have to take each movie cover out of the case, fold it flat, slide it into the case and then add the disc(s) into their precut slots. This is a tedious process and can and will take hours. Sometimes the movie has an insert you can use instead of the cover itself and there is also room for booklets that come with the movies or maybe a novelty menu from Pulp Fiction – that fits too! As I mentioned above, most older style of dvd cases, while plastic, are not recyclable. You have to keep a look out in your local area if they can be take to a specific place for processing. If the movies have a recycling logo on them, go ahead and toss them in along with your glass and plastic! You do have to accept the fact that this will change how you look for and keep your DVDs. Box sets – throw them in sleeves. Gold Anniversary Special Edition?? SLEEVE. You are making your life easier by creating a consistent look! I know it is hard to throw away the cases, (there is always a throne to be built out of them? Or – if you have any re-using ideas, please let me know!) and if you can find a recycler near you that will take them – please share!
I am about 2/3 of the way through ours and at this point, I will just keep plugging away. Regardless of HOW you store your movies, you will always have to have some way of “knowing” what you do or don’t own. Perhaps you throw an excel spread sheet together and every time you get a new movie, you add it to the list. As you add more, you can occasionally filter and alphabetize them, thus keeping it neat and tidy A to Z! If excel is not your jam, you can always check out online, there are a few cool apps available that will help you! I found one on apple called “MovieBuddy” which is FREE to download. If you want to type in movies manually you can, OR you can scan the bar code on the back which is amazing and convenient! You can also BATCH scan and do 10 movies at once! After 50, you need to purchase the app for $5 but at that point you can scan away! The one time fee of $5 is WORTH IT – This does two major things for us.
1. My husband will know which movies we own and not buy doubles (not a common occurrence but it happens) this also applies to purchasing movies in the cloud – if we already own it, watch it! (we own Scooby-Doo live action twice on DVDs and once in the cloud – groan).
2. When we want to FIND a movie, I have organized them into 6 categories – drama / thriller/ mystery, action, comedy, adventure / super hero, family non-animated, and family animated. All we have to do now is search in the app then look through then corresponding box to find a movie! With a lack of DVDs everywhere we have a space to safely keep the boxes and it seems to be working, 🤞🏼 so far.
You do have to keep an eye on the scans, occasionally a movie will scan as the newer version (think the older, animated Aladdin, and the new, live-action one) OR it will get part of the name wrong since the bar codes are associated with many movies sometimes with similar names. After scanning 5-10, a simple glance at the list will confirm which movie was correctly coded and if it wasn’t, you have an option to update it easily. Sometimes movies don’t have a visible Code and you can pull those up with a quick online search. Overall, it is pretty user friendly, and this is not an ad – I genuinely use it!
So far I have two sets of movies that aren’t going into sleeves. My husband’s collection of old western and cinematic triumphs – like Patton or the Unforgiven – are all in their cases for the time being until I bring myself to dealing with them (they will most likely all go in the same bin but I have to start somewhere). Also, the cardboard boxes are a pain, they don’t have the cover sleeve in the plastic case and I might just keep those separated as a “cardboard box” section that transcends the categories I mentioned above!
So there you have it, a few years worth of movie organizing boiled down for ya. It is a work in progress and has NOT resulted in a throne yet – hopefully it never will. Good luck filing away those flicks my fellow cinephiles!