Go Video ltd started life as Video 7 back in 1979. Two ex record company executives saw the enormous opportunity staring them in the face from the new technology and began releasing titles on this new and exciting media trading through a shop in South London.
Video 7 eventually moved across the river and set up their stall at 37 Wardour street in central London, an address they would then remain at until their closure. Their original product comprised using mainly public domain titles from the 1930's and 1940's .Black and white films of various genres, from comedy to horror including the marvelous 'White Zombie', a film often credited as the 'original' zombie film.
Like many other companies they were still finding their feet at the time, the big studios and more modern films were locked away out of reach for fear of impacting on cinema receipts, so these lesser desired titles were all that was available to satisfy what was still an immature market. Often these films would have been seen numerous times on terestrial television, the number of VCR owners were still small and although the video market was beginning to grow, its infancy still shone and many of these early titles on numerous labels had very few sales, Video 7 was no different.
The actual manufacture of these titles would have been very expensive as the material cost alone was buckling, leading to the likelihood that most if not all would be on a made to order basis. Many of the first set of releases are still unproven to have seen the light of day at all in the UK, those that did are around in very very few numbers today.
Go Go Go.....
After Video 7 came the main feature and in early 1981, armed with the experience gained from the earlier venture and his flare as a record exec, Des Dolan unleashed GO Video to the world. the growing untapped opportunities starring them in the face was a fabulous adventure awaiting and with a capfull of newly aquired licences for some soft core adult titles picked up in Europe, GO Video was launched.Those first four were Celestine, House of perversity, Franco’s Demons and Devils Nightmare. Utilising the fast growing domestic magazine industry that had sprung up to feed the insatiable hunger of those lucky enough to be in ownership of a machine and eager to see the most recent of releases, they announced their intent to the British public. If the public bought the advert, the libraries would need to stock the product and so the long love affair between Go and some of the biggest names in the video magazine world began. Popular Video, Video today and the European piece Continental Video all bore the fruits of the Go marketing machine.
Initially the adverts flew in the face of potential public offence with the full nudity of the likes of Demons unashamedly shown. Later variants of the same advert would have the blushes spared of the female actress with a crude hand written censor strip over the… more interesting parts.
After the raunchiness of the first four, Go released a number of children’s titles from September 1981, including two Kidivid efforts, the Documentary around the Circus titled ‘Under the Big Top’ and adventure title ‘Big Cat’. All these carried a new catalogue reference in GOK, presumably for Go Video Kids, though the loosely labelled ‘horror’ ‘Scared to Death’ starring the legendary Bela Lugossi also carried this reference. This massive turn in output clearly shows just how manic the industry was, and that these distributors were desperate for ‘anything’ that was new and unseen before to fulfil the orders coming through with new stock.
That's marketing baby!
Des’ attitude to marketing was an aggressive one taken straight from the publishing world, adamant that to play with the big boys the Independents would need to be smarter and fight harder.
“The going is likely to get a lot tougher for independent video labels this year, now that the majors have got themselves together. The Indies will have to respond very positively. Any independent which is not very aggressive in its marketing stance – and in the way it competes with the majors – won’t be here next year” Des Dolan
Go would use market research to ensure they bought the right product and researched hard to ensure they found those niche markets where others had currently not developed. He soon realised that regurgitating B-movies and low key efforts was no longer the future and the selection of his offering became more profound, in fact by the end of 1982 Go were refusing nine out of ten films that were offered to them as licences.
Not only had they become more selective but the contracts they signed were far stricter. Go had realised that the television links to films greatly affected the sales and therefore they would only purchase the licences if a minimum 18 to 24 month non TV clause was entered into the contract, protecting the product.
"No TV clause, no deal" was a quote regularly used by DD
In September 1982 Go joined up with Dandelion Distribution to be the sole distributor of their video output. As a key supplier of television material to the ITV network they were a decent sized name in the industry at the time and Go had done well to secure the rights to their product. Initially the deal was set for twenty titles in the range, unfortunately only five were released.
“Shimmering Light, on the Go-distributed Piccadilly label, is a powerful, classy weepie” which Go proclaimed
"Should appeal to dealers' female customers in particular. It seems that the ladies are now becoming more important as a video viewing audience." Video retailer March 1983
Once again highlighting the great vision they had for reading the landscape and seeing what was missing. Like the other labels Piccadilly stuck to a uniformed packaging design, very professional and adopting many publishing tricks. They only really depicted the title and cast with few other frills to distract the eye.
At about the same time in late 1982 Go appointed their first sales director, Dave Mutton, formerly of TCX video as their sales manager. His primary role was the oversee of the service offering to Go's wholesale accounts.
In the same year among a small frenzy on Wardour street Go successfully won the distribution rights to the Citycenta range with a deal to release ten films in total late in 1982. After releasing the obscure Journey into the Beyond the weepie Prelude to Happiness was to follow and then a further eight unknown titles. Sadly like the lost Piccadilly range they are unknown as to what delights may have been as only these two ever made it to the outside world.
To be continued…………