Ryan Beitz owns over 500 copies of the movie Speed on VHS. He also owns 26 laser discs of the film, but those aren’t part of the collection. He just holds onto them so he can use them as bargaining chips to get more on VHS. His goal is a simple one: To collect every copy of Speed on VHS ever made. His other goal? To trick out his 15-passenger van to look just like the bus in the movie.
In order to see the World Speed Project in action, I decided to visit him at his current residence in Moscow, Idaho, where he has scattered all his copies of Speed throughout the van in anticipation of my arrival, and lined the ceiling with them. As we talk, he drives me and a handful of his friends out through the woods via a restricted-access sheep farm on his college campus. As he drives, copies of Speed periodically fall from the ceiling onto the floor.
VICE: Are we allowed to be back here?
Ryan Beitz: Yeah, whatever. The signs just say “No Public Access.” We got official business. I don’t have car insurance now, but that’s OK because I only drive the van around for show. We’re going like 35, and I feel like we’re being respectful. We’re not trying to scare the sheep or like, steal them. Although we could put a sheep in here.
Why don’t you tell me what got you started collecting the Speeds?
I lived in Seattle and was super broke, and I had to come up with Christmas presents for my family. Usually I would just, like, dumpster-dive books or something and give them to them, but when I was at the pawn shop they had six copies of Speed, and I thought it would be really funny to get everybody in my family the same gift, even me. I wanted to watch them open them one at a time and go, “Oh, Speed. Don't we already have this?” Somebody else would go, “Oh, Speed. Really funny, Ryan.” Then by the time you went around, everybody would have gotten the same gift from me. Then I could tell them that I love them all equally, you know? Just some bullshit.
Then when I bought all six it was, like, way too good. I realized it was really fascinating to have that many, like, same copies of a thing. What really cemented it was when I went to another pawn shop, and they had, like, 30 copies. I said, “I’ll take them all.” They sold them to me for 11 cents a copy.
How many copies do you have right now?
I don’t know, like 550 or something. I haven’t counted in a while 'cause who really cares?
And you’re going to collect them all.
Yeah. People always go, “Dude how many of these things are you going to get?” And I'm like, “All of them, duh.”
Isn’t that impossible?
I mean, probably, because of unknown human forces, the logistics of tracking them all down, and just the sheer expense. I don’t want to spend money on this. If a copy’s more than $4, I’ll just steal it. But that’s not going to make me stop. That’d be the same as somebody saying like, “It’s impossible to make the world a good place, so I’m not going to try.” If the idea is awesome, I’m just going to devote myself to it regardless.
So you’d say the World Speed Project is awesome?
I think the World Speed Project is awesome in the truest sense of the word. It's larger than life. Imagine all of them in one place! It’s uncompromising.
Yeah, it’s like a radical dedication to uselessness.
Totally. I don’t give a shit whether what I do is practical or not; I just don’t want to perpetuate society’s shitty capitalism forever. If you see everything needs a use or an instrumental value as like part of a capitalistic worldview, then the World Speed Project is anti-that.
Cool. Why does it says something about Freud on the World Speed Project's Facebook page?
I say it’s a practice in the repetition compulsion, which is Freud. Basically, Freud thinks that the goal of your unconscious is to repeat. You just have to repeat over and over again. I can’t remember exactly why. I think it has something to do with eros—you know, the life force or whatever?
The World Speed Project is satisfied by a compulsion to repeat because when you get one, you want to get another! And another! And another! Like the bus in Speed, we collectively cannot—and will not—stop.
Ryan is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fix up his bus to resemble the one in the movie, and to purchase auto insurance so he can tour his collection around the country. Take part in the global effort and send any and all copies of Speed to:
Chairman Ryan Beitz
The World Speed Project
20204 SR 195