One day in February of 2009, I was putting away the dishes, and inspired by that uninspiring task, the basic idea came to me at once: a retail-store inventory day is—like the weekend detention in The Breakfast Club—a mundane crucible.
It's a day in the most familiar of surroundings (the store where you work or, in The Breakfast Club, the school you attend), but the usual stimuli are gone (customers, classes).
You're locked inside for a day of presumed drudgery, in the company of peers who likely aren't your regular buddies. In such a void, things that don't come out on a usual day just might.
I'm not precisely sure why the word "inventory" was rattling in my head just then, but I was instantly excited about making an ensemble movie that takes place on that strangely special workday.
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I'd done store inventories in the late 1970s, when I worked in the Harvard Coop record department and, later, at the MIT branch. At the time, the Harvard store was (I'm told) the world's largest record retailer.
Inventory day was an awkward affair, spent paired with someone I didn't ordinarily hang out with, dragging about the store reading out or writing down price codes and quantities.
Maybe you'd get paired with someone you had a crush on, and romance would blossom, and.... Nope. Whoever made the list of counting pairs didn't have your back. Or the back of the person who got stuck with you, if you weren't exactly a prize partner either.
It's been my good fortune to have a lot of prize partners in making indie films in Greater Boston. In future posts, we'll tell you all about our collaborators and collaborative process, without which Inventory was just a stray thought in a kitchen.
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Hearkening back to the old days of living like a refugee in Cambridge turned out to be doubly important in shaping Inventory.
My vinyl obsession was centered on powerpop, effervescent music made unabashedly in the shadow of the Beatles. If you know Badfinger, you know powerpop. And vice versa.
Finding shoulda-been hits from underappreciated powerpop bands was the essential quest for a small subculture of us.
About a year into this project (it's coming on two years since that day in my kitchen, and we're now down to finishing touches [Update: Inventory was completed on 2/18/11]), another idea hit me on the head like an iron skillet: Inventory absolutely has to have a powerpop song score.
This sent me rummaging through my own record collection and also exploring bands I'd never heard of. I'll be writing much more about the fantastic bands featured on the Inventory soundtrack, so I'll leave you with this description of what I was looking for, which I sent to a member of one of the definitive bands in the genre:
I'm hoping with the soundtrack, we're able to capture some of the great fun we had in those days as record-store rats, searching and searching for Beatlesque bliss, and—happily—sometimes finding it.
Unlike High Fidelity or Empire Records, we didn't want to set the movie in an intrinsically fun place like a record store, but to create a rascally group of twenty- and thirty-something slackers who make their own fun while flying their foible flags high. The spirit of great powerpop spells just the kind of fun I hope people will have watching the movie.