A film crew from Chicago was in town Saturday afternoon with cameras rolling for a documentary on the music business. The cinematographers’ destination?
239 Harrison St., in the Oak Park Arts District, where Val Camilletti reigns over the vinyl emporium known as Val’s halla Records.
Though Val’s deadpan delivery of one-liners is entertaining enough (“I don’t do modern.”) and her survival as an indie retailer in the music biz is historic enough (she’s in her 38th year as a shop owner), those draws alone didn’t get her this gig.
The recent upswing in sales of old-school vehicles for music – LPs, 45s, anything that spins on a record player – did. According to nationally published Nielsen reports, more vinyl records were bought last year (2.5 million) than in any other year since 1991, when tracking of such sales began.
That record didn’t go unnoticed by John Boston, a student at Flashpoint Academy, a media arts school in the Loop. Boston runs a company called Whiskey Bender Productions, which specializes in music-related documentaries. His project for a documentary class at Flashpoint is on how independent, bricks-and-mortar music stores are weathering the popularity of tune-buying online.
So he and a colleague sought out Val and spent about three hours Saturday filming inside her 1,200-square-foot shop.
“They did tons of shooting,” she reported in e-mail Sunday. “Since I talk forever, I suspect I should cover the cutting room floor,” she said, noting that the shoot at her place was one of several in the area.
OK, so they got her talking. And they got the aisles and aisles and bins and bins of everything from Herb Alpert to U2. But did they get the Elvis shrine (Val’s euphemism for the Presley-decked bathroom – her homage to the part of Graceland where the king died)?
“Absolutely. They loved it,” she said.
The documentary, as yet untitled, should be 15 to 20 minutes and done by the spring. In addition to filing it for coursework, Boston plans, according to Val, to submit it to festivals across the country that includes docs. She’s awaiting her copy, for which, Val says, she may have a showing in the shop.