Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Not Just Another Teen Movie


Add to Portland's extensive list of film festivals--which includes fests for underground films, international films, films made in 48-hours, undead films, and films made on bikes, to name a few--an under-18 film fest.

Well, not quite yet, but this summer Movie Camp PDX will train 75 teens who have already grown up in a video-savvy, YouTube world, how to write, audition for, act in, and produce legit movies on pro equipment. A festival can't be far behind. I wrote a story about the camp for the Oregonian that came out last Thursday. Camp started yesterday, but don't worry--it's broken down into two-week sessions that continue till August.

When I was interviewing the camp's staff for the piece, I was struck by how all the teachers I spoke to have bonafide Hollywood experience, yet they all favor living and working in the Northwest for one reason or another. Here are some quotes I left out of the piece to help tell a couple of their stories. The kids at the camp are going to get a really well-rounded education from these folks.

Brooke Totman, who will teach acting, worked for years in LA including some appearances on MADtv. But a few years ago, she returned to her native Oregon. She's been around the block and found a place that fits her and I think her experience is reflected in her down-to-earth goals for the camp:

"I think the thing I'd like to leave [the students] with is they only need to [act] if they're having fun. And I think a way to keep kids in check with that is knowing your type and auditioning for things that are right for you."

As a self-described "quirky character actress," Totman says it can be exhausting and demoralizing trying out for roles like Juliet when they're a long shot and not what she wants to be doing in the first place. At her peak in LA, she would audition for multiple parts a day.

Steve Coker, who will teach screenwriting, has a similarly psychological goal in mind. "I want [the campers] to validate their and passion and find that there are people out there who will support their decision to [pursue a career in film]. So many people don't support the arts or film making as a lucrative business. It is a business of luck, but look at Rob Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, these are guys that persevered because they believed, they made their own luck. I'm hoping we can keep the fire burning in these kids to create."

Image: Cine Rent West by Leonard Romie.

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