SUMMER = FILM CAMP! August 1-8, 2010

Our call for filmmakers for the 2010 camp will go out in April.  We hope you will consider applying.  Check back here for the most up to date information. But meanwhile, here is why you’ll want to save the date for this years camp:

For the past four years, for one week in August, between nine and twelve filmmakers have come to Vermont for a week of “radical relaxation”- a chance to breathe deep, think deeper and dive into new ideas and the clear blue waters of Vermont’s lakes and rivers.  A combination seminar/retreat, the Kopkind/CID film “camp” offers a unique blend of screenings; discussion about the filmmakers work in progress; skill development; and networking, but all in a setting like no other: Tree Frog Farm in rural Vermont.

The mechanics of “camp” are simple. The filmmakers arrive on Sunday late afternoon.  Most of the participants sleep in Spartan but charming individual cabins. The first three nights we hold “film slams”(“slams is a playful term, not a descriptive one) in the barn- three filmmakers each night screening 20 minutes of their work in progress. Each morning from 9:30 to 12:30 we hold discussion out on the deck. Depending on the day, we might focus on the filmmakers work, on their concerns, or on a topic related to the “theme” of camp that year.  After that we have lunch, there is free time, then dinner in the barn with occasional special guests.  At the end of the week we hold a Grassroots Film Festival in the evenings with public screenings and guest filmmakers in attendance in the barn or in nearby Brattleboro.  Camp wraps up on Sunday with a farewell brunch out on the deck.

But it’s not the mechanics of camp that cause participants at Kopkind to say, “This changed my life.” It is something in the air, in the scent of green fields and the intimacy of the group; in the food lovingly prepared and beautifully presented by Kopkind’s cook/operations manager, Dave Hall; in fresh vegetables from the garden, afternoon swims, and hot tub discussions at night; and mostly in the people who started it, in the sensibility at Tree Frog Farm and the remembered example of journalist Andrew Kopkind in whose memory the camp was created, who had intense curiosity and joie de vivre, a love of pop and politics, of horticulture and history, of serious things, artfulness, and jokes.

Everyone at camp is a peer.  A call for participants goes out in the spring, and prospective campers send letters of intent giving their background, describing what they’re working on and what they would screen related to the year’s theme. The theme is always broad: diversity, creativity, storytelling. Susi Walsh (Center for Independent Documentary) and John Scagliotti (Kopkind Colony) put together the group (never more than twelve) based on the range of experience and the mix of work and concerns that they think will blend in interesting ways.

Filmmaker Nancy Kates came to the farm in the first year of camp. She showed a piece from a film she had co-directed, Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, but she wanted to talk about the problems she was having getting started on her next project, a film about the cultural critic Susan Sontag. The next summer Nancy returned, showing one of the most visually stunning and provocative trailers anyone had ever seen, for Regarding Susan Sontag. The first year, she was stuck; and the second year, screening the trailer for the first time, she was scared; she is neither now. Film Camp wasn’t the only reason, but it was an important one according to Nancy. “I feel that I was myself there in a really primal way. Maybe that’s because while it’s not a gay camp, the farm is a gay place, and because everyone puts so much care into making people feel comfortable and included. Maybe it’s because it’s not competitive, which is a real gift to filmmakers, because we’re always competing, for funding, for attention. We need community, we need to support each other in our projects, and we need to cut loose, because doing this work is very hard. Connections between filmmakers are very important—and Film Camp is unique because it’s so small, so those connections are really deep.”

Experimental filmmaker Heather Kapplow described her experience like this:” You’re sitting in a barn on a folding chair. There’s a whip on the wall to the right of projection screen and you mean to ask about it, but you’re in the middle of digesting the most unpretentious gourmet meal that you’ve ever eaten in your life and you just heard another filmmaker ask the day’s expert guest the question that’s been burning a hole in your heart for the last 3 years. You’re straining to hear the answer while helping to clear the table, and end up almost crashing into the first of the locals to trickle in for the evening screening which includes a film which turns out to be far more inspiring that you expected from the title. Almost as inspiring as the question asked afterwards by one of the “lay” people in attendance. A question which puts a spin on the impact of a particular documentary style that has everyone in heated discussion in the hot tub until 1 in the morning–when you finally remember to ask about the whip. You receive a story in answer that has you scripting a short in your head in your little cabin as you drift off to sleep, and in the morning, you think you may have figured out the answer to your true, burning question. But it escapes you over breakfast when you begin immersing yourself in someone else’s work and a critique that begins on a porch and ends in a pond.”

Filmmaker Dean Hamer summed up his camp experience this way,” Like most filmmakers I spend far too much time buried in a dark editing room.  The Kopkind Filmmaker’s camp was an incredible opportunity to meet like-minded artists, to share ideas and hopes, to reflect on what’s truly important in our work, to rejuvenate creative juices, and above all to remember that filmmaking is supposed to be fun.”

We have yet to select the “theme” for discussions or the special guests for this years camp.  Some of our past years guests have included philanthropist Lyda Kuth from the LEF Foundation; entertainment attorney Sandra Forman; First Run distributor Seymour Wishman; and filmmakers Fred Simon,  Dan Karslake  and Academy Award winner Debra Chasnoff.

To see pictures from previous years camps click HERE.

Please be sure to join our mailing list so that you receive notification of this years call for filmmakers!

Prior years “campers”:

2006: Theme: Diversity in filmmaking

Participants: Savannah Washington (NY, New York), Joel Katz (Woodstock, NY), Deb Ellis (Burlington, VT), Emily Kunstler (NY,New York), Eli Moore (Syracuse, NY), Alexandra de Gonzalez (Boston, MA), Jennifer Kaplan (Cambridge, MA), Rebecca Snedeker (New Orleans, LA), Robbie Leppzer (Wendell, MA), Nancy Kates (Berkeley, CA), Tim McCarthy (Provincetown, MA)

2007Theme: Creativity

Participants: Nancy Kelly (Greenbrae, CA), Jonathan Skurnik (Los Angeles, CA), Tim McCarthy (Provincetown, MA), Nancy Kates (Berkeley, CA), Karen Everett (Berkeley, CA), Bennett Singer (NY, New York), Natalie Lardner (NY, New York), Savannah Washington (NY, New York), Carlyn Saltman (Greenfield, MA), Jim Wolpaw (Providence, RI)

2008Theme: Storytelling

Participants: Betsy Kalin (Los Angeles, CA), Daniela Broitman (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Bene Naudin (Storrs, CT), Grace Shuler (Tel Aviv, Israel), Erin Sisk (Boston, MA), Heather Kaplow (Boston, MA), Sarah Hesterman (NY, New York), Lynn Cadwallader (Cambridge, MA), Terry Holzgreen (Los Angeles, CA); guest adviser, Lyda Kuth (Lef Foundation)

2009Theme: Brainstorming to the future in filmmaking

Participants: Dean Hamer (Washington, DC), Ann Bennett (NY, New York), Bret Story (Montreal, Canada), Sharon Arkin (Tucson, AZ), Sanford Lewis (Amherst, MA), Matt Gossage (Austin, TX), Kavita Pillay (Cambridge, MA), Betsy Kalin (Los Angeles, CA), Joan Mandell (Detroit, MI)