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Interview with Sarah Price, Co-director of SummerCamp!

Click here to learn more about SummerCamp! and view a trailer of the movie.


Q: What sparked the idea for making Summercamp!?


A: This was Brad’s [Beesley, the co-director] idea. He heard a camp piece on This American Life on NPR and felt filming at a camp would be an interesting idea for a film. Plus we’d both been to camp growing up and wanted to capture that raw maturation of being a kid …


Q: Did you see yourself in any of these campers?


A:  Lots of kids reminded me of parts of myself as a child their age and parts of me now …


Q: Is it more challenging to film children than adults?


A: No. It was only harder at first because the kids were self-conscious. We got them to pretend we weren’t there. They got it out of the way first. They were living their lives and we were filming it. Kids, like adults, tend to just get used to being filmed. You want people to be comfortable. It only took a few days for them to be at ease. Some kids would never be comfortable, but those were kids we did not follow … It was not hard to connect with the kids emotionally, but it was physically exhausting. They all had enormous energy and were going all day. We were up before them and would go to bed after they’d gone to bed …


Q: Talk about filming conflict in the film.


A: The directors asked that if we filmed conflict, we also had to film resolution; they were protective in ensuring we didn’t cross a line. But they had seen our work and trusted us. There had to be a lot of trust …


Q: You focus on Holly and Cameron’s [Holly Stephenson and Cameron Schmitt as themselves] stories. Explain your process.


A:  There were ninety campers. We narrowed it down to ten kids after three days. It became more obvious who was comfortable with the filming and who we were drawn to. Theirs were universal experiences; you can’t help not identifying with them …


Q: Were you surprised at how many kids were on medication?


A:  Yes, and we weren’t looking for it when we started shooting. For some, taking meds become bragging rights. Both of us were shocked at the numbers of kids on meds …


Q: What drew you to documentary filmmaking?


A: I thought I wanted to be an actress. I went to NYC after high school and worked on Ghostbusters II as a craft service person! That was grueling … Then I went to University of Iowa after that, which has a great film department. That’s where I got on the other side of the camera. It really opened my eyes to what filmmaking could be …


Q: Were the campers’ parents supportive of the documentary?


A: Yes, we had very positive feedback … At the Toronto Film Festival, the parents of Holly and Cameron found it hard to watch their kids’ growing pains on film … but they were very proud of their kids and who they were becoming.


Q: Who were your female role models and what advice would you give aspiring filmmakers?


A: For me it was more about sensibility than gender. I liked the documentary filmmakers of the 1960s and 1970s. I loved Sherman’s March (1986); I liked Al Maysles, Barbara Kopple, Errol Morris, etc. I would say pay attention to your storytelling. You have to have something inherently interesting to say …


 


 


 

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