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From Video Camp to Film School (Part 3 of 3)

My third and final experience in the MOPA film camp came the following summer, and the theme of this camp was creating a music video. We spent the first day getting to know each other and trying to split up into teams. Day two was spent playing each other music and trying to decide what songs to use. It was a long process narrowing it down, with everyone clinging to their favorites. But after rounds of voting we arrived at our two songs. Then we got to work writing our video. Our team's was totally wacky, involving a scientist and her rogue robot creation going on a chase through the park. We created low-tech but elaborate costumes. The robot costume was a mechanic’s jumpsuit covered with neon tape and various wires, packed with cardboard to look more angular, and topped off with a gas mask with a radio antennae attached. Not an inch of skin was showing once gloves and boots were added, and it got really hot running around inside it filming the chase scenes. I was the robot, flirting with heatstroke.

We improvised a lot in the filming of this one, and me and the other kids had a great time coming up with scenes and shooting them. We got various other people involved as extras, including a police officer who was a really good sport and let us film his squad car. The programs instructor and the assistants were really great with us. Totally unpretentious and fun, allowing us to explore whatever crazy ideas we came up with with complete support and assistance (unless it was really unsafe - then they had to intervene. Which is good.) They would talk to us like equals, chatting about movies and whatever else with us. It was a lot of fun, and we got to spend a few days that summer running around beautiful balboa park, which you certainly can’t complain about. In the end we had two funny, bizarre music videos, which featured cameos from one another to create a vague sense of unity between them. They premiered in the theater as usual, to big applause from our friends and family.

That was my last video camp at MOPA, but by that point I was shooting and editing my own independent movies at an ever-increasing pace. I’d round up friends on weekends and shoot something, anything. When I wasn’t shooting I was editing something or writing the next one. I had been enthusiastic about film before the camps, but doing the three of them had ignited a sort of creative spark in me that burns to this day. The camps taught me to pursue my ideas, to never stop practicing and experimenting with cameras and editing, to work in a crew and collaborate, and to make use of whatever resources are available - all valuable skills.

Obviously I never forgot MOPA and the part it played in my personal creative growth, and once I graduated college I wanted to see if I could help out with the camps that had had such an impact on me. I pursued a position and I was hired on as an intern at the museum, which I have been doing for a few months now and really enjoy. It seems the immediate future of the video camp (at least for this summers edition) is in question due to declining numbers signing up, and this makes me feel bad. Obviously cameras and editing have gotten easier and better over the past decade, and I would imagine that a common thought is for kids to believe they can self-teach and experiment and neglect the camp education experience, but there is still much to be learned from programs like these. They hone your skills and make you take risks and face challenges, and will improve the skills needed to make interesting, entertaining movies. Take it from me, these experiences are valuable and extremely fun. I urge any parents of kids who like to make movies to inquire further about these camps. Anyway, that’s my story and my pitch, so thanks for reading.

This is one of the videos David created for MOPA...