Some of the best teen filmmakers in the country gathered for this summer’s Prodigy Camp.
“I came here really skeptical because I thought it was going to be a screenwriting program…this is a new experience. Educational heaven says Riley Moffit, 18, who attended his first camp this summer. The slots fill up quickly and the competition for entry is almost as intense as the actual curriculum.
Some of these kids have resumes most adults would envy, says filmmaker and Prodigy Camp Director Rick Stevenson. Some have YouTube Channels with over one million hits. Others have won major awards at youth film festivals, have starred in a hit TV series (15-year old Nick Robinson in ABC Family’s MELISSA and JOEY) or have acted in prominent Hollywood films. Prodigy Camp is more than bringing the twenty most talented teens together for unique instruction in storytelling. It’s about helping these promising young artists discover their own voices, and that involves a lot of digging.
This excavation work means sitting around the campfire and telling deeply personal stories then translating them into actual films with the help of top notch instructors, special guest speakers and Hollywood actors like 13-year old Nathan Gamble (DOLPHIN TALE, DARK KNIGHT). This year’s camp even featured guest instructor Rob Morrow (NORTHERN EXPOSURE, NUMB3RS) who took over the teaching duties of the popular On Your Feet acting class.
At the end of camp the students make films using the storytelling techniques they learned during the session. Each crew gets about three hours to shoot their stories and three hours to edit them, says Stevenson. The teens are learning that it’s all about the story and how you tell it. As Stevenson says, authentic storytelling requires empathy and a deep knowledge of self. That is what comes out of the campfires—the realization that everyone has their burdens, their insecurities, their hopes, their fears and their longings—and that we all are a vital part of the human story. These kids clearly get it. They’re the best at what they do at their age.
This camp is truly one of a kind, and Stevenson is committed to giving young filmmakers a chance to hone their skills. “There’s nobody dedicated to a sort of Junior Olympics of filmmaking … nobody takes these kids and bumps them up to the next level, preparing them for successful careers in and out of the film industry,” he says, “Future Pulitzer Prize-winning news reporters, advertisers, even future lawyers who have learned storytelling can better argue a case. We use storytelling in every business.”
The camp just wrapped up its third season in August and has even bigger plans for its fourth in July of 2012. Interested teens can apply at ProdigyCamp.org.