(Thursday, January 22nd, 2009)

Cam Road Films

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Photo Credit: Stovall

It’s true—some of my best ideas have come about while I’m at the bar. I’m not ashamed to say it. It’s just that, unfortunately, most of these epiphanies have never made it to see the next day, except for this one time.

About six months ago, in the dirty, smoke-covered booths of Burton’s in Thorton Park, there was a meeting of the minds. In attendance was, yours truly, college student, free-lance writer and Page 15 volunteer, and also Michelle Cameron and Chris Stephenson who were on the break of starting a film company, only they had no projects, no name and therefore no existence yet. Over a few draft beers, it slowly came to me that Page 15 needed a promotional video to gain sponsorships and also that Michelle and Chris needed a good-hearted project to film. It only seemed natural that I connect the two organizations And so I did. And pretty much, that night, as a bunch of ideas scribbled on dirty napkins, the concept of Cam Road Films was born.

While the idea for the connection may have been mine, I am not responsible for what happened next—although, I’d like to think so because it is absolutely amazing. By the following week, Cam Road Films was an established film company and at the Page 15 young writers camp, shooting not only a promotional video, but also filming a short and long-featured documentary of the non-profit organization. They also had already picked up a few other jobs, one being a short on the City of Pine Castle that just recently has been accepted to an international film festival. This all due to one night at Burton’s and a few bar napkins … well not exactly. Both Michelle and Chris have spent many sleepless nights—they each have day jobs—and many more hours of hard work to make Cam Road Films a well oiled documenting machine.

The following interview was an exchange of favors. Cam Road needed to interview me for the Page 15 doc and I wanted to interview them for my site. Both events happened in my house, with a lot of laughs, and within a two-hour time frame.

*Below are a few excerpts found in Jana Waring’s Who’s That? Discovering Orlando One Interview at a Time. To read more about Cam Road’s founders, buy the book now!

Jana: What is the significance of the name Cam Road Films?
Chris: There is none.
Michelle: [Laughs]
Chris: It’s completely random. We figured “camera” and then we just cut off the “era.”
Michelle: You’re not going to get a straight answer out of him. [Laughs] It means “Chris and Michelle.”
Chris: Yeah, it’s C-A-M. What happened was we were searching—we liked 1204 films and 1204 productions—but then I thought it sounded too trendy. We both really loved the idea and the imagery of a road. We both wanted “road” or “path,” or something that signified not only a physical journey but also the journey of life. That’s what we’re trying to do and that’s what we’re trying to capture. We’re trying to capture someone’s life …
Michelle: … their journey.
Chris: Yeah. We like telling the story of where something starts and where it ends, whether it’s a life, a company, a family, whatever … everything has a story. So how Cam Road came about was …
Michelle: Geez that was a long way to go to get to that …
Chris: It wasn’t that long.

Michelle, what kind of film-type studies did you do in school?
I was in the TV Production Magnet Program at Dr. Phillips [High School]. During my first two years, we had such an awesome teacher. He allowed us to do a bunch of creative stuff. So I majored in it in college. I had a kick-ass professor, Tim Wilkerson. He gave us the freedom to do whatever we wanted—a short film, a documentary, a music video, anything. We spent a whole semester brainstorming and talking about ideas and then we put it into action. The first semester, my partner, Luke, and I did a short film called “Prescription.” It ended up winning “Best in Show” at the school.

The next semester I had grand plans to make a music video, with real people in it and everything. But then our teacher started teaching us flash and animation. One day I was drawing in the studio and he said, “That’s really good. I think you should try some animation.” And that’s when it clicked. My first two years in college I majored in photography and drawing—I loved it—but it didn’t click for me. He lent me his Wacom tablet that semester and I literally spent every waking moment drawing on it to make the music video … it also got “Best in Show.” [Laughs]

On the other hand Chris, you are a lawyer. How did you become involved in film making?
Chris: In law school, I took a lot of film-making classes. I took Flash 101 my second year …
Michelle: What? [Laughs] You didn’t take any film classes!
Chris: [Laughs] I know. No, I was the exact opposite of Michelle. I went to law school and didn’t study film at all. I’ve never even studied production, and obviously it shows with my lack of technical skills.
Michelle: That’s not true.
Chris: As far as being creative … I’ve always loved creative writing, which is weird because I don’t like to read. I don’t have the attention span.
Michelle: But you have a Journalism background.
Chris: That’s true. I do have a Journalism background. I like to express myself creatively. When I was a sophomore in high school—back when we were getting the suck-the-life-out-of-writing kind of instruction—I begged my English teacher to do a creative writing project. Finally, she was like, “Fine, do a creative writing project—a short story, two pages.”

So, basically, Cam Road is a passion project, or in other words, a place to exercise your creative energy?
Chris: Yeah, sort of. I haven’t lost the passion to fight for people who don’t have a voice. I do feel like I have lost a little bit of direction because now I have my own practice. And while that’s great because it allows me to do this—it’s a Wednesday and I’m in a t-shirt and shorts, at your house, doing an interview—I feel like I’ve lost my way. I’m helping people who can afford to pay me, a sort of hired-gun.
Michelle: He helped me though.
Chris: I like when I am doing something that truly is helping, not just getting someone out of trouble.

Interview Date: 12/10/2008

*To see the Page 15 promo video, go to www.page15.org. To get your mug in a documentary or contact “The Producer,” go to www.camroadfilms.com.

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