The Rocky Mountain Hand-Made Filmmaking Camp is a week long intensive course in making photographic motion picture films by hand. The course proceeds according to the belief that filmmakers are empowered by understanding the nature of the medium they work with, and that armed with that knowledge, they are in a position to create new processes and new aesthetic approaches to filmmaking. To this end, the camp pursues three threads:
> One, establishing a thorough knowledge of the chemistry and physical properties of both standard silver-halide film emulsions and non-traditional processes -- silver-based and not -- as applied to motion picture film. This is based on a clear explanation of the principles of chemistry itself, and no prior experience in chemistry is required -- only a willingness to learn (although any knowledge of chemistry you bring to the camp, not to mention knowledge about poetry, music, or anything else, is an asset). Anyone working with film should know how it works, particularly as the medium is quickly falling out of commercial favor and we filmmakers must increasingly fend for ourselves. Subjects include (but are not limited to) black and white and color processing, emulsion-making, contact printing, cyanotype, Van Dyke Brown, pinhole photography, tinting, toning, emulsion manipulations (bleaching, reticulation, effects of chemicals corrosive to emulsion, biological processes, etc.), non-standard uses of standard chemistry, and the fact and possibilities of other light-sensitive systems -- as philosopher Donald Rumsfeld might say, a look at the "known unknowns," and speculations about what "unknown unknowns" there may be and what they might be like.
> Two, the aesthetic implications and possibilities of handmade films are investigated, through the watching of selected works, ongoing discussions, screenings of participants' works in progress, and discussions with visiting filmmakers. Several filmmakers accomplished in the medium will be on hand to discuss their diverse approaches to the medium. Past visitors have included Phil Solomon (a former (and continuing!) teacher of the teacher) and Mary Beth Reed (a maker of beautiful films and a former student). This year's visiting filmmakers will be announced when scheduled.
> Three, and perhaps most importantly, the camp is a hands-on affair. Attendees will create works using the techniques described in class as well as new processes and methods they invent themselves.
The week is also structured to foster meaningful dialogue with other filmmakers through screenings, discussions, and simply working around one another. Participants are asked to bring their own films to show so as to establish a starting point in discussion.
To be clear, photographic, in this context, refers to any process which uses the action of light to create images on the film strip, not necessarily through the use of a camera; photograms are, in this case, considered photographic, whereas painting or animation, although hand-made and sometimes using a camera and hence light, are often fundamentally concerned with something else and lie outside the primary scope of this course, which is the creation of images through the action of light on the film strip. This being said, all methods are welcome, the images must originate somewhere, and the material on which the course focuses is entirely applicable to any kind of making. No doubt all manner of interesting hybrids will develop over the course of the week.