A URI film professor has received an award from a local festival in recognition of his work with a children’s film camp.
Keith Brown received the Producers’ Circle award during a ceremony at the Flickers Rhode Island International Film Festival on August 5.
The award recognizes his work with KidsEye, a camp that is held every summer on the URI campus. Brown has been working for KidsEye for the past 13 years and is currently its program director.
During the course of the week-long camp, campers are divided into teams and complete production on a short film. While filming, the campers experience several parts of the filmmaking process, including directing, editing and acting.
“The first few days we talk about things like scriptwriting and how to break down a script to be shot, and the last three days of the camp, we are shooting short films,” said Brown. “This year we had 55 students, and they’re in five different groups, so we shot five different films over the course of the week.”
He added, “Normally we start with some semblance of a script and allow them to make any changes they want. It’s interesting to see what they come up with within the confines what we can actually do, since everything we shoot is on campus.”
One of the more interesting aspects of the camp, according to Brown, is how the students shoot the film. For instance, the students who sign up to be the director come up with the specific shots of the film, with the counselors advising them on continuity and cohesion.
Brown is an alumni of URI, and graduated with a bachelors in art in 1996 and later received a master’s in film production from Boston University. He said that there was no film media major when he attended URI, but took several film courses after his graduation. Brown began teaching at URI in 2008, following teaching posts at Tufts University and Boston University.
Recalling his experience as a URI student, Brown said, “There really weren’t that many film classes. I took most of my film production courses at URI after I already had my degree. It was really cool because I was able to learn how to use different equipment that I had to learn. I was and like shooting on 16 millimeter motion picture film, which I’d never done before.”
He added, “Now I teach a class using that same equipment and those same cameras and really get the students excited about shooting in a different way.”
Brown said that since his time as student at URI, much has changed about the film department, especially the technology.
He added, “We started with really no lightning and very consumer cameras. We now have very high end cameras and professional lighting gear. In a lot of ways it’s an easier process if you have all the tools to do that, but having all that stuff gets the students really excited because it makes them feel like they’re making real movies.”
In addition to his work with KidsEye and at URI, Brown is also a filmmaker. He has made several films, ranging from music videos to feature length projects.
One of Brown’s current projects is “Survive D.C.,” a feature length documentary that he produced with two former students – one from URI and another from Boston University.
The documentary is directed by filmmaker Aviv Rubinstein and follows a zombie race game, similar to Humans vs. Zombies, that is held in Washington D.C., each year. Brown said that production wrapped in May 2013 and that the film is currently in post-production.
Brown has also created several comedic short films, including the recent “80s Birthday Party.” He said that his comedy films usually find humor from awkward, everyday situations that his characters experience. Several of these films can be found on his website, kbrofilms.com.
When asked to pick to pick a favorite of his films, Brown replied, “I’ve been in engrossed in editing ‘80s Birthday Party’, so right now I’d probably say that’s my favorite because I’’m really excited to show it to people. I’m screening it this weekend [at Flickers] to a big group, so I just can’t wait to see how that goes.”