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With so much fluff on TV about the rich and famous of Tinseltown, Camp
Hollywood is a real eye-opener. The documentary shows the highs and
lows of actors, writers, directors and musicians living at a fleabag
hotel in Hollywood while struggling to break into show business.
I loved this movie. The filmmaker, a struggling comic, has captured exceptionally honest and revealing moments with the colorful characters staying at this hotel - some who have been living there for years. Residents of the hotel include a bank robber turned actor, a Marilyn Monroe impersonator and a clarinetist who has retired to the hotel to drink himself to death. There are also recognizable faces like actors Saul Rubinek and Maury Chaykin.
Camp Hollywood is a Canadian documentary - I saw it in Toronto and am not sure if it's distributed in the U.S. or elsewhere - but if you can find a copy I highly recommend it. It's funny as well as heartbreaking and poignant.
This movie provides great insight to the lives of actors and other
hopefuls in Hollywood.
It is all shot on the premises of a Hollywood hotel filled with people chasing fame, pursuing a dream, or escaping their past.
At times funny and at times touching, Camp Hollywood was engaging the whole way through. Many diverse stories were cut together with snappy editing and great music.
We meet the talented, the hopeless, and a few nut jobs. (Plus there's some really hot struggling actresses!)
This film gives viewers an idea how difficult show business is. Watch the movie before you buy a ticket to LA !
I recently had the opportunity to see Stephen Markle's documentary Camp Hollywood. The film chronicles life at Hollywood's infamous Highland Gardens motel and the (mostly) Canadian actors who flock there every year for pilot season. The film was fantastic! For aspiring actors, the film is a great tool; an opportunity to learn more about the Hollywood casting process while avoiding the inevitable pilot season debt hangover. On another level, the film deals with the difficult question that all aspiring artists must ask themselves; when does the pursuit of "the dream" become a destructive exercise? This theme is explored through a series of touching and candid interviews with long time residents of The Highlands who lay bare some of their deepest regrets and fears. All in all a solid film; well laid out, nicely shot, and the music is great too.
I heard about this film a few months ago when it first aired - and regretted missing it. However, today I clicked on the television and there it was again! This time I watched it - unbelievably riveting. What made it so good was the fact that all of these people were REAL. All of them were very different, but were all searching for something more...regardless of the struggle that they endured on a daily basis, they were there to follow a dream. More people should go for what they really want. I want to purchase a copy of this doc. and show it to my students...We can all use some inspiration. I wish Steve and David the best of luck with their careers and hope to see more of their projects...Naked Josh is also a great show - congrats - and finally, this documentary should definitely win an award!
I just saw this documentary on Sundance channel. I worked on movies and
TV for five years while living in LA in the 80's -- in production,
grip, electric, effects, and even video assist (where I got to read the
paper on set and not get in trouble.) I remember one grip's shirt that
sums up the drive that I've felt in many of my co-workers, it read,
"What I really want to do is direct." Natch
And then, there are the
actors. Who doesn't know someone who has a dream of acting? Anyone who
has spent more than a day in LA has met these dreamers in person.
(Often they're the ones reading off the daily specials at tony and
not-so-tony restaurants.) I have always loved the earthy soulful
qualities of Canadians and Canada. I appreciate the balance they give
to their crazy cowboy neighbor to the South. Compared to the posing and
fronting that we hold forth as 'mericans, Canadians are so refreshingly
upfront and human generally speaking, of course.
With the insight from my unexpected yet unsurprisingly surreal production experience in LA, I laughed at a lot of the interviews, because I have met characters like this and love their authenticity and struggling bravado. Some of the fusion of subject and the movie making reminded me of another favorite documentary, Sherman's March. Especially the parts when the director is unapologetically and hopefully attracted to the super cute actresses in the Highland Gardens hotel where it was shot.
I felt like bringing the folks in the hotel a big basket of food and gift certificates to clothing stores because of their hopeful optimism amidst the constant ego crushing that is the business of trying to get gigs. I jumped online right after seeing this doc and even opened Word to get a word count and spell check to satisfy IMDb guidelines so I could give this winning work some love.
I was lucky enough to see this movie on the Sundance channel on-demand
for the last month and have watched it 8 or so times. This is a really
good film. It was very interesting to see so many different kinds of
people coming together to form a strong community. Steve did a very
good job of showing both sides of the hotel It became very obvious why
it would be easy to fall into love with such non-traditional place to
live. I was hoping someone out there could help me find where you can
purchase this documentary? I was also wondering if anyone can tell me
what the monthly rates go for at Highland?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched this film, expecting a documentary that just followed actors
to auditions. But Camp Hollywood is much more human and gritty than
that. It profiles the people who live there, predominantly from Canada
for some reason; and their trials and tribulations, relationships with
each other, and shows their true personalities.
There are a few actors you will recognise from film and TV (like the man who played the father of Mozart in Amadeus), but I won't spoil things by listing them all. Most of them, however, are unknowns who will stay that way, like Clem (Clim?).
If you happen to catch this on Sundance, give it a go. The filmmaker tried to have a shot at comedy whilst he was in LA, but you don't see any footage pertaining to his attempt to make it in the business... which I would have liked to see.
I do like the montage at the close of the film, and the fact that he used Corey Hart's "Never Surrender" in the closing credits, very appropriate and a nod to a fellow Canadian.
The fact that Hollywood is filled with losers and freaks isn't anything new, but this portrait has small bits of charm. It would have been nice if the filmmaker had pushed a little more into the idea of Hollywood, as well as his own relationship to it. There are traces of "Sherman's March" and "The Target Shoots Back" but unlike Ross McElwee or Christopher Wilcha, this director keeps things at a pretty superficial level. It's too bad too, since issues like the culture, economics, and seduction of Hollywood are issues that are worth exploring. Additionally, I there seemed to be something questionably ethical about his tendency to interview people when they're inebriated.
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