URI instructor to receive award for work with filmmaking summer camp for kids

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Keith Brown is prize-winning filmmaker from North Kingstown

KINGSTON, R.I. – July 23, 2014 – Keith Brown started making films with his parents’ Super 8 camera when he was a boy. He went on to become an award-winning filmmaker – but never forgot the thrill of those early days behind the camera.

For the last 13 years, the University of Rhode Island lecturer has been teaching filmmaking to kids at a summer camp on the Kingston campus, and now his colleagues in the industry would like to say thanks.

Brown, of North Kingstown, will receive the Producer’s Circle Award from Flickers: The Rhode Island International Film Festival during a celebration Tuesday, Aug. 5, at the Providence Performing Arts Center in Providence. Brown is one of five Rhode Islanders to receive the award.

The award is given every year to people who support Flickers, the film festival and the arts in Rhode Island. Brown was recognized for his dedication to KidsEye Summer Camp, which just wrapped up its 18th year and is co-sponsored by Flickers. Brown is the camp’s co-director and one of its first counselors.

“The award was a big surprise,” says Brown. “It’s exciting to be recognized for work in my area.”

Brown enrolled at URI in 1992, unsure of what he wanted to study. He took a filmmaking class to hone his skills and graduated in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in art. From there, he headed to Boston University, where he received a master of fine arts degree in film production.

In 2000, he started working as an intern at KidsEye, climbing the ranks over the years to his current position as co-director. He says the camp is so popular today it often has a waiting list. This summer, 54 children and teenagers, ages 8 to 16, attended.

Participants shoot short films, attend workshops taught by educators and movie industry professionals and learn about screenwriting, acting, directing, makeup, camera work, costume design and special effects. Movie making, he says, is not just about turning on a camera and watching the action unfold. The kids figure out what kinds of shots they want and how to take them. Teamwork is emphasized.

“There’s so much interest now among young people in filming and storytelling,” says Brown. “It’s a great camp.”

He reminds his students (and parents) that filmmaking is a valuable craft to master. “You don’t have to go to Hollywood,” he says. “Storytelling and visual skills are super important. There are so many places you can use these skills.”

Over the years, Brown has worked on many films, documentaries and short features. Along with two other filmmakers, he recently produced “Survive D.C.,” a documentary about a citywide zombie chase in the nation’s capital. Another recent project is “80s Birthday Party,” a short narrative about a man who throws a costume birthday party for himself, but gets some unexpected guests, thanks to Facebook.

“I think I’m a natural storyteller,” says Brown. “That’s the part of filmmaking I really enjoy.”

Brown teaches film production in URI’s Film/Media Program at the Harrington School of Communication and Media. He also developed and taught a course for the Experimental College at Tufts University in Boston that focused on youth in American film.

In addition to the Rhode Island International Film Festival, his work has been exhibited at the Boston Cinema Census, the Antelope Valley International Film Festival, the Georgetown Indy Film Fest and the Syracuse International Film and Video Festival.

Brown will receive the award opening night of the Rhode Island International Film Festival, Aug. 5 through 10, which features short films from throughout the world. Tickets for the opening night fest are $15 per person and available through tickets. Click here to watch Brown’s films .

Pictured above: Keith Brown, a University of Rhode Island film instructor who will receive the producer’s circle award from Flickers: The Rhode Island International Film Festival during a celebration Tuesday, Aug. 5 at the Providence Performing Arts Center in Providence. Photo courtesy of Keith Brown.