First short film, first competition

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 10:15am

Camden Spear submitted his first short film, “The Steel City Surfer,” in the Maine Outdoor Film Festival’s (MOFF) new competition Extra Credit Adventure Edit. MOFF selected Spear’s four-minute film (the maximum length for entries) as a finalist in two categories: Maine Made and Profile. Public voting ends at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, May 19. Award winners will be announced May 20.

Young filmmaker/photographer Spear graduated from Boothbay Region High School in 2016. His senior year internship was at Boothbay Region Media Center/Channel 1301 with Cody Mitchell, Jonne Trees and Ryan Leighton sharing and teaching Spear the art of visual storytelling. Within the past year or so, Spear joined Mitchell and Leighton on a project – “Mumbai to Maine” – with Cherie Scott.

Spear’s MOFF entry is about his friend Andy Benckart from Pittsburgh. The two transfer students met at the University of New England. As they got to know each other, Benckart would speak openly about his addiction to alcohol and other substances. He also told Spear about his passion for surfing. Benckart and his family went surfing in New York from the time he was 2. He continued surfing until his addictions took away his desire to take to the water.

“He lost his motivation to surf,” Spear said. “And then he realized where he was going … Andy decided to come to a Maine rehab because the people there told him they would take him surfing.”

Ironically, the best surfing to be had in Maine is in winter, Spear said. Filming began in late January/early February, but the statewide COVID-19 precautions put an end to that. Still, by then, Spear had shot many hours of footage – which resulted in very frozen fingers. When UNE decided students would not be returning to campus after spring break, Benckart had to go home to Pittsburgh. It was Zoom interviews after that. Spear said he spent five to six hours finding the right clips and another 36-50 hours editing.

“I want to do a full 12-minute film about Andy,” Spear said. “His story and his journey is inspiring to me … I’m formulating an idea in my head about how meaningful surfing is for him. It’s like he says in the film – (surfing) forces you to be present. In the moment. You can’t focus on anything else. That’s his challenge and his therapy.”

Spear is back in Boothbay for the summer and, COVID-19 permitting, he plans to move to Boston at the end of the season to get some studio work under his belt and learn from others in the visual storytelling field.

“Ultimately, I want to share and tell the stories about how people interact with nature – and how nature interacts with them.”

Spear is looking forward to hearing what people have to say about his first video venture and our introduction to “The Steel City Surfer.”

This new competition has five categories: Modern Day PSA, Highlight, Nature Meditation and the two categories Spear’s film is a finalist in – Profile and Maine Made. Remember, voting ends May 19. To view and vote: