Kirby Dick, Dody Dorn, Eddie Schmidy, Matt Clarke, Blake Leth
Chain Camera, the new, provocative film by Kirby Dick, takes it name from the format of a chain letter. Ten video cameras were passed around a Los Angeles high school, and 10 students documented their daily lives. After a week, those students handed over the cameras to another 10, and so on. The tapes were collected and edited and the result is a candid portrait of 16 urban teens today. The population at John Marshall High School is very diverse, but many of the kids share similar concerns: Will they be accepted by their peers? How can they express themselves? What will the future bring?
Because the cameras were given directly to the students without a film crew involved, they were free to film whatever they desired without worrying about censorship. They take the opportunity to srut their stuff, talking openly about sex, race, gender issues, drugs, and violence. Many of the students have difficult home lives; some live in single-parent households, some are children of immigrants with different values, while some must deal with their parents’ substance abuse. These are kids who want to rebel and forge their own path. Their reactions are a compelling mixture of sadness, frustration, and humor.
We see a lot of television shows and films about teenagers, but the kids in this film are not represented by those familiar images of young love, hot bodies, and teen angst. Chain Camera compassionately shows these kids’ lives up close and personal with issues of alienation, sexuality, and responsibility as common threads of a future generation.