At Cam (Documentary)

is creating a documentary series

7

patrons
Hello!

My name is Grant, and I’m producing At Cam, a documentary series about Camarillo State Hospital (1936-1997) and the college, California State University Channel Islands, which now occupies the hospital’s former location. Every episode will be free to view on YouTube. The first episode will premiere in August [UPDATE: barring technical difficulties, the first episode will be available on Labor Day].

For over 60 years, Camarillo State Hospital & Developmental Center (or "Cam," as it came to be called) was a pillar of the Ventura County community, serving the developmentally disabled and mentally ill. The facility broke new ground researching schizophrenia, autism, and the treatment of children, but was among the last of a dying breed when it closed in 1997. Under the statewide and national policies broadly defined as "deinstitutionalization" — which saw the hospital's population shrink, and eventually led to the hospital's closure — a diverse community of patients were cast into a system unprepared to serve their needs.

A few years later, the youngest California State University set up shop, building around, within, and on top of "Cam." In the intervening years, many of the hospital's former employees never had the opportunity to formally "debrief," and contribute to (what should have been) a robust oral history. What pervades the space now is a sense that one is surrounded by a largely unspoken history — one which may offer vital lessons about our current understanding of freedom, the individual, and what we owe one another as we labor under an illusion of separateness. 

That's where At Cam comes in. 

What will the documentary series be like?
Each episode will be roughly 30 minutes long. Every installment will include one interview with a former employee of the hospital and one interview with a contemporary member of the university community (i.e. students, faculty, and staff). Style, tone, and specific thematic focus may vary, but every minute of At Cam will seek to explore the shared history of these two, seemingly disparate institutions and the similar struggles faced by both. The series will culminate with a supplementary feature-length documentary to be screened at film festivals (release details TBD). Note: if you're looking for something sensationalized — if you're interested in ghost stories or the macabre — this film won't scratch that itch.

Who will be participating?
Hours of interviews have already been recorded with former employees from the hospital, including psychiatric technicians, nurses, and researchers. Interviews with members of the university community have started to pile up as well. The list only grows with each passing week, and I’m on pace to record an average of eight interviews per month. All interviews, for the sake of privacy and consistency, will remain anonymous, with only the subject’s job/position title and tenure attached to their respective interview(s).

How frequently will episodes be released?
Once a month, at a minimum — specific dates will vary. If monthly contributions reach a certain goal, then I'll be able to release two episodes each month. Subscribers at the $10 level will have access to one shorter, supplementary video per month, bringing their monthly total to at least two videos.

Why Camarillo? Why the university?
While the stories of these two facilities are obviously linked spatially, I feel that bridging the temporal divide and putting Cam and CSUCI side-by-side reveals a great deal about America's evolving conception of community. More specifically, these two institutions were/are challenged by two sides of the same coin: where deinstitutionalization forced one population into positions of extreme precarity, the privatization of public higher education, too, threatens the financial and social stability of young people across the country. 

How would my contribution help?
The series is, at this point, completely self-financed. It’s being created by a crew of one, and I have no intention of making a profit from this film. Every dollar contributed on this site will go right back into the documentary, helping to cover the cost of transportation, editing software licensing, electronic storage space, improved equipment, and the time-consuming process of filming, recording interviews, and editing the finished product.

How can former Camarillo employees and university alumni participate?
Send an email to [email protected] and I’ll get back to you ASAP!
Tiers
Supporter
$2 or more per month

Thank you for your support! At this tier, you'll have access to insider updates charting the documentary's progress, plus "behind the scenes" writing detailing the research, stories, and content that didn't make it into each episode.

Credited Supporter
$5 or more per month

At this tier, you'll get the benefits of a supporter, plus:

  • Your name will be included in the end credits of every episode (for every month that you contribute)
Feature-Length Credited Supporter
$10 or more per month

At this tier, you'll get the benefits of a credited supporter, plus:

  • You'll receive access to one bonus video every month. These videos may include more footage of the grounds, longer excerpts from some interviews, or "making of" footage
  • Your name will be featured more prominently in the credits of each episode
  • You'll have your name featured in the end credits of the finished feature-length documentary
  • You'll get early access to the feature-length doc before it screens at film festivals
Goals
70% complete
At this level of support, I'll be able to cover the cost of Adobe Creative Cloud (billed monthly). This bundle of apps includes Adobe Premiere and Adobe Audition, two essential parts of the documentary's workflow.
1 of 6
Hello!

My name is Grant, and I’m producing At Cam, a documentary series about Camarillo State Hospital (1936-1997) and the college, California State University Channel Islands, which now occupies the hospital’s former location. Every episode will be free to view on YouTube. The first episode will premiere in August [UPDATE: barring technical difficulties, the first episode will be available on Labor Day].

For over 60 years, Camarillo State Hospital & Developmental Center (or "Cam," as it came to be called) was a pillar of the Ventura County community, serving the developmentally disabled and mentally ill. The facility broke new ground researching schizophrenia, autism, and the treatment of children, but was among the last of a dying breed when it closed in 1997. Under the statewide and national policies broadly defined as "deinstitutionalization" — which saw the hospital's population shrink, and eventually led to the hospital's closure — a diverse community of patients were cast into a system unprepared to serve their needs.

A few years later, the youngest California State University set up shop, building around, within, and on top of "Cam." In the intervening years, many of the hospital's former employees never had the opportunity to formally "debrief," and contribute to (what should have been) a robust oral history. What pervades the space now is a sense that one is surrounded by a largely unspoken history — one which may offer vital lessons about our current understanding of freedom, the individual, and what we owe one another as we labor under an illusion of separateness. 

That's where At Cam comes in. 

What will the documentary series be like?
Each episode will be roughly 30 minutes long. Every installment will include one interview with a former employee of the hospital and one interview with a contemporary member of the university community (i.e. students, faculty, and staff). Style, tone, and specific thematic focus may vary, but every minute of At Cam will seek to explore the shared history of these two, seemingly disparate institutions and the similar struggles faced by both. The series will culminate with a supplementary feature-length documentary to be screened at film festivals (release details TBD). Note: if you're looking for something sensationalized — if you're interested in ghost stories or the macabre — this film won't scratch that itch.

Who will be participating?
Hours of interviews have already been recorded with former employees from the hospital, including psychiatric technicians, nurses, and researchers. Interviews with members of the university community have started to pile up as well. The list only grows with each passing week, and I’m on pace to record an average of eight interviews per month. All interviews, for the sake of privacy and consistency, will remain anonymous, with only the subject’s job/position title and tenure attached to their respective interview(s).

How frequently will episodes be released?
Once a month, at a minimum — specific dates will vary. If monthly contributions reach a certain goal, then I'll be able to release two episodes each month. Subscribers at the $10 level will have access to one shorter, supplementary video per month, bringing their monthly total to at least two videos.

Why Camarillo? Why the university?
While the stories of these two facilities are obviously linked spatially, I feel that bridging the temporal divide and putting Cam and CSUCI side-by-side reveals a great deal about America's evolving conception of community. More specifically, these two institutions were/are challenged by two sides of the same coin: where deinstitutionalization forced one population into positions of extreme precarity, the privatization of public higher education, too, threatens the financial and social stability of young people across the country. 

How would my contribution help?
The series is, at this point, completely self-financed. It’s being created by a crew of one, and I have no intention of making a profit from this film. Every dollar contributed on this site will go right back into the documentary, helping to cover the cost of transportation, editing software licensing, electronic storage space, improved equipment, and the time-consuming process of filming, recording interviews, and editing the finished product.

How can former Camarillo employees and university alumni participate?
Send an email to [email protected] and I’ll get back to you ASAP!

Recent posts by At Cam (Documentary)

Tiers
Supporter
$2 or more per month

Thank you for your support! At this tier, you'll have access to insider updates charting the documentary's progress, plus "behind the scenes" writing detailing the research, stories, and content that didn't make it into each episode.

Credited Supporter
$5 or more per month

At this tier, you'll get the benefits of a supporter, plus:

  • Your name will be included in the end credits of every episode (for every month that you contribute)
Feature-Length Credited Supporter
$10 or more per month

At this tier, you'll get the benefits of a credited supporter, plus:

  • You'll receive access to one bonus video every month. These videos may include more footage of the grounds, longer excerpts from some interviews, or "making of" footage
  • Your name will be featured more prominently in the credits of each episode
  • You'll have your name featured in the end credits of the finished feature-length documentary
  • You'll get early access to the feature-length doc before it screens at film festivals