For more than 20 years, Chicago's not-for-profit arts organization Facets Multimedia has presented its Kids Summer Film Camp so that students ages 7 to 14 can learn all about the movies.
For many of those years I wondered why Facets hadn't expanded its film camp into the suburbs.
Now it has.
Facets will offer its immersive Kids Film Camp program at the Gorton Community Center, 400 E. Illinois Road, Lake Forest, June 12-16, and again at Benedictine University, 5700 College Road, Lisle, July 24-28,
The program operates like a cinematic boot camp, teaching kids the techniques, syntax, process and history of filmmaking. Through screenings, discussions and hands-on experience, participants develop critical approaches to the art form and learn the elements of film grammar and structure.
Then they work in teams to conceive, write, storyboard, act, light, shoot and direct their own short films, presented at a graduation ceremony on the last day of camp. Kids also learn how to critique films.
Facets founder and artistic director Milos Stehlik said the purpose of Facets Film Camp isn't just to inspire future filmmakers.
"Media literacy helps create critical thinkers, engaged citizens and creative doers," he said.
Stehlik founded Facets in the autumn of 1978 at the same time I became the Daily Herald's film critic. We have professionally grown up together.
So I know Stehlik has long been a critic of passive American media viewing habits.
"Suburban kids and young people need to own the language of cinema in order to navigate the sea of images around them," he said.
"When a kid starts playing with video on a phone at the age of 2, it's time to be alarmed. We don't need to create a nation of Disney zombies."
Disney zombies? See, what did I say?
This summer, Facets will also offer the Kids Summer Film Camp at its Chicago location, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave., along with other camps and programs.
The camp costs $500. Registration can be made at facets.org/academy or at (773) 281-9075, ext. 3037.
"I do have a secret wish," Stehlik said, "that perhaps the next Andrei Tarkovsky or Stanley Kubrick will come from Downers Grove or Lake Bluff."
Hey, that could happen.
• Dann Gire's Reel Life column runs Fridays in Time out!