I recently had the opportunity to interview Jeffrey Simon who’s the amazing creator of the series entitled “Camp Abercorn.” The show’s premise: What happens when a gay “Eagle Guide” turns 18? One of the many stories in a series about camp staff.
You can enjoy our interesting Q and A and watch the series trailer below, and be sure to check out Jeffrey’s Kickstarter campaign as well.
1. What’s the story behind you wanting to develop “Camp Abercorn” into a web series?
I was a Boy Scout for 16 years. I’m an Eagle Scout, a Vigil honor member of the Order of the Arrow. I spent three summers working on Boy Scout Camp Staff. It was my life.
I learned more from the Boy Scouts than any other institution. From my first leadership position at age twelve as patrol leader to my two years serving as Lodge chief, I learned that running an organization is messy; that not everybody agrees, especially on matters of morality and family values. I learned to voice my opinion strongly while respecting the positions of others. I learned to be self-reliant. I was surrounded by friends—brothers—who taught me when to speak with my heart and when it was best to keep my mouth shut. You could argue that in many ways I learned how to be gay.
I am in awe of what activist organizations like Scouts for Equality and their LGBT allies have done and are still doing to bring change to the BSA. Boycotts and activism can go far to change policy, but no amount of lecturing can change people. What can change people are stories. What can change hearts and minds are stories.
Through Camp Abercorn, I hope to inspire a new generation to take interest in scouting, remind veteran scouts and scouters how special camp is, and prove how the Boy Scouts can remain relevant in a modern America.
2. Who are your core team members involved with this project, and how did you attract them to join you on this journey?
Meg is this incredibly talented artist who can honestly do anything. She’s funny and smart and just makes everything better. We’ve been friends since college and decided a little over a year ago that we wanted to write something together. When we were brainstorming the idea of camp came up. I immediately said, “we’re going to write a show about Boy Scout camp staff.” And that was it.
We wrote a pilot episode and it was pretty solid, but I knew it needed more so I called up Matt.
Sometimes I think it’s just luck. At least I know I got really lucky. Matt Andrews (my Executive Producer) is incredible, and honestly I’d be lost without him.
We were both working together on a stop motion film together a while back and started talking about making something of our own together. WHAT to write took a little longer (there’s an idea for a musical, too), but we both knew we wanted to produce something.
I brought idea of Camp Abercorn to Matt and he loved it. The three of us have been doing this together for the love of it for over a year now.
I may be the face that you see talking about Boy Scouts and all that, but it’s all of our words. All of our ideas.
3. Why did you decide to do a crowdfunding campaign to raise capital for the project?
I like to think of Camp Abercorn as a project for all Boy Scouts. Going to the community both fits the message of the show as well as allows us to have “Final Cut” if you will. This is very important to me considering the sensitive subjects we’re discussing.
Crowdfunding is also the best option because of it’s marketing potential. Every contributor is a guaranteed viewer, so we’d already have an audience once the show airs.
4. What are the core goals for the series?
I want to make a show about camp staff that makes everybody want to work on a camp staff. To me it’s an experience unlike anything in the world. Having quality staff members means having a quality program for our youth and that’s what the Boy Scouts is really about—building men of character.
The obvious answer here is to fix the Boy Scouts membership policies. The BSA has effectively put an expiration date on our youth’s sexual orientation. It’s okay to be gay while you’re young and naive, but once you turn 18 you better straighten out or get out.
But with Camp Abercorn I hope to redirect the conversation away from executives in fancy offices and bring it back to the values of scouts and importance of camp as a place to explore your possibilities in life.
5. What have been your biggest challenges and struggles to date?
Funding. It’s as simple as that. We knew we had a good idea, but also knew that it was going to take a lot of effort to convince the world that we deserved their hard earned cash. That’s why we’ve taken so long to even get to the point of starting our Indiegogo campaign. Having our ducks in a row was so important.
6. How do you manage the project’s work flow?
Everything is about story for us. We spend a ton of time writing before we talk to anybody else.
It all starts with brainstorming sessions. We use only simultaneous editing software since there are three of us in three different places. We start by doing our breakdowns in Trello, then migrate to writing the actual scripts in Google Docs, and eventually to Final Draft for formatting and PDF creation.
As far as the actual filming process goes, we hired a thirty person crew. We had a casting director, held auditions, all of that.
I really respect the different aspects of the filmmaking process and the intricacies of each job. I wouldn’t dream of filming a web series without a qualified makeup artist, for example. Our production is run like any professional shoot. That’s really important in order to get the best work out of our actors and crew.
7. Do you have any tips or insights for producing a web series?
Web series have a bad connotation today. We’re taking the approach of making a show for the internet that’s comparable (as best we can make it) to a network or cable show.
Tips from us? Just go out and make something. But plan it out. Take your time with it. Don’t rush into anything. That’s where we’re coming from at least. It’s been over a year for us and we’re just now starting to fundraise!
8. Where do you see the rapidly evolving web series space in 5 years years from now?
Hopefully we see some better stories. There are a lot of comedy shows, but very few web series pride themselves on their storytelling abilities. Television isn’t going anywhere yet, but it will. There’s already a shift into on-demand. Scheduled programming (apart from live events like sports) aren’t appealing to the incredible busy public.
9. Is there a trailer we can see for Camp Abercorn yet, and when can we expect to see Season 1?
Assuming all goes well with the crowdfunding campaign we’ll get to filming right away this fall. We’ll keep you updated, but be on the lookout early 2015.
We thank Jeffrey for his insightful answers, and wish him and his team all the best going forward. And a special kudos to Matt Andrews who helped to make this interview happen!
Enjoy this interview?! Great! Then subscribe to our blog via email as we will be doing more of these fun interviews in the future with other amazingly talented video creators, filmmakers, actors, writers, directors, animators, and producers.
And if you are a web series, TV, short film or feature film creator or producer and want your story and content featured here, then reach out to us and lets discuss.