Rock Camp: The Movie is a wildly entertaining documentary about a place that seems like it would be a lot of fun. David Fishof is a former sports agent who got the idea to do something in the music business as well. His insight was to create an experience where amateur musicians could spend a few days jamming with some of the most accomplished rock stars around. His Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp started slow in 1996, then grew into something that now occurs in multiple cities every year.
Early scenes in the movie have Fishof discussing the origins of his project. Then it moves into amazing footage of what it's like to be there. Some is archival video, some shot during an actual Rock Camp session by directors Douglas Blush and Renee Barron. A wide array of rock royalty is on display, including (but certainly not limited to) Roger Daltry, Joe Perry, Slash, Clarence Clemmons, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS, Meat Loaf, Dave Mustaine, and Joe Walsh. That's just a small sampling of the famous faces who have served as mentors.
Several rockers -- including Simmons, Alice Cooper, and Heart's Nancy Wilson -- are interviewed on-camera about their time at the camp. What they unanimously agree on is that it's meaningful to connect with other musicians without all the trappings of being in the business (worrying about record sales, tour numbers, etc.). Paul Stanley and The Firm's Tony Franklin are shown extensively working with the camp attendees. It's nice to see how down-to-earth they are, encouraging them and happily sharing their expertise. Clearly, both sides get something from participating.
Rock Camp spends additional time letting us get to know individuals who have paid to take part in the event. People like Scott, who gave up his rock-and-roll dreams to take care of his special needs son and now treats himself to an annual visit. Or Blake, an autistic teenager with prodigious guitar skills who has learned to socialize by being part of the camp's groups. We come to understand just what the fantasy camp means to them, as well as how it brings important benefits to their lives.
For anyone with an interest in rock music, Rock Camp: The Movie is a treat to watch. The film allows us to see another side of our favorite musicians, plus an opportunity to experience the camp vicariously. Fast-moving, funny, and sometimes touching, this is about as good an encapsulation of what rock-and-roll means to fans as you're likely to find.
out of four
Rock Camp: The Movie is unrated, but contains brief adult language. The running time is 1 hour and 27 minutes.