Danny Cameron has good karma. His film,”Karmaand a Little Bit of Love,”won first place in the college division of the West Virginia International Film Festival, held May 1-4 in Charleston.
Set to an uplifting classical piece by Camille Saint-Saens (from the opera Samson and Delilah), and lasting approximately seven minutes,”Karma”contains action, suspense, drama and even bits of comedy. The lighthearted, black-and-white, silent picture uses split-screen effects that add to the action.
“There’s something for every human being,”Cameron said of”Karma,”which was filmed in Morgantown in six hours using a personal digital camera.
This was the first time Cameron, who has only made three films in his life including”Karma,”entered a competition.
“Being my senior year, it was my last chance to get into a student film competition, so I made the film especially for the competition,”he said.”When I won I was shocked. I didn’t expect to win.”
Before enrolling in WVU , Cameron attended college at Bluefield State College in his hometown, where he majored in at least six different subjects but couldn’t find the right concentration. He knew he wanted to be a filmmaker, but the college didn’t have a film program.
After dropping out of college, he spent a year reflecting on his ambitions and thinking about his future.
“I thought about moving to Hollywood,”he said.”But after seeing the successes of Kevin Smith and Peter Jackson, I realized that you don’t have to go to Hollywood to be a filmmaker.”
While still unable to find a life path or program of study that excited him, Cameron did make one major life decision.
“My girlfriend, Heather, was at WVU ,”he said.”I knew I wanted to be with her, so we got married and I applied to WVU .”
Once accepted, he chose to focus on English since it allowed him to use his creative thinking and to develop story ideas. And, more of his credits transferred into English than into other areas.
“I’m terrible with words,”Cameron admits.”I have horrible grammar, and I’m terrible at writing things down. I like to think. I like to visualize.”
Through visualizing, he developed”Karma”from a classical music CD he received about three years ago. In December 2002, while thinking about entering the film competition, his attention focused on one song in particular.
“The Saint-Saens music stood out to me,”he said.”I’d play it over and over, and I could see the story laying out in my mind-a thief story.”
Transforming a vision into a finished product is not always easy. Nature postponed his scheduled film shoot during President’s Day weekend by blanketing the area with mounds of snow and shutting down virtually the entire state of West Virginia.
Having a vision in mind and the desire to translate his idea into a completed film, Cameron rescheduled the cast (which includes his wife, Heather) at the earliest possible time.
What he hadn’t counted on was that the Saturday early in March was already set aside by the city of Morgantown to celebrate”Chocolate Lovers Day,”an all-day event sponsored by local businesses and the town.
“The activities going on around town ended up giving even more life to the film,”Cameron commented.”And everyone was really kind.”
From the trolley driver, who drove by especially for a scene in the movie, to a car dealer in Sabraton, who let him use a sports car off his lot, and the cast, who worked for nothing, Cameron felt that everyone had a”good positive outlook the whole day.”
“It was really karma at work,”he said.”There was all this energy. It felt really positive. Very upbeat and happy, and that comes through in the film.”
“The whole experience illustrated the premise of the film-when you do good and have a positive outlook on life, good things come back to you.”
While he imagined the story, filmed and edited the project himself, Cameron credits the cast and others involved with making the movie-and the positivity they brought to the project-with making a film that took on a greater depth and turned out even better than he visualized.
“It wasn’t me who made the film,”he said.”The film made itself. Elements came together in such a way that it was better than I even imagined.”
“The award gives me greater credibility as a filmmaker,”he said.”I’d like to take the $240 I won from the festival and produce a bigger project.”
Cameron currently edits videos at Blackwater Video Productions and plans to remain in Morgantown. He wants to film in West Virginia to show crews and filmmakers outside the state that great films can be made in West Virginia.
“West Virginia has everything-a lot of mountains, flat lands, some run-down places and amazingly beautiful landscapes,”he said.
“I want to make a West Virginia film that doesn’t seem like a West Virginia movie,”he said.”We have a unique cultural heritage and music, but it seems like that’s all filmmakers focus on. The state has so much to offer. I want others to know that we have so much more to offer the film industry.”
“If someone in the state produces something good, it reflects on all of us,”Cameron said.”West Virginia has the ability to grow and we need to help nourish that growth. I want to be here to watch it grow and to help in the process.”
Cameron is planning on filming another movie in the near future. Anyone interested in taking part, whether interested in acting, set design or other aspects, call Danny Cameron at 304-291-6581 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.