Jacob Medjuck Returns to Summer Camp with 'Summerhood'

Published: November 18th 2010
in Culture » Movies

Jacob Medjuck
Pic: Photo courtesy of Fields Communications
"Summerhood" poster
Pic: Photo courtesy of Fields Communications

What would you do if you stumbled across your camp diary from when you were 10? You’d probably read it, or maybe even share it with your buddies. Jacob Medjuck took things a step further. When the Canadian filmmaker came across his diary of his days at Camp Kadimah, he decided to turn those memories into a feature film. 


Medjuck chats with Shalom Life about his celebrated debut, Summerhood, now playing at AMC Yonge and Dundas until Nov. 25. Part of the movie’s proceeds go to local charities.


You’ve been working in animation for years. What drew you to live action?


Animating was a dream I had since childhood. But I always wanted to direct live action too. All my life I thought there was a difference. For years I thought I'd have to choose one or the other. And then I realized... a script doesn't care if it's animated or live action. A script only cares about story, and character. Animation taught me all sorts of tricks to tell a story visually. Cinematography, framing. Moving into live action was a thrill. It's all the same tools... but you need to use them faster. (And of course it';s great to be able to interact with a film crew, in animation one can disappear behind a pencil for weeks!!). 


What do you miss most about camp and what could you do without?


I miss the pace of discovery. Every day was a "first." First kiss. First dance. First friends. I miss the kind of friendship I had growing up. We were like brothers in arms, war. We'd do anything for each other. Being grown-up is empowering. I'm less nervous. Far more confident. But so much now is about being practical, right? Whereas camp was a minute by minute adventure! I miss that. I don't miss the mosquitoes. Mosquitoes thought I was delicious... 


You’ve screened the movie at festivals around the world. Why do you think it strikes a chord with people? 


Authenticity. That's 100 per cent the reason. We played in Italy, subtitled - no one could understand English. And you can see from this video that it was a great show. Everyone was 10 years old at one point. And we all share the tension and traumas of hope and heartache. I love that. It unifies. Either you were 10, or you are 10. And it connects. (...and of course the music rocks.) 


Fetus is quite the character. How long did it take to cast for the role?


Fetus was hard to find. His character is the story of my life, literally. So it was personal to me to find an actor who would entertain and make me seem like less of a knob at that age. I also wanted to make sure we could find a kid who could carry a film - and after thousands of auditions, we found him in Brooklyn. Lucian Maisel was nine or 10 and doing stand-up in New York. He blew us away. He made the film his own... what a performance. 


What was it like filming at your camp?


If you ever get to write a movie about your childhood and film it the summer camp you grew up at... I highly recommend it! What a rush of nostalgia. It made the whole shoot more meaningful. (and Kosher, thanks Camp Kadimah). We shot the kissing scenes where they actually took place, the whole movie is special to me. I'm touched that it means so much to people who've never even been to camp. I think maybe it fulfills that missing memory. It's like we all were there. 


Have any of your camp friends seen the movie? What did they think?


Related articles: (Summerhood, movie, Jacob Medjuck, camp, John Cusack)
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