Camp RED is the brainchild of RED’s Ted Schilowitz, the company’s first employee and frequent spokesperson. Schilowitz says he was discussing summer plans for his own children with his wife when the idea struck him: "We have the movie studio now, we have the cameras. I wonder if it’s possible for us to run a summer camp on the lot for kids?"His pitch to colleagues was simple. "I’ve got this idea, Camp RED," Schilowitz recalls, "and they all go, ‘You have to do it!’ So then I talk to Jim [Jannard, RED’s owner and founder] about it, and he’s, like, ‘You should totally do it!’"
Schilowitz and his team put the word out via RED’s website, and the response was overwhelming, with kids from all over the world signing up to attend. Suddenly, Schilowitz had to figure out just what Camp RED would be. "We had literally no idea what we were doing or if it was going to work at all," he recalls.
Schilowitz recruited RED’s Brian Henderson to head up the logistics and codirect the project, and the two decided to treat Camp RED as an extension of their existing REDucation program, which teaches film and television professionals the ins and outs of shooting with the RED system—in essence, Camp RED would treat kids like adults, allowing them hands-on experience with state-of-the-art motion-picture equipment.
For this first foray, the team settled on a schedule of three weeklong sessions of camp. The first two weeks would be a day camp based at RED’s own historic studio in Hollywood, formerly Ren-Mar Studios (where I Love Lucy and other classic shows were shot), while the third week would be a sleepover at a camp in Malibu. The first two sessions would be open enrollment, while the sleepover camp would require attendance at one of the first two sessions as a prerequisite.
Although Camp RED was intended to give kids a grown-up filmmaking experience, like any other summer camp, Camp RED would need counselors to help manage and care for the young filmmakers. Turning to the YMCA, Schilowitz and Henderson were able to enlist a group of film students who went through the YMCA’s standard camp counselor training and vetting procedures.