Camping With Dad
Watch the Proof of Concept Trailer:
ID: Exterior, woods, day. Screen left - Dad, 60s, white male with white hair, wears a flannel shirt and cargo pants. On his back is an old blue hiking pack and he carries a yellow fishing box. He stares, forlorn, off screen left. Screen right - his son, Johnathan, mid 30s, wears jeans and a white undershirt. He squats in the grass, back to camera, pondering their predicament. Center screen - white text reads "Camping with Dad" with graphics of a tent and camper van.
A chronically ill man's manipulative father 'kidnaps' him on a disastrous camping trip meant to fix their relationship.
A feature-length dark dramedy.
We only know him as ‘Dad.’ He’s lonely and feels unappreciated… so he concocts a plan. Dad tells his son Jon he’ll need a ride back from a specialist doctor. It’s only after they’ve driven a couple of hours that Jon learns Dad is kidnapping him into the middle of nowhere to re-create a camping trip from 25 years ago.
Unfortunately, Jon’s been given an important project at work, one that is due on Monday. That doesn’t matter to Dad. He’s not turning around.
Everything goes wrong… as these trips do. But unlike the typical feel-good films of this genre, this trip doesn’t give the pair the tools they need to reconcile; it clarifies to Jon the toxicity of his Dad’s behavior forcing him to consider ending the relationship for his own mental health.
Camping with Dad explores the breakdown of the adult parental relationship on the most American father-son experience - the camping trip.
Camping With Dad is currently in the 'development' stage. The 96pg screenplay and proof of concept trailer (above) is being shopped around to producers, actors, and investors. Once a certain percentage of the budget is raised, we will be launching a crowdfunding campaign.
Camping with Dad is a deeply personal story. The only thing that makes this story not a “true story” is the plot. Many of the conversations Jon has with his dad is based on conversations I had with my dad. My story is not unique. One out of every ten people have cut ties with their parents. Many, like myself, suffer from disabilities like CPTSD, digestive intolerances, and other health issues caused by their trauma. It is time that this reality is represented on the big screen.
Coming out of the pandemic, everyone’s own family-dynamic issues have become far more clear. Many people are recognizing toxic behaviors they hadn’t been aware of before.
Tensions with relatives collectively in society is at an all-time high.
Yet finding stories of adult children leaving the relationship with their parents and putting their own mental health first is so rare, it could be considered nonexistent. Finding these stories that represent disabilities - doubly so. The oft-toxic myth that “family is everything” is the problematic unifying trope in this genre (Nebraska, Honey Boy, The Way). Where ongoing trauma is present in the relationships depicted on screen, this trope needs to shift. Feel-good movies are great, but these come at a cost.
People need a story they can point to that validates their struggles, that makes them feel like their experiences are acknowledged, and like their cries have been heard. People need a story that legitimizes the choice to set the ultimate boundary of no-contact to preserve their health and happiness. Other stories in this genre do the opposite, glorifying putting up with abuse, making jokes of passive-aggressive behavior, normalizing insults, ridicule, guilt-tripping, and shaming, all to find that fleeting moment of catharsis that would all fall apart after the credits.
I’m a sucker for sentimental, feel-good movies. But stories that convince you that if you just love enough, give enough, or put up with enough, the toxicity will stop, depict a dangerous lie. Camping with Dad shows why that is so harmful.