In shooting ROWS last summer we proved that cornfields are good for more than just bio-fuels and high fructose corn syrup.  We also found out a surprising amount of film activity percolating in Harford County. The megabucks Netflix political thriller series House of Cards is building a virtual D.C. in Harford.  I wonder where Kevin Spacey and David Fincher will go out to eat?

Harford County has grown a lot in exurbian population, and many residents commute to Baltimore for work and the occasional cultural fix.  But Harford’s own culture camp followers are colonizing and setting up shop.  Martha Valentine and the Harford County Cultural Arts Board are doing great work.  Rebecca Jessop and the Town of Bel Air Film Festival are building an excellent fall event.

Independent film projects are popping up, including a savvy High School Wrestling tale, The Hardest Six, and Until Death Do Us Apart, a zombie mash-up from Harford’s I Know A Guy, LLC .

The production of Rows last summer generated a unique bonding experience, and many cast and crew expressed a warm feeling of having gone through a “summer camp.”  Along with the professional people involved, a number of students and interns worked on the film.  Harford Film Camp was born out of this shared experience. Since I am a teacher, screenwriter, and filmmaker, creating Harford Film Camp was a natural.

Harford Film Camp is an outdoorsy guerilla filmmaking summer camp aimed at teens with an interest in digital media, filmmaking, acting, and storytelling.  For summer 2012, we do two 2-week sessions. In each session we create a script, shoot, and finish a short film, using imagination, cameras, and the resources at hand.  It’s like a 48-hour film contest that lasts two weeks.  In the process, everybody gets a chance to rotate through crew positions and focus on their special interests.  It’s going to be crazy, I can’t wait!

Harford County has a lot of cool stuff, including the Mason Dixon Line, more cornfields, and its own Area 51, aka Aberdeen Proving Ground.  The cultural arts community in Harford also has the nascent Center for the Arts, now housed in Tudor Hall, the historic Booth Family home, where John Wilkes used to hang out plotting ways to advance his acting career.

The Harford County Center for the Arts is promoting a major initiative to build a regional arts center in Harford County.  After all the growth and development in this once agricultural bastion, we hope that the political and financial powers that be can throw their weight enthusiastically behind this essential initiative.

Harford County is well represented in fine art, dance, theater, and orchestral productions. We’ve got Hollywood, Zombies, a film festival, and Harford Film Camp for Pete’s sake!  The county needs a home for local and visiting productions, and a central hub for the arts. Culture is what will move Harford to the next level and expand its identity beyond the cozy but inadequate label of “bedroom community.”