It began back in 1997, and since then Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy Camp has given a host of fans the opportunity to live out their dreams of being in a rock band, assisted by mentors (or counselors) in the form of famous faces from bands such as The Who, Kiss, Guns N’ Roses, Judas Priest, and many more.
The concept of this fantasy camp sounds like a comedy sketch, and I genuinely didn’t believe it existed until I saw this documentary! In fact, you may be familiar with The Simpsons episode “How I Spent My Summer Vacation,” in which Homer and his pals attend Rock Camp and are mentored by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and the notion that these camps actually exist and have seen some 6,000 attendees since their inception is unbelievable! The idea of ordinary people being mentored by, and eventually performing, with huge names from the world of music seems completely insane, but this documentary ends up being an incredibly endearing look at the world of heavy rock and the huge passion exuded by everyone involved with these camps.
At the beginning, we meet David Fishof, a charismatic former sports agent turned music producer who started the Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy Camp, hilariously introduced riding a distinctly un-rock ‘n roll scooter. His previous careers left him with a fully loaded rolodex of contacts, who have helped bring this insane vision of everyday folk performing with rockstars, to life.
There’s plenty of appearances from well-known faces from the world of music, but the most wonderful thing about this charming documentary is the stories from those who attend the camps. They come from a variety of different backgrounds and all ages, genders, and races are welcome and represented. Their collaboration in the bands they form at Rock Camp result in a surprisingly utopian community where it doesn’t matter if your day job is an accountant or a business executive, for one weekend you can be a rock star!
Another idea that permeates through the documentary is the “have a go” manifesto of the fantasy camps. They welcome those of any ability and skill level, and even the well-known figures from huge bands are shown to make some mistakes and recall fondly how most of the time they barely knew what they were doing either. It creates a great sense of approachability, both to the camp and to the documentary as well. There’s immense talent on display of course, but also the sense that these are just ordinary people who find their solace and their escape in music, and use the camps as a way of living the dream they may otherwise have never had the opportunity to explore.
As you’d expect, there is a great soundtrack and this plus the infectious energy of those interviewed makes for a riveting documentary that succeeds in both entertaining and informing on a subject that perhaps not many people know about. It isn’t the most cinematic of documentaries, but it is a lot of fun, and I guarantee that by the end of it you will be looking up how you could be at the next camp!
Rock Camp – The Movie is available on VOD now.