Coen Campers

Hey, Campers!

11 million people go to summer camp every year; it’s certainly no surprise to discover the loads upon loads of famous folks who were once summer campers just like you. Celebrities, such as athletes, entrepreneurs, musicians, and actors, have all been spotlighted on our Blog’s ‘Celebrities at Summer Camp’ posts. Film directors are often considered celebrities as well.
This successful duo once had summer camp days.
You know what film directing duo attended summer camp? The Coen Brothers! That’s right! The makers of such popular movies as ‘Fargo’ and ‘O Brother Where Art Thou’ were once campers at Camp Herzl, a Jewish camp that sits on 120 acres in Webster, Wisconsin on the shores of Devil’s Lake. There, the boys spent a number of summers with other campers and staff from all over the country and beyond, learning about community as well as themselves.

The boys had great childhoods, growing up in St. Louis Park, a Minnesotan suburb in Minneapolis. When Ethan’s older brother, Joel, saved up enough money which he was earning from mowing lawns, he bought a Vivitar Super 8 camera for him as his brother to play with. It quickly became their new favorite toy!

They loved recreating movies they’d seen on TV, starring their neighborhood friend, Mark Zimering or “Zeimers” as they called him.

The brothers both attended and graduated from St. Louis Park High School—Joel in 1973 and Ethan in 1976. The two also attended and graduated the same college—Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. However, the seemingly inseparable duo went their separate ways after college.

Joel went off for four years in the undergraduate film program at New York University while Ethan went to Princeton University where he earned an undergraduate degree in philosophy.
After their schooling had come to an end, Joel and Ethan wrote and directed their very first commercial film together in 1984.

Making joint films, the brothers share film credits for editor under the alias ‘Roderick Jaynes’—a made-up name with no real meaning behind it. The Coen brothers have received nominations for twelve Academy Awards together, as well as individual nominations separately. They’ve won Best Original Screenplay as well as Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The Coen brothers have been into filmmaking since their childhood. What are you into? Let summer camp help find that out for you and, as always, thanks for reading.

-  John

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