“Put the Camera On Me”
A Personal Documentary
Filmmaker Darren Stein went through his personal archives to put together this collection of home videos which document his formative years which eventually defined his adult persona. He began making films at the age of seven using the kids in his neighborhood as actors. He made home movies about such topics as the Holocaust as well as his own erotic fantasies. “Put the Camera On Me” is his statement about his latent homosexuality as a youth and hw it manifested itself when he grew to adulthood.
“Put the Camera On Me” makes you laugh and keeps a smile on your face. His youthful films were filled with sophistication and dealt with ideas that most children don’t think of. They are twisted and bizarre, enchanting and hilarious. They give a look at a young filmmaker and his motivations and ability to use a camera. He doesn’t just use the camera, he manipulates it and in manipulating the camera, he manipulates the audience.
When Stein talks about his young homosexuality, we remember the hints we see of it in his early movies. We look back at the 1980’s with no commercialism and we remember what was going on at the time—it’s a trip down memory lane even though the films themselves have quite dark themes—child abuse, the Holocaust, nuclear war, sexual fantasy, and social dysfunction.
The movie is actually a complex glimpse at the psychology of children and gives interesting insights into the development of adults and artists. The power of the film is the way Stein pulls everything together and shows both adults and kids reflecting on the same ideas. From the very beginning of the film we can see a gay boy emerging and trying to understand himself. We also see the artistic mind and personality of the child and the man.
Another thing about this movie which is totally amazing is that it shows that people can grow up unharmed by social conventions. It is a portrait of unforced emotions and shows that it is possible to have a happy childhood. The imagination of a child always fascinates and here we see human nature captured by cameras.