Cameran Ford: The girl behind the lens


(Courtesy of Cameran Ford)

By Shaina Mandala

Cameran Ford leaves glitter in her wake—literally. A walking, talking “Euphoria” character in the body of a Tamalpais High School senior, Ford flaunts her eye gems, striped purple hair, and unapologetically rainbow outfits. Walking by her in the Tam High halls, you might feel her sticker-adorned journal and glittery eyeshadow radiating artistic energy; that intuition would be correct. 

Ford makes art in many mediums: paintings, drawings, and films. While her attractive energy might lead you to imagine Ford as a movie star, in actuality, you will find her buried in the pages of her screenwriting, behind the cameras, and immersed in Adobe Premiere’s video-editing software. After experiencing her award-winning directing, filming, and editing skills, it’s difficult not to wonder about the inner workings of her mind.

Ford has been exposed to and inspired by the industry since her adolescence. “I’ve been so lucky to have my dad always give me the filmmaking tools,” she said.  “Everything that I could possibly want.” As the daughter of a filmmaker, “Seeing that my dad made a film made it a little bit more reachable and tangible for me.” 

“In middle school [I wanted to] make content that everyone saw,” Ford said. “After many failed attempts to record myself speaking, I think I realized that I was more a behind-the-camera type person.” 

Although Ford doesn’t regularly play a character in her films, her sparkle is still evident through the screen. “It’s funny because I thought that I started making films freshman year. But the further I’ve looked back into iMovie … I’ve made films for a long time. I just found one I made in sixth grade that was an eight-minute black and white horror film with my neighbor,” Ford said. 

She said it’s difficult for her to determine when this hobby developed into a more significant part of her life. 

“I got really sick on my birthday freshman year. I had nothing to do and for some reason I decided to download [Adobe] Premiere editing software on my computer. I just started making edits, then I got sick of the edits and I wanted them to have a bit more story,” she said.  “I started making stuff where people are talking, then it’s like a story and it’s no longer just a compilation. And then it kind of just grew on itself. And I think it will keep growing.”

Ford keeps her creative juices flowing by being an artist of multiple mediums. “I always wanted to get up to AP drawing and painting. So I kind of had a path and now it’s really rewarding being a senior and being there,” she said. 

Simultaneously working on different pieces, Ford eventually combines her art and hits two birds (or more) with one stone. “I make so much stuff whether that’s like drawing, or sewing, or painting, or knitting, or making films. They all kind of interconnect,” Ford said. “I make paintings and then I come up with a story for the painting, and then maybe that develops into a film, or I do some drawings I really like, and then I integrate them.”

Mill Valley is the root of Ford’s blooming art and inspiration. “I think being in the same place my whole life has made me really bored. And that’s always led to just a creative outlet because it’s something you can always do,” she said. 

The people of Mill Valley and students of Tam have always caught Ford’s creative eye. She particularly missed seeing everyone’s outfits during quarantine.“A lot of the people here are very individualized,” she said, adding that it gives her “character inspiration.” 

“Recently I’ve heard some people say that they’re inspired by me, so I think at Tam it’s kind of just this big inspirational circle. It is a high school, but for me and the people I surround myself with it’s like a little artists community as well,” she said. 

As part of that community, Ford looks towards her fellow artists’ art to spark creative ideas. “I have this odd thing which I kind of hate where when [someone] makes something that’s really good I get upset because I want to have made that you know … So if someone makes something that I really like, that means that it’s also possible for me to make something like that.”

Ford also gathers inspiration from other prominent sources in her life. “I spend a lot of time on Instagram. I think it’s a good place for smaller creators to get large audiences, since I do tend to like things that are more independent and less like large productions,” she said, describing one of her go-tos. “When I really want to make something and I have no idea what to do it just starts with a song …I imagine a music video or story that goes along with it. It’s always a good starting point,” she said. Ford articulates her inspiration as a pile of little things to sift through, rather than a specific person or thing.

Joining Tam’s Academy of Integrated Humanities and Media (AIM) was a notable turning point for Ford. She wistfully recalls wanting to apply to AIM because that’s where “the artsy kids were,” but thinking she could not do it without her best friend, who wanted to go into the military. As her sophomore year continued, she built up the courage. “I turned in my AIM application [even] before the meeting, ” Ford said. 

Her eagerness secured her spot in the program the following year, and Ford immediately occupied herself with her film-loving peers.  “Ella Bogan, she was a senior at the time, and she’s kind of like me,” she said. “I worked with her and it made me realize, oh my god, someone who’s a year older than me is getting into [New York University] film school and is submitting to festivals, and doing all this stuff that I thought you only did when you were 30 and super successful … And so that just made me know that it was possible,” Ford said.

Mike Goldstein, the Documentary and Integrated Media teacher for AIM, has experienced Ford’s steady dedication and development within the art of filmmaking. “Thinking back to [Ford’s] first project in AIM, she came into the program with a strong sense of style and a passion for making videos. [She] consistently produces excellent films, and though her sense of style is apparent in each project she has produced, I’m most impressed with her sincere desire to grow as a filmmaker and as a person,” Goldstein said. “ Because of the consistent high quality of her work and the way she approaches each project as an opportunity, [Ford] has earned the respect of her peers, who regularly seek out [her] feedback on their own projects.” 

As AIM helped her develop as a writer, filmer, and editor, Ford’s shining talent began to get recognized. “The first thing that almost happened last year was my personal statement got submitted by the AIM teachers to win the student EMMY. It did not win, but that was exciting,” Ford said. Her acknowledgment only grew from there. Her first narrative film, “Control,” became her teacher’s favorite film during a summer film program.  

“I was in a class of all guys, and it was a film about eating disorders and women’s body issues,” she said, describing the film.  “I was terrified to even tell them that was my topic, so the fact that I got such a good response … I just felt like I do have a voice.” 

Control was entered into the All American High School Film Festival in 2021. 

“I went to New York and watched it in Times Square with a bunch of people in a fancy theater,” Ford said, visibly recalling the excitement and pride in herself. “The thing that made me the most happy out of all of my achievements was getting offered a full ride scholarship to [Savannah College of Art and Design] for film, and one of the people on the admissions reached out to me personally [to say] that out of the 10,000 things he reviews a year, mine was his favorite.”

Ford’s future seems to be rich with festivals, red carpets, and notable awards. While she doubts herself and her brilliant creations, the world sees her work as it is. “[I feel like] everyone sees me as the successful filmmaker-kid and I don’t even feel like I know what I’m doing,”  she said. “I don’t think it’s going to mean anything until I believe [it], but the little achievements definitely help.” 

Haden Dali, a highschool best friend and AIM project partner of Ford’s, recognizes her unique talent especially as her accomplishments advance. “I have watched [Ford’s] love for filmmaking, as well as her skills, grow over the past few years. I know she has a bright future ahead of her.”