The Call to California

Camille Thoman ’93
From her early days in the Spence Lower School, Camille Thoman ’93 loved to direct. During after-school play dates, she would direct short plays using her friends as actors. As she got older, Camille continued to be very involved in the arts. She sang in the Spence Glee Club, danced in Dance Company and acted onstage. “I was always very dedicated to that aspect of my education,” she reflected about her performance experience at Spence. Today, her lifelong passion for performing arts has blossomed into a successful directing career in Los Angeles.

After attending the University of Bristol in the UK, Camille did performance art in spaces throughout England, including the Young Vic and BAC. After returning to the US, Camille supported herself by editing reality TV shows. When she got the opportunity to move to Los Angeles in 2007, she leapt at it. “California had been calling to me for a while,” Camille recalls. After moving to the movie capital of the world to pursue a full-time film career, Camille did not anticipate the source of her next inspiration: Vermont.

During a 2010 trip to see family, Camille was invited by her mother to play paddle tennis—an outdoor game similar to tennis. It was at a Vermont “paddle hut” where Camille first met Hal, Charlie and Maurie, three men in their late 80s who play together every day at 1 p.m. Walking out after the game, she recalls her mother telling her that she should do a short film on the three men. However, Camille was truly inspired. “It turned into a full-length documentary,” The Longest Game. The documentary went on to receive many awards at festivals and will be released later this year.

Today, Camille is in post-production for her next film, You Were Never Here, a thriller she wrote and directed, starring Sam Shepard and Mireille Enos.

She says that Spence is still a huge part of her life, and that many of her best friends to this day are her Spence classmates. Camille also adds that, in her professional life, her work with James Coleman and Catherine Luening at Spence had an influence on her career by starting her on her artistic path and encouraging her passion. She counts Dance Company among her fondest memories. “Spence will always be a part of my identity, formative in every way.”