Fred Kaplan

Documentary Film-maker

Prescott College AffiliationAlumni
Area of StudyDocumentary Media and Production
Graduation Year2010
Area of ExpertiseDocumentary Film-making, Video Production
BusinessSecond Sight Productions
LocationLos Angeles, California

Laid off twice in one year from the commercial television industry, Fred Kaplan enrolled in Prescott College’s Limited-Residency Undergraduate Program knowing that he wanted to do more with his skills as a video designer, editor, and producer than pay his mortgage. While making his first solo documentary on a venerable children’s summer camp in Northern California in a mentored study course, Fred discovered Friends of the Los Angeles River and their storied struggle to reclaim the river for millions of Angelinos who, like Fred, had seen it only through chain-link fence. For his Senior Project, Fred filmed, wrote, edited, and produced a 30-minute video called "The River Under the City of Angels" in which prominent community leaders, scientists, artists, and activists tell the river’s story and offer a vision for a revitalized community of people and wildlife living on the banks of its greatest natural resource.

Before the ink was dry on Fred's diploma, "The River Under the City of Angels" was carrying him into the life work he'd dreamed of. His film has been screened at the 2010 FILManthropy Festival, the 2011 San Francisco Green Film Festival, and many fundraising events for Friends of the Los Angeles River. The documentary received the Best Sustainable Practices Award at the 2010 Green Screen Environmental Film Festival and Fred was named Best Director for Short Documentary at the 2011 FirstGlance Film Fest, Hollywood, CA. "The River" has been seen in 39 countries and continues to attract donors and supporters to the Friends of the Los Angeles River's cause. It can be viewed in its entirety online at Second Sight Productions, Fred's video production company.

Fred credits "the mentor-pupil relationships that were the core of my Prescott College education" for modeling how film-making and content creation are done today: through "the continuous exploration" of ideas and collaboration with others. "Beside providing the framework for my film," Fred writes, "Prescott's mandate of social justice and community involvement shaped my approach to the subject matter, the Los Angeles River. I have been working with an assortment of non-profit agencies as their voice to a broader audience."