Pursuing their silver screen dreams in an age of pandemic, 4-H youth from 17 states — including eight from Missouri — gathered online the first weekend of August for FilmFest 4-H. Now in its 10th year, this national film festival celebrated its decade-long run with the film industry workshops and youth-produced films it is known for.
Los Angeles-based actress Linara Washington shared strategies from her career working on TV series like “NCIS” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” and in films alongside Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini.
“This business is tough, with more no’s than yes’s,” Washington told 4-H’ers during the live video-conferencing call. “Surround yourself with people who believe in you and stay connected with them.”
From New York, Emmy-winning producer Matthew C. Mills helped youth understand film industry roles ranging from interns to executive producers, sharing career advice from his work with companies like HBO, MTV, CBS, and Food Network. Producer Chad Freidrichs taught youth how to secure archival footage for documentaries, using methods that are professional and legal.
This year also featured the first FilmFest 4-H Screenplay Challenge, with youth submitting scripts that were evaluated by LA-based writer-producer Marlana Hope of “Friday Night Lights” and “The Kicks.” After her screenwriting workshop, Hope surprised animation winner Eileen Shafer of Jefferson City, Missouri, with a surprise appearance by actors Erin Cayhill (“Power Rangers,” “Red Widow”) and Mark Gagliardi (CBS’ “Blood and Treasure”) who read her screenplay live.
“Mark and Erin truly brought the characters to life, even better than I had envisioned,” Shafer said. “The whole time they were performing I kept thinking, ‘Wow, this is really happening!’”
Through the support of the Missouri 4-H Foundation and partnership with the Missouri Film Office, FilmFest 4-H has engaged over 550 youth from 28 states over the last 10 years, said state 4-H specialist Bradd Anderson. Among them was Emmy Beck-Aden, who returned this year to share tips on planning the next career steps in high school and college. Now a media production major at High Point University, Beck-Aden serves as communications director for a North Carolina senate campaign, director of news for a student-run broadcast, and is directing a documentary. She credits FilmFest 4-H for launching her on her current career path.
This year’s participants hailed from Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas.
Missouri winners and participants were:
Audience Favorite (three-way tie): Ellie Jones from the Wentzville 4-H club in St. Charles County, for “Jessi & Jason’s Wedding Video”
Animation: Eileen Shafer from the Clover Crusaders in Cole County, for “Hiss”
One-Minute Movie: Malachi Mitchell with 4-H Youth Futures club in Jackson County, for “The Drummer” and Gage Casanover of St. Peters, Missouri, for “Are You Ready Yet”
Other Missouri participants were:
- Kaycie Hollrah of the Point Prairie 4-H Club in St. Charles County
- Jarius Henville of the Camden County Creative Kids 4-H Club in Camden County
- Wesley Hubler of the Town and Country 4-H Club in Clay County
- Teresa Morgan of Sunrise Beach
For many, involvement in FilmFest starts with their initial exposure to a 4-H club project. For instance, Mitchell took graphic design and film-making projects as part of his 4-H Youth Futures experience. Now he is headed to college, planning to major in graphic design.
“Being part of 4-H Youth Futures has helped Malachi reach his goal. He is very dedicated to his craft and has grown over the last two years from knowing nothing about college to being fully prepared today,” said club leader Isha Williams.
“I am so proud that we had such a successful transition to an online event,” said Missouri Film Office Director Andrea Sporcic, who created the event with Anderson in 2011. “It was fun to see the enthusiasm translate through computer screens and the connections being made.”
Other FilmFest 2020 top finishers by category are:
Acrylic by Savannah Loving (Arkansas 4-H)
Solar Oven S’mores by Savannah Loving (Arkansas 4-H)
Hello Sunshine Baking Show by Amariah Hier (Montana 4-H)
My Lego 4-H Year by Abigail Kailukatis (Texas 4-H)
2020 GGLead Promotional Video by the National 4-H GIS/GPS Leadership Team (National 4-H)
Join 4-H! by Carl Rozanos (Illinois 4-H)
History in a Nutshell by Colton Loving (Arkansas 4-H)
Voices of 4-H History
The 4-H Victory Garden Revival by Ashtyn Perryman (Florida 4-H)
Moving Manila Forward Shapes the Future of its Community by Davis Smith (Arkansas 4-H)
Inspiring 4-H Archers by Riley Peterson (Nebraska 4-H)
Behind the Scenes at an Artisan Bakery by Nicole Targosz (California 4-H)
Counting Cows by Abree Perryman (Florida 4-H)
Indiana Jesse by Jesse Tyre (Georgia 4-H)
Too Many Zucchini by Mason Deen (New Mexico 4-H)
Journey in July by Andrew Donlan (Nebraska 4-H)
Kiss Your Mummy Goodnight by Nash Milton (Texas 4-H)
Audience Favorite – Three-Way Tie!
The Counselor by Anna Dalrymple (Ohio 4-H)
Steve & Alex In: Too Much of a Good String! by Landon Ingersoll (Nevada 4-H)