A look into the future of film . . . Brought to you by young 4-H filmmakers

By Rachel Bynum
Budding producer Nicholas Plaksin, 11, right, with his brother, Isaac. 4-H Film Club member Nicholas has been learning filmmaking since age 7. By Rachel Bynum

The patience of an angel and precision of a miniaturist are needed to make stop-motion videos. Nicholas Plaksin, 11, used both to produce short videos that will screen during the 4-H Youth Hour —  along with the work of other Rappahannock youngsters — at the Film Festival at Little Washington on Sunday, April 10 at 3 p.m.

“When I started, most of my films had about 100 shots, but the more recent ones I’ve made have about 400 or more,” said Plaksin, who learned filmmaking at the age of seven and is a member of Rappahannock’s 4-H Film Club.

“I don’t usually write a script. I play it by ear so the sound and conversation is realistic and spontaneous. I have to try again and again to get it the way I want it,” said Plaksin, who finished editing his entry despite a broken arm.

“Today’s youth will all learn to make videos as naturally as our parents wrote letters,” said Jenny Kapsa, 4-H Coordinator for Rappahannock County. “Video production is an invaluable skill for our youth and that’s why we’re hosting this video youth hour.“   

The 4-H Youth Hour includes short videos of all kinds: stop motion, news reports, school productions, visual poems, comedy skits and even a film with video game characters.   

Max Martin, also 11, produced a video in real time sitting in his living room in Sperryville while recording a friend playing the same video game in Front Royal.

“My experience of filmmaking is you don’t have to have fifty people with you, you don’t even need two, you can do it as a single person and it can still be really great,” said Martin.

Several Rappahannock businesses are featured in the shorts. Andrea Payette, 13, granddaughter of the owners of Gray Ghost Winery produced a film about the Virginia Chutney Company in Flint Hill.    

“I loved learning about the chutney-making process, it reminded me of my grandparents making wine,” said Payette. “I was impressed by the cleanliness of their facility. I thought I was in a doctor’s office, it was so clean.”

Payette also produced a humorous video about the trials of being a teen. “Putting together this video for the 4-H Youth Hour has been an awesome opportunity to explore my talents in the world of the arts. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing, acting and editing this video,” said Payette.

Students from Belle Meade and Hearthstone schools produced videos about the philosophy of learning that underpins their education. Beverly Eborn interviewed international students at Wakefield Country Day School about their astute and hilarious impressions of the U.S. And Hearthstone’s high schoolers made a short about their mascot—you’ll learn more about a hamster than you could imagine!  

The 4-H Youth Hour is executive produced by Stephanie Slewka, a Woodville filmmaker, who also heads the 4-H film club. The youth hour is free to all who attend.

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