Teen Filmmakers Exhibit and Learn at 2015 FilmFest 4-H – article plus photo

The following story is from the July 2015 issue of the 4-H History Preservation Newsletter

This national 4-H film festival, in its 5th year, and the new “Map Your 4-H History, described above,” are examples of “Contemporary 4-H History:” programs which are now creating 4-H history.

Director/actor role plays “getting into the moment” with attendees at FilmFest 4-H last month in St. Louis.

Director/actor role plays “getting into the moment” with attendees
at FilmFest 4-H last month in St. Louis.

Teenage filmmakers from 14 states exhibited 24 youth-produced films at this year’s FilmFest 4-H in St. Louis, June 14-17. Teens and leaders participated in the educational programs at the festival which included viewing on an actual theater screen and discussing the teen-produced films and joining in a series of workshops conducted by film industry professionals.

Among the many highlights:

  • Special pre-release screenings of “Bat Kid” and “Marshall the Miracle Dog;”
  • Director Jay Kanzler and Actors Bill Chott,Cyndi Willenbock and the star ‘Marshall the Miracle Dog’ demonstrated taking the film from conception to the screen;
  • Erica Ibsen, 4-H alum from Montana shared her experience of working as an actress in Hollywood;
  • Patrick Voss of VFX Productions and his team showed participants what they do with creature creation and sculpture to digital animation to create special effects for movies and television;
  • Jeff Lewis, makeup artist and six-time Emmy nominee put youth into the role of the makeup artist; and
  • Trish Seifried, animal trainer, taught youth how to prepare their own dog or cat for a starring role.

The 24 films were pre-selected by judges to be viewed at the festival in five categories: Narrative, 4-H Promotional, Animation, “Voices of 4-H History,” and Documentary. The top three in each category were recognized during the program along with a vote for the audience favorite.

According to Tom Tate, the History Team’s representative at the festival, “2015 FilmFest 4-H prepared future leaders to communicate more effectively in changing times.” An attending adult said “From my perspective as a mom and as a 4-H advisor, this was the best 4-H event that I have ever attended, in 10 years as a 4-H’er myself and 20 years as an advisor — inspirational, encouraging yet realistic, empowering, and just plain cool. Getting to see “Bat Kid” and “Marshall the Miracle Dog” before nearly everyone else was so neat!” And a youth participant joined in with “The amount of information you learn from the guests and the privilege of screening new films is wonderful. What can I say? Even if you don’t think you are interested in film making, if you go they will reel you in.”

The two top place films from the “Voices of 4-H History” category were selected for viewing at this year’s festival:

  • Emmy Beck-Aden, (OH), “Generations Coming Together;” and
  • Brian Sailors and Kristen Khlifi, (GA), “Interview with Doris Belcher.”

The National 4-H History Preservation Program provides sponsorship to FilmFest 4-H as part of its “Voices of 4-H History” initiative. For more information, visit