Winter’s Tale film project connects us to a powerful Native American legend
A small group of talented high school students are working feverishly to put the finishing touches on The Winter’s Tale, a film that will help connect our valley with the 10,000 years of Native American history and culture here.
With the help of the Icicle Creek Center from the Arts and a collection of film professionals who are helping out as teacher’s assistants, these students are creating a 23-minute film that will capture the story of the river dragon Spexman, as told by Native American elder and storyteller Randy Lewis.
The story they are revealing helps us connect important geologic features in the region with the Native American mythology and in doing so gives us an opportunity to more deeply appreciate and understand the geologic features that surround us.
When I sat down to chat with students Ayden Forsberg and Chelsea Craig from Wenatchee High School, Josiah Davison and Malcolm Whitehall of WestSide High School, I was struck by their maturity, devotion to the project, love for Randy Lewis and commitment to telling his story.
They were joined in the in the interview by project manager Amelia Yokel Egbert of Leavenworth, Eric Link, the head of the film program at Wenatchee Valley Technical Skills Center, and film professionals Nicholas Dirk and Austin Flory of Veridian Creative. Student team members who were unable to be there for the interview were Michael Seims and Sierra Egbert of Wenatchee High School and Tobin Walker of Cascade High.
It’s a project where students are equals with their advisers and the spirit is one of collaboration intermixed with creative disagreements that get resolved by a shared commitment to doing what’s best for the project.
The pressure is on this team because the film must be completed by the end of this school year and then the film will be entered in a series of film festivals. An early version of the film was previewed at the Vox Docs Film Festival in Leavenworth recently.
Egbert showed me the film while we chatted at Bella Bistro and I was stunned by the level of professionalism. Egbert is a Leavenworth native who spent a decade in Los Angeles in the film industry and returned to the valley after rediscovering the sense of place that she feels here.
She told me she had never envisioned working with students, but through her connections with the ICCA, she has discovered her gift for inspiring and engaging young people.
This is a project that reveals the extraordinary impact that the film program at Wenatchee Valley Tech which is driving culture of creative film making in our region.
The team members working on The Winter’s Tale bring special talents to the project. I learned that Craig, who was added to the project only recently, is gifted with a camera. Davison is drawn to film direction, Whitehall is focused on the production and business side of the industry, Ayden focuses on the audio. Sierra (Egbert) prefers to edit, and Seims is a talented illustrator working to animate his creations in the video.
Whitehall, who started at the Wenatchee Valley Tech, worked for the Wenatchee Wild and worked in Los Angeles for a year before returning to finish his education, said the quality standards in our valley are just as high as L.A., but the sense of collaboration among filmmakers is significantly better here. He’s finishing his schooling at WestSide.
For everyone involved in this film project, there is a shared commitment and love for Randy Lewis. “I adore his storytelling — it’s amazing the details he goes into,” said Davison.
Another theme that came shining through was a love for this valley, it’s people and a desire to do something significant that will be treasured for generations to come. Telling the story of Spexman through the eyes of Randy Lewis and keeping his unique storytelling alive is something that they expressed.
Taking the essence of the story and boiling it down to 23 minutes along with compelling imagery and music as a complete package is no small feat. It is painstaking work that takes focusing on minute details without losing sight of the essence of the story.
The power of the story has not been lost on the students. “I definitely look at the valley in a new way. It opens your eyes and helps you appreciate what you see around you,” said Davison.
When this film is done, these students will have a major project under their belt and will have contributed something special to our understanding of the valley.
It’s an extraordinary extracurricular learning opportunity that will benefit us all.