Levi Lundell, ’17, won the People’s Choice Award for PPFF’s Stewardship Video Contest on Jan. 30. The project was due Jan. 17.
The film, titled “Leaving the Right Mark,” can now be found on YouTube.
“It is a very short film because we had two minutes or less duration,” Lundell said.
He said he chose to make the film at the last minute and completed it with only two days to spare. He was informed through Twitter that he was the winner of the competition for the college video portion.
The purpose of the competition was for students to produce films that would serve as a way to encourage the prevention of graffiti in national parks and forests, according to Amanda Trimmer, outreach and PR coordinator for PPFF. They wanted people to instead steward the nature of these parks and forests. Participants could be Pennsylvania high school students or college students.
The competition was open to college, high school and middle school students of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Trimmer said.
“The video portion was for high school and college students, and a poster portion for middle school students,” Trimmer said. One winner was selected for one of two categories from each school level.
The students who participated in this competition were able to address the negative impacts graffiti has on the environment through words, songs or images, Trimmer said. There was a total of nine video submissions between the high school and college groups and 50 or 60 posters from middle schools. Trimmer said that this is the first year for this competition.
“The idea is to get our young people to be aware of stewarding our forests for the next generation,” Trimmer said.
Trimmer said that there were four people judging the projects. She said that they ranked the competition on a basis of the submissions relevance and abided by a strict rubric.
“It had to be creative, have a clear message and be eye-catching,” Trimmer said.
Lundell filmed in Maryland, where he is from, but he edited the film on Allegheny’s campus. He submitted the project on the due date, but called to make sure they successfully received it.
“I really crammed it near the end, and figured that since I did that there probably wasn’t the likelihood of me getting anything out of it,” Lundell said.
Lundell said the plan was to create this film entirely by himself. He directed it, edited it, filmed it and acted in it. He said he wanted to test his skills without oversight.
Lundell said he discovered this competition through Kathy Uglow, who works for the Crawford County Conservation District. Uglow was impressed with his film and encouraged him to submit his work, according to Lundell.
Lundell’s production skills and storytelling abilities have been praised by the professors he has studied under in Allegheny’s communication arts department, such as River Branch, associate professor of communication arts.
Lundell is currently in the freshman seminar, “Power and Production: Ethical Struggles Shaping Media Representations,” which is taught by Branch. Additionally, Lundell has taken many courses with Branch in the communication arts department.
Branch said that the two most memorable experiences she has had working with Lundell were in the advanced junior seminar for production as well as a documentary class that she taught.
Though Branch did not know about the competition until after Lundell told her that he won. Branch said she appreciates his use of a narrative arc, which is important for his target audience. He had three visual transitions that were effectivley shown — the world he occupied, the world of memory and the world of nature, she said.
“He relied on the power of image to tell the story,” Branch said. “His thoughtfulness is ever-present in his work as it is in this piece.”
Branch said that Lundell has used film and video to address environmental issues in the past as well.
“He has a strong work ethic, but he also infuses an integrity into that work ethic and a generosity,” Branch said.
Branch also said there has been a trend of film producers and environmental scholars collaborating to make activist films.
“A lot of people are using film as a vehicle, and in 2017 it is a powerful vehicle to harness,” Branch said.
Not only did Pennsylvania Parks and Forests put the winning film on its YouTube channel, it also asked Lundell if it could upload his other videos. In addition to getting the award, Lundell said he won $200.
At the time of Lundell’s interview, the video had 120 views on YouTube. At the time of publication, it had reached 169 views.
“I have no dislikes [in the film]. It was cool to see that something that I just kind of threw on the table was something that was enjoyed and valued, and they want to put it on the page so more people can see it,” Lundell said.
Branch said she believes that Lundell’s intention of entering the competition was in the hope that his film would inspire others to make a difference. Lundell is an example of Allegheny engaging citizenship beyond the classroom, she said.
“I think that Levi, no matter what path he chooses, will be an amazing steward for whatever work he takes on,” Branch said.
Trimmer said all videos from the competition can be found on the YouTube channel PAParksandForests.