Clackamas County 4-H Club featured in Portland-based movie
Clackamas County 4-H members are enjoying a bit of celebrity status after the recent release of the Portland-based movie "Leave No Trace."
Many locals may remember the story of an army veteran and his 13-year-old daughter, found in 2004, living a mysterious existence in Forest Park, rarely making contact with the outside world.
The film is directed by Debra Granik from a script adapted by Granik and Anne Rosellini, based on the novel "My Abandonment" by Portland writer Peter Rock. In the movie, a small mistake tips off the duo to authorities, and they are sent on an erratic journey to integrate back into society and find a place to call their own.
Part of the journey involves daughter, Tom, played by Thomasin McKenzie, attending a 4-H Rabbit Club meeting as she explores her new world. The activity depicted in the scene, Rabbit Showmanship, is a real thing that 4-H members do with their animals, according to Wendy Hein, a 4-H youth development faculty member with Oregon State University's Extension Service in Clackamas County.
"They handle the rabbits and check them for signs of good health, just as the movie shows," Hein said. "This was an easy shoot for the rabbits — they are not bothered by the handling in the least."
The only part of the scene that was not quite realistic was the wardrobe, including plaid flannels and western hats.
"It's just not normally what 4-Hers would wear when we're doing something like that," said cast member and 4-H member Ben Johnson.
"Mostly they dress like regular kids," Hein said.
The 4-H scene was shot in a barn in Oregon City, where 14 local 4-H members and one adult volunteer participated in a full-day shoot with their rabbits.
Jacob Johnson, a 4-H alumnus and senior at Oregon State University, had the only speaking part in the scene, playing the adult leader. He can be heard giving instructions throughout the scene and received a film credit.
"It was a great experience. We just went through and did what we would normally do in a meeting except we repeated it several times," Johnson said.
Granik took a particular interest in 4-H and met with Johnson beforehand to better understand the meeting process.
"We talked back and forth ahead of time, and at least once I met with Debra in person and shared more with her about what we do — so a lot of work went into making sure it was portrayed accurately," Johnson said.
Most of the 4-H members who are featured in the movie and its trailer, including two of Johnson's younger brothers, are from Sandy.
"It was a seriously cool experience seeing myself and my brothers up on screen, but I thought it would be a little longer based on how much time it took to film the scene," said Ben Johnson, 15.
The 4-H members who appeared in the film were invited to a special cast and crew screening held at Cinema 21 in Portland on June 27.
"Leave No Trace" is playing now at Regal Cinemas in Bridgeport, Century in Clackamas Town Center and several other local theaters.