Film honors Villa Road's embattled oak trees
A short film honoring two former oak trees on Villa Road premiered June 20 on YouTube.
The film, called "A Series of Moments," is 19-year-old Newberg native Kayla Hitt's debut work. Posted under the penname Quinn Groves, the film's runtime is approximately five minutes.
"It's about a young artist who wants to capture a moment in time for this sketch contest, but she finds her inspiration changing beyond her control," Hitt said.
The artist, played by Hitt, eventually finds that inspiration in the aforementioned oak trees, which were removed in 2017 to make way for an apartment complex and safety improvements to Villa Road.
Like the main and sole character in her film — whose grandparents became engaged in front of the oak trees — Hitt has a personal connection to the former landmarks.
"I remember the old road, where it was kind of windy and a little bit dangerous …," Hitt, who has lived her whole life in the same Newberg house, said.
Hitt recalled that felling the trees caused a lot of controversy in the community because of how long they had been standing and because they were still healthy. While the changes on Villa Road were positive, Hitt said, she still misses the trees.
"It's so interesting — the idea of things coming in that you may like or may be new but having to reconcile with the things you can never get back to," she said.
To make what Hitt called a "very simple plot" more interesting, she told "A Series of Memories" through Polaroid photos, which she filmed against various outdoor backdrops. She brought the approximately 200 photos to life by adding sound and tinkering with transition shots.
"I didn't want it to just be a simple, like 'oh, set the Polaroid down, film it and cut to the next shot," Hitt said, adding that she "wanted to have a little bit of fun."
Hitt originally got the idea for the film two years ago while watching a YouTube video on the creation of the Polaroid camera. An aspiring movie director since the age of 15, Hitt saw an opportunity to "think outside the box" and produce a film that no one else had ever made.
"That's what I want to do the most — is try to think of ways of furthering what people imagine a story can be," she said.
After she developed the Polaroid concept, the plot just fell into place.
"With the story being about these things you remember in your childhood (that) are no longer there, it kind of just naturally flows with the idea of telling it via Polaroids," Hitt said, referencing the Polaroid company's many economic hardships. "When I think about (the film), I see it as (showcasing) nostalgia and the bitter sweetness of change, because it's kind of inevitable. Nothing stays the same."
Nothing but her interest in filmmaking, that is. Even before Hitt knew she wanted to make films professionally, she was obsessed with movies and TV shows.
"I just kind of loved the idea of whatever I imagine in my mind, somebody can watch it," Hitt said, adding that she enjoys reimagining ideas from shows and movies.
"I kind of take bits and pieces from all different kinds of movies and TV shows I've seen and try to make it my own — imagine how I could do it," Hitt said. "There are so many different ways of doing something. It's kind of fun to just see that happening, where you imagine it one way and another person imagines it another way. That's the fun part, I think, about film."
So, with one film project completed, what's next for Hitt?
A recent high school graduate, she is working to save for film school in the future, preferring to attend Film Connection in Portland. Later this summer, Hitt will attend POWGirls, a film camp that offers workshops for female and non-binary youths. While there she will collaborate with other campers on a short film, which will then premiere at the POW Film Festival.
Her biggest goal is to eventually work with a Hollywood studio like A-24, which is known for producing low budget but high caliber, experimental films and taking chances on less famous filmmakers.
As for any future independent film projects, Hitt said that for now, she's taking a break.
To watch the film, visit youtube.com/watch?v=UmQ-nFgvHUA or search on YouTube for A Series of Moments — Experimental Short Film.
"It's something that people haven't seen before," Hitt said. "I can't really think of any short films or features that are told using just a very specific prop, like with Polaroids. It's a simple story of man versus nature, but how it's told drives home the fact about time and memories and savoring moments."
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