Aspiring filmmaker creates PSA for local library

A new promotional video for the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library illustrates how a book can transport readers to another place and time.

Star Photo/Kayla Carter MacKenzie Schaffner, 19, volunteered to create a promotional video for the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library.

Star Photo/Kayla Carter
MacKenzie Schaffner, 19, volunteered to create a promotional video for the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library.

Library Director Renita Barksdale said she could not wait to release the public service announcement on Facebook Monday morning.

“We’ve been dying to put it online,” Barksdale said. “It was like holding a present and you can’t open it yet. This ad could reach people way beyond our library.”

Children’s Librarian Ashlee Williams worked with aspiring Carter County filmmaker MacKenzie Schaffner, 19, to produce the PSA.

“She has been a longtime library patron,” Williams said. “She’s very mature for her age. She’s a very intelligent young lady. She also very creative.”

This was Schaffner’s first solo filmmaking experience.

“I love the library,” Schaffner said. “It’s been an awesome experience promoting this library.”

Schaffner plans to attend East Tennessee State University, where she will study mass communications with a focus in radio, television and film.

Video production began when Schaffner, who is home schooled, landed a spot studying filmmaking through the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts last summer.

“When she came back, she said she needed to do a PSA for a group,” Williams said. “I told her it would be great if she could do it for the library. We wanted to show everybody all the kinds of things that we offer here.”

Governor’s School gave Schaffner the tools she needed to execute the project.

“I definitely wanted to share what I learned with the community,” she said. “I wanted to bring everything home and do my own thing.”

Schaffner started by providing the library with a storyboard, which outlined her plans for footage. Then she compiled a costume list and cast. The video’s production took about a year to complete, Williams said.

“I wanted to create something that encouraged kids to come read,” Schaffner said. “When you read a book, your imagination takes you there. I wanted to turn that idea into a video.”

The characters in the video are portrayed by children in Carter County who frequent the library as well, Williams said.

The video features scenes inspired by books like “The Hobbit,” “The Hunger Games,” and “Cat in the Hat.”

There’s also a ballet scene inside the library and a beach scene with two pirates battling in front of waves crashing on the shore.

“We tried to think of books that are really popular and books people would recognize in just a couple seconds,” Williams said. “She also knew that I love pirates. That’s my favorite scene.”

While some scenes were shot while Schaffner was on vacation at the beach, Williams was proud that Schaffner also used locations in Carter County. This helps library patrons realize that even if they have been somewhere many times, Williams said there’s always something new to discover.

“‘The Hobbit’ scene was shot at the park where we do activities,” Williams said. “I had never noticed that rock wall. It’s a really neat rock wall and she made it look like they were somewhere else. Then there’s another scene where you can see the Covered Bridge in the background.”

Barksdale said the video evokes a lot of emotion every time she watches it.

“I thought it was truly amazing,” Barksdale said. “She did an excellent job. It looks very professional and clean cut. It made me proud to say that this is the library I work at.”

Barksdale was so impressed with the video, she said it would be worthy to run as an ad on television.

“It’s saying, ‘Let me show you. You can go on a new adventure every time you open a book,’” Barksdale said. “Through this video, we are encouraging kids to read.”

The video’s message at the end, which says “Read. Adventures await you,” captures one of Barksdale’s favorite insights about visiting and reading books from the library.

“Each book is a new vacation,” Barksdale said. “That’s the way I look at it. You may not be able to afford going to the beach, but you can find a book about the beach. You can actually go to that location through the book.”

Contributed Photo Action! Schaffner works on 'The Hobbit' scene for the new Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library public service announcement.

Contributed Photo
Action! Schaffner works on ‘The Hobbit’ scene for the new Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library public service announcement.

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