Driven to raise awareness about environmental conservation in Florida’s state parks, mass communications specialist and filmmaker Alexis Yahre knew she wanted to create a film that would encourage the public to interact with Florida’s wildlife. Florida.
Growing up in Florida, Yahre said she has fond memories of visiting various state parks with her family as a child. In his sixth year, his visit to Nature’s Classroom – an outdoor education program required by most colleges in Hillsborough County – laid the groundwork for what would later become the subject of his passion for filmmaking. .
“As I got older, I began to discover that we didn’t take care of the [environment] as good as we should be,” she said. “That’s when I knew I wanted to support this cause I truly believed in and make sure we protected what I love.”
After meeting the director of Nature’s Classroom during his visit, Yahre did not hesitate to join an associated program, the National Future Farmers of America, to learn more about the scientific components of the wide range of biodiversity and species. natural Florida.
Yahre’s award-winning documentary “Nature’s Secrets: Florida State Parks” premiered at the Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF) in Tampa on March 13. Since its release, his film has won several awards on the festival circuit, including a nomination for “Best Student Film” and the “Best Young Director” award at the Cannes World Film Festival.
The documentary content takes viewers to a variety of parks in Florida, such as Hillsborough River State Park and Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, to showcase their wildlife and talk to each park’s respective experts about their experiences.
“When making the documentary, I knew I wanted to specifically study parks because of their underutilization,” she said. “There are a lot of different things in Tampa that get attention. You have the Riverwalk, cool underground stages, and fun food trucks…but you never hear the word “state parks,” and we have them all around us.
Since the documentary tackles topics related to climate change, Yahre was initially concerned that viewers would perceive his film to be too political in nature.
However, she said her commitment to authenticity in cinema and her love for the environment helped her promote environmentalism as a non-controversial issue.
“This movie is about making people connected and making people feel respect and love for each other,” she said. “In my opinion, environmentalism should not be controversial because we all live on this planet. We all have to live together and share this space, so it makes sense to want to protect it.
She’s proud of the amount of support she received given that the documentary was her first professional film, but her work wouldn’t have been possible without her father’s love, according to Yahre.
While Nature’s Classroom served as a catalyst for his interest in environmentalism, Yahre said his love for cinematography began after his father downloaded his first editing software to his computer when he was 11 years old.
Although he did not have a great interest in filmmaking at the time, his father continued to try to teach Yahre different editing techniques such as green screening and making basic cuts.
After progressing to more complex cinematic techniques, Yahre said she was finally able to understand the beauty of cinematography that her father wanted to pass on to her.
“He never failed to believe in me, and he always knew what I needed before I even needed it,” she said. “He was always one step ahead of me when I was younger, and he made sure I could become the best person I am today.”
She later added that it was especially important to ensure that production on “Nature’s Secrets: Florida State Parks” was completed in a timely manner, as her father was suffering from a terminal illness.
Given its role in shaping her passion for filmmaking, she said she hopes the documentary will not only serve as an educational resource for her viewers, but also as a token of her appreciation for her father’s continued support.
“I was so worried that he wouldn’t be able to see the end result of this movie because he’s always been one of my biggest supporters and help get access to the resources,” she said.
“It was really special for me to be able to share the process with him and show him that last viewing at the film festival.”
Yahre’s boyfriend, Dylan Walsh, accompanied her and her family to GIFF. Considering the amount of time she has invested in the documentary filmmaking process over the past year, Yahre’s work that finally came to fruition was well deserved, according to Walsh.
“Seeing her so driven and inspired motivates me a lot…She does her thing, and it just makes me excited because her enthusiasm is contagious,” he said.
“Being with her makes me more excited about the things I do in my own life, and seeing her achieve her goals makes my goals even more achievable.”
Having worked as a K-12 science educator for Hillsborough County Public Schools throughout her college career, Yahre hopes to pursue a career in education alongside film after graduation. .
For those wishing to visit Florida state parks, she says, while she encourages people to find beauty in biodiversity, it is also important to consider the threat that climate change could pose to the preservation of environment and education in the future.
“Working on a film like this, I really didn’t want to try to lecture people, change their minds, or try to preach science to them,” she said. “What I wanted to show people was the beauty of nature and let people start thinking about that, and what we potentially have to lose.”