Mizan Shepherd is a natural-born visual storyteller, which isn’t a surprise considering both his parents are artists.
However, what sets this 7-year-old from Maple Wood Heights Elementary School apart is his video submission for the PTA Reflections program, which made it all the way to the national arena last year.
The PTA Reflections is a national program that encourages and recognizes student creativity through all forms of art, including literature, photography, visual arts, film and dance. Each participating school in the district hosts a contest, and winners advance to the district or Renton PTA Council competition.
Last year, Shepherd’s film submission, titled “Fetch,” advanced to the state and national level, where he won the Award of Merit for Film Production in the primary age division (K-2). While Shepherd was able to attend the national judging round in Florida, he’s hoping to also attend the award ceremony in Washington, D.C., in January. Currently, the PTA is trying to fundraise $2,250 for Shepherd and one parent to attend.
When asked why he wanted to enter the Reflections competition, Shepherd answered, “There was a video section and my dad is a video producer. So I kind of wanted to do that. I have made videos in my life. I wanted to do this Reflections program and see how it would go. And it went onto the (national level).”
Shepherd made a one-minute video chronicling the story of his stuffed dog and bird. He created his own storyline, storyboard, direction and editing for the video.
“That’s kind of a hard question,” Shepherd said when asked how he came up with the idea for his video. “I was thinking of a bunch of ideas we could use to make the video. I thought we could use all my stuffed animals to make a video because we have a lot of them and they’d be good props… I was imagining what it could do and we brought together one storyline.”
When his submission advanced to the state and national levels, he said that the process became more and more exciting.
Shepherd’s mom, Meena, said she was “totally amazed” when she heard his submission had made it to the national level.
“We didn’t think he’d want to do the project,” she said. “I was just excited he wanted to create something, so of course, we were very supportive of him wanting to do that process. But we didn’t think it would go that far.”
Though Shepherd was shy to admit it, his parents said that he’s had more video experience than he lets on. For a while, he has been creating Lego review and science project videos for himself. Currently, Shepherd is in the process of creating his own Youtube channel to upload his videos.
This year’s district-level judging wrapped up on Dec. 8, and the award ceremony is scheduled for Jan. 17. The theme this year was “What’s your story?” Students from K-12 shared their own story in all the available formats. Shepherd submitted another video for this year’s competition, and it’s already advanced to districts.