Bits 'n' Pieces: VSAA student in fest’s top 3

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photoIsaac Chamberlain

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Silent film is back in fashion — at least in our part of the country.

Isaac Chamberlain, an 18-year-old senior at the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics, is among the top three winners of the Youth Silent Film Festival, which is part of the Portland Rose Festival.

Young filmmakers in the competition, which is open to participants under age 20, had to select a soundtrack from a list of options and then make a film from that music. There were 75 entrants and 45 finalists, which was narrowed down to the top three in late May.

Chamberlain’s entry is a horror film called “Brother,” about a young man who believes he’s being followed by a child with mysterious origins.

He’s not sure if the child is his brother, said Holly Chamberlain, Isaac’s mother.

“It’s rather mystical and it has an eerie feel,” she said.

Isaac Chamberlain filmed in an area around upper Main Street, so there’s a lot of local scenery that people will recognize, his mother added. Her son, who started at the arts school in sixth grade, has always been interested in being behind the scenes in artistic productions. He’s been a stage manager and set builder as well as a director.

“He has a kinetic bent,” she said. “He’s always been artistic and he’s especially interested in things that involve motion, like filming.”

The family won’t learn if Isaac won the competition — and the $1,000 first place prize — until June 11, which is also his prom night.

“He’s expecting an exciting evening,” she said.

Musician’s song aims to support those with cancer

When Alice Olsen’s sister-in-law was diagnosed with cancer, she wanted to be helpful but didn’t know what to do. She was taking a knitting and yarn class from Stephanie Thompson at the time. Thompson is a cancer survivor, and several other women in the class had either battled cancer or knew people who had.

Talking to them taught Olsen how to better support her sister-in-law and also gave her ideas for a song.

Olsen, a 58-year-old singer-songwriter and retired music educator, spotted a woman on the street with bright pink hair. That image, combined with the anecdotes she’d heard in her knitting class, inspired “Hot Pink Wig,” a country song about refusing to give up in the face of cancer.

Olsen, a Vancouver resident, had a professional demo made last year and hopes a major artist decides to record “Hot Pink Wig.” The demo is available for download through CD Baby and iTunes.

Olsen hopes the song provides encouragement for those dealing with cancer. It certainly resonated with Thompson, a 62-year-old Vancouver resident.

“I started listening to it and went straight to one of the Halloween party shops and bought a hot pink wig,” she said. “It’s powerful.”

Thompson took a photograph of her wig on a marble bust and uses the picture as the cover image for notebooks she gives to cancer survivors. She puts the lyrics to “Hot Pink Wig” inside the notebooks.

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Mondays and Fridays. If you have a story you’d like to share, call Courtney Sherwood 360-735-4561, or e-mail features@columbian.com.