Bits ‘n’ Pieces: VSAA teen’s film stirs up good things



If things go his way, Vancouver School of Arts and Academics senior Nick Shaw could soon be the recipient of a regional student Emmy Award.

Shaw, an 18-year-old Vancouver resident, wrote, directed and edited “The Muffin Man,” a short film nominated for the Northwest High School Awards for Excellence, put on by the Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

“The Muffin Man” is a comedy about a young man (played by VSAA student Alex Gavlick) who develops the ability to turn any item of food into a muffin. A friend (VSAA’s Garrett Farness) helps him develop his newfound talent. When the Muffin Man starts abusing his powers, though, things go terribly wrong.

Regional Emmy Award winners will be announced on June 11.

Winning “would be a huge first step for me in turning a hobby into a professional career,” Shaw said.

Already, “The Muffin Man” has brought good things Shaw’s way. The film took first place in a George Fox University scholarship competition. Shaw received a $16,000 scholarship and will begin studying film production at the Newberg, Ore., university this fall.

Vancouver songwriter teams up on country CD

Travisteen Helms found her musical calling by doing something that would make most teenage girls cringe.

She listened to her mother.

The 61-year-old Vancouver resident is well beyond her teen years and was around age 30 when she took her mother’s advice to give up writing rhythm and blues music in favor of country.

But while she came to the style a bit later in life, Helms said she has to admit that her mother, Artie Davis, was on to something.

“I think it was because I wasn’t doing so well with R&B, and then she said try country,” Helms said. “My mother, she liked all kinds of music. That was really an inspiration.”

Davis died of a heart attack in the early 1980s, and Helms felt her love of country music grow as a way to remember her mother in the intervening years, she said.

“I listened to it every day, and I tried to get it in my heart so I could really feel it,” Helms said.

Over the almost 30 years since her mom’s death, the guitar-player songwriter built her own collection of country songs, but when she was ready to finally record a CD, she found her own voice really didn’t work with the music.

“I said I really would love to have somebody else sing, because I just wasn’t that good,” Helms said. “I heard (Vancouver singer) Kimberly Hall and she just fit the bill. Her voice was perfect for my songs.”

It took the pair about a year to finish the recording, which just came out in an 11-track collection called “Can’t Gamble Love.” The CD is available for $12.97 from the website CD Baby at

All the songs, Helms added, are based on her real-life experiences.

“It’s about love and relationships, and also some relationships gone sour,” she said.

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