Alexis Yahre’s appreciation for nature began when she was young.
But she had no idea that her time in Future Farmers of America and at Nature’s Classroom would contribute to her becoming a talented documentary filmmaker.
The 21-year-old Lutz native has channeled her love for nature into a film project that is being screened at film festivals.
And that’s all before the mass communications and broadcast production student graduates from the University of South Florida (USF).
She wants her film to encourage people to take a closer look at nature’s beauty.
“It’s right in the tagline (of my film), ‘In our own backyards, there are hundreds of worlds to explore,’” Yahre said.
“My goal with this film is to share some of the beautiful parts of the community I grew up in, so that others can appreciate and help protect them, too,” she said.
Her film, “Nature’s Secrets: Florida State Parks,” focuses on the nature preserved in Florida’s state parks.
As a one-person film crew, she visited a dozen of the more than 100 parks in this state.
Then, she interviewed numerous people from the park system who devote themselves to conserving and protecting the parks, and helping others to develop an appreciation for Florida’s natural environments.
The film is already garnering attention on the festival circuit, including being nominated for “Best Student Film” at the Cannes World Film Festival. Additionally, Cannes awarded Yahre with “Best Young Director.”
The documentary had its first theatrical screening at the 2022 Gasparilla International Film Festival in March. That even came with a red carpet appearance for the young filmmaker, at Tampa Theatre in downtown Tampa.
Next, on April 28, her film will be shown at the Sunscreen Film Festival at the Sundial AMC 12 Theatres in St. Petersburg. There will be showings there through May 1.
The young woman’s foray into filmmaking surprised her mother, Nicole Yahre.
“Honestly, I thought she would be a farmer,” Nicole said.
But she quickly recognized her daughter’s talent because even when she was young, she was landing editing jobs.
Her father, Adam, had a hand in helping her develop those editing skills.
“My dad is a software guy, so he got a computer and just put every professional program available on there,” said Alexis, a graduate of Steinbrenner High. “It really started with Adobe Premiere when I was 10 or 11 and took off from there.”
Learning software at such a young age led to editing opportunities for Alexis.
One of her jobs was creating content for the meat processing equipment company, Tipper Tie.
The work included producing videos for the Fresh-N-Ready salad bowl, the Herb Shooter and other products.
The job also inspired the name for Pepperoni Studios, the production company she founded, which produces her freelance work and personal projects.
In fact, Kristofer Atkinson already has agreed to produce her next film. It will focus on college students taking a “gap year.”
“Most of my students are prolific filmmakers,” said Atkinson, Alexis’ mentor, who helped her navigate producing the film and getting into festivals.
“I do everything in my power to help them,” Atkinson said. “Maybe 15 become filmmakers, but two or three of them are excellent filmmakers, and she will be one of those.
“She has real directorial prowess, a real eye behind the camera and does a great job interviewing. I was duly impressed just how laser-focused her vision was from beginning to end.
“So, I’m hoping one day she will be thanking me at the Oscars,” he said, with a laugh.
Alexis graduates from USF in May and already works as an educator in Hillsborough County.
She feels her true place, however, is behind a camera — and then in the editing room.
At the same time, she’s at one with nature and she hopes her film will inspire others to explore the great outdoors.
“I just want people to know they live super close to all these parks,” she said.
“I just think it’s a huge untapped resource,” she said, adding, many don’t realize the treasures that are right in their own backyard.
She also is thrilled with the favorable reception enjoyed by “Nature’s Secrets: Florida State Parks.”
“Considering that I made this (film) without a budget or experience, I didn’t expect to see this kind of success,” she said. “I’m overjoyed that I can be a part of the festival and share a topic that I’m passionate about with the world.”
Her parents are delighted by her success.
“(Her father and I) are so proud of her and love that she’s being able to do what she loves doing,” her mom said.
Nature’s Secrets: Florida State Parks
Director: Alexis Yahre
Runtime: 10 minutes 30 seconds
Synopsis: Alexis Yahre invites viewers on a journey through the Florida State Park system to capture the sights of whimsical animals, and hear the stories of some the unsung heroes who labor to conserve their habitats. Along the way, she uncovers secrets about the parks and highlights some of Florida’s best lesser-known places.
Film includes: Hillsborough River State Park, in Hillsborough County; Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park, in Port Richey; and, Honeymoon Island State Park, in Dunedin.
To view a trailer of the film, log onto YouTube.com/watch?v=WZTRdnxDHL0.
Published April 27, 2022