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Niwot alum shares healing and storytelling through her filmmaking


December 18, 2019

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Little Feather Films' Sarah Echsner hopes to inspire and promote healing and social justice through her filmmaking.

Author Jonathan Gottschall once said, "We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night telling itself stories." Storytelling is part of the human psyche, an element which has fascinated Sarah Echsner throughout her life.

After graduating from Niwot High School, Echsner took psychology, photography, creative writing and even a documentary class at university. While this may seem like an eclectic selection, these choices led her to develop her love of telling stories. This interest was only heightened after losing her brother. "I felt like needing to tell his story," she said. Storytelling turned into a form of healing for Echsner, and her methods of doing so are diverse.

"I would say I'm a filmmaker, but I'm also a songwriter and I write poetry, short stories." So while her business Little Feather Films focuses largely on documentary film, Echsner has many talents and resources up her sleeves when it comes to sharing hers and others' passions.

Drawing on her desire to tell her brother's story, she began to explore filmmaking as a way to address topics such as healing and social justice. "It's just a unique artform that I feel like can share messages of the heart that I feel other art forms can't necessarily." She explained that film is a powerful way to emotionally appeal to others and inspire them.

While she had some training from the classes she took in college, Echsner received further training both from a DIY filmmaking class in Portland, Ore., and by working with kids' documentary filmmaking camps. Never having participated in any formal internships, much of her technical knowledge is gained primarily from making her films.

"It's a lot of learning as I go...I like projects that can give light to new ways of healing and am drawn toward telling stories for all creatures who are not necessarily able to speak for themselves," said Echsner.

She is careful to make the distinction of "creatures" versus people largely due to a recent film of hers, "A Horse Named Rio." For the project, Echsner travelled to New Mexico and documented the relationship between a young boy and an "unrideable horse." Her film has won the "Audience Choice Documentary" award at the Front Range Film Festival and was recently shown at the Nederland film Festival as well. She has also made the film "Fire and Sand", which focused on the Hawaiian community of lower Puna after they recovered from a volcanic eruption in 2018.

When asked about the genesis of Little Feather Films, Echsner described how her success with other smaller projects encouraged her to make it "more of a legitimate thing to be taken seriously." She is able to follow her passion to use storytelling as a means to positively impact others, thanks to support from her community as well as nonprofits and other artists reaching out for her help and expertise. However, she emphasized that starting her own business has been somewhat of a learning curve, but one that she is excited to pursue further.

"It really excites me in the editing process...you feel the magic working, it's like the story reveals itself rather than I'm creating it," said Echsner. "It's really exciting too, to show the finished project to people, to see and watch their reaction, it's gratifying." She is currently working on a film for an organization called Denver Writes, which helps children develop their writing skills through workshops, camps, and other programs. She is also looking into making a film about honey bees, something that she is also passionate about.

Positivity, passion, social justice and encouragement are all themes that Echsner emphasized multiple times. By embracing them and using them to relate to others, she believes she can positively influence both her community and the world at large. "I feel that I have the gift and ability to tell those stories in a way for people to receive them in the heart. That's where you can create real change."

You can follow Little Feather Films on Facebook or check out her website http://www.LittleFeatherFilms.com.


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