Blank journal pages.
A writing utensil.
Those were go-to items for a young, creative storyteller named Lucy Spahr, who didn’t have to rely on technology to temporarily escape her life in Winnetka.
“I liked to create my own worlds when I was little,” recalls Spahr, now a senior at New Trier High School. “My parents [Chris and Alice] would buy me the journals, and I’d write stories about all kinds of things and people, including princesses.”
While putting together a documentary about global warming earlier this year, the storyteller in Spahr went to work.
She needed a youngster to portray a boy in love with the beach and beach activities. She needed another person to portray the boy as an older man.
Spencer Spahr, Lucy’s younger brother, and Donald, Lucy’s grandfather, filled those casting needs.
“I made sure it had a narrative,” Lucy says of the project. “I opened the documentary with the boy skipping rocks, and I ended it with a scene where the man was devastated; the beach, one of his favorite places in the world for years and years, had become toxic because of global warming.”
In between the two scenes in Global Warming: The Dead Zone, Spahr presented salient facts and moving footage. She then submitted the documentary to C-SPAN, which honored her with Honorable Mention recognition and $250.
Spahr donated all $250 to Greenpeace.
“I like the editing part more than any of the other aspects of filmmaking,” says Spahr, who studied film techniques and attended a tennis camp at UCLA two summers ago. “There’s control with that, along with the opportunity to see it all come together.
“I enjoy directing, too. I watched a documentary about the genocide in Cambodia [Angkor Awakens] at the Wilmette Theatre. What fascinated me about that was how well the director connected with the people he interviewed; the people opened up, cried while answering his questions. It was powerful.”
The Santa Monica International Teen Film Festival and All American Film Festival chose the music video, “If We Were Rain”, as an Official Selection this year. Its producer?
The documentarian with the sound tennis game.
Spahr, a honors student with an AP-packed course load, also received The University of the South Book Award for Excellence in Writing this year and serves as executive editor of Evanston-based Polyphony H.S., an international student-run literary magazine for high school writers.
Last summer she completed a promotional video for Chicago Kalbi, a Korean barbeque restaurant. Spahr and her family members have frequented the eatery on Lawrence Avenue since she was eight years old. The video, which took nearly four months to make, was featured online, with links to it appearing in two newspapers serving Korean-American communities in the Midwest.
Spahr charged Chicago Kalbi’s owners — a married couple — nothing for her work.
“I’m adventurous,” Spahr says. “I’m the one who likes to drive friends to ethnic restaurants in the city or near the city. Have you ever been to Taste of Peru? I love that place.”
The story the storyteller loves to tell hasn’t been featured in a film. Yet. Or a book. Yet. It’s the one about a boy and a girl who met while working as young ushers at Ravinia Festival. The boy attended Lake Forest High School; the girl took classes at Highland Park High School. Their boss was Maria Gac.
The boy and girl, years later, ended up as husband and wife.
They had a daughter.
Their daughter welcomed summer concertgoers at Ravinia Festival’s Gate 5 and guided them to their seats in 2016. That usher’s boss? None other than Gac.
Gac must have been pleased with the daughter’s job performance.
Lucy Spahr was a fixture, once again, at Gate 5 in 2017.
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