2017-04-27 / News

Library takes lesson on lights, camera, action

North Road landmark is starring in commercial
BY RYAN GIBBS

Kelly Riley sets up a shot in the children’s room for a commercial publicizing the free programs offered at Rhode Island’s public libraries. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN Kelly Riley sets up a shot in the children’s room for a commercial publicizing the free programs offered at Rhode Island’s public libraries. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN Although it’s always considered show time during Lisa Sheley’s storytelling, there were more lights, camera and action last week than ever before.

The Jamestown Philomenian Library received a close-up during the April 19 story hour. The North Road landmark is one of four libraries across the state that will be included in a 30-second commercial publicizing the Rhode Island Library Association. Jamestown is highlighted during the short segment about children’s programming.

The ad was directed and produced by Stephanie Ewens, a Rhode Island filmmaker, with help from Tony Aguilar of New Flavor Media, a Providence advertising firm. Aguilar said the commercial spotlights the free myriad opportunities offered at public libraries statewide.

“We really want to showcase that all libraries provide a vital part to each of the community,” he said.

According to Aguilar, research indicates that children who attend story times and other pre- K workshops do much better in first grade. “It is essential for kids and parents to come to the library and use those programs,” he said.

Aside from the lights, cameras and a few new faces, it was business as usual for Sheley, the children’s librarian: reading books, leading sing-alongs and working on crafts. The commercial only caused one inconvenience — the Mother Goose program for infants was moved to the meeting hall so the film crew could mobilize. That minor disruption, however, pales in comparison to the benefits expected from the exposure. Although the planning team chose the library because of the actual brick and mortar, Sheley made sure to showcase her itinerary.

“They were particularly interested in the room itself, but if I can draw attention to our story times and the things we do here at the library for children, teens and tweens, that’s great,” she said.

As long as parents signed permission waivers, children who regularly attend story time were invited to participate in the spot. To make sure they had a full house, joining the regular guests were several child actors who were cast, including Ethan Flores of Providence.

Flores is the “star” of the section filmed in Jamestown. The spot opens with him running past a mirror in the back of the children’s room, and then the camera follows him around a bookshelf as he enters the story area.

“He’s never done anything like this before,” Ethan’s father, Nathan Flores, said. “We love the library. For one, it’s great for school. In the summer time, it’s something else to keep his mind going.”

Jamestowner Jammie Martin said the library means a lot to her daughter, Mackenzie, who also is making her television debut.

“She wanted to be in the commercial,” Martin said. “My daughter does take out a lot of books. She knows a lot of the authors.”

Susi Pendlebury, a Jamestowner who regularly brings her grandsons to the library, said she wasn’t aware the commercial was being filmed. Luckily, Grant and Jack Jennings showed up on the set. Pendlebury, a former elementary school teacher, credited Sheley for her poise during the filming.

“I’m amazed how composed Lisa was through all of it,” Pendlebury said. “She kept going, just like she always does, even with all the filming around. I think the kids did a great job, too.”

Due to the brevity of the commercial, the Jamestown portion will be five to 10 seconds in length. It’ll be included alongside footage of adult programming shot at public libraries in Cumberland, Westerly and Providence.

According to Ewens, these libraries were selected because the planning team wanted to include a library from each of the state’s four regions: South County, northern Rhode Island, Newport County and the capital city. Ewens said Jamestown was chosen to represent its region because the natural light that enters the building.

“They were also super welcoming,” she said. “We’re trying to make a light and airy feeling to the video.”

According to Ewens, the filmmakers didn’t decide to use Jamestown for the children’s section until after scouting the library.

Ewens hopes the commercial emphasizes the importance of the state’s libraries by showing what they offer. While story times are a popular pastime at libraries, the team also wanted to highlight programs not on the forefront, such as coding classes and citizenship courses.

“I didn’t personally know the library offered those before I started this project,” Ewens said. “It’s all free, which is amazing.”

The filmmakers are unsure when the commercial would hit local airwaves, but editing is expected to be completed toward the end of May.

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