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"One video at a time"

Tuesday, 18.10.2011 / 4:51 PM / Heart of a Canuck
By Travis Britton

Mackenzie Harmons the film-making prodigy

Most 12-year-old boys spend their days playing with friends, filling their free time with activities such as snowboarding and skateboarding.

It’s not that Mackenzie Harmons doesn’t enjoy these common youth pastimes, in fact they are two of his favorites; it’s his other after school passion that makes him a special individual.

When Harmons was 11, his Grade 6 teacher, Ms. Meagan Stewart, approached him to make a video for his schools “Pink Day” assembly. Ms. Stewart had seen previous videos made by Harmons for Fine Arts and French classes, so she knew he had it in him. But what she didn’t know was that she had a budding film-maker on her hands and he just needed a push in the right direction.

“Pink Day” was originally organized by two students from a high school in Nova Scotia. They bought and distributed 50 pink shirts after a student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt on the first day of school.

Although Harmons who was only given two days to meet his deadline, he got straight to work and didn’t disappoint with his video “It’s not easy.” It was a short film about a kid who is the victim of bullying. Harmons did this so people could see what it looks like and how it feels to be bullied.

After Pink Day, he felt strongly about continuing his campaign to speak out through the videos he was making to make a difference in the world, spurring his slogan, “Changing the world one video at a time.”

Harmons received his first camera when he was 8 years old, a cheap point and shoot from Zellers. Living in Maple Ridge at the time, Harmons and his friends would make little videos just messing around after school. His mother said it was the best thing she has ever bought her son and seeing as how he has progressed at such a young age, who can argue with his mother’s reasoning.

Harmons has since moved past his original Zellers model and now uses an iPhone 4 and a MacBook Pro computer, all purchased with Harmons’ own savings. Does anyone smell an Apple commercial in the making?

Even the Vancouver Giants have noticed Harmons brings something special to the table promoting him from water boy to an assistant to the game day events coordinator in his fifth season volunteering for the team.

Harmon’s next film brought attention to homeless youth. “Keep Holding On”, is about a young kid who is homeless and has nowhere to go. The video follows Harmons through rough times on the streets, panhandling and sleeping without a roof over his head. Again the feedback was very encouraging to Harmons, so he knew he needed to continue moving forward to help others.

The riots in Vancouver after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final were truly an unfortunate event that brought negativity to the city and fans of the Vancouver Canucks. Instead of seeing the bad, Harmons saw the good found in people and the Canucks. He brought it out in his video, "Don't Stop Believing."

“Don’t Stop Believing” is about the city of Vancouver, and all its loyal residents, and true Canucks fans coming together to clean up the mess left behind by imposter fans.

Harmons is now in the process of producing and editing his next film, based around Remembrance Day. He plans to bring awareness and recognition to our past and present veterans, the real Canadian Heroes.

When asked what drives him to change the world through his videos, Harmons explained, “It is a way to get my message across to youth, as my generation is all about social networking and YouTube. I have seen the damage that alcohol and drugs have done to people as well as bullying. My Mom works for the school board and my Dad works at a homeless shelter so I have been around people that have suffered and are still suffering.”

Harmons went on to say, “I just want to let others know that you can do and be anything you want. You don't need a lot of money to be good at what you want to be.”

Harmons short-term goals are to keep making videos that bring awareness and change to the world and to continue raising money through his website. All the proceeds that Harmons raises through his site, www.316mackie.ca, go towards homeless youth.

Harmons’ long-term goals are to complete his education and to learn more about filming, producing and editing. As Harmons says, "filming is HIS voice for change.”

That is of course if he manages to find some free time between his volunteering with the Giants and all the other “normal” kid activities that fill his days.