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Connie Vandermay/FOCUS Mark Pagan films Bake Shoppe owner Leroy Smith making bread while documenting images of New York Mills for an exhibit at the cultural center.

Visiting artist hopes to capture 'rhythm' of NY Mills

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Washington, D.C. filmmaker Mark Pagan spent the last week of his stay as a New York Mills artist in residence recording the sights and sounds of NY Mills, in an effort to capture the rhythm of the community.

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In an interview, Pagan said he wanted to "capture creatively what makes the town unique. Something more atmospheric."

He added, "The train comes to mind. I don't think I've ever been someplace where trains come through so frequently."

During the filming process, Pagan joined Mills Bake Shoppe owner Leroy Smith, documenting the tradition of bread making - which starts every morning at 2 a.m. He took some additional footage at other area businesses, and spent time interviewing residents of the nursing home. He also popped in to the school to see a student's perspective of life in NY Mills.

Pagan said he plans to take the footage back to his home in Washington, D.C. to edit. Typically it takes hours of footage to produce just a few minutes of film.

Sometime in November, Pagan hopes to send a completed short film back to the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center to use in the center's final exhibit of the year, "Our Town."

As part of the "Our Town" exhibit, citizens of NY Mills are invited to visit the center and literally paint themselves into the picture.

NY Mills Regional Cultural Center Director Jamie Robertson said in a phone interview, "We wanted to make it possible for people to engage in a group portrait of the community."

Nov. 15 through Dec. 29, the "Our Town" exhibit will be in the works. During the day on Dec. 21, a reception will be held for community members to see the final project. People can "come see their neighbors and themselves in the group portrait," Robertson said.

Cultural center staff will also provide equipment for community members to record their stories. Those recordings will be on display along with Pagan's video.

Pagan said he was glad to be able to do something to be part of this exhibit. During his month-long stay in NY Mills, Pagan spent most of his time working on enhancing his narrative short film, "Raymond and Lina." This film has already achieved recognition at a dozen film festivals, including the Slamdance Film Festival in Utah and the Rosebud Film Festival in Virginia.

For the last decade, Pagan has produced films under his company, Con Chocolate. While most of Pagan's films are simply for entertainment purposes, he enters film festivals regularly.

"This place (NY Mills) is refreshing," Pagan said. "My real hope is to come back. I've been really taken with this town and would like to come back for more documenting."

For more information about Pagan's films, visit www.conchocolate.com.

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