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In focus for spring break

Miranda Andersen isn't like other children. The Belcarra girl talks in clear and concise sentences. She respects her elders and the environment.

Miranda Andersen isn't like other children.

The Belcarra girl talks in clear and concise sentences. She respects her elders and the environment. And she knows exactly what she wants to do when she grows up: Earn a biology degree from the University of Hawaii, study marine science and make films.

She credits her heroes for inspiring her and they, in turn, have a lot to say about Andersen and her work.

"She has such a strong commitment to the environment and she has this very special skill set to allow her to tell these important environmental stories," said Jen Whiffin, Andersen's Grade 4 and 5 teacher at Anmore elementary who got her on the path to filmmaking.

"She is modest and gentle but has a lovely spark and great conviction," said environmentalist Ruth Foster, who was the subject of Anderson's first film.

"She's an amazing girl. I think it's a tribute to her parents," added Smithsonian researcher Mary Hagedorn, who took Andersen around Oahu when she and her family visited the island to film Hagedorn in action last year.

Still, the high praise - as well as the numerous international and national awards for her short documentaries - hasn't got to the 11-year-old's head. In fact, she talks about her projects as if everyone does them.

"She's a very humble girl," her mother, Patty, said, noting her eldest child is on the honour roll at Moody middle school in Port Moody.

Not to mention talented.

Andersen's five-minute film debut about Foster - titled My Hero - would melt the heart of any stoic.

It shows Foster at Mossom Creek Hatchery, which she co-founded; an interview with Foster, who talks about "nature deficit disorder" with children; and the pollutants and hazards that threaten Foster's work.

Andersen wrote, filmed and edited it when she was nine and a Grade 4 student in Whiffin's class, as part of a writing project about heroes. Whiffin helped her with a digital camcorder and Mac iMovie software. Andersen estimates the movie took her three months to complete.

Foster believes the hatchery has had more younger helpers recently because of Andersen's coverage.

Andersen's next film, titled Help Mary Save Coral, started with "persistent emails" from her mom "that came about every two weeks. She kept saying she had this 10-year-old daughter who was really good," Hagedorn said with a laugh. "I thought, 'I'm so busy. I don't have time for this.' But they came out and she's an amazing girl.

"I think that women are strongest when they are young then societal influences change that. I hope that Miranda will continue to be supported as she grows. She certainly deserves much success," Hagedorn said.

And her projects keeps rolling.

Last month, Andersen was invited by ArtsConnect's executive director, Helen Daniels, to speak at PechaKucha Volume 2 in Coquitlam.

This month, during spring break, Andersen will be behind the camera again, filming a documentary on electronic waste shipped overseas for disposal.

To view Miranda Andersen's short on Foster, visit

To see her film on Hagedorn, visit

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