Thursday, December 7, 2023

‘A labor of love’: See how this local filmmaker is capturing the heart of Williamsburg

Craig Minton originally grew up in Northern Virginia, but has spent the last 20 years calling Williamsburg home. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Craig Minton)

Craig Minton didn’t have a specific goal in mind when he began filming shots of the Williamsburg area during the pandemic.

He was simply looking for something to do with his time.

The Northern Virginia native has done filmmaking as a hobby for nearly 20 years and couldn’t help but notice the changes in the community because of COVID-19.

“This is the one life event where everyone in the world has been impacted,” he said.

The Williamsburg local began filming “candid” events in Colonial Williamsburg, no set up. He spent a week filming then edited his footage into a one-minute clip.

He said he didn’t expect to get a response from what he was doing.

But as the pandemic progressed, Minton found himself turning to film even more.

He made another video featuring highlights of the historic downtown. The film shows scenes from Duke of Gloucester Street, what is a normally busy street reduced to a sparsely populated area over the summer.

The message of his films?

“Williamsburg is open,” he said. “Our tourism has been impacted, the tourism, the restaurants. I thought this would be a good way to raise awareness of what’s going on and drive more business their way,” he said.

Then he made a short film featuring local restaurants.

The two-minute video showcases restaurants along Richmond Road, panning over lit up signs and neon lights. Minton said filming at night was intentional to show how beautiful local businesses make a town.

“They’ve always been there for us,” he said. “We need to step up and give them our business.”

He then received a nod of appreciation from the Williamsburg Area Restaurant Association, who reposted his video on their Facebook page with a note of thanks.

“Everyone is hurting right now, but our industry is especially hurting now,” said Debi Schaefer, executive director/secretary for WARA. “But when someone goes out of their way to help out our businesses like that, it brings joy to our hearts. When someone does something like that, it really makes a positive impact, and we’re very thankful.”

But what is it Minton is so drawn to about film?

“It’s really a labor of love, because it allows me to visually tell a story of what’s going on,” he said.

Another short movie he made features the Crim Dell bridge on William & Mary’s campus and a surprising discovery he made.

Minton said he learned about the campus lore that if two people cross the bridge while holding hands, then they will be lifelong friends, and if they kiss at the crest of the bridge, then they will be lovers for life.

When Minton went to visit the bridge for the first time and take photos, he found a note in an envelope pinned to the tree.

The envelope had only one word on it: “Nikolai.”

“It had recently rained so everything was wet, but the envelope was dry, which tells me whoever put the note there had done so that morning,” Minton said.

Not knowing who the intended recipient was, Minton didn’t touch the note, but he was inspired to make another short film on the bridge and its connection to the note.

“The hope is someone sees that video and knows who Nikolai is, because I would love to know the background story, and the outcome of whatever that message was,” he said.

Minton is currently working on his next short film. With the holidays approaching, can you guess what the theme will be?

To view Minton’s films, visit his YouTube Channel linked here.


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