Portraits of a Division

Portrait of an ACPS Student: Alena Touve



We zoom out to see a group of teenagers hunched around a camera. The first group of teenagers is surrounded by another group of teenagers with more filming equipment. We realize they’re filming a scene within a scene.

The on-screen teenagers discuss what they’ve just “filmed” and agree to reset for another take. The actors take up their positions once more and a scream cuts through the air. 

(Frustrated, with a huff)

Cut! Reset! 

(to the ACTRESS who screamed) 

What was that?

"DIRECTOR" walks over to see what startled the ACTRESS, who now seems rooted to her mark, anticipating a snake or some kind of bug. What he finds, though, is a body. One of them has been killed.


Alena Touve, a sophomore at Western Albemarle High School, loves film. She loves to do it all: write, direct, and act, after getting a taste of the production side of the industry in her debut as the main love interest in a 3-episode miniseries produced by a local amateur production company last year.

The plot of the miniseries follows a group of high school students who accidentally commit a murder while filming a movie, adding one more thing to their plate as they face graduation.

“It was so fun to do,” she said. “We got to film in some really cool places.”

Alena became interested in filming after finding her parents’ old camcorder from the ’90s — a big, clunky camera that they had to teach her how to load a VHS into.

“The film was really fun to work with and it gave this really vintage, grainy look to all of the footage I took,” she said. But unfortunately, the equipment didn’t last very long, she said. “The tapes just kind of started to disintegrate in my hands because they were so old.”

But she still digitized the footage and pieced it together using more modern programs. Then, when she got involved with the miniseries production, her interest in the industry really took off. She began writing her own shorts — little snippets of scenes here and there when she’s inspired by the small things around her.

“I love the ‘slice of life’ type films where nothing really happens but you get to see the little dramatic or funny things we all experience,” Alena said. 

And even though she’s only a sophomore, she’s already started looking at college film programs. She’s looked into some local programs, UVA, VCU, and the University of Richmond among them. However, Alena muses she’d love to attend the University of Chicago’s film program.

“Chicago is just such a cool city and I’d love to film there,” she said. Some of her favorite memories revolve around visiting family around the city and making the trip inside the skyline to see the sights.

But, in the meantime, she’s still focusing on her next two years at Western.

“I’m actually looking forward to AP Art History,” she said. “You get to just sit and learn about and look at art. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”