Penny P's Backyard

"Penny P's Backyard" was shot in the New River Valley including Virginia Tech's campus.

When it comes to thinking green and living sustainably, there are a variety of ways to go about practicing a lifestyle that is beneficial to the conservation of the environment. For producer and filmmaker Chris Valluzzo, it’s a practice worth investing effort into. With plans already underway, Valluzzo is working to film a show in the New River Valley region that aspires to be the first TV show ever produced with 100% renewable energy.

In partnership with Solar Connexion, a Blacksburg-based renewable energy contractor that installs renewable energy systems in the mid-Atlantic region, Valluzzo and his family have put together “Penny P’s Backyard,” a family show focused on a girl named Penny P and her friends as they learn about nature and science, all while discovering the ties the two topics have to that of Appalachian folk art.

“The example I use most is when a geologist talks about how the Appalachian Mountains were formed, terms like heat and pressure and the bending and folding of the earth would be used to explain the forces and end result of plate tectonics,” Valluzzo said in reference to the ties between Appalachian folk art and other themes of the show. “A folk artist who would use near-identical terms would be a blacksmith or potter who uses heat and pressure to bend and fold their creations.” 

As the show strives to be a “local effort” within the New River Valley region, parts of the show were filmed on the Virginia Tech campus. “Ultimately we aim to shoot the show in the NRV and hopefully on Tech campus,” Valluzzo said.

Through the crowdsourcing website Indiegogo, the project has raised over $11,000 from donors, with the money going toward offsetting production-related expenses such as establishing a proof of concept and paying for those involved in filming the show. Between May and June of 2020, the production team seeks to submit its first season outline to various filming studios in order to secure a production deal that would allow them to move forward with getting the show out to a wide range of viewers. 

While there is still work ahead to be done before viewers can experience what all is to be seen from the show, “Penny P’s Backyard” looks to be a unique take on a family-friendly educational program. For those seeking to be informed as to the progress of the show’s production, visit its Facebook page or follow its Indiegogo page’s updates.

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