Obama invited us over to his house!

President Barack Obama joins students for a group photo in the State Dining Room during the White House Student Film Festival, March 20, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson) This photograph is provided by THE WHITE HOUSE as a courtesy and may be printed by the subject(s) in the photograph for personal use only. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not otherwise be reproduced, disseminated or broadcast, without the written permission of the White House Photo Office. This photograph may not be used in any commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

President Barack Obama stands alongside student filmmakers from across the nation, including Ben Root, Alex Treviño and Emily Potter, (upper left). Archer Hadley sits front and center

So there’s this thing called “The White House Student Film Festival” where The President asks K-12 students to submit films based on a certain theme. This years theme was “the impact of giving back”. As luck would have it, Ben Root and the AHS Student Reporting Labs team happened to already be producing a documentary about Archer Hadley, an AHS student with cerebral palsy, who was raising money to install automatic handicapped doors for the school. All we had to do was keep the film under 3 minutes and turn it in by the deadline and we were gold. Our confidence was high because our story was so awesome, no matter our skills as filmmakers. Story is king and we all knew that Archer’s story was gold on a platinum platter. Obama agreed and we were invited to come up and meet the President and a few of his filmmaking friends like Steve McQueen, Hillary Swank, and many others. We were not the only ones of course, our film was one of 16 films to make the cut, out of more than 1,500 entries.

Upon arrival on Friday,  The PBS NewsHour had a reception for us, and let us sit in on a taping of the show. Then they bought us dinner! The next day the team arrived at the White House for the big day. After three security checkpoints, we were in and spent the afternoon hanging out with Obama and watching the films. Sunday still had a lot in store for us as we convened at the Newseum for a day of filmmaking and acting workshops sponsored by the American Film Institute. We also screened the films one more time and had a filmmaker Q&A. The workshop ended with a party on the patio, where we received the presidential candy…red, white, and blue M&M’s. The rest of the day was spent sightseeing and galavanting around DC.

Official Selection – 2015 White House Film Festival
First Place – Student Television Network Spring Nationals Community Story Category
Best of Fest, Best Producing, Best Documentary – Austin Youth Film Festival

Produced, Directed & Edited by Ben Root
Emily Potter – Asst. Producer, Asst. Editor, Production Sound
Alex Treviño – 2nd Unit Director
Khunal Parkash – Key Grip, Assistant Camera
Keirra Ewah – Transcriptions, Production Asst.
Kevin MacLeod’s “Perspectives” used under the Creative Commons attribution 3.0 license

The pictures do no justice to how awesome the experience was, but here they are anyway!

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One comment

  1. You met Gwen Ifill. She’s a hero of mine. [😊]

    Maura Patricia Masters
    Director of Austin High’s Ballet Folklorico
    AVID, ESOL and College Readiness Teacher

    “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”

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