Film has always been a powerful tool to convey important messages. A documentary can change perspectives and raise questions — and some Winter Park High School students were recently recognized for doing just that.
Multiple Winter Park Wildcats were recently recognized as winners earlier this month in C-SPAN’s national 2018 StudentCam competition.
Each year since 2006, C-SPAN has partnered with its local cable television providers in communities nationwide to invite middle school students and high school students to produce short documentaries about a subject of national importance. This year, students addressed the theme, “The Constitution & You: Choose a provision of the U.S. Constitution and create a video illustrating why it’s important to you.”
Out of 2,985 video submissions from more than 5,700 students in 46 states and Washington, D.C., this year, eight documentaries made by Winter Park Wildcats were recognized, including three second-place winners, one third-place winner and five honorable mentions.
Among the second-prize winners was duo Claire Prudhomme and Santiago León, who picked a theme that hits home in today’s society: the First Amendment, or, more specifically, the freedom of the press.
Their documentary, titled “’PRESSure’ The Pressure for Freedom of The Press,” took a look at why the press is important and why it should be protected. The project included interviews with a local news anchor, a Rollins College professor and a sports journalist, who all gave their thoughts on the challenges the press faces today. The documentary will air on C-SPAN at 6:50 a.m. and throughout the day on Sunday, April 8.
“We worked our butts off for it,” Prudhomme said. “It’s so humbling to be able to get second place and to be recognized for our work like that, especially if it’s both stuff that we want to do. For Santiago, recognition for his cinematography is huge for him, because he wants to be a photographer. For me – being able to be played on C-SPAN — I can have that on my resume.”
Prudhomme said she and León chose that provision due to the critical role the press plays with monitoring government and how U.S. President Donald Trump has attempted to shut media out of the White House.
“There (were) so many instances talking about why the press was so bad that I felt like we needed something that talks about why it is good for our government,” said Prudhomme, who wants one day to be a news anchor or work in politics.
“We need someone who’s out there wanting to tell the truth,” she said. “If we didn’t have (the press), who would be there to tell the truth?”
Another second-prize award went to Christina Spain and Chelsea Wilck for their video, “Gun Control: America Under Fire,” tackling another topic that’s been heavily discussed throughout the country.
The project included a broad range of perspectives, including interviews with Pulse nightclub owner Barbara Poma, U.S. veteran and NRA member David Rickey and Winter Park Police Chief Michael Deal. The documentary will air on C-SPAN at 6:50 a.m. and throughout the day on Wednesday, April 4.
“When we made this documentary, obviously gun violence at the moment is a very hot topic in the news and just pop culture in general,” Wilck said. “We started planning for this back in November, so what we really used as our inspiration was the Pulse shooting, because living here in Orlando that was obviously something that hit us very close to the heart.”
“The whole idea of C-SPAN is creating a very balanced documentary and not being one sided,” Spain said.
“We thought the Second Amendment would be a great one to see both sides of the issue. We thought we’d be able to create a really cohesive but also balanced documentary in that way.”
The duo said they feel honored to walk away with a second-place award, having captured third and an honorable mention in previous years.
“It was definitely an honor because not very many people win,” Spain said.
“It was just amazing.”