Anne-Marije Rook
Leo Pfeifer (right) and his crew member (Ian Derby) show off Pfeifer's prize for being a second place winner in C-SPAN's StudentCam documentary competition.

Salmon Bay School film maker awarded $1,500 by C-Span, honored at school assembly

C-SPAN’s Digital Bus came to Salmon Bay School on Friday morning to honor middle school student Leo Pfeifer, who won second prize in their documentary competition.

StudentCam is an annual C-SPAN documentary competition which encourages students to create short films about political and public policy matters. This year’s theme was “Washington, DC, Through My Lens” and asked middle and high school students to address issues directly impacting their communities.

Leo Pfeifer, 13, made a documentary titled “Homelessness: An American Crisis”, which deals with the homelessness issue on a local as well as national level.

The school held a special assembly on Friday morning to honor Pfeifer’s achievement and screen his film.

The new Seattle Public Schools superintendent, Susan Enfield, was present at the assembly and shortly addressed the audience and congratulated Pfeifer for his achievement.

“I hope that we all – not just you students, but also all us adults in this room – be inspired by what Leo has done,” she said.

Pfeifer’s assistant and crewmember Ian Derby was honored for his involvement in creating the documentary and student Colin Fallon received recognition for placing ninth in a state geography bee.

“Ian was an excellent crew member,” Pfeifer said. “He especially helped me with my sanity when I was editing the film.”

Prior to the screening of his film, Pfeifer said a few words to the assembly and awarded a big check by C-SPAN’s Doug Hemming.

“Homelessness is such a big issue that we seem to have forgotten about,” Pfeifer said. “This film is really just about raising awareness. Homeless people seem to be so isolated from far away but they are just like us. I learned that from interviewing them.”

Pfeifer said he plans to donate some of the money from his $1,500 prize and spend the rest on new film equipment so he can continue making movies.

Doug Hemming said there were three requirements for the film entries. They had to be five to eight minute in length, show different perspectives, and use C-SPAN footage in the research.

Hemming said Pfeifer’s video was so well-made that some people in the jury were pushing for first place.

Lesley Pfeifer, Leo’s mom, said Leo received his first camera at the age of three. When he was nine, she allowed him to have his own YouTube channel, which can be visited at

“He’s been interested in film making for a while,” she said. “I’m very proud. He did this all on his own. I just drove him around.”
Reed said she too, is very proud of the three honored students’ achievements.

“I’m proud because these things happened out of class. Learning happens in the real word,” she said. “And the most important thing is that they stuck to it.”

“When you put your minds to it, you guys have some really great ideas,” Hemming added.

Visit Pfeifer’s YouTube channel to watch the documentary.

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