McFry was called from the bleachers to stand behind a lectern with a representative from the C-SPAN television network at an assembly that, unbeknownst to the teen, was called in his honor. Then, one by one, McFry’s family -– his mom, dad, little brother -– filed in and hugged him in front of the entire student body.
The high school junior was recognized at the ceremony for being one of 75 winners in a national student documentary film competition with more than 1,000 entries. The competition and the assembly were hosted by the Washington, D.C.-based cable public affairs network C-SPAN, which is visiting each of the winners in a Campaign 2012 bus.
“It’s crazy to think that somebody from a place that’s so small can get such big recognition,” McFry said.
The teenager has been making short videos since a third-grade class project. Last year he purchased a business license and began his own production company, McDorky Productions. Some day he hopes to make Hollywood feature films to rival those of Steven Spielberg.
“It’s my dream,” McFry said.
The film that won him recognition by C-SPAN was a short documentary on about intellectual property rights and the First Amendment. It detailed a stalled bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act, which was debated by federal legislators last year and which became the center of widespread protest online.
It’s not the kind of work the teenager hopes to do as an adult, but McFry said he learned a lot from the experience. He was also awarded $250 for the project by C-SPAN. That money, he said, will go toward lighting or other equipment that can be used during future projects.
“The different points of view made me stop and think,” McFry said of the SOPA legislation.
Doug Hemmig with C-SPAN said each of the video entries for the competition had to illustrate a provision of the Constitution. The video couldn’t last more than eight minutes and it had to include multiple points of view and a clip of C-SPAN footage.
“He incorporated the three elements into his entry seamlessly and that’s why he was a winner,” Hemmig said.
Because of the TV network’s visit, McFry’s peers were able to tour the media education bus, which was marked with bold lettering on the outside. Inside, it contained more than 12 flat-screen monitors, some of which had touch-screen capabilities.
McFry and his family received a personal tour of the bus before the rest of the students had a chance to step on board. The teen said in front of Hemmig that he’d like to have the bus for Christmas.
“I don’t know if you can get the bus but you can probably get a job with us in a few years,” Hemmig said.
Staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On twitter@LJohnson_Star.