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Dec 8, 2009 6:09 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Springs students send a message to Obama family

Dec 8, 2009 6:09 PM

In the digital age, children’s schoolwork has come a long way. From once being displayed on refrigerator doors, it can now be seen on TV and computer screens instead. For filmmakers Claire Belhumeur and Tali Friedman, both fourth-graders at the Springs School, their work has made it all the way into the White House.

As part of the school’s Film Club, the girls wanted to make a film that would help the Obama family choose the White House dog. For weeks last year, they interviewed classmates and teachers on what kind of dog they thought would be best for the first family. In editing their work, they added funny pictures of dogs that they found online. Because Claire’s parents work in film-related businesses, she and Tali were lucky enough to have editing equipment, including a green screen that allowed them to super impose images, to work with at home. The opening shot of their four-minute film is the girls in front of the White House on the green screen.

“The best part was the green screen,” Claire said.

“Everyone thought we went to the White House,” Tali added.

The girls were still in the final editing stages when they heard that the Obama family had received Bo, a Portuguese water dog, as a gift from Senator Edward Kennedy. “We finished two days after that,” said Tali.

But the girls made a quick recovery by adding a photo of a Portuguese water dog to the end of the film and congratulating the Obamas on the addition to their family.

The girls’ teacher, Sue Ellen O’Connor, said the film was a big hit at the school, where all club members’ films are screened at weekly morning meetings, but the girls were still hoping their movie would be seen by a very specific audience: Malia and Sasha Obama.

In late October, Claire’s father, Mark, was working on a TV shoot for a special episode of “Iron Chef” featuring the White House chef. He brought along a copy of the girls’ film and when he met Michelle Obama’s deputy press secretary, he mentioned it. Later that day, she came back to ask Mr. Belhumeur for a copy and he also gave her a letter that Tali and Claire had written to the Obama girls.

“This is pretty much the only way you can get a DVD into the White House,” said Claire. “We were going to mail it, but they told my dad that all the X-rays it would go through would probably have ruined it. Now the girls are hoping to hear back from the Obamas, but Lauren Belhumeur, Claire’s mother, said they are trying not to get their hopes up.

The girls are hardly sitting idle. Since then, they’ve both made another film and are starting new projects.

Both girls are also considering future careers in the film business.

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Charming story! Hope they hear from the White House. My guess is that they will.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Dec 10, 09 1:50 PM
Way to go, girls! You're liv'n my dream. (But my dad was a social worker. So that op had to come from me). Hope you get your wish!
By nellie (451), charleston on Dec 11, 09 3:27 AM