By: Alicia Sands Lurry
Aspiring filmmaker and North Atlanta High School senior William Thomason recently attended the first-ever South by South Lawn event at the White House, where his three-minute film, “LEGO: Education For Her,” was screened as part of the 2016 White House Student Film Festival. Thomason’s film was one of three selected out of 700 entries.
Held earlier this month in association with the American Film Institute and inspired by South by Southwest, the event celebrates the spirit of innovation and brings together creators, innovators, and organizers to share how they are changing their communities. Students in grades K-12 submitted entries around the theme, “The World I Want to Live In.” Thomason’s film, a charming, stop-motion Lego animation, describes the story of a young woman whose life was changed for the better by Let Girls Learn — and the mission of equal access to education for all.
During the event, Thomason, who is an IB film student, met President Barack Obama; Bob Gazzale, president of the American Film Institute; and the cast, creators, and producers of the new Netflix original series, “Stranger Things.”
Thomason’s film was screened prior to the debut of Leonardo DiCaprio’s new documentary and a panel discussion with President Obama.
He described the experience as both surreal and a huge honor.
“Not only was it great to have my film screened in front of film industry professionals, but it was gratifying to see all my hard work pay off,” said Thomason, whose film focuses on the 62 million girls who do not have access to education.
North Atlanta High School IB film teacher Andre Regan couldn’t be more proud. He noted that Thomason is the first NAHS student whose film has been screened at the White House.
“William is probably one of the best film students I’ve had in the past 20 years,” said Regan, who also serves as NAHS athletic director. “Overall, he’s humble and quiet, and a film kid at heart. He is able to watch older movies and translate them with a modern-day mind. William has a great future ahead of him.”
Following graduation, Thomason plans to attend college to study filmmaking in his pursuit to find compelling ways to tell stories. His top choices include the University of Texas at Austin, University of Georgia, Belmont University, and Boston University.