Fountain Valley High School

Fountain Valley High School’s Leah Phillips and Justin Nguyen take a journey through autism

Baron Broadcast News (BBN) seniors Leah Phillips and Justin Nguyen placed second with their video tackling autism in C-SPAN’s Classroom StudentCam Documentary Contest.

Phillips, one of the producers of BBN, and Nguyen, a senior member of BBN, combined forces to create their video “Autism is a journey, not a sentence,” for the competition. The video looked to spread autism awareness and the hardships people face everyday in dealing with autism after seeing the effects of autism for themselves.

“Over the summer, I did a video internship with a company, The Brain Treatment Center, where I filmed the life of a family with a son suffering from autism. The topic intrigued me because I saw how the family struggled,” said Phillips.

The film served as a learning process for both, as they got to see and understand the effects of autism.

Justin Nguyen ('16) accepts the Cspan award for second place on behalf of himself and Leah Philips ('16). Photo by Viet Vu
Justin Nguyen (’16) accepts the C-SPAN award for second place on behalf of himself and Leah Phillips (’16). Photo by Viet Vu

“Throughout the process of making the documentary, I found myself engulfed in a whole new world that is autism. Every person we interviewed was a first hand experience at what was happening today with autism,” said Nguyen.

Phillips felt the same way.

“I thought that this video would be an opportunity for me to bring to light problems that these families encounter everyday and to possibly bring help to these families,” said Phillips.

The video placed second among thousands of submissions and this certainly wasn’t luck, as the two filmmakers spent many days and long hours working to create their content.

“We started planning for this video in October and didn’t finish until late January. It was a lot of work and a long process, but I loved every minute of it,” said Phillips. “I feel very proud of our accomplishment. I love that I was able to share this experience with Justin.”

Not only does this video serve as a learning tool for autism, anyone aspiring to send powerful messages through their own films can certainly learn a thing or two.

“To any of those that want to make films or want to enter into competitions, I really encourage them to go out and give it a shot because opportunities hardly ever-present themselves,” said Nguyen. “It’s up to us to go out and find them.”

–Yasir Khaleq and Viet Vu