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Filming at the White House!

Filming on Pebble Beach at the White House

Recently, my crew and I were granted access to film at the White House. Our goal was to get some shots of the grounds and the James Brady Press Room in order to bring alive the brief moment in 1981 when James Brady was Press Secretary to President Reagan before the assassination attempt. At the time, the White House and news media still primarily recorded on film media and not video. To save the expense of film and processing, there is no filmed footage of James Brady during his brief tenure at the podium. What does exist is audio of Mr. Brady, which we will use in a creative manner by integrating it with moving shots of the empty Press Room.

Filming in the White House Press Room

I can’t express how exciting it was to be granted access to the White House for this filming. When we arrived, Pennsylvania Avenue had been completely cleared out and so we were the only ones on the street, heading to the president’s house. We were permitted access to film on the White House grounds at a location called “Pebble Beach” which is where the media outlets set up interviews and commentators. There’s a semi-circular driveway leading up to the White House that is in front of “Pebble Beach” and we were given permission to film on that as well. However, in one take my cameraman got a little too close to the edge of the concrete and we noticed a sniper on the rooftop of the White House training his weapon on us. It was definitely not a good place to be pushing the cinematic envelope.

The James Brady Press Room is located on the West Wing and there’s access to it straight from outside, which never occurred to me as the cameras during press conferences are never trained in this direction. I was also surprised how small the room is in actuality and that the seats, carpeting and instrumentation all seem rather well-worn. Perhaps the biggest impression of all was that people work and run this place just like you and me. I suppose that’s one of the lessons I’ve learned from Jim and Sarah Brady: regardless of our stations in this world, we’re all just people.

Looking forward to sharing this footage with you in the final film!

Dana at the podium in the James Brady Press Room

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