2016 Scholarship Recipient: Leo Pfeifer

Film has the power to tell stories that simply help their audience understand: understand
a person, place, culture, feeling, emotion, issue, or anything else. … when a film shows you the life, the
struggles, and the challenges of others, it can completely change your views on that subject. And it does
that all by simply telling you a story.

Leo Pfeifer, JDogg’s 2016 scholar, attended Point Park University in Pittsburg this past year.  He won best direction with his two teammates for a short film shot in 48 hours for the university’s freshman film festival. Leo also worked at the student production services, which allowed him to learn a lot of the equipment early in his university career, as well as meet a many other filmmakers. 

In the summer of 2017, Leo began an internship at a production company in Seattle (Workhouse Creative) that makes advertisements and other content for national brands. He quickly found it to be a place of great opportunity, giving him nearly unlimited potential for learning under the guidance of several highly skilled filmmakers. Because of that, and other contributing factors, he made the difficult decision to depart from Point Park University.

"I'm getting a firsthand look at many different aspects of work that's being made at a really high level, as well as vital guidance in developing my skills as storyteller and editor. I'll remember the things I'm learning here for the rest of my career."

Leo hopes to attend Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts beginning in the spring of 2018 to further his academic study of film. Until then, he will continue his internship in Seattle.

As a student in Ballard High School’s video production program, Leo created films that received six Awards of Excellence at the Northwest Emmys, nine Official Selections at the National Film Festival for Talented Youth, and over 200,000 views online.

Leo’s work includes narrative, music video, and advertising, but his biggest interest is documentary. He likes the power of the stories that documentaries are capable of telling, and their ability to examine something real. His documentary “Clipped Wings” tells the stories of those most affected by the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay members. It gained a wide audience online, was featured by news and advocacy organizations, and played at festivals.

What his teachers say:

“Leo has elevated the climate and learning of every class he’s been in.  He enjoys other students and he listens to them.  Although he always brings his own ideas to the table, on multiple occasions I’ve seen him listen for the best ideas in the room and support them.  He’s one of those rare students equally adept at the social, collaborative elements of filmmaking as the technical elements.  He never fails to master the technical skills necessary to realize his creative ideas.”
~ Matt Lawrence, Video Production Teacher, Ballard High 

Leo personally enjoys filmmaking because of the incredible places it's taken him and the people it's allowed him to meet. In 2014, he was hired to make a film for the organization GeoFORCE Alaska. It followed one of their trips across the United States as they taught rural Alaskan youth about geology. Leo hopes to build a career on work like this, as well as creating his own films.

A sampling of Leo’s films:
Clipped Wings
Air Pressure
Leo’s Vimeo page