Portadown film-maker Paul Moorehead in White House screening
8 September 2015
- From the section Northern Ireland
Image copyright Paul Moorehead Image caption Paul Moorehead and Thomas Glass working on Ticking the Box
A former teacher turned film-maker from County Armagh is taking part in a prestigious conference at the White House this week.
Paul Moorehead, from Portadown, has been invited to show his film Ticking the Box at the President’s Inter-faith and Community Service Challenge National Gathering.
The film focuses on what is meant by community engagement and the ways in which it is happening.
It includes interviews with Dr Terrence Roberts, one of the Little Rock Nine who helped to desegregate one of the largest schools in the US in 1957, as well as former commissioner of education Ernest Boyer.
The film was made for American higher education and has been shown on cable TV in the US.
Mr Moorehead said getting the opportunity to screen his work at the White House was a real honour.
"It’s basically the principals of American colleges, plus some international people who have been chosen," Mr Moorehead said.
"The film that I made is being shown at the President’s Inter-faith gathering and then I’ll be talking about it afterwards.
"We make films about community and faith and education, so in terms of where we’re going to, I suppose this is as high as we can get."
He said the fact his films could be used to try to help bring people together in Northern Ireland was an important part of the White House invite.
"I was told it was based on people that they felt could make a difference in the communities they’re in," he said.
"I’ll be making two visits to the White House, one a kind of meet and greet thing and the second will be to talk about the work I’m doing here in Northern Ireland."
It is all a long way from a studio at Lurgan Junior High School where Mr Moorehead – then a teacher – started making films, initially to be shown within the school.
"We started broadcasting on the internet and then we started to go out and do outside broadcasts," he said.
Image copyright Paul Moorehead Image caption Ticking the Box was made in America but Mr Moorehead said it relates to Northern Ireland
"I started into making films and the first film I made was nominated at the Learning Onscreen Awards and I thought ‘good grief’. Then it was taken up by the Department of Education and it kind of made changes to the history curriculum.
"I thought by making films you can have quite a voice."
He formed the community enterprise company LJHSTV and hasn’t looked back, with his career since landing him awards, as well as White House invitations.
"We made a film two years ago [A Step Too Far] that won the Chicago Peace on Earth film festival – best feature documentary," he said.
"We brought that back and that is being used here [in Northern Ireland] between inter-faith groups.
"Because things are so difficult here, if you make a film elsewhere and sort of relate it to here, it can make a difference."
Mr Moorehead’s US visit will include dinner with the principals of the prestigious Georgetown and Howard universities.
"I can’t say I don’t feel a bit out of my depth here, but you’re not going to miss chances like this," he said.
Image copyright Paul Moorehead Image caption One of Mr Moorehead’s previous films won an award at the Chicago Peace on Earth Awards
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