STORY BY MICAH KARR, BUSINESS & HEALTH REPORTER
Bailey Webber’s father, Michael Webber, works to produce movies. So when his daughter began her search to discover why the Ohio government was sending out “fat letters,” Bailey made a documentary.
Her documentary, called “The Student Body,” shows Webber’s journey across the country in which she interviews experts about weight and health, educates viewers about Body Mass Index (BMI) and makes friends along the way.
The interviews, Webber explained, were exceedingly interesting. Meme Roth, the founder of National Action Against Obesity, shared a view that was opposite Webber’s. “I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Webber explained, but she said that the interview was actually very pleasant and interesting. Although their viewpoints were different, Webber explained that both she and Roth realized that this was “a battle of ideas, not people.”
While the interview with Roth was interesting, Webber said that her interview with Senator Kearney was the most interesting. It was an “eight month journey,” she explained. Throughout the project, Webber discovered that there are “barriers between government officials and the public.”
When she did finally get an interview with Kearney, she said she “never expected anything to unfold,” like it did. Part of her campaign during the documentary was measuring the BMI of everyone she interviewed. While most everyone said no, she expected the senator to stand on the scale as he had forced Webber and her friends to do. The most shocking part of the interview, Webber explained, was when Kearney asked some of his associates where the “fat letters” were coming from. Because Kearney was one of the enforcers of the bill that forced students to receive their BMI, Webber was incredulous. “That was you!” Webber said.
Another important part of the documentary was the ethics, Webber explained. She quoted her dad, explaining that “90 percent of having rights is knowing your rights,” so she exercised her rights with her cameras. While, she explained, she had rights to take her cameras almost everywhere, she chose not to show the inside of the senator’s office. “We stick to [ethics],” she explained.
Webber explained that, while she did encounter a lot of failures throughout the project, there were “hidden blessings.” She created a Kickstarter to help fund the documentary, but it did not raise enough money. “It was just failure after failure after failure,” Webber said. But, through the Kickstarter, experts on obesity and eating disorders heard about her project. Despite the failure of the Kickstarter to gain the financial backing, Webber got to meet with several more professionals in their fields.
For example, she travelled to New York City to meet Claire Misko at the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). Additionally, she travelled to Texas Tech to meet with Dr. Martin Binks, a clinical psychologist. “That was the farthest I travelled,” she said.
Webber believes that her documentary is a non-threatening way to present the issue of health and BMI to students and teachers in schools. She said that if schools show students what an eating disorder looks like, “it could push someone with an eating disorder or someone on the edge farther into remission,” she said. The Student Body, she explained, is a way to show how to have health without putting fear behind it.
THE STUDENT BODY
AWARDS & SELECTIONS
Independent Spirit Award Winner - Sedona International Film Festival 2017
Official Selection - Sedona Film Festival
Official Selection - Traverse City Film Festival
Official Selection - Woodstock Film Festival
Official Selection - Providence Children's Film Festival