9-year-old 4th-grader’s documentary screened at Knoxville Film Festival

Poster for the documentary film “Giving Back,” produced by 9-year-old Aiden Barger, a fourth-grader at Tate’s School of Discovery, with help from his father, Eric Barger.
A 9-year-old boy not only has produced a film — his work was recognized at Knoxville Film Festival with a screening.

“Giving Back” is a 6-minute, 13-second documentary from Aiden Barger, a fourth-grader at Tate’s School of Discovery.

With the help of his father, Eric Barger, Aiden documented the dedication of Terry Futrell, a senior citizen photographer who during the past four years has filled a void and captured — through his trusted lens — high school sports in Morgan County free of charge.

“It’s in a county where sports photography was almost non-existent. … So he just started taking photographs for free and donated a lot of his time,” Eric Barger said. “And we thought that was a very admirable thing to do.

“That’s how the title came about: he was ‘Giving Back’ to the community where he grew up,” he added. “We just thought that was a real good story.”

As for getting Aiden started in film, “We both have our own YouTube account. We’ve been working on the YouTube Channel for about three years as a father-son project,” Barger said. “Kind of getting to know how the deal works, how you write a script. Or do you follow a script? What do people want to know about?”

As for finding the right story, “One day I was sitting there, and I told Aiden we had a chance to do a story with Terry about the type of camera he was going to use … going from Canon to Sony,” he said. “We went to interview him about that.

“But before we did that, we said, ‘we’d also like to talk to you about your involvement of shooting sports in Morgan County.’

“Aiden was responsible for writing most of the questions, and he interviewed Terry. And he was responsible for asking the follow-up (questions),” Barger added. After his father did “a rough transcription of what I heard the interviewee say, I hand it over to Aiden. He plays it with headphones on and he makes sure that, every word, I got it all correct,” he said.

“And we discussed how we wanted to divide this up, what we wanted to lead with,” Barger added. “… He had a lot of input about the order of the story.”

As a learning tool for Aiden, “There’s a lot of negativity in the news, so it’s good for him to know that there’s still good people doing good things outside of school and home,” Barger said. “It’s good for him to see positive role models.”

Moreover, “he can see that doing something good may mean a lot of work, but it’s also very gratifying,” he said. “And it’s very good for him to think of a project, conceptualize the project and follow through with it and complete it.

“One man touching an entire county: that’s something he may not have understood beforehand,” Barger added.

About Knoxville Film Fest last Saturday evening, Sept. 15, “He didn’t think we had much of a chance to get chosen,” Barger said about Aiden.

“We gave our best, we just let the chips fall and fortunately we were picked to be screened.”