• Stuart Benson

Ms. Green goes to Washington


When Samantha Green(L) was 15 she ran away from home to Washington D.C. on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth all the way to the front steps of her Aunt and Uncle’s home. Two years later, she’s producing a seven minute documentary for PBS with her classmates, cameraman Michael Birkwood(M), and editor Dawn Blok(R), as part of Algonquin College’s new Film and Media Production program. Stuart Benson photo
When Samantha Green(L) was 15 she ran away from home to Washington D.C. on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth all the way to the front steps of her Aunt and Uncle’s home. Two years later, she’s producing a seven minute documentary for PBS with her classmates, cameraman Michael Birkwood(M), and editor Dawn Blok(R), as part of Algonquin College’s new Film and Media Production program. Stuart Benson photo

By Stuart Benson


For a lot of high school students, the urge to ‘see the world’ can be powerful, but most wait until graduation to move away to a university in another city or maybe backpack across Europe. If you’re Wakefield resident Samantha Green, a then 15-year-old attending Philemon Wright High School in 2018, you run off to Washington D.C. “on a whim” and turn it into a documentary for PBS two years later.


Green’s personal “coming of age” story is one of 14 ideas selected out of over 40, submitted by her classmates in Algonquin College’s new Film and Media Production program, to be produced into seven-minute documentaries, which will be featured on WPBS in December.


Green and her classmates were divided into production teams and given access to high-quality film equipment and software, with her team consisting of herself as producer, director and main talent; Dawn Blok as head editor and sound design; and Michael Birkwood as main cameraman and cinematographer.


“The big question [of the documentary] is why did you do it?” Green explained. She cautioned, however, that if viewers are looking for some dramatic situation at home, they might be disappointed. “[It’s just] normal teenage angst. I mean, nobody was dying, there was nothing big. I was just on the school bus one day and I just said, ‘I want to get out of here.’”


The choice of Washington D.C., Green explained, wasn’t simply a random decision fueled by youthful wanderlust; it was where her maternal aunt and uncle lived.

I knew that they were a safe place to go to because I wanted a destination... I didn't want to just take off and end up on the streets or something,” Green explained. “I wanted to do it safely, but I still wanted the adventure and the self-growth of doing it alone, and doing it undercover, on a whim.”


Green said she took a picture of her grandmother’s credit card and used it to book her plane ticket – an expense she would later payback from her savings – and the trip would have been mostly smooth sailing until her connecting, overnight flight was cancelled due to bad weather.


“I had to find a hotel to stay at with no credit card as a minor, so I found a motel that would take my debit card, which is really sketchy,” Green explained. “ It was really dirty and really uncomfortable, so I left and I decided I was going to sleep at the airport.”


Looking back on the experience, Green said it allowed her to learn a lot about herself, including her ability to be resourceful and think on her feet, which she said her family also learned about her when she showed up at her aunt’s front door in Washington D.C. two days after leaving her home in Wakefield.


If you want to hear the rest of her story, you’ll have to tune into WPBS, Vidéotron channel 50, at 8.pm. on Dec. 12.