Focus Features Sets Doc About Obama White House Photographer

Dawn Porter, Laura Dern and Evan Hayes-SPLIT=-Getty-H 2019
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Dawn Porter will direct and produce, along with Laura Dern and 'Free Solo' producer Evan Hayes.

Focus Features will partner with Laura Dern and Free Solo producer Evan Hayes for a documentary about former Chief Official White House Photographer Pete Souza.

Dawn Porter, the Peabody-winning director behind Gideon’s Army, will direct the film about the prolific and outspoken photojournalist.

As Chief Official White House Photographer, Souza spent more time alongside President Barack Obama than almost anyone else, and his years photographing Presidents Obama and Reagan gave him an intimate behind-the-scenes view of the unique gravity of the Office and the tremendous responsibility that comes with it. And as the official White House photographer for two administrations — both Democratic and Republican — Souza had unprecedented access to presidencies on both sides of the political spectrum, which has given him a unique vantage point on our current political landscape. 

The film will track Souza’s journey from a man with top-secret clearance and total access to the President to a man who has turned his focus on the present day and who uses his art as commentary.

Porter will also produce alongside Hayes under his ACE Content banner and Dern and her Jaywalker Pictures partner Jayme Lemons, in association with Platform One Media.

“On Jan. 20, 2017, I left the White House and resumed my most important role in life—citizen. And it’s as citizen that I have chosen to speak out, using my photographs as commentary of where we were and how that contrasts with where we are today,” said Souza, who published New York Times best-sellers Obama: An Intimate Portrait and Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents.

Added Porter: "I’ve spent my career highlighting heroic voices, and I could not be more thrilled to be working with Evan, Laura, Jayme and Focus Features to tell Pete's heroic story. Their commitment to this story reflects a dedication to honor as well as art and I am so grateful to be working with this team.”

Focus Features, which was behind last year's breakout doc success Won't You Be My Neighbor?, will distribute the doc domestically, and Universal Pictures International will handle foreign distribution.