With a Sony EX3 camera draped over his right shoulder, filmmaker Arun Chaudhary (Tisch ’04) enjoyed a freedom few others ever achieve. No one blinked an eye as he cruised through the Roosevelt Room, Situation Room, and the rest of the West Wing labyrinth. Such was life on “set” as the White House’s first official videographer.
From 2009 to 2011, Chaudhary captured candid moments of President Barack Obama, his family, and his staff, gathering footage that served as both historical record and messaging tool for the administration. In 2010, he launched a Web series, West Wing Week, and shadowed the president everywhere from Afghanistan to the Oval Office desk where he quietly filled out his own census form (“Old man. Old, old man,” Obama muttered while scribbling “48” under the age section of the form). With news programs such as 60 Minutes and The Rachel Maddow Show also using Chaudhary’s footage, the role of videographer redrew the lines of transparency in the White House.
Chaudhary, who has taught location sound recording as an adjunct at Tisch, chronicled the experience in First Cameraman: Documenting the Obama Presidency in Real Time, which was published by Times Books in 2012. He is currently senior vice president of communications at Revolution Messaging and a fellow at George Washington University.