News & Politics

President Obama Is Running Out of Time to Be Interviewed by Patrick Gavin

Patrick Gavin’s quest to interview President Obama dates back to September 2015. He launched an ambitious effort to make 500 videos documenting his journey. There have been aerial videos. An incredible one about Politico told via an asparagus steamer. The time he filmed himself drinking a LaCroix in an empty White House Briefing Room.

On Wednesday, Gavin posted his “Final Request.” He hasn’t gotten quite to 500 videos–“I sort of forgave myself and moved to a more casual publishing schedule” along the way, he says, but Wednesday’s video is No. 315. 315!

This last pitch is an attempt to connect with Obama over the fact that both he and Gavin are fathers of two daughters. He’s also tried to get with him over transparency–“he’s talked about everything under the sun but I’d be interested in talking about one of the campaign promises he made,” Gavin says–and drone photography.

This afternoon Gavin plans to attend a White House briefing. “Honestly, I think my best chance is if I get called on, I’m calling that an interview,” he says. He’s not wearing any wacky clothes, he’s just going to go down there and try, dammit.

He’s learned a lot through this project. During interviews with people who had successfully gotten interviews, he says he realized “they were all saying the same thing, which was you have to have an audience the White House wants to reach.” That freed him up to work on building a following however he saw fit–his videos, which include vacation “postcards,” have had more than 200,000 views. 

Gavin does not plan to pursue a similar goal with the new president, “not because of Trump but because I want a break,” he says. No regrets: he’s learned “a ton as a filmmaker,” and the project has opened other opportunities. 

Any overall lessons?

“You’re only going to get an interview if you try. And I did.”

 

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.