Young Bay Area filmmakers among winners of the prestigious documentary competition

Two East Bay high school students are among the winners of C-SPAN's national documentary competition called StudentCam.

Agamroop Kaur, a junior at Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon, recently found out her documentary "Big Tobacco Bigger Epidemic" placed second place in the west. She won $1,500.

"I was actually in tears," she said.

C-SPAN said they received about 1,200 entries for students in grades 6-12.

Third place went to Philip Avdey from Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton for his documentary on the importance of space exploration. He won $750 and said he couldn't believe it.

"It was really shocking. My hands were shaking. It was a really big surprise," he said. 

The two documentaries, both six minutes long, were among those that played on the network throughout Tuesday.

Agamroop's documentary delves into how big tobacco markets e-cigarettes to young people. It's an issue that's concerned her ever since middle school.

"Our bathroom always smelled like strawberry. Bathrooms are not supposed to smell like flavors," she said. 

She said she never made a video before but was up for the challenge.

"If I could have an opportunity to do something bigger than myself, I will take it whether or not it succeeds. I think that's part of me," Agamroop said.

"I learned about interviewing people because I had interviews for the video, I never did that before," said Philip.

The students hope to make more documentaries that can make a difference.

"I really value passing on a better world for future generations. That's what really motivates me," Agamroop said.