My Hero Film Festival

Heroic Celebration: BAYCAT Original Shorts to be Featured at MY HERO Film Fest!

Our BAYCAT Academy youth media producers are enjoying continued success on the festival circuit! We are proud to announce that three our youths’ films have won awards and will be featured at the MY HERO Film Festival this Saturday, November 22nd!

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A BAYCAT Academy youth music producer raps at Candlestick Park for an original track, “Just Maybe”.

BAYCAT Academy’s music video, Just Maybe, directed and edited by young filmmaker Anthony Rivas to an original track written, recorded, and produced by BAYCAT youth music producers, has won 3rd Place in the Student/Mentor Music Video category! Originally produced for Zoom In Episode 29: Outside Your Door, the film was created in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. Challenged to express how they feel about the outdoors, the youth shared their complex perspectives on whether the outdoors are always a safe space for urban youth.

 

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BAYCAT Academy young filmmaker, Maceo ‘Moony’ Mayorga plays The Perfect Mayor

The Perfect Mayor, which has also recently won 2nd Place at the 2014 BAYMN Film Festival and was selected for the 2014 Project YouthView Film Festival, has garnered 3rd Place in the High School Experimental category at the MY HERO Film Fest! Written and directed by Advanced Filmmaking student Ginger Chen, the film takes a fun look at who the perfect San Francisco mayor would be, if he or she could be everything that her young constituents would want her to be.

 

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Alia in a scene of her short autobiographical film, The Beach: My Diary

And last but not least, Alia Gabrielle’s moving autobiographical short, The Beach: My Diary, has won 3rd Place in the Student/Mentor category at MY HERO! Alia’s film was also officially selected for the I Hella Love Shorts Film Festival this past September, and will be featured exclusively online this December 4th – 14th as part of the International Black Women’s Film Festival. In telling her story, Alia shares why the beach is so meaningful to her, and how it helps connect her with her family.

 

Congratulations to our youth! Thanks for being our heroes and inspiring us to work for positive change. Can’t wait to see what new stories the youth are telling this fall? Come to our Open House at BAYCAT on December 4th for the world premiere of Zoom In 31: State of Our Minds, or join us via our livestream!

BAYCAT Senior Producer Jose Alfaro sets up a shot with Pathways Interns Anasanique (Nasi) Fountain and Alyssa Hailemariam

WATCH, SHARE: NEW RELEASE! BAYCAT Pathways Interns ask, “What About Water”?

What About Water director Alyssa Hailemariam on set

What About Water director Alyssa Hailemariam on set

We’re in a drought. While that’s been a big issue and concern for Californians this year, BAYCAT seized the opportunity to learn more about what we can do about it.

This past summer, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission funded a Summer Learning Grant for our Pathways Interns. The goal: to learn more about our Bayview Hunters Point community’s perceptions about water, how the Bayview makes the most of our vital resources, and what we all can do to conserve water everyday.

Our 2014 interns have just wrapped producing, directing, and editing the new documentary, entitled “What About Water”! WATCH the film on our Vimeo page now, and SHARE with your friends!

Youth filmmaker, Miguel, practices his cinematography on a Canon 60D at BAYCAT Academy

You shop. Amazon gives – to BAYCAT!

What if another way of supporting BAYCAT was as simple as a one-time update to your Amazon account settings? Good news: it is!

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The AmazonSmile Foundation makes it easy to support your favorite charities – without costing you a cent. Whenever you shop on AmazonSmile and purchase an item marked, “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation,” the foundation contributes 0.5% of your purchase price to the organization of your choice. (You’ll still find the same great prices, huge selection of products, and convenient shopping service that you already do on Amazon)

So how to begin? Go to smile.amazon.com and under “pick your own charitable organization,” select “BAYCAT”. That’s it. Why wait? Start empowering youth today! (Just be sure to always shop through smile.amazon.com, not the regular site.)

 

Not an Amazon-shopping fiend? You can still support us by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and sharing our content!

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A Shared “State of Mind”: Filmmaker Debra A. Wilson Visits BAYCAT

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BAYCAT Academy youth media producers Zette and Bella chat with Bay Area filmmaker, Debra A. Wilson

This week at BAYCAT Academy, Bay Area filmmaker, Debra A. Wilson, stopped by to chat about mental health and share her documentary, “A State of Mind,” with our youth. Affected by Robin Williams’ recent passing and his struggle with mental illness, the youth decided this fall to explore the subject of mental wellbeing through their own eyes and films. As the young media producers prepare for the world premiere of their works at our Open House on December 4th, they enjoyed the opportunity to share inspirations with a fellow filmmaker exploring the same issues.

Wilson’s latest documentary examines the stigma of mental health through Alexander and Timothy’s love story, a couple who have both been diagnosed with schizophrenia. As Wilson’s camera allows us a look into Alexander and Timothy’s daily experience of mental illness, the film challenges us to consider the inadequacies of our mental health care system, confront our fears about acknowledging the mentally ill, and recognize our collective responsibility to end stigma.

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BAYCAT Academy young filmmakers Bella, Zette, and Orione watch a preview for Debra A. Wilson’s moving documentary, “A State of Mind”

Wilson’s relation to Alexander (being cousins) fuels her passion to create this film. Witnessing his personal struggle motivates her to give his story a voice, and by doing so, hopefully spark a dialogue, a movement, and a desire for change. We at BAYCAT support Debra’s mission, and ask you to consider donating to “A State of Mind”’s Indiegogo campaign so that the film may continue production, and Timothy and Alexander’s story can be told.

 

Can’t wait to see what our young film and music producers have been creating this fall? Look out for upcoming previews of their producitons and join us at Open House this December 4th for our world premiere of Zoom In 31: State of Our Minds. Can’t make it in person? You can still tune in via our livestream.

 

Debra A. Wilson has been featured on Showtime with her previous documentaries, The Butch Mystique and Jumpin’ the Broom: The New Covenant. Her films have screened in film festivals worldwide and have garnered Juried and Audience Awards.

Guest mentor Yusef Haroun speaks with young filmmakers Stella and Ginger.

Bye Bye Bullying: The BAYCAT Youth Speak Out

In New York City, a young filmmaker screens his documentary at the Media That Matters Film Festival. The young man, Isaac Haney-Owens, meets a fellow filmmaker and Bay Area native, Yusef Haroun, at the festival. Their conversation soon drifts towards the topic of the nonprofit production studio where Isaac developed his passion for media and learned (for free!) how to make his films – BAYCAT.

the-bully-project-movie-poster-2-001Since bumping into Isaac in 2011, Yusef has been eager to meet the team and young media producers at BAYCAT. So this week when the opportunity arose, he came to volunteer his time and skills to mentor our youth. BAYCAT’s Filmmaking and Music Production students recently partook in a community screening of the powerful Lee Hirsch documentary, Bully. Inspired by the film and its anti-bullying message, the filmmakers are, with Yusef and BAYCAT Lead Instructor Zara Ahmed’s mentorship, creating short, 60-second original pieces to enter into the San Francisco District Attorney Office’s Bye Bye Bullying Video Contest. Written, directed, performed, and edited by the youth, the films explore how to confront cyberbullying (“Being Bully-Free Starts With Me”). These shorts will be submitted, and the top prize for winners is the chance to appear in a anti-bullying PSA with the Golden State Warriors.

“Pretty much a good day for me would be people leaving their hands off of me.”

“People think that I’m not normal.”

“I’ve never had real friends that would stick around and help me.”

-students from the documentary, Bully (2011)

IMG_2841For Yusef, his career as a filmmaker comes as a surprise. A self-admittedly “bad kid” growing up, Haroun shared with the young media producers that he was not the ideal student in school, nor expected to achieve great things. Despite this, he has gone on to graduate from the Berkeley Digital Film Institute, earning degree in directing and screenwriting. In addition to working as a production manager, casting coordinating, and director, Yusef includes the title, music video producer, within his repertoire, having worked with such artists as Mike Mills (2Ls) and Snoop Dogg. BAYCAT appreciates his volunteering his time and talents at Academy this week, helping the youth create media that hopes to inspire positive change in the community.

In music news, Academy’s music production students have just wrapped recording of their newest track, “Stay Strong.” The State of Our Minds Intro is currently in post-production, with the Advanced Filmmaking students having directed and filmed a music video for the track originally written, performed, recorded, and produced by Academy’s Beginning and Advanced Music Production students. Preview release for the video is slated for mid-November.

Can’t wait to see what the youth are creating for this fall? Only one more month until our Open House on December 4, 6-8pm — Come check it out! And if you can’t make it in person, be sure to tune in for our live stream.

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Zoom In 31 Update: The Kids are Fed Up, Take a Cooking Class

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La Shea Sanchez got the fall 2014 BAYCAT Academy Youth Media Producers excited about healthy cooking ast Wednesday, Oct. 1

La Shea Sanchez surveys the room as each student, nose scrunched and lips pursed, holds a piece of fresh, raw broccoli to their mouths. She instructs everyone to take a crunchy bite, and almost immediately protestations begin. “What does it taste like?” she asks. “Gross!” “Dry!” “Like broccoli!”

How does the food you consume influence the state of your mind?

 

For the past couple of weeks, BAYCAT Academy’s youth media producers have been exploring answers to that question. This past Tuesday, the media-makers enjoyed a cooking class as research for this fall’s artistic theme: mental health. Students learned how to cook simple, nutritious meals with La Shea Sanchez, supervisor for the Bayview Opera House Dare 2 Dream Arts Enrichment program, events coordinator at the BVOH, and healthy eating instructor. At first hesitant to munch on raw veggies and gulp smoothies blended with spinach, the class soon gave way to enthusiasm and cheers for second and third helpings as the kids learned how to positively fuel their minds with healthy food for their bodies.

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BAYCAT Youth Media Producer Jade helps make a healthy salad with La Shea and her fellow media-makers

The culinary class followed a community screening of the documentary, Fed Up, which details the profound impact of America’s sugar industry on obesity in this country and the poor health of our children. After the screening, the students connected the film’s arguments with Zoom In’s theme: “A lot of people when they’re sad they eat a lot, and that can affect their physical health as well as their mental health,” shared Ginger, BAYCAT Advanced Filmmaking student. The media producers were so inspired by the film and its message that they elected to make changes in their own lives: the Music & Advanced Filmmaking students deciding to eliminate juice as a class refreshment option and Jazzy, a Music Production student, pledged to give up eating Hot Cheetos.

Since the two workshops, the filmmaking students have solidified themes for their group projects and will begin production soon…

You can catch the premiere of Zoom In 31 in person at BAYCAT on December 4th at 6:30pm PST, or online through our livestream!

 

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The Beach: My Diary – Officially Selected For Two Film Festivals!

BAYCAT is proud to announce that Youth Media Producer Alia Gabrielle has garnered two official film festival selections for her short autobiographical documentary, The Beach: My Diary. Alia’s film will be screening at the I Hella Love Shorts Film Festival later this month, an Oakland-based festival celebrating its second year exhibiting the work of talented San Francisco Bay Area filmmakers.

 

The Beach: My Diary will also be featured exclusively for the online film festival channel of the International Black Women’s Film Festival, MOVING IMAGES FORWARD. Alia’s documentary was selected to be celebrated along with works from the U.K., Australia, Senegal, South Africa, Zanzibar, France, Canada, Malawi, Kenya, and more. Alongside these films, The Beach: My Diary helps to continue the festival’s tradition of pushing beyond the Hollywood-construed stereotypes of black women populating popular media, and instead showcasing the the stories of black women as self-represented through their own voices.

BAYCAT Academy youth filmmaker, Alia Gabrielle

The film centers on Alia’s relationship with the beach- why it’s special to her, how it gives her peace, and how it helps connect her with her mother. BAYCAT recently conducted a short interview with Alia; during the interview Alia shared that her mother was also a filmmaker, and spoke about one film in particular she helped her mother make: “it was actually about the beach…and it was a story about a little girl finding her way in life.” Earlier this spring, Alia found her way to BAYCAT Academy. While taking classes as a Youth Media Producer, Alia found the inspiration and opportunity to tell her own story. “I kinda had all that bundled up inside and BAYCAT let me express it finally.” Her reaction to her film’s success: “I was shocked: I was like, wow my film was that good that it got into those film festivals.”

 

Alia shared that while she plans to continue making films in the future, she also hopes to pursue her passion for helping kids in the foster care system. Alia says that before becoming adopted by her mother, “when I was younger and I was in the foster system, I wanted someone to support it more…the thing I wanna do is kinda be like a big sister…And help them out and make sure that they’re not alone. Make sure they don’t feel alone.”

 

You can catch Alia’s film on September 28th at the I Hella Love Shorts Film Festival and online from midnight December 4th to 11:59PM/PST December 14, 2014 at the International Black Women’s Film Festival’s MOVING IMAGES FORWARD.

 

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Zoom In 31: State of Our Minds!
Got any media or stories to share?

Crazy. Isolated. Dependent.

Happiness. Depression. Self-esteem. Stress.

Needs to be addressed.

How can we help._MG_0640

These are some of the words and phrases that came to mind when BAYCAT ACADEMY’s latest cohort of youth film and music producers were asked to respond to the question, “What does mental health mean to you?” The youth media producers brainstormed ideas to commence preparation for their upcoming collaborative project, the newest episode of their award-winning TV show: “Zoom In”.

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This 31st addition to the series, to be titled “State of Our Minds,” will explore a variety of issues and perspectives orbiting the topic of mental health & wellness, and addressing stigma created by the media revolving mental health issues. BAYCAT’s Youth Media Producers will film documentaries, write songs, and produce music videos to tell these stories through the art of digital media.

Mark your calendars for 6pm on Thursday December 4, 2014 when BAYCAT will hold our next open house and our Youth Media Producers will premiere “Zoom In 31: State of Our Minds”.  You can also follow the show online at BAYCAT live.

 

Are there videos, songs, blogs, and other media about mental health that have inspired you? Do you have a story you’d like to share with us? If so, become a part of the conversation and share in our comments section


Turning 10

Earlier this year, BAYCAT celebrated it’s 10th anniversary, a decade of empowering underserved youth and young adults in the San Francisco Bay Area through education and employment in the creative digital media industry. BAYCAT believes that every story matters, and by providing youth with access to education and resources in filmmaking and music production, we encourage and aid young people to create media that positively impacts themselves, their communities, and the world. If you dig what we’re doing, we encourage you to get involved. There are so many ways that you can make an impact, and we can always use your help!

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BAYCAT Youth Media Producers in the House!

Although the signs of Fall may not be so obvious to us Bay Area residents, it’s clearly the first day of Fall for us at BAYCAT! Our first youth group are in our Studio, and we have many new and returning media producers, who are here to produce music, music videos and films for the next episode of ZOOM IN.

Quiet on the set. Action. #selfie
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