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Q&A with BAYCAT Academy Film Student D’Arion, 17

We got a chance to sit down last week with D’Arion and talk about how BAYCAT is shaping his career and influencing his life. We are so fortunate to have young people like him in our program and in the world. Get to know D’Arion and see BAYCAT’s programming in action!

Q: Tell me about school. Do you enjoy it? What parts do you like the most?

A: I’m in high school right now and a lot of times I hear kids say, “I’m not going to use this in life, so what’s the point?” But I don’t think so. I love learning. English is a big part of what we do in film production. We have to write scripts. We have to critically think. That leads to science and exploring and testing. Which leads to math where you have to problem solve. All of these skills can be related to different topics in your life and used. I love school.

College

D’Arion (left) in action.

Q: What brought you to BAYCAT?

A: I’ve been here for about three years. I always wanted to go to summer camp but we could never afford it. For just a week it was $2,000! I was at a summer camp fair with my Mom and saw a sign that said, “Free” at the BAYCAT booth. When I talked to the lady there I could tell she liked me and wanted me to be at BAYCAT. Then I met Zara, my BAYCAT teacher. She showed me what Villy and everyone else here believes, that through film you can express yourself because personal stories matter. I got put in documentary class and I really didn’t want to do it. I thought it would be boring. Just some guy who keeps talking. The main question people have asked me since I was 12 is what do you want to be? I want to do something I love and get paid for it. That’s why I got more into documentary making. That’s when I got to use my skills in English. Because you had to critically think on what the topic should be for Zoom In. You had to thoughtfully write out questions to get to the main point. You had to have group discussions and use conversational skills and critical thinking skills. I use those skills every single day. Zara showed me how to be realistic in what I was thinking. If my big picture goal is to interview President Obama, how would I do that? I learned business skills and planning. Each semester that class would bring me back again and again.

Q: What’s it like to be working in a real studio?

A: Initially, I thought it would be very school oriented. Write this down. Listen to this. Lessons upon lessons. Then Zara explained the program to us and showed us that it was our space. That we were limitless in what we could learn and it was all up to us.

Q: What did you think about all of the tools/hardware/software?

A: The first time I was really intimidated by all of the mechanicals. I had never worked on a Mac before. I’ve always been a PC person. Learning really basic skills was so helpful. I feel like I’m on the same level as anyone else coming out of a great high school because of the technology and tools that we have at BAYCAT. Because of that, I know technical language. When I was at the Arts Academy they asked what kind of equipment we used. The teacher was shocked to know what I’ve used. I know how to use Illustrator, and Photoshop and that gave me the advantage over people. I’ve been learning these skills at BAYCAT since I was 14.

This space makes me feel like I’m in a professional production studio. You see people making business calls. You see them editing and working on projects. I feel like I’ve already made it. I feel like I’m living my dream. But, I know I have more work to do though and that’s what keeps me coming back to BAYCAT.

I recommend this program every single day. I got one of my friends to sign up. He couldn’t come back this semester because he had to get a job. I think if he could be paid here he would have come back. My teachers are very supportive of my work at BAYCAT. I brought every teacher from my school here for Zoom in. My Biology teacher at school got me all the interviews with John Hafernik who is the scientist featured in Zoom in 34, “ZomBees” which won 3rd prize at San Francisco Green Film Festival.

Q: Once you leave BAYCAT, can you paint me the picture of your dream career?

A: I don’t think I’ll stop coming until my age is over the limit and they won’t let me come back. Until they get sick of me, I’m going to keep coming back! I’ve made so many connections with other students connected to this industry. We talk all the time about things that we could produce together: Phil, Ginger, Stella, Hugo and many others who are passionate about being in this industry and are doing things they love and giving back to the world. I love to be around positive people. I like to surround myself with people who are good.

I’m already planning to go to college for film production. I am trying to plan how to make that happen. I want the hands on experience of learning and doing during the same time that I am in school. I took a class at the Academy of San Francisco in TV and movie production. The teacher said having a degree is good and will get you recognition, but, the main thing that will get you hired is having the skills. Most students know things in theory, but they don’t have the skills for practical application. I’ve learned all those skills at BAYCAT.

Q: What’s your favorite piece you did at BAYCAT?  

A: I would say, that’s like asking a parent to pick their favorite child! You can’t ask that! But, probably, “Why Ask Me?” I came up with the concept. It was the closest to my heart because it dealt with all the big issues that I care about, like education. Taking the time out to ask a person what do you want out of life? It benefits you as much as them because you end up on the same page.

Q: If a stranger read this–what would you want his/her takeaway thought of you to be?  

A: That I love to learn. I’m a young man trying to find his way through life and spread peace, love and positivity through film and other mediums. Because for me, that is what I get out of other artists.

A lot of other African American kids feel like they have two options: Do good and learn, or have friends and be “true” to your race. I want those options to change. Have your friends, and have an education and have a career, own a home and support your family. For me, having options–I really dedicate that to my mother because she is very supportive of me and what I want to do with my life. Because of BAYCAT, I’m involved with other activities that she supports too. I was part of Vote16 which tried to let 16 and 17 year olds vote in local elections here. And, I’m a part of the SF Public Library’s Youth Advisory Program. I teach others how to use Adobe Premier and do film production. It’s at The Mix in the new Teen Center. They have everything BAYCAT has in the library. Because I learned it at BAYCAT, I get to teach it to other kids who don’t go there. If no one taught me or gave me the chance I would never have known this is what I wanted to do in life. I would just have a regular 9-5 job. Passing stuff on is important to me. If everyone did that the world would be a better place.

Grateful Thanksgiving

6 Things We’re Thankful For and Why You Should Be, Too!

As you’re getting on a plane, in a car, or busy prepping for your Thanksgiving celebration, here are 6 things we’re truly thankful for at BAYCAT that you can add to your list of things to be thankful for, too:

1. Our youth media producers’ creativity and inspiration. Seven films created by our youth media producers won 22 awards this year.

Doc shorts: #Activism, Stats of Life, This Is Me, Tangles

Music Videos: Take a Look at Yourself, Mood Swings, Reach for the Stars

2. Our employers who hired 88% of our graduates from the last 2 years. SF Giants Production, Lucas Film, Wired Magazine, the Golden State Warriors, HBO, Netflix, and others. You’ve given our interns, mainly young creatives of color and young women, dream jobs in the competitive fields of digital arts, broadcast and tech.

3. Our clients.  We love working with you, and also appreciate you for giving back by hiring our professional Studio.

4. All the stories we get to tell.

Special mentions: We’re grateful to tell 50 stories of 50 amazing Bay Area nonprofits in 50 weeks leading up to Super Bowl 50. THANK YOU 50 Fund for partnering with us and for being visionary in creating the most giving Super Bowl ever.  

Thanks also to all our nonprofit partners who make our community and The Bay Area stronger!

5. The best BAYCAT team, board and volunteers who make this happen each day.

6. All our donors!

We are very proud of what we have accomplished, and thankful for all the support. However, in order to continue to serve our community, we need your help and money. Therefore, we are launching today our year-end annual campaign: “Fund Passion. Not Prison.”

The goal of this campaign is to keep our youth’s free arts and tech programs alive. You can make a difference by donating before December 31, so that we will continue to help low income youth, young women and kids of color, who have no access to the creative and digital fields, to follow their passion and find the job of their dreams.

Click here to donate now.

Also check out the option to build your own page to help us reach the goal. You can do it as a team at your school, organization and company. Or it’s just a way to invite your friends, family and colleagues to pitch in.

This money will help us to educate and train 250 kids from the lowest opportunity neighborhoods of San Francisco and the Bay Area.  More importantly, it will give them a safe place where they’re able to express themselves, and where we can nurture their passion into a meaningful profession. This is a growth opportunity they can’t access anywhere else.

Your tax-deductible donation will help Jazzy and Hugo to continue to follow their passion and build a future. After all, we think the world would be a better place if everyone had the opportunity to follow their passion and find a job they love.

Happy Thanksgiving from the BAYCAT family!

BAYCAT Academy: Film, Music Production, & Graphic Arts Teaching Assistants

BAYCAT is seeking energetic, creative and resourceful Teaching Assistants to be part of our education team for the BAYCAT Academy. The ideal candidate is someone with some knowledge of media practices (video, music, graphic arts) who would like to broaden their production and teaching experience by assisting in our media arts classes. This is a great opportunity for someone interested in media arts education who would like a hands-on experience in an after-school classroom.

DETAILS:
Length of commitment: September 14th – December 3rd / Mon & Wed OR Tues & Thurs 4-7pm

About the classes:
Each class will have a maximum of 12 students, and will be lead by an experienced head instructor. As the TA, you can help teach lesson plans, learn about classroom workflow, and be a positive mentor to our youth.

We can often provide internship credit through schools (inform us during the application process).

If interested, fill out an application and you should hear from us within a week.

BAYCAT, BAYCAT Academy, youth media education, San Francisco, Bayview Hunters Point, mental health

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!

Youth Media, BAYCAT, BAYCAT Academy, Zoom In 31: State of Our Minds, mental health, San Francisco, Bayview Hunters Point, education, filmmaking, music production

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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Keep Filmmaking in San Francisco

It was great to see 500+ people in attendance at the #FilmItNorcal Rally on June 14th at the Fairmount Hotel. With a full host of actors, producers, directors, elected officials, celebrities, media from all parts of California, it was clear that the filmmaking community of San Francisco (and California) wants to support the improved tax rebate program to keep our jobs HERE. BAYCAT is proud to create the pathway from education to employment especially through our TechSF Internship Pathways Program so our young people from make their dreams to work for HBO, Showtime and Netflix a reality.  Even more so, it’s about creating new films by them for the world that we hope to continue to nurture.  They are the present (I’m too old to wait for the future) of filmmaking here in San Francisco!

BAYCAT-Created Campaign Mentioned in S.F. Chronicle

Where Harry got DirtyA few years ago the San Francisco Film Commission hired Studio BAYCAT to create a new campaign for the city’s rebate program. With a tight deadline and a modest budget, BAYCAT delivered a strong campaign that celebrates the city’s long history of playing home to some of cinema’s most fondly-remembered films. The campaign was a success, running in industry publications like The Hollywood Reporter and helping to lure production companies back to one of the most scenic filming locations in the country.

Turns out that at least one of the pieces we designed for that campaign (pictured) is still in use, as described in this story in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Where Harry Got Dirty.” That’s what it says on the black-and-white postcards that San Francisco Film Commission Executive Director Susannah Greason Robbins has been handing out to producers around the country to promote Scene in San Francisco, a rebate program aimed at luring filmmakers back to the city that gave us “Vertigo,” “Bullitt” and Clint Eastwood’s classic vigilante cop flick.

Read the full article at S.F. Gate.