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Inside BAYCAT: Carla Orendorff, BAYCAT Media Producer & Mentor

Getting to Know our Newest Team Member & Youth Media Instructor

Meet Carla! Carla joins BAYCAT as a Media Producer and Mentor, working with the youth and young adults teaching filmmaking skills. A documentary filmmaker, artist and educator, Carla has taught filmmaking classes with hundreds of young people in collaboration with organizations throughout Los Angeles and the Bay Area, and is excited to use her skills to inspire a new group of students.

Where are you from? 

I was born in Hollywood and raised in Los Angeles. I mostly grew up in Reseda- which is in the San Fernando Valley, 30 miles northwest of LA. The Valley is where the term “Valley Girl” comes from, so I guess that makes me one! The neighborhood I grew up in is a diverse, working-class Latino, Asian, and Eastern European immigrant community with lots of families and many languages spoken. The landscape consists of auto body shops and horse stalls and the subject of the Tom Petty song, “Free Fallin.”  Reseda is also where the movie Karate Kid takes place.

Why the Bay Area? 

The Bay Area has always been this place of possibility- there is a spirit of challenging the status quo through art and politics that is very inspiring to me. I have always been drawn to the legacies of radical activism here in the Bay Area- from the Black Panthers, to the student activism for Ethnic Studies at SF State, to queer activism of ACT UP during the AIDS crisis. What I love most are the people here- the many faces that I see become familiar in a city full of neighborhoods, each with their own histories.
The reality of living in the Bay Area, specifically in San Francisco, has been harsh. The cost of living, the struggle for housing, and the fight to remain in the city affects all of us- whether you are a teacher, a businessman, a mother, a city worker, or a young person just trying to get by. We are all connected and have a real impact on each others’ lives, and we need to make it right for all the families, the elders, and young people who call San Francisco their home.

What made you want to work with youth?

Growing up as a queer mixed-race girl, I didn’t see myself in the movies or TV shows I watched, or the books I read. Thankfully, I had some amazing teachers in high school who encouraged me to develop my own perspective as an artist and an activist- it was the first time I began to take my own ideas seriously. My hope, as an educator, is to challenge this dominant culture of profit and level the playing field where young people recognize their power as creators, decision makers, and full and complete human beings with something important and valuable to share with the world.

What is your favorite part of working with youth?

I love the way young people breathe life into a room, into your lesson plans, take the theme and the concepts we’re working with and make it their own. Young people will always surprise you. They keep it real too. I’m grateful to always be learning from the experiences of young people. Oh! They also make me laugh and tend to find the humor in all things.

Have you had and fun or memorable experiences with youth in your career so far?

So many! I will never forget shutting down the 2nd Street tunnel in Los Angeles with 40 young people to film an opening scene on Halloween a few years back. Working on the set of a Margaret Cho music video with a team of teen girls was amazing. Seeing young people off to college or writing recommendations for jobs in their dream field has been extremely rewarding as well.

What has working with young people taught you?

Working with youth has reminded me to never give up on the 15 year-old girl that resides in me and to tell her to never give up on her dreams.

Why is youth media important?

Seeing the world through the eyes of young people will change the way you look at the world. Young people hold vision and they have really solid ideas about how to make the world a better and more inclusive place for all people. I have seen youth media inform curriculum, affect policy, and remind us of what it means to bring out our best for our communities and ourselves.

What do you do when you’re not at BAYCAT?

You can find me swimming, climbing trees, reading books, watching movies in old theaters, going for long walks through the city, and working on my own documentary projects.

Quickies:

Last book read? Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band by Michelle Cruz Gonzales

On Your iPod? Kendrick Lamar’s good kid m.A.A.D city forever, on repeat.

Favorite movie: Shadows by John Cassavetes

Favorite restaurant: The Old Clam House in Bayview

Favorite meal of all time: Sopa de Mani is a potato and peanut based stew from Bolivia, where my mom is from. It’s cooked slowly over hours with beef ribs and garnished with parsley fries on top- so delicious!

BAYCAT San Francisco Nonprofit Social Enterprise Internship and Youth Programs

Not Quite Goodbye: Music Producer Jason Valerio Makes His Move

Member of BAYCAT’s Music Program Pursuing Music Full-Time

After an AMAZING 4 years at BAYCAT, Jason “Trackademicks” Valerio will be pursuing his music career full-time. Jason, a Bay Area native, will be splitting his time between the Bay and LA. Here’s a little insight into his future plans, plus what he will miss, and why this isn’t goodbye.

Where are you from? 

Alameda, CA.

So Bay *and* LA? Why keep both?

There’s nowhere with the Bay Area’s specific flavor. A true cultural Melting pot. A Lot of ethnically/culturally mixed folks, with equally diverse neighborhoods make for an awesome living experience. Never boring. Aside from the people, the nature here is amazing. The microclimates make it so that you can experience whatever weather you want, whenever you want. The mountains, trees, water, beaches, are all so picturesque. As a Bay Area resident, you pretty much have it all.

What will you miss most about working with youth?

The Youth keep you Young. I cherish the fact that I’ve gotten to see my students at that moment of epiphany where something “clicks”… It’s a constant reminder of my own journey and how those very same things happened for me. It’s a very rewarding thing to be able to demystify certain concepts and processes for youth. They’ll always remember how you helped their development. What I’ll miss most is the daily exchange of knowledge and ideas, as I’ve learned so much from them as well.

What is your most fun or memorable experiences with youth in your career?

There’s are too many to name. In general, the most memorable moments are when the students’ questions start to subside, and they shift from needing assistance with the music making process to being self sufficient. Aside from that, I remember working with one of my students, Thomas, and him saying that he’d never be able to do a beat in one day. Next thing you know he was producing 3-5 in one class sitting.

What has working with youth taught you?

I’ve learned that you can’t just explain something just one way. You have to convey the material you teach from almost every possible perspective/method, as each student learns differently. Also, I’ve learned that they’ll absorb as much as you throw at them. They’ll surprise you with how much they’re able to accomplish. They’ve also reminded me to always communicate.

What’s next for you?

Music, Music, Music. I’m going to continue to develop my company, HNRL Music, producing and collaborating for a range of different musicians. I’d love to get into film scoring too. I’ll definitely be DJ’ing out more, hoping to throw some great events in the near future. Also, hopefully exploring more of the Southern California “Fresh Coast”, as I’ve mostly been a NorCal person. And just more traveling in general. I’m definitely not planning it out… just going to go with the flow.

Is this the end of Jason and BAYCAT?

Definitely not! I love BAYCAT. It will forever be family. I’d love to come back and share what I learn during my time away with the interns and the youth!

Any last words?

My time at BAYCAT has been on of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I’m thankful to have had the chance to know everyone here! I’ll miss everyone deeply!

Always Our Way, All Bay, All Bay All Day. Forever Fresh Coastin’. Yeee!

Quickies:

Favorite album: N*E*R*D ‘In Search of…’

On Your iPod: Sade, Kaytranada, Prince, King, Trackademicks

Favorite movie: The Secret of My Succe$s

Favorite restaurant: La Penca Azul in Alameda… mostly because of the time had there

Favorite meal of all time: Too many to name… probably

Avoid the Back to School Rush + Support Diversity

Streamline back to school shopping, and do some good while you’re at it!

BTS

Back to school madness is upon us. The end of summer means school is now back in session. As students head back to the classroom, busy parents are even busier making sure kids are prepared. Consider giving yourself or someone you love one less headache during this hectic shopping season – try smile.amazon.com, and let the schools supplies come to you. Plus, using this link means Amazon donates a percentage of what is spent to BAYCAT, investing in our community at no cost to you. It doesn’t matter if you live in San Francisco or the other side of the world — anyone can share and use the link to Benefit BAYCAT. Be sure to bookmark it on whatever search engine you use and then just click the link every time you want to shop at Amazon. It’s simple, easy and a really great way to help fund the work our students and interns do without any additional cost to you.

Wishing you a safe and healthy start to the new school year!

– The BAYCAT Team

Inside BAYCAT: Meet Alessandra Carter, Our Academy Manager

Getting to Know our Newest Team Member on Youth Education, Media + More

Meet Alessandra Carter, aka “Ms. C!”  An Oakland native, she recently returned to the Bay Area and brings a huge enthusiasm for youth, education and social justice.  Jumping right into the role of Academy Manager, she’s already on board leading our Academy for our first Summer Media Camp focusing on music.

Why the Bay Area? 

In late 2015, I was living in Harlem New York. I had been there for 6 years and decided that I wanted to return to the Bay. Now that I’m home, I look forward to contributing to the educational space, specifically educational program design and college access and career readiness efforts for low-income and underserved populations.

What made you want to work with youth?

I’ve been in the educational field for 6+ years. I enjoy their energy, honesty and am constantly inspired by their resiliency.

What is your favorite part of working with youth?

Building relationships and creating opportunities for them to learn more about career and college options.

Have you had and fun or memorable experiences with youth in your career so far?

I’ve had quite a few. While working at a start-up in Manhattan, NY, I managed a 6-week Computer Science and leadership intensive for Black and Latino boys. My work included recruiting the students, reviewing applications, planning exposure trips and supporting the lead Computer Science teacher. It was a whirlwind experience!

My favorite parts were getting to know the boys and taking them on the career exposure trips to awesome companies like Google.

What has working with youth taught you?

That students can be learners as well as teachers.

Why is youth media important?

Well, I think it’s important for two reasons.

1-  It’s important to empower the traditionally disempowered and disenfranchised because their experiences are valuable.

2- Youth media, especially in the current social and political climate, has value because they tell stories from a viewpoint that can be overlooked by adults.

What do you do when you’re not at BAYCAT?

Spend time with family, dabble in digital photography and (re)explore my hometown, Oakland.

Quickies:

Last book read? Soka Education, By Daisaku Ikeda.

On Your iPod? I’m more of a Spotify/Google Play kinda girl.

Jill Scott, Kendrick Lamar, Anita Baker, Anderson Paak and Frankie Beverly and Maze are usually in rotation 🙂

Favorite movie: That’s hard! Top 3: The Lion King, Sister Act and Steel Magnolias.

Favorite restaurant: I just moved back to the Bay. I don’t have a favorite just yet. Recommendations?

Favorite meal of all time: Southern style smothered chicken over rice and collard greens. Sweet potato pie and vanilla bean ice cream for dessert.

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!

13 Days Left: Donate to Make Their Summer Happen

School’s out for the Summer, but BAYCAT teachers are working! We’re excited to start up again on June 15, but that means we only have 13 days left to reach our goal of 200 hours of instruction for our FREE Summer Media Camp. Thanks to our awesome donors we’ve raised 9 hours so far ($1,352) but we can’t get the rest of the way without you.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 10.11.45 AMDuring the summer session, BAYCAT offers extra classes, which means hiring extra instructors. Help our youth from our community experience documentary filmmaking, music video production, graphic arts instruction, and digital music making. These classes and teachers, plus some really great field trips and mentors, keep our youth engaged and growing as artists and individuals. At BAYCAT we work with bright kids who need us most, but now we need you. Here’s how you can help:

1. Share our campaign with friends, family, neighbors, your coworkers… the person next to you on MUNI – anyone! You can share our link http://donate.baycat.org/ on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, email, etc.

2. Like and share the youth films and music posted on BAYCAT’s Facebook page. (The youth love to get feedback!)Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 10.11.58 AM

3. Pick out your favorite youth film to share on social media. (One of ours is “Take a Look at Yourself.”)

4. Donate.

We love option #4, but each one is important! Please donate and share the links to our fundraising page, and to our youth’s media. Thank you from the entire BAYCAT family.

Join BAYCAT Youth at the Bay Area Int’l Children’s Film Festival

BAYCAT Youth will speak on their experience as young media makers

This year BAICFF has invited BAYCAT youth as featured speakers for both days as part of their, “Young Filmmakers Showcase!”  It’s a FAMILY AFFAIR!  Join us, our youth, and some of our Board members!

BAYCAT youth, Stella, Hugo and Miguel are presenting Stella’s short documentary film on Saturday (5-6pm), and music video students, Angela, Omari and Zevonte, are presenting their music videos on Sunday (5-6pm).

The Festival offers families a cinematic view of the world’s varied cultures and traditions through short films, and has lots of optional workshops for youth as well. This event is all day Saturday and Sunday, and tickets include full day passes that let you into the Festival and activities of the Chabot Space and Science Center.

Every Story Matters: BAYCAT’s Impact Goes Beyond Making Media

You never know what event will change your life, forever. For Stella, that was walking through the doors at BAYCAT. Like many teens, Stella would head home after school and watch TV, but never imagined being the storyteller. BAYCAT was able to show her something different.

baycat youth, media production

For Stella, learning storytelling at BAYCAT was a bridge to understanding her own journey.

Over the last three years at BAYCAT, Stella has found her voice through filmmaking and the digital media arts. Learning to tell the stories of others helped Stella understand her own journey: learning to manage her OCD. Exploring the topic through media gave her the courage to share her struggle with her parents, and an autobiographical documentary short Stella wrote and directed will be premiered in Zoom In 31: State of Our Minds on December 4th. Through her film, Stella wants other young people to know that they are not alone, and that there is always hope.

Supporting BAYCAT isn’t just about making a donation, but it is about making a difference in the lives of young people. Stories like Stella’s can’t be told without your help. We hope you join us in our mission to ensure that every kid left out by the digital divide has the opportunity to find their voice at BAYCAT.

Come in person to applaud and to meet Stella, or bring other youth who would be inspired by her story! And if you can’t make it in person, you can still join us via our online livestream of the show!

For more stories on youth like Stella, SIGN UP NOW to subscribe to our e-newsletter. You can stay up to date on all of our new projects, partners, student stories, and programs.

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BAYCAT to Host Fall Open House & Premiere Zoom In 31 – December 4th!

It’s finally time!! BAYCAT will be hosting our Fall Open House next Thursday, DECEMBER 4th at 6p.m.! As we all begin our holiday-season celebrations, we at BAYCAT want to celebrate our young media producers, our community partners, and our 10 years (and running) of educating, empowering, and entertaining. And we’ve got some exciting new things to share with you!

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Young music producer & BAYCAT Academy student, Angela, films a music video for State of Our Minds, the 31st episode of BAYCAT’s award-winning television series, Zoom In.

Our youth have been hard at work these past few months writing, planning, producing, directing, editing, and recording their original songs and short films for the 31st episode of our award-winning television series, Zoom In. This fall, our young media producers explore the topic of mental wellbeing. Some have been creating documentaries about social pressure, like Angelica and Bella, who in “Expanded Minds” talk about stress at school and how it affects them everyday. Our music producers have been writing songs about persevering through times of struggle, with original tracks like “Mood Swings” and “State of Our Minds.” And finally, our young storytellers will allow us a glimpse into their personal experiences of hardship and coping, with Zette sharing the story of her recent move from Japan to San Francisco in “Between Here & There”; and, Stella will premiere her short autobiographical documentary, “Tangles,” in which she opens up about her struggle with OCD.

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BAYCAT Academy Youth Music Producer, Precious, films a music video for State of Our Minds, the 31st episode of BAYCAT Academy’s award-winning television series, Zoom In.

 

We’ll also be sharing our latest BAYCAT Studio and Pathways Internship news, and will be screening our intern-directed and -produced, “What About Water” – a short documentary created in partnership with our latest clonor, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Through this project, we learned how the Bayview Hunters Point community makes the most out of its water, and what we all can do to conserve water in this California drought.

 

So come join us!! We can’t wait to see you there. And if you can’t make it in person, you can still join us via our online livestream of the show!

 

And, stay up to date on all of our new projects, partners, and programs! SIGN UP NOW to subscribe to our e-newsletter!