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.