Giving Back

Giving Back is Priority for Award-Winning Teen

Many teens might think of themselves first when they win $1,000, but not Stella Gutierrez.

Youth media producer Stella, 15, is the winner of the Art with Impact award for March, which comes with a cash prize. Her first thought was giving back to BAYCAT, and her film crew.

After finding out she would receive a cash prize for her award-winning film, Stella brought a $100 check for BAYCAT with her to class the next day.

“The BAYCAT team, especially [lead instructor] Zara, has been so supportive to me these past few years. I wanted to give something back,” she said.

Stella also intends to give some of her winnings to Hugo and Miguel, who worked with her on the film. The rest she plans to use toward other artistic pursuits like an amp for her electric bass, and saving for film school. Her only indulgence: a carpeted stand for her cat Oreo.

Her short autobiographical documentary Tangles shares her story of dealing with trichotillomania and dermatillomania (pulling of the hair, and skin), two not-often discussed forms of OCD.  The short documentary has been used by trich support groups, and also won Short of the Month (documentary category) in an online film festival of the same name.

“To be honest, I had a feeling about it. I put a lot of work into my film, so I was really excited to win,” said Stella. The film’s editor, Miguel is “not surprised” by the win. “We put in extra time, worked extra hard.”

The biggest takeaway from the experience for Hugo, the cinematographer for the film, has been a sense of respect for the honesty in the piece.

“Stella is an amazing person. I am so appreciative that she was brave enough to share her story with everyone,” he said.

As for the future, Stella plans on attending college and, “follow film, or some kind of art. I love the UC Berkeley campus, but it would be nice to go to UC Santa Cruz, or just stay in the UC system.”

There are no immediate plans to follow up Tangles, but Stella hopes to revisit the subject in another 5 years or so with a longer film.