With tables full of snacks, walls crowded with inspirational graphics and the echoes of laugher and cheers all around, it was clear that the Creative Room of the Bayview Hunter’s Point Center for Arts and Technology (BAYCAT) offices were overflowing with parents, friends and local community members to celebrate the work made by the local Bayview youth at the summer premiere of the newest installment of ‘Zoom-In’.
The show, hosted by two BAYCAT Youth Media Producers, was filled with excitement and joy, a far departure from the heartache of having nearly $50,000 worth of equipment stolen from the non-profit’s office just two weeks prior.
“We had a rough summer,” says Brittany Janis, the organization’s development manager, to the audience. “But no matter how rough it got, BAYCAT overcame it.”
The event started with an update of the The Show Must Go On, the fundraiser launched to raise money to replace the stolen equipment. BAYCAT President Villy Wang enthusiastically announced to the crowd that $20,000 had already been donated, nearly half of their goal.
Wang and Janis showed their appreciation by rapping the names of their biggest donors with music production instructor, Jason Valerio, beatboxing. The gesture set the tone for the fun evening in store.
“BAYCAT is bigger than ever,” said Wang, who started BAYCAT to promote digital arts media education for San Francisco’s underserved youth.
“With resilience and your dream, you can make anything happen.”
The premiere screening of Zoom-In #24: Only In San Francisco is the accumulation of all the organization’s youth media work during the duration of the summer program. The 24th installment of the program premiered to a group of “the most people we’ve had here,” said Wang.
“We’re celebrating San Francisco, not just Zoomed-In,” said one of the youth emcees.
With that locally-focused theme, serious content ranged from documentary pieces profiling local artists, members of the gay/lesbian/queer community, and San Francisco’s transportation system. Giggles emerged the crowd during three music videos written, performed, produced and filmed by the youth themselves.
“These students have never seen Protools,” said Valerio when speaking about his experience with the kids over the summer.
“Going [from] never writing a song to shooting a music video in seven weeks is pretty crazy.”
“They learned techniques and adopted themes that I didn’t learn until my third or fourth year of college,” said Zara Ahmed, program coordinator and documentary film instructor, during the Q&A following the films.
When asked of the most challenging feat the group had to endure, a common answer was of the robbery that happened the week before.
“I took it as a learning experience,” said one student.
“[Students filmed] all over the city,” said Ahmed. “Half of these guys lost four weeks of footage.”
“It’s one of those things that no one deserves to have happen to them. One laptop effects four or five students. ” Janis told the Appeal in an interview previous to the premiere.
“But the students have really been resilient,” Janis said. BAYCAT staff saw the students “coming in earlier, working really hard and being positive even in the face of adversity. We really want to showcase them being successful.”
SFPD spokesperson Officer Gordon Shyy tells the Appeal that the investigation into the July 12 robbery is still ongoing, with no suspect descriptions available.
However, despite having no one face justice for the crime, Wang still shows praise for her students.
“This is what I want you to see,” she says while wrapping up the event. “The youth were the most amazing, resilient people.”
As the last word for the Youth Media Producers, one of the emcees declared “We’re coming back” to a loud cheer before grabbing a bag consisting of goodies such a BAYCAT t-shirt and a DVD showcasing the work done by the youth over the summer.
“This is what gives me hope,” said Villy Wang at the end of the night while busy chatting and giving hugs to those who attended the event.
“Look at tonight. Look at what they produced. This is what I want everyone to see.”
To contribute to the BAYCAT fundraising campaign, visit http://www.indiegogo.com/BAYCATShowMustGoOn.