Brigid Marshall | March 2009 issue
For years, Pamela Casper Canada
wanted to learn how to make movies. But going to school in San Francisco’s disadvantaged Bayview and Hunters Point communities didn’t provide the necessary skills. Then she discovered Bayview Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology (BAYCAT), a community outreach program that trains youth aged 11 to 17 for careers as videographers, Web designers and writers for film and television.
President and CEO Villy Wang started BAYCAT in 2004 with the mission to educate, empower and employ underserved youth and adults. “One perception some people have of these kids is, ‘Oh, they’re just from the hood. They don’t care or know about anything,’” says Wang, who grew up in a New York City housing project. Her goal is to use digital media to allow kids to tell their stories, and learn marketable skills in the process. “These kids don’t have parents that work at YouTube or the right kind of education to get into this business,” says Wang. “Sometimes, they don’t even know that they’re interested in this stuff, or talented at it. That’s why BAYCAT’s here.”
Many alumni go on to study filmmaking or work in the industry. Canada, who attends City College of San Francisco, has traveled to Japan, representing BAYCAT at a symposium for community leaders, and worked on many films and projects. “Since I’ve been making these films, it’s been really a sight for people to see that I can do this,” she says. “It’s all entertainment, and I want to be the one to provide that.”