We had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Kainoa "Kai" Parker (he/him, 16 years old), a member of our Summer 2022 Crew (advanced high school filmmakers ages 13-17), and learn about how BAYCAT has shaped his creative journey by helping him find his community and trust his own voice as an artist.
What inspires you as a filmmaker? Every once in a while I'll watch a film, and it will stick with me. It can stay in my head and leave with me as I leave the theater or as I go to sleep. It's powerful how a film can reach out from the screen and strike you in your feelings. It forces you to remember it because it can be so shocking, scary, inspiring, or beautiful. When a film impacts me in such a way, I feel inspired to go out and create something to have that same effect on an audience. Was there anything about being in the Crew that was unexpected or surprising? I didn't expect to make a documentary! I had never done one before, so it was a learning experience. What was even more surprising was the fact that I felt like we were trusted by our instructor, Naomi Garcia-Pasmanick. When we were editing the footage, we were allowed to make creative decisions about how the final cut would look and feel. I remember voting on things from the look of the B-roll down to smaller details. All of the creative decisions were left to us. There was one particular day on production when we had extra time, and Naomi asked if we wanted to do an additional interview to highlight our experience with BAYCAT on our own. She had to step away for a moment to move her car, and the fact that she trusted us to use what we had learned in the past two weeks and let us do our own thing was completely unexpected. That was one time I felt genuinely in control. I was confident, but that was different. I didn't panic. I just turned to the other Crew member and said, "Okay, let's start." It was a powerful feeling.
Now that you've developed that confidence as an artist, what's next on your creative journey?
I just wrapped a short film, which is in editing now. Other than that, I've applied for the Fall Crew program at BAYCAT to continue my learning. I've learned a lot as a director, and I'm not sure that producing is for me, but what really catches my interest now is cinematography. I want to learn how a camera works and how to use composition, and I'm excited at the chance to get to do that with the Crew.
What's something you're taking away from your experience with BAYCAT this past summer?
I've made connections with like-minded filmmakers my age who I can collaborate with. That's already proven to be a lasting impact from my experience with BAYCAT. I stay in contact with two other Crew members from this past cohort, and they have helped me with the short film project that I mentioned earlier. BAYCAT is one of the most supportive communities I've been a part of so far. Everyone wants to be there, and everyone is willing to help out and work together.
Kai (left) on production with fellow Crew member Aidan Fong (right) and Emmanuel Blackwell III (center), the subject of their documentary short, Swap Film.Co: Behind the Shutter. Click here to watch the trailer.