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Our Fall 2022 Studio Interns are ready for lift off!

Bella Lee (she/they, 22 years old) and Sayra Hipolito Garcia (she/her, 22)

2023 has proven to be a breakthrough year for diverse stories told by the communities who live them, with movies like Everything, Everywhere, All at Once sweeping the Oscars and shows like Abbott Elementary taking the Emmy Awards by storm. BAYCAT is proud to create the runway for the next generation of diverse filmmakers to soar! Through our young adult Studio internship, young storytellers are provided with training and the opportunity to explore many career paths, empowering them to break barriers and continue this momentum. We recently had a moment to catch up and reflect with our Fall 2022 intern alums Bella Lee (she/they, 22) and Sayra Hipolito Garcia (she/her, 22) on their recent experiences.

Our interns gained valuable experience in a professional film studio environment working with high-profile clients, such as Kaiser’s Thrive City, the Golden State Warriors, and the Blue Shield of California Foundation. They also developed their skills and creativity by producing two new episodes of the BAYCAT original series Black Biz in the Bay and The Bay Sounds Like. Bella and Sayra shared how being given the chance to try different production and post-production roles grew their understanding of their own skill sets.

Director of Photography Bella Lee on the "Black Biz in the Bay" set with fellow interns San Nguyen and Naa Kwaley Cofie.

Reflecting on the biggest highlight of her BAYCAT experience, Lee pointed to the opportunity to take on the director of photography (DP) role for the Black Biz in the Bay video project highlighting the Bayview Opera House. “I was previously doing roles of first or second assistant camera as a student at UCSB, and it had been a while since I stepped into the role of a DP. It was really valuable to have the chance to practice those skills, to learn to trust the knowledge that I already had, and then learn how to implement the new skills I gained."

What made the difference,” she said, “was doing it alongside a really supportive, collaborative team. I'm really grateful to have been given this opportunity because it allows me to carry that experience to my next DP role. I know that I can actually get the project done and do it well.

Hipolito Garcia also pointed to the ability to try on new roles as a major highlight of her experience. She shared, “I thought I was set on being an editor forever, but I knew I would regret it if I didn’t try to pursue other interests. So when a production coordinator [role] came up for ‘The Bay Sounds Like’ project, I wanted to see if I could do it and what that would really take.

Ultimately, she was able to incorporate her existing skills into the role, which opened new doors. “Overall I enjoyed my experience as a production coordinator, and now I have the option to pursue this as a career as well.

As the next generation of storytellers, we asked our alums how they envision their futures as creatives and what kind of legacy they would want to leave on the media industry. We were thrilled to hear that their aspirations aligned with BAYCAT’s vision of equitable representation in the media, both in front of and behind the camera.

I plan on building my skills as a cinematographer and creating a path for myself to become a creative director,” Bella shared. "Whatever role I end up with, I’m passionate about telling multi-dimensional and nuanced stories, especially for the queer Asian American community. I want to represent my community and create space within the industry that allows my community the agency to tell our own stories.

Sayra on set as the production coordinator with the The Bay Sounds Like crew. From left to right: Kyrie Nashiem, Roy Garza, Nithin Kumar, Sayra Hipolito Garcia, and Amber Valentine.

Hipolito Garcia reflects, “As a Latina creative, a legacy I would like to leave behind in the industry is showing people that a career in media is also attainable for minorities. I think it’s important to create safe and inclusive work environments, and I want to be able to create that space for others like me. She adds, “I’ve benefited from meeting industry professionals and learning from their experiences, and I want to gain more experience so that I can share my knowledge with people like me and make myself available to the next generation.” Sayra is well on her way, as she was recently hired by Across the Pond Productions!

Our interns are ready for hire! Check out our For Employers page to take a peek at their reels and connect with our Fall 2022 cohort!

We are incredibly proud of all of our interns and the work they have accomplished, and we’re excited to watch them soar to new heights!

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