Earlier this year we were delighted to welcome Sommar Washington to BAYCAT Studio's team as a production coordinator. Sommar first came to BAYCAT as an intern with a background in Media Studies from the University of California Berkeley, looking for hands-on experience as a producer. We spoke with Sommar to learn more about her journey as a filmmaker and the impact of her internship experience at BAYCAT.
When did you know that filmmaking was something you wanted to pursue?
Growing up, I would always see issues with representation in media, especially as a little, dark-skinned Black girl. I didn't see anyone who looked like me, and when I did, it was not in a great light. That always stuck with me, and I knew I wanted to be involved in creating for film or TV. I just didn't know what that process was or how to get there.
What were you hoping to get out of the BAYCAT internship?
I was hoping to better understand the film world and see if it was something I wanted to pursue. I wanted to solidify my passion and learn more about the process of creating films. I want to be a producer, but I needed hands-on producing experience.
Click the above image to watch the episode of Black Biz in the Bay featuring Soul Blends, produced by Sommar!
What was a highlight of the internship for you?
I learned a lot about theory at Cal, but BAYCAT gave me the knowledge I needed to get out in the field and create. One highlight of the internship was having the opportunity to produce Black Biz in the Bay, our episodic series on local Black-owned businesses, featuring Soul Blends. Initially, I told [Studio Internship Manager & Media Producer] Fischer that I don't think I'm capable. It seemed like a lot to take on, and I was really scared. But Fischer said, “You got this. You’re going to be the producer for this.” And it showed me that I can make it happen. For the longest time I didn't think I was capable and almost didn't apply to BAYCAT because of imposter syndrome. This internship really opened my mind—I can do anything if I just try.
Was there anything about the internship that
was unexpected or surprising?
Receiving film equipment [through the Creatives of Color Media Kit Fund] was unexpected and life changing! I had always thought about buying equipment, but as a recent college grad I couldn't afford to purchase a camera, let alone other gear. Receiving those tools inspired me to create on my own and take on my own client. Because of that equipment, I was able to create video tours and promotional materials for a real estate agent.
What lessons from the internship are you bringing with you?
With this internship, I learned that I am capable and can do anything that I put my mind to. Having the encouragement to get out of my comfort zone really inspired me to put myself out there, try different things, and learn new skills. I used to think that if I didn't know how to do something right away, then I just wasn't good at it. BAYCAT helped me replace my fixed mindset with a growth mindset, and made me realize that all it takes is trying and practicing.
What have you gained from your experience with BAYCAT Studio as a production coordinator?
Throughout my experience as a production coordinator with BAYCAT Studio, I've had great opportunities to try out different roles within filmmaking. Some of my favorite shoots have been with the Golden State Warriors because they get me out of my comfort zone, as they often require us to connect with attendees to create content. For their Women's Empowerment Month video, I took on the role of a producer and production coordinator. I had the chance to find people to interview and conduct multiple interviews throughout the day. In this photo (above), I was interviewing Adonal Foyle, a former Golden State Warriors player. As a Warriors fan, interviewing and meeting him was an exciting opportunity. Having said that, conducting interviews has given me the confidence to form connections, communicate with people, ask questions, and be in front of the camera, too!