Interview w/ Marc Vogl, Executive Director of Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC)

Feb 13th, 2012 | By | Category: E Newsletters

Interview w/ Marc Vogl, Executive Director of Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC)
by Justin Slaughter, TAYSF AmeriCorps VISTA

What programs and/or services do you offer? For what age/population?
Marc:
The Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) has three Next Gen programs for youth that brings together the arts, technology, and education. First, we have the Digital Pathways program, where predominantly low-income students aged 14-24 gain technical training, learn how to express themselves artistically and build skills that prepare them for college and the workforce through four different tracks: audio production, video production, 3-d gaming and animation, or ‘creative coding’ or open-source programming. Digital Pathways is a free  intensive semester long program – two afternoons a week, ten students per classes, leading to a paid-internship in the summer.

The Digital Pathways internships are with tech, media, arts, and entertainment companies, social justice nonprofits, and organizations where students can gain substantial job experience. The DP program empowers young people to use technology to say what they want to say, to express themselves, and to help them gain experience and build confidence, so they can be successful in college or in the workforce. 80% of the participants for Digital Pathways are San Francisco youth.

The Factory our advanced youth video program and BUMP Records programs serve primarily youth from the East Bay.  In The Factory program students work with us after-school through the school year and are paid in the summer to create documentaries for local non profits through our Community Film Partnernships. Youth in the Factory program partner with community based organization to make a mico-documentary about the CBO for promotion, fund-raising, web presence, etc. – we find that it’s a great symbiosis where our students gain experience as professional documentary makers and CBO get an extraordinary media asset they can use to be more effective.  We also run the BUMP Records program, which is a youth-run record label. 15-20 teenagers work with us after-school and in the summer, learning audio-production, mixing, recording, working on lyric writing, music composition, and performance. Each student at BUMP releases a full-album every year, which is rare for a program.

BAVC believes that the more equipped youth are to use new media, the more they are equipped for the 21st century. We are trying to get students not just to understand new media skills, but also to apply their media knowledge to solve problems, tell their stories and the stories of their communities.  Founded 35 years ago by artists and activists, BAVC’s mission was to make sure non-commercial voices were not drowned out by mass media. That’s why our curricula is very rigorous, why real-world experience is so valuable, why our media technical training has an artistic core grounded in empowerment.

What makes you special from others doing similar work?
Marc: We take very seriously the idea that quality matters. Creating exceptional work and understanding that it’s one’s power to create exceptional work  opens opportunities for youth. One other unique component of our media programs is that at BAVC our youth program sits side-by-side with our adult digital media training programs. At BAVC we work with adults who are either employed and who want to keep up skills or unemployed and want skills to find a new job. BAVC youth, and adults, have access to 5 labs with 60 computers, the most up-to-date software used in professional world, including the latest programming, web design, video/audio programs under the same roof.

BAVC is also tapped into a network of partners, which include other use media collaborators, the school districts, the tech sector, the private sector. These community relationships are essential to keeping track onf the skills that are actually needed in the workforce. This means our students are competitive when they apply for jobs. They have the opportunity to use state of the art technology. Our partnerships with tech companies means that youth in our programs are the first in the world to get their hands on the technology that the larger world will be using down the line. For example, in 2011 Mozilla engineers worked with BAVC’s Factory film program to develop revolutionary ‘web-native’ versions of documentaries.

 What are some of your notable successes?
Marc: We have graduates going from our programs who pursue higher education at art schools – like NYU-Tisch and Cal Arts – and some of our students have used it to springboard into entertainment industry. We have just launched a partnership with City College of San Francisco, which means we can provide college credit now, on top of the skills and internship opportunities. BAVC has had interns work at NASA, Mozilla, at film festivals, audio engineering houses. Last year, two of our Factory students were keynote speakers at the Mozilla Foundation’s conference on “Media, Freedom, and the Web” in London. This year, one of our young filmmakers was awarded the Jefferson Award for Public Service for her social issues documentary this year by the City of San Francisco. The high quality skills and creativity of our youth leaving the program continue to be our greatest success.

What should people expect from (BAVC) in the future?
Marc: Right now we are looking to place up to 55 media-savvy teens and young adults in summer internships at Bay Area organizations. We provide the interns with stipends and we’re looking for community-based organizations that may need a talented young person to help them with technical assistance and in creating fresh media content.

People should expect our continued partnerships with cutting-edge technology companies so that youth are prepared for the modern workforce. Look out for new albums from BUMP records, and  on Saturday, March 3rd, there will be a open-house at BAVC, to which the public is invited to meet our staff, learn how we serve non-profits in many different ways, what media programs do we run, we are up to, and to take a short class with us.

Why do you personally do the work that you do?
Marc: I got into this work through my background as an actor and film maker. I was formerly a member and co-founder of the comedy group “Killing My Lobster” in San Francisco. What fuels me to work here, and why I believe BAVC is extraordinary, is the fact that we’re at the intersection of where communities in the Bay Area come together: new technology is pioneered in this part of the world, there is a legendary history of progressive politics and artistic experimentation, BAVC brings together arts, education, technology, which is for me, is intellectually, culturally, and politically exciting.

The digital age is upon us, new media is the new reality and somebody needs to figure out the game rules for how technology plays out in 21st century, and it can’t just be Apple, Google, etc. That’s what we do. And we have a lot of fun doing it. Part of what keeps me going, is seeing how some of the young people in program are fearless about diving into new technology, and embracing new ways of working. It’s hard to feel cynical when you are working with people who show up in the afternoon to create things that didn’t exist before.  In technological context it’s pretty dazzling.

Marc Vogl can be reached at marc@bavc.org or visit  http://www.bavc.org/. BAVC is looking to place 55 media-savvy teens in summer internships at Bay Area organizations, if you are interested in an intern please contact Marc directly.

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