Get to know BAVC Media’s Co-Director of the MediaMaker Fellowship: Jin Yoo-Kim
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I think the first thing most people know about me is that I was born in Bolivia. My identity has been a constantly shifting journey. My first language was Korean since both of my parents are Korean. My second language was Spanish, and I only learned English when I came to the U.S. when I was six years old. My primary language now is the language of documentation. Early on in my identity journey I realized I would most likely be an outsider in any community I “belong” to and I moved around so much that I started a habit of recording everything and using the camera as a way or even as a reason to just be there to observe.
It gave me a purpose in social settings where I wasn’t sure how else to fit in. I started collaging, junk journaling, keeping mementos to add to my diaries and it’s only now I realize that documenting through the camera was also my way of holding on to these fleeting moments. I also admit that I am addicted to fellowships. I was in Korea last year on a Public Diplomacy and Media fellowship and one of my cohorts said we were both fellowship babies. A couple months later, I was down in Chile for an American Film Showcase fellowship where I served as a mentor.
Whether I’m in a fellowship or mentoring in one, I admit I cannot get enough of the intense bonding and community building a fellowship brings. My other hobbies aside from memory keeping are being a plant mom, eating (more than cooking), and my daily meditation walks.
When did you first cross paths with BAVC Media and what about the organization’s mission and vision resonates with you?
I first heard of BAVC Media a couple of years ago when some of my friends were fellows. Each year I would hear about one more person I knew who waxed poetic about their experience as a MediaMaker Fellow. Then, when Dawn Valadez became co-director, I learned much more about the fellowship through her. Dawn was a consulting producer on a project I produced so we were mutually connected to the director of the film, Ann Kaneko, and what resonated most with me about BAVC Media is how nurturing and committed the organization is to uplift filmmakers not only in the Bay Area but beyond. I was so happy to meet with many of the staff when I was there for the first convening.
It’s hard finding a community in this very fast, rather toxic industry so when I found my new home in BAVC, it truly gave me hope that there are still great allies and support for working filmmakers. BAVC’s mission in breaking down barriers and providing access to technology as well as training and education for filmmakers is so valuable. Just in my short time helping select this year’s cohort, I was amazed by the focus on untold stories, a commitment to diversity, and pushing the doc form. BAVC Media is pioneering on many levels in this way so I’m excited to be a part of building this community together.
What are you most excited about in taking on the Co-Director of the MediaMaker Fellowship role?
I’m already amazed by the stories I get to support this year. The filmmakers in the MediaMaker Fellowship are the voices we’ve all been earning to hear from. There’s so much depth in not just the content the filmmakers are choosing to tell, but how they are telling it – from visually creative documentaries to documentaries pushing for change beyond the screen and even behind the camera.
I’m also very excited about working very closely with the Director of Youth and Artistic Development Programs and my co-director Dawn Valadez and with Associate Director of Artist Development, Brittney Réaume. I also get to quench my fellowship thirst building this temporary yet eternal community together.
What advice would you give a young person who has a story to tell but doesn’t know where to start?
Most people will say something along the lines of start now, with what you have, for as long as you can carry it on your own until you raise the funding to bring on others to help you. I agree with that statement but will clarify that filmmaking doesn’t always involve a camera. The actual film production is only a fourth of it. Ideating and pre-production can look like writing, journaling, collaging, illustrating, creating vision and mood boards, talking to friends, honing the idea, characters, the arc, the visual language.
Much of this work doesn’t require a lot of resources, just time that you want to invest in yourself and the story you want to tell. The other part you can do while you are ideating is talking to people and expanding your network of co-conspirators! After you are done with film production there is still post-production and distribution and for many, the impact campaign. There are so many people who would love to be part of your project and help it along so don’t be afraid to talk to them now and revisit those relationships when you’re ready. Also, there is a reason I’m addicted to fellowships. There is nothing more magical than being part of a small and dedicated group of filmmaker buddies who are equally invested in your growth as you are in them. Find your community whether it’s through fellowships or other networks and start building together.
What are 3 things that are currently bringing you joy?
Great playlists that help me relive my memories – oh no, I’m finding another way to continue my memory-keeping obsession! I also love traveling, even if it’s small weekend getaways as it allows me to see things again as if for the first time. I love my daily walks that force me to slow down and observe nature at its wildest.
You mentioned you’re a plant mom in addition to being a human mom! What are some of your favorite plants?
I am a plant mom but because I’m also a human mom the houseplants I love are the ones who have survived my inconsistent watering habits. This means the interior of my home is all aroids and sansevierias. I do have a greenhouse where I collect some of the more rare succulents (also survivors of my inconsistent watering). I love euphorbias because they’re pretty but poisonous. My faves are euphorbia lactea (white ghost or dragon bone cactus) and euphorbia flanaganii (Medusa’s head). I’m also into strange plants that mimic body parts like the Myrtillocactus geometrizans Fukurokuryuzinboku(boobie cactus) or the Trichocereus bridgesii monstrose (penis cactus) or the lithops which definitely look like flat butts. You can follow my plant journey on my plant Instagram @welcometothejungalow.
Do you have any other upcoming projects you’d like us to know about?
I’m still producing and impact-producing Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust. We are in the impact campaign phase and are about to head up to Payahǖǖnadǖ (Owens Valley) for the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage at the end of April to partake in the pilgrimage and also to film parts of our augmented reality project that will take its final form as a visual sound bath meditation experience. This project is part of our impact goal of healing and connecting people to land through a spiritual and emotional connection. I’m a consultant producer on two documentary features – What the Pier Gave Us, directed by Luna x Moya and produced by Maria Santos, and Together, directed by Yasmin Mistry and produced by Thu Hoang. I’m currently developing a tv docuseries, a feature narrative film, and a feature doc (not all at the same time of course).
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