Where are they now? Catching up with AYV Alum Adam Kennedy from San Francisco

AKWho: Adam Kennedy
From: San Francisco, California
How you were involved with Adobe Youth Voices (AYV): As a student in the media arts classroom and later as a creative assistant for the AYV program
Issue you care about:  Equal access to creative tools

As both a media consumer and a creative professional, Adam has a stake in how stories are told.  He’s a practitioner and knows the power of media to send a message.  In the transformational media arts program at Balboa High School, he learned how to create with purpose, and further developed his critical acumen studying cinema at San Francisco State University.  At the renowned Sundance Film Festival, Adam saw films that resonated with him: “You think, ‘This is the world I’m living in.’” Hear more from him and other filmmakers at Sundance, and view his recent work.

“I always gravitate towards the films and videos that carry some kind of weight to them, where I can tell that the maker had something that they wanted to say.”
Adam Kennedy, AYV alumnus and Editor + Motion Designer at 12FPS

Q. What was your first media making experience?

A. I have old tapes going back as far as age four, when I would record my toys acting out stories on the family camcorder. In middle school I used to make stop motions of clay figures, and do reenactments of some of my favorite movies. It was the media arts program at Balboa High School where my passion for making media accelerated, where I feel that it really became a part of who I am.

Q. What did you learn making media at school?

A. Although I had accumulated certain skills and saved up for my own video equipment, I realized there was something missing from the movies I was making. Adobe Youth Voices taught me it’s important to give purpose to the things that I create, and to motivate my storytelling with more than just camera tricks or interesting visuals. I often waded between filmmaking, animation, and photography, but found that I could create impact through storytelling regardless of format.

Q. How is media making part of your life now?

A. Understanding how motion picture is used to craft messaging came to me gradually, and couldn’t have happened without the creative education I received as a young filmmaker. Fast forward to now, I have a job at a creative agency called 12FPS where I do video editing and motion design. I do cinematography and visual effects, as well as consulting for brands and campaigns our company works with.

Q. What advice do you have for young people like yourself?

A. A lot of people will say the best advice is to keep making media nonstop. I think that’s only partially true. It’s extremely important to ask the right people the right questions. In that sense, it’s valuable to be smart about what you don’t know. The connections you make with like-minded individuals are often far more important than the caliber of the work you produce.

Q. What issue or cause do you care about and why?

A. Equal access to creative tools is something I care a lot about. Everyone with an idea should have some way to bring it to life. In schools the arts programs are often the first to be cut— preventing many from having a creative outlet in the formative years. What makes me optimistic about broader access is the way mobile mediamaking has been growing. Just a few years ago you needed an expensive camera and software, and a desktop computer to make a movie. Now you can do everything on one device, and share it with the world right away. I hope that this transformation makes it much easier for schools and organizations to invest in creative education.

Q. What part of your story do you want to be sure to tell?  

A. Coming full-circle with the Adobe Youth Voices program has been pretty amazing. I started out as a youth media maker, returned as a creative assistant to help out at certain AYV events, and eventually developed my career such that I can help further the AYV mission as a creative professional. In all stages of that progression, my drive has been to learn and create as a team.

“What I saw at the core of each film at Sundance was an interesting idea and a willingness to push it to the edge to make the idea a reality. Not a moment is ever wasted when you’re pursuing a love of storytelling, especially when you’re taking time to appreciate someone else’s work.”

Follow Adam on Instagram @trapexoid