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An Interview with Adobe Youth Voices Alumnus Adam Kennedy

Adam Kennedy (Youth), San Francisco

Adobe Youth Voices alumna Adam Kennedy has come a long way since his student media making days at the CAST Academy in Balboa High School in San Francisco, California. Now he is part of the professional creative team at 12 FPS, a multimedia production company in San Francisco. In addition, he recently completed a feature-length film that premiered at the San Francisco Latino Film Festival to a full house – a pivotal moment for any filmmaker. Adam shares with us the significant role Adobe Youth Voices had in his journey from youth media student to professional media artist.

Why did you originally become involved with Adobe Youth Voices? 

Ever since middle school I've had a fascination for creating media, whether it was stop motion, live action or still image. The media arts department at my high school, the CAST Academy at Balboa, gave me the building blocks with which to share my creativity with the world—not only by giving me the technical tools, but by introducing me to internship opportunities, and teaching me how to work in a creative team with others. Adobe Youth Voices, through my experience in CAST Academy, opened my eyes to its fundamental objective of making media, which is to create with purpose, and that mantra will always stick with me. I became involved with Adobe Youth Voices because I saw the awesome potential of a worldwide community of media makers. I have seen such amazing work come from all over the globe, and we're just getting started.

You have a special kind of relationship with the Adobe Youth Voices program having not only been a youth participant but also having worked on web content for AYV. How did you go from AYV participant to creating professional media for AYV?

As a motivated, media-minded alumni of the program, I was offered a spot as a Creative Assistant for the Adobe Youth Voices 2011 Summit team. AYV media mentor Adam Shaening-Pokrasso and I teamed up to work with a group of students over the course of three days to help youth participants produce a beautiful mixed media piece. After a year and a half of continually pursuing media making as a profession, I had the honor of becoming a part of Adam’s creative team at 12FPS, his production company based in San Francisco. When I first got involved with 12FPS, I knew that, being young and relatively less experienced in a professional sense, the only way to establish myself was to quickly develop my skills in all areas of digital media making and not pigeonhole myself. I signed on with them to do my first real-world web design gig as a freelance contractor. This job involved helping design the homepage for Adobe Youth Voices Essentials. I worked from home after school and between classes, generating a multitude of design options and revising them based on feedback. After about two weeks what resulted was a product that had an authentic Adobe quality to it, which confirmed to me that sharing information in all forms of visual media was a valuable asset in pursuing a career in this 21st century world.

At the time, I was working part-time at a major photography studio and although it certainly stimulated my love of photography, I began to realize that working with the 12FPS team to produce video content is exactly what I wanted to do. I offered to leave my other job to work with 12FPS, and before I knew it I had my own set of keys and my name and picture on the company website.

At work, as I float from one project to another, I edit video and audio in Adobe Premiere Pro, do motion graphics, animation and visual effects in After Effects, and create 2D assets and photo editing in Photoshop, and I learn more every single day. In editing and working with web content for AYV I've been able to see the awesome work that youth media makers have been creating since I graduated. It gives me great pleasure to feel that I've been able to give back to a community that has helped nurture my creativity in my journey as an artist.

What did you discover about your interests and ambitions through media making?

As I've grown as a media maker, I've found that the most rewarding experience is the connections you make with others. Earlier in 2012 I was involved in a feature film project, Sin Padre, as the cinematographer and editor, and what amazed me was the level of connectivity and sense of fulfillment I gained from being a part of that team. As the cinematographer and editor, it was absolutely critical that I be 100% aware of everything that we captured, because it would ultimately be up to me to string it together into a story. I was driven to make it come together because I didn't want to let everyone else on the team down for all their hard work. We were extremely successful in capturing every scene we needed in a timely manner, and aside from a handful of hiccups, we maintained a rock solid morale within the cast and crew as we pushed forward.

I edited the film over the summer of 2012 using Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. What kept me going was the hope of having a successful premiere, doing justice to the hard work that went into it from others, and a desire to finish strong what I had started strong. When the film was nearing completion we created a buzz on Facebook with trailers and pictures, and gained a strong fan base in the Bay Area starting with the friends and families of those directly involved. It was accepted into the San Francisco Latino Film Festival, and our premiere completely sold out! We sold 400 tickets online, the final 100 at the door, and an additional 150 had to be turned away. It was such a hit that the festival had no choice but to add two more screenings. When I began to see all the reactions of the audience it really started to hit me what I had done—I had taken a powerful first step on my journey as a filmmaker. This film would not have been successful if I hadn't been motivated to make that impact on the community and tell the story.

What's special about the opportunities a young person can have creating media in a program like Adobe Youth Voices?

Adobe Youth Voices provides the community, the tools, and a global audience for young artists to begin their journeys as media makers. It does more than just provide the technical knowledge to perform different tasks. It helps to create an infrastructure for how to think critically as a storyteller and as a listener. As much as I'd like to owe my growth and success to myself, I owe a lot to the dedication and reach of AYV as a force of communication, awareness and change on behalf of all the individuals who may not otherwise have an opportunity to engage in this experience. I am humbled to see the connections that people make during the summit events and the ties created that cross cultural boundaries and language barriers–confirming for me that I am a part of something bigger that just can’t be stopped.

To see more of Adam Kennedy’s work, visit

POST DATE: November 20, 2012
AUTHOR: Gabby Silva

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