At BayKids, we help kids discover the stories they want to tell. The films are driven by the children’s creative visions and unique perspectives. We provide the opportunity to make a variety of different types of movies, each of which offers unique benefits to the young filmmakers. Meet some of our BayKids stars and their films. (Our filmmakers love receiving fan mail, so if you want to make a child’s day, send an email to fanmail@baykids.org.)

SAMANTHA – Artistic/Animation

While in the hospital, Samantha got hooked on origami! After creating dozens of origami creatures, she wanted to make a film using her works of art. With a little planning, a lot of determination, and an abundance of creativity, Samantha made a fascinating story come to life through stop-motion animation. “Owls and Friends” is a beautiful film that gave a young girl an outlet for expressing herself artistically during her extended stay at the hospital.

“Owl and Friends” went on to win awards at the National Film Festival for Talented Youth in Seattle and Samantha and her family were able to attend the festival and bask in the glory of it all. Samantha’s experience making a film and being recognized as an accomplished young filmmaker was so meaningful for her that it inspired her Bat Mitzvah project. She and her family teamed up with fellow BayKids star Aidan and his family to put on a BayKids fundraiser and screening of their movies. The screening gave friends and family an unforgettable opportunity to celebrate the two children and the power of the filmmaking experience in their recovery process.

AUSTIN – Therapeutic

During Austin’s cancer treatment, his father treated him to a new wresting action figure after every doctor’s appointment. Not surprisingly, Austin chose to make his BayKids film about something he is passionate about—wrestling. Through the process of filming, Austin discovered a connection between his illness and wrestlers. Austin says it best: “Be like a wrestler, never give up.” When children have the opportunity to express themselves through filmmaking, they often gain insights and a sense of control that helps them cope with their illnesses.

For Austin, as for many children, the benefits of making a film extended beyond the production phase. When his film received an award at the BayKids deYoung Film Premiere, he felt an immense sense of pride as he was recognized for his significant accomplishment. And when BayKids sent him to the World Wrestling Entertainment Company’s Sacramento event, he was thrilled to see some of his favorite wrestlers in person!

AIDAN – Educational

Ten-year old Aidan suffered two pediatric strokes from a football accident. His recovery was long and difficult, as he had to learn to walk and move his body again. During his stay at the hospital, Aidan realized that there were no role models to help him with his recovery. So he decided it was up to him to become that example for other kids. In “Never Give Up,” Aidan uses interview techniques and talks about his experience to educate children about pediatric strokes and the recovery process. He hopes to inspire people to persevere in the face of obstacles.

“Never Give Up” helped Aidan’s family and friends gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for all that he has overcome. Because of the important messages in Aidan’s mini-documentary, high school teachers have shown the film to their students to introduce the notion of gratitude.

Aidan’s experience inspired him, and his family, to find a way to give back to other children. They have started a youth flag football league in the East Bay to raise funds for BayKids Studios and Children’s Hospital Oakland, and have put on toy drives as a way to donate toys to hospitalized kids.

TONY – School Re-entry

After becoming paralyzed from a car accident, Tony chose to work with BayKids on a film that would help him in his transition back to school. He wanted his classmates to understand what he had been through and most importantly, that he was still the same person as before.

Tony enthusiastically took on learning the many roles of filmmaking for his film, “A New Life.” He blossomed in the role of director as he directed his medical staff on camera with growing confidence and intelligence. He enjoyed being on camera and was a natural at letting his friendliness and humor shine. After the filming was complete, Tony was eager to learn the editing process and was so successful that he was able to edit his film from start to finish.

“A New Life” became a valuable tool to help Tony enter his new life back at school, giving his friends, family and classmates an appreciation for the challenges he has courageously faced and the physical changes he has experienced. “A New Life” is also an artistic accomplishment that Tony is immensely proud of.

KENIA, JAYLEN AND DALLAS – Playful Stories

Kenia was so excited about making a movie with BayKids that she jumped right in, let her imagination soar, and wrote an original script. Then she invited two other patients to participate in the production of “Mystery Troll.” With teamwork and collaboration on the movie set, Kenia, Jalen, and Dallas designed their shot list, rehearsed their parts, and shot their movie in a single day. A playful movie about strange and mysterious occurrences in the hospital, Mystery Troll gave the three filmmakers a wonderful distraction from the hardships and tedium of hospital life.

One of the benefits of filmmaking for hospitalized children is that they can step out of their roles as patients and return to being the people they’ve always been. As they learn filmmaking skills, exercise their playful sides, and lose themselves in creative expression, these children leave behind, for a moment, their medical conditions and their “patient” labels.

ASHLEY – Forever Film

Ashley was a very artistic young girl who fell in love with a book by celebrated children’s author/illustrator Elisa Kleven. The book, “The Paper Princess,” is about a paper-doll princess who is blown away in the wind. Ashley was thrilled with the idea of making a film based on her favorite book. When BayKids invited Elisa Kleven to narrate the film, the author enthusiastically accepted.

Ashley threw herself into the different aspects of her film with determination, creating a script based on the book, acting, and doing voiceovers. Through the process of making “Paper Princess,” a beautiful friendship developed between the two artists. Ashley and Elisa continued making paper dolls together every week, sometimes every day, for over a year, which brought immense joy to both of them. “Paper Princess” is now a beautiful “Forever” film and an important memorial film for Ashley’s family and all of us who hold Ashley very close to our hearts.