Behind the camera with Arjun Shah

Editor's Note

Most everyone with Kids & Art knows Arjun Shah. He's sure easy to spot by the signature orange Crocs he often wears. Actually, whatever footwear he happens to be wearing, he's well known because he's been such a regular feature in the Kids & Art workshop entourage. Woody Allen once said "Eighty percent of life is just showing up." In Arjun's case, he shows up early and often--and leaves late, too. Aside from being a stalwart Kids & Art volunteer, this San Francisco Lick-Wilmerding High School junior also deserves credit for being important behind the scenes.

We should also note that back in early 2013, a time when Kids & Art was at a crossroads, founder Purvi Shah was voicing her concerns about the future of the nonprofit. It was Arjun who helped inspire her to stay the course during this decisive moment for Kids & Art. He simply shared that as a sibling he himself had been helped by Kids & Art while his brother, Amaey, went through cancer treatment. He said that had his brother Amaey survived, he would have wanted their mom to keep going and to help other families. Those words, the proverbial "right words at the right time," were instrumental.

The proof is that now we are many collaborations and collaborators later, and it is in great part because of these words. They have led to significant outreach and growth in our programs. That, in turn, has nourished inner growth and joy for kids and families. Since then, Kids & Art has touched many lives in significant ways--and that continues to be our plan for this new year.

January is a good month to take stock of our goals. It's also a good month to honor beginnings and renewal, which is precisely what Arjun's wise words helped bring about. Here are some more words from Arjun, as we reboot our Author of the Month feature for 2016. Here he shares with you a commentary about creating a video with a few classmates for a school assignment.

Behind the Camera with Arjun Shah

I had the chance last school semester to create a film covering the December 6th Kids & Art workshop, Project Happiness: Paint the World Pretty with artist Lindsay DeAlba and writer Sheri Sobrato of Digging Deep Journal. I was taking the film class at Lick Wilmerding High School, and the assignment was to make a film about an organization you care about.

My mom, Purvi, is the founder of Kids & Art, so naturally I chose Kids & Art as the organization. The December 6th workshop at the Community School of Music and Arts was coming up, so our group thought that would be the perfect opportunity for filming.

During the planning process at school, we decided that we would follow a family at the workshop and make them the center of the video. Unfortunately, one of our group members could not make it to the workshop, so that left just two of us. Based on our planning, it would require three people to successfully get enough footage, so we changed the plan a day before the workshop. Instead, we decided to make the workshop the main focus of the film, and get as much footage as we could in those two hours.

All of Kids & Art’s workshops are so different, and I think that is what makes it so special. The kids who come to the workshops a lot get to experience different types of art forms, something that I know excites them.

The filming process

We had two cameras, so we got around four hours of footage. We created a few question for the interviews. Our first interview was with Jade Kwan, the Community Development Manager, as well as a senior volunteer for Kids & Art. We ended up using this interview as the backbone of the film while weaving in our B-roll throughout the interview. We tried to interview some first-time volunteers, but they didn't really answer any of the questions we asked them. We also had a fun interview with two of the kid artists. They didn't answer any of our questions either, but they were definitely enjoying the workshop, and were happy with the art they had created.

This workshop was really different for me from most of the other workshops. This was the first time I was not actually creating any art. That gave me the chance to observe the workshop from a different perspective. Because I was filming, I was looking out for cool shots to take and for the emotions kids were expressing. What I found was everyone was so happy and excited about what they were doing that I found it challenging to film it all. Walking out of the workshop, I felt like this was once again an amazing one. Hopefully, it was a relaxing and enjoyable experience for the kids who attended.

Author of the Month