By Gui Oliveira
Richmond District resident Joey Yee created his own YouTube channel to share the zeitgeist of the City’s northwest corner. His videos are fun, informative and brought to life by someone who really knows the community.
Yee, a San Francisco native, has been in the neighborhood since 2000. He attended George Washington High School, where he got his first glimpse into the world of video creation.
“I took a video production class over at Washington and just kind of fell in love with editing mostly, and after that first year I think I was a junior, and I took it in my senior year and I was like, ‘I want to go to school for this.’” He took advantage of San Francisco State University’s cinema program and graduated in 2010.
Yee landed a job with CBS Interactive in the games department and afterwards did a six-month contract job with Facebook. Unhappy with the work he was doing, Yee decided to leave due to the shifting workload that became increasingly unrelated to video production.
Yee explained what he thinks makes San Francisco’s west side so unique and worth the endeavor of producing videos.
“First and foremost, it’s one of those places that is kind of forgotten. I think when you think of people’s perspective of what San Francisco is like as far as the media goes – what you see on mugs, television commercials, TV shows and movies – it tends to be areas downtown with all the landmarks,” Yee said. “Growing up in this area and spending a lot of my teen years here, I didn’t really go downtown as much. I spent a lot of it here, and I kind of got used to seeing this as what San Francisco is – to me at least.”
Yee found that there is so much to see and explore in the Richmond. Things that really boil down to the local level of getting to know the shops, restaurants, bars and community that makes up the fabric of the neighborhood.
Yee, in a do-it-yourself fashion, produces short, engaging films of what it is like to live in this corner of town. In his video titled “What to do in San Francisco’s Second Chinatown,” he explores Clement Street in the Inner Richmond, detailing some of the diverse shops from Tantrum to Richmond New May Wah Supermarket. Filming in these shops also gives the viewer a taste of what it is really like to be there. In essence, these are local shops you might not read about in a San Francisco top 10 list.
“Honestly, at this point in time, it’s hard to say how many places will eventually be around in the next 10 years, so I thought it was important for me to preserve that in my own way,” he said.
Yee explains: “I lived over on Funston Avenue for about five years, and I used to walk down that area (Clement Street) almost every day. And it never really occurred to me just how places like that, so close to the heart, have that communal feeling.”
From a technical standpoint, Yee’s videos are quite stunning for someone who is also his own crew (with the exception of his Nightlife video – his wife helped him). His shots are carefully composed, and never recycled. He uses tighter shots to produce a more intimate feeling for his audience. He narrates clearly in a tone that engages his audience to keep watching until the end, and supplements his videos with historical information, including archival pictures. He is armed with minimal equipment, including a digital camera, microphone, selfie stick and tripod. And to top it off, he has mastered the post-production work flow.
“This time right now is probably the first time in about seven years I’ve made films for myself on my own accord, so it feels good to do that now.”
To watch his videos, search for “Joey Yee” on YouTube.
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