Documentarian Patricia Yáñez making the world a better place through film

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- In a spare bedroom in her South Philadelphia rowhome, Patricia Yáñez is working on a half dozen documentaries on everything from the plight of the bumblebees to profiles of creative people like Philadanco Founder Joan Myers Brown and artist Leroy Johnson.

"If money were no objection, I want to do documentaries of everything," Yáñez says.

She is the head of Creative Synergy Media, a company she founded in 2016.

"We want to highlight creatives," Yáñez says, "I feel like that's the contribution that we can do is just pass the mic or, you know, shine the light."

Yáñez was born in 1974, in New Jersey, a year after the Chilean coup that put military dictator Augusto Pinochet in power.

When she was 4, her parents moved her and her three siblings back to Chile where they lived under dictatorship until 1990 when Pinochet stepped down.

"I'm the first generation of film directors in Chile after the dictatorship," says Yáñez, who attended Duoc UC, an institute that is part of a very prestigious university in Chile. "Most of my professors lived in exile," Yáñez says.

She graduated just after the 9/11 attacks and a sister, who'd moved back to America, convinced her to do the same.

"I remember looking at this passport, and realizing I can come to the United States whenever I want and just work." Yáñez says. She's been a Spanish teacher in the Glassboro School District ever since.

Making documentaries is her side passion.

"I now know what I want to be when I grow up," Yáñez jokes.

She works with an Argentinian editor who lives in Panama and collaborates with a screenwriter in Chile, the professor who taught her the craft.

"So we do a lot of Zooms," Yáñez explains.

She took out a loan to finance her work and just got a grant from the city of Philadelphia. She's about to release her first finished documentary called Hear, Philly.

"It's basically a playlist," Yáñez says, "mostly Bach pieces performed by students, one instrument at a time."

When considering topics to tackle, she says she's looking for problems that need to be solved.

"Music education and preservation of classical music, I think is important. Saving the bees is important," she says, "honoring and paying tribute to someone like Leroy Johnson."

Johnson is an 84-year-old African American artist in Philadelphia that Yáñez feels strongly "we in Philadelphia should know about; we should study him."

"I just very organically see a need and just go with it," she says. "I can't help it...I just want to be part of a solution of something and make a contribution."

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