WOCFilmmaker’s

Celebrating Women Filmmakers

Urusaro International Women Film Festival

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Actress Antoinette Uwamahoro, best known as Intare y’Ingore, receiving the award. / Eddie Nsabimana

Poupoun Sesonga Kamikazi is the brains behind the Urusaro International Women Film Festival (UWIFF) that was held at the Umubano Hotel in Kigali recently.

In its second edition now, the festival celebrates the gains made by female filmmakers from Rwanda and Africa, although this year’s edition also saw movies from a few Asian nations screened.

This year organizers received a total of forty movie submissions, of which twenty three films were selected. Of these, eleven were from Rwanda, making the event a predominantly Rwandan affair.

Other movie submissions came from East and West Africa. One filmmaker from Gabon and another from Ivory Coast also flew down to Kigali for the festival.

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Poupoune Kamikazi Sesonga (left, in red dress), the festival director and John Kwezi (1st left) posing for a photo with the winners. / Eddie Nsabimana

The now annual festival was founded in 2015, but funding glitches left organizers with no option but to cancel last year’s event at the last moment.

New partnerships with Tele 10, 4GLTE and other sponsors ensured the festival bounces back bigger and better this year.

More support and goodwill also came from government through the Ministry of Sports and Culture, and the Rwanda Academy of Language and Culture (RALC).

“Urusaro International Women Film Festival is about movies made by women, be it local or foreign. I myself am a movie maker and an artist. I have made five movies, so why not inspire other women to make movies too?”, remarked Kamikazi, at a pre-event press conference at the 4G Square in Downtown Kigali.

“We have many workshops where upcoming filmmakers will be helped to know how to pitch for funding because making movies requires a lot of money. Filmmakers will also have a chance to network because we have invited people from government and embassies and filmmakers from abroad,” she added.

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Awards reserved for winners. / Eddie Nsabimana

“This is the first film festival to approach us for partnership and for us as Tele 10 we have a lot of movie content so we decided to come out and familiarize our brand in the society. We need more local filmmakers. People have been watching movies from Hollywood and Europe but it’s now time for Rwandan movies to taken center stage,” explained Emmanuel Niyonshuti, the head of Sales and Marketing at Tele 10.

The festival closed on March 11th, with a special award ceremony for best movie makers.

Some of the local filmmakers who walked away with awards include; Antoinnette Uwamahoro for Best Actress, Ahadi Beni for Best Actor, while the Best Short Film Accolade went to Apolline Uwimana for her film, Bugingo. The Most Popular Film was Isaha, by Zaninka Joselyn.

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Joselyne Zaninka posing with the ‘most popular film’ award. / Eddie Nsabimana
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Apolline Uwimana won three awards in the International Women Film festival. / Eddie Nsabimana

Started as a joke

In July 2012, Kamikazi won her maiden movie award, courtesy of the short film, Kivuto at the then Rwanda International Film Festival, now Rwanda Film Festival. And she has never looked back since.

She was born in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi but is Rwandan. She attended Kicukiro Primary school in Rwanda, then left for Burundi for her secondary studies. It’s in Burundi that the inspiration for her first film manifested, although at the time she didn’t consider a career in film.

Kivuto is a film borne out of her childhood memories about children with disabilities arising from complicated birth.

“There’s a province called Kirundo on the Burundian side, and Bugesera district on the Rwandan side. Kivuto is the name that was given to a child who had a complicated delivery. Usually the infant would be pushed out of the mother and in most cases that infant would die and if they survived they would come with some disabilities. Growing up, I saw many such children and even adults. Some would not control their biological functions,” she explains.

Following her award, a TV crew from Tele 10 interviewed her family on her success. She was shocked to learn from their interviews that the movie maker in her had started to manifest while she was a little girl of five.

At that age, she started narrating films to her family, films that were merely figments of her fertile imagination.

“I would tell them I had watched the film and start to narrate it yet I had not watched it. My siblings would sit around me and listen. The next day I would do the same and narrate a film I had never seen or heard about. When it was bed time my siblings would come to me to narrate them a film before they would go to sleep. Sometimes they would cry and other times they would be overtaken by fear.

“My mum was so strict and tough, but I was so stubborn and would always break her rules. Every time I would return home I knew that she would beat me up. Because I always knew I was going to be beaten up, I would always come up with a story to calm down her temper as a way of covering my stubbornness. Instead of beating me, she would say welcome, sit next to me and tell me the story,” she explains.

“My mum was a staunch Catholic and she adored the Virgin Mary. To be sure that I had convinced her and her temper had cooled down, I would always add a story about the Virgin Mary. I would tell her that some people had had a vision from the Virgin Mary. That was always the final touch in convincing her.”

It took them about five years to realize she had been creating fictional films she had never watched.

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Beauty for Ashes on stage. / Eddie Nsabimana

In 2008 she returned to Rwanda to continue with school at Mudende Adventist University where she studied Computer Science and Networking.

Towards the end of 2009 she met an American film crew making a movie in Rwanda.

“I was assisting the casting director to cast the characters. I noticed he was so tired and stressed and offered to help him during the pre production of the film. When I did it, the director of film started taking pictures of me and asking me many questions.”

They thought her to be an experienced local movie director, which she was not.

“The casting director asked me to return the next day yet he had his own assistant. I returned for the next couple of days and he kept asking me many questions about movies but I did not know the answers. I had not even read the script of the movie we were casting.

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The audience. / Eddie Nsabimana

He asked how many times I had done casting in movies but I could not tell him I had never done it before because I knew they would not believe me. So I kept quiet, smiled and went away, hoping he would never ask me again.”

After the shoot she picked her allowances and headed back to school, the money having been her only motivation.

But even the Rwandan team from Almond Tree Films that had worked as extras in the film mistook her for an experienced American movie maker. Realizing she was Rwandan, the decided to engage her.

“They requested me to join Almond Tree Films and work with them but I told them I’m not a filmmaker but had just gone to make money.

One day they asked me to write them a script. I told them I had many stories but I didn’t have a computer and didn’t know anything to do with writing scripts. I just used to write my stories in a notebook.

When I gave them the story they said it’s a perfect script and they asked to shoot a movie out of it.”

SOURCE

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5 Black Women To Watch In Hollywood In 2017

Be on the lookout for these glow-ups.

Black Voices’ associate editor Taryn Finley and senior culture writer Zeba Blay sat down with Murray, who was also joined by Buzzfeed entertainment reporter Sylvia Obell, to share her perspective as an entertainment insider.

Here are five women Murray said should be on your list of Hollywood up-and-comers to watch in 2017:

1. Gina Prince-Bythewood

Nicholas Hunt via Getty Images
Prince-Bythewood will be co-directing “Shots Fired” with husband Reggie Bythewood.

Best known for her 2000 romance film “Love and Basketball,” starring Sanaa Lathan, Gina Prince-Bythewood is no Hollywood newbie. Prince-Bythewood will be directing the upcoming fictional Fox series “Shots Fired,” which is centered on police brutality in South Carolina. Lathan will also star in the series.

2. Dee Rees

Maarten de Boer via Getty Images
Rees also directed the film “Pariah,” about a young, black lesbian struggling with her identity in Brooklyn.

In a $12.5 million deal, Netflix recently bought director Dee Rees’ critically acclaimed film “Mudbound.” The film, which follows soldiers returning home from WWII, stars Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell and Mary J. Blige.

3. Stella Meghie

Earl Gibson III via Getty Images
Meghie’s directorial debut “Jean of the Joneses“ premiered last year.

Stella Meghie’s name may not ring a bell just yet, but the Toronto native may soon be at the center of Hollywood’s attention when romance film “Everything, Everything,” starring Amandla Stenberg, is released this May.

4. Jessica Williams

Mike Coppola via Getty Images
Williams spoke at the Women’s March on Sundance earlier this year.

Former “Daily Show” correspondent Jessica Williams should have been on your radar yesterday. One half of the “2 Dope Queens” podcast, Williams will be starring in Netflix’s “The Incredible Jessica James,” about a young playwright living in New York City.

5. Yvonne Orji

Rodin Eckenroth via Getty Images
Issa Rae and Orji gained everyone’s affection IRL when a photo of them sharing excitement over the Golden Globes nomination for “Insecure” while in their headscarves made its rounds on the internet.

Yvonne Orji is everybody’s bestie as Molly in “Insecure.” But Orji really won our hearts with her realness when she opened up to “The Breakfast Club” in November about being a virgin at 32 years old and having experienced bullying when she was younger.

Look out, Hollywood. All this black excellence ain’t here to play.

SOURCE

The Business: 99 Free Filmmaking Forms!

by Adrijana Lazarevic
August 1, 2016
Ease your workload (and your mind) with these free templates for everything from storyboarding to contracts to accounting.

[Editor’s Note: No Film School asked Adrijana Lazarevic to collect these 99 templates because of her expertise working with filmmakers at Filestage.io.]

No one really feels like doing paperwork, but let’s be honest: no good film comes without organization and planning. That’s where templates can help you out. I work at a startup that creates software for filmmakers, and we see how busy you are every day, so we collected the most helpful templates, guides and checklists out there to make your life a little easier. They really help save time for what matters most: letting your creativity flow and producing breathtaking movies that won’t be forgotten.

The categories covered in this list are: Script Prep/Pre-production, Storyboard/Mood Board Templates, Shot List Templates, Script Breakdown Sheets, Budgeting, Accounting, Personnel/Cast Forms, Insurance Forms, Equipment Documents, Production/Shooting, and Music Releases.
Script Prep/Pre-production

Much of your planning happens well before production, including trying to get investors on board and starting to determine who your audience will be. Here are some templates for early steps, including a form for “optioning” a story that you want to produce, and a director’s worksheet that lays out what you’d like to see happen in each scene.

1. Director’s Worksheet – Film Contracts
2. Guide to Formatting a Screenplay – Final Draft
3. Literary Option & Purchase – Sonnyboo
4. Ultimate Creative Brief – Filestage
5. Cinematography Pre-Production Checklist – Film Contracts
6. Buyer Persona Template – Filestage
Storyboard/Mood Board Templates

Storyboarding is a cornerstone of the filmmaking process. A storyboard is a sequence of drawings that paint a picture of the your storyline, showing the structure of, and vision for, key scenes. We’ve also included a moodboard sheet for establishing the visual style of your film.

7. Moodboard Template – Filestage
8. Storyboard – Filestage
9. Storyboard – Sonnyboo
10. Storyboard – Filmsourcing
11. TV Storyboard – Film Contracts
Shot List Templates

Organization is the key to a successful shoot. With the help of a shot list, you can easily arrange single shots within any given scene. You can determine, for example, the number of shots necessary to capture a particular action most effectively. Give it a try with one of these practical templates.

12. Shot List – Film Contracts
13. Shot List – Learnaboutfilm
14. Shot List – LAvideoFilmmaker
15. Camera Shot List – Filmsourcing
16. Camera Shot List Advanced – Filmsourcing
Script Breakdown Sheets

Here you can find helpful templates providing detailed descriptions of scenes, and the equipment and personnel assigned to each one. This way, you never lose sight, and can make sure everything is going according to plan.

17. Script Breakdown Sheet – Studiobinder
18. Breakdown Sheet – Michael Wiese Books
19. Script Breakdown Sheet – Sonnyboo
Budgeting

While making a film, you or your producer have to keep a lot of things in mind and, before you know it, you can easily go over budget. This compilation of templates will help make sure that you don’t lose sight of your financial statements. Some of them additionally provide examples of budgeting.

20. Sample Budget – Sonnyboo
21. Budget and Invoice Template – Fstoppers
22. Film Budget Top Sheet – Making the Movie
23. Questions & Budget Creation – Michael Wiese Books
Checklist-Shutterstock

Accounting Records

Once you have a budget, you have to actually do the accounting. Maintaining an overview of your finances and money flow is crucial. Check your financial resources by making notes of their movement. These forms will help you keep track.

Inflows 30
24. Amount Received – Film Contracts
25. Cash or Sales Receipt – Film Contracts
26. Promissory Note – Film Contracts

Outflows
27. Daily Cost Overview – Film Contracts
28. Cash Flow Sheet/PO Log – StudioBinder
29. Final Cast List SAG-UBCP – Film Contracts

General Forms
30. Check Request – Film Contracts
31. Invoice Template – Going Freelance
32. Simple Invoice Template – Steve Hall Video
33. Expense Report – HowtoFilmschool
Personnel Forms

From general contracts and agreements to crew templates, many of these forms are necessary to lay out a foundation for the business behind your film and get a good team on board.

Cast & Crew Lists
34. Crew Contact List – Filmsourcing
35. Cast and Crew List – Studiobinder
36. Cast List – Film Contracts

Crew Deal Memos, Contracts and Agreements
37. Crew Deal Memo – New Brunswick Filmmakers’ Co-Operative
38. Writers Deal Memo – Film Contracts
39. Deal Memos – Film Contracts
40. Producer Contract – ISP Group Inc
41. Producer Video Release & Contract – Film Contracts
42. Contractor Agreements – Film Contracts
43. Photographer Work For Hire – ISP Group Inc
44. Producer Agreement (Short Form) – Film Contracts
45. Producer Agreement – Sonnyboo
46. Producer’s Royalty Attachment – ISP Group Inc
47. Executive Employment Agreement – ISP Group Inc

Partnership Documents
48. General Proxy – ISP Group Inc
49. Consulting Agreement – ISP Group Inc
50. Investor Suitability – ISP Group Inc
51. General Partnership Agreement – ISP Group Inc
52. Joint Venture Agreement 1 – ISP Group Inc
53. Loanout Agreement – Film Contracts

Cast Forms
54. Basic Actor Info Sheet – Sonnyboo
55. Casting Sheet – Film Contracts
56. Cast Scene Number Breakdown – Film Contracts
57. Cast Deal Memo – Film Contracts
58. Actor Contract – Sonnyboo
59. Freelance Actors Contract – Film Contracts

Appearance Releases
60. Personal Release – Film Contracts
61. Talent Release – PremiumBlog
62. Actor Release – Film Contracts
63. Freelance Performer Agreement – Film Contracts
64. Actor Player Casting Agreement – Film Contracts
65. Nudity Rider for Casting Agreement – Film Contracts
Location Scouting

So you found the most suitable locations to portray your vision. Now, as with everything else, you need to do the paperwork and take care of business These templates have you covered.

Site Info
66. Location Contact List – Film Contracts
67. Location Scouting – Filmsourcing
68. Location Fact Sheet – PremiumBeat
69. Location Information Sheet – Film Contracts
70. Cinematography Location Information Form – Film Contracts

Contracts & Releases
71. Location Contract – Film Contracts
72. Production Location Contract – Film Contracts
73. Location Release – PremiumBeat
74. Production Location Release – Film Contracts
75. Location Agreement – Sonnyboo
film set-shutterstock
Insurance Forms

Keep in mind that life doesn’t always have a bright side. Especially when it comes to accidents or health problems. Therefore, always insure your crew, yourself and the equipment. These templates will get you started.

76. Insurance Claim Worksheet Personal – Film Contracts
77. Actor Insurance Claim Worksheet – New Brunswick Filmmakers’ Co-Operative
78. Insurance Claim Worksheet Damage – Film Contracts
79. Insurance Claim Worksheet Automobile Accident – Film Contracts
80. Injury / Illness Report Form – Film Contracts

Equipment Documents

A movie is usually not made by a smartphone in one hand and a music player in the other. You need a whole bunch of stuff, plus, you have to deal with it. Cameras, recorders, lights, a whole set, and so on; all this has its price and needs to be paid attention to. These forms can help.

81. Box / Equipment Rental Inventory – Film Contracts
82. Equipment List – Dependent Films
83. Video Equipment Rental Agreement – Film Contracts
84. Special Camera Rigging Authorization – Film Contracts
Production/Shooting Forms

You’ve got your cast & crew, locations, and equipment and now you’re onto the shoot: the time when staying organized is most crucial. To avoid slip-ups, interruptions or any other negative factors that make your life as director harder than it should be, use these forms. This list includes call sheets, your essential tool for communicating requirements with everyone on set.

Production Papers
85. Production Tracking Form – Film Contracts
86. Filming Notice – Filmsourcing
87. Production Requirement – Film Contracts

Daily Tracking
88. Shot Log – Film Contracts
89. Scene / Take Log – Film Contracts
90. Daily Production Report – New Brunswick Filmmakers’ Co-Operative
91. Continuity Log Sheet – Filmsourcing
92. Actors Production Time Report – Film Contracts

Call Sheets
93. Call Sheet – Filmsourcing
94. Call Sheet – Cast and Crew Call
95. Call Sheet – StudioBinder
96. Call Sheet Cast – Film Contracts
Music Releases

Imagine movies without any music—unthinkable! Music is an essential part of a film experience. But, just as films have their patents and rights of use and enjoyment, sounds and music do too. And the legal use of music can be complicated. Here are some of the papers that help you do things right.

97. Sound Report – Filmsourcing
98. Music Reference – Filmsourcing
99. Music Release – New Brunswick Filmmakers’ Co-Operative

Source NoFilmSchool

Queer Women of Color Film Festival 2016

QWOCMAP’s 12th annual Queer Women of Color Film Festival conjures up a spellbinding combination of 38 films, with a Festival Focus “Wages of Injustice: Queer & Trans Dollars and Sense” that reveals the sleight of hand we use to make a living, as well as a remarkable international program of queer & trans films from Latin America.

Schedule

Opening Screening

Magical Fantastical

Friday, June 10, 7:30pm

Opening Night “Magical Fantastical” bestows the night with sparkling delight, from the sorcery of stereotypes that threaten a bisexual Chicana and the loving allure of femme friends to the rites of queer community through Cumbia, these charming films summon the fanstastic.
filmmaker roundtable

Filmmaker Roundtable

Exponential Hustle

Satuday, June 11, 3pm

Film builds power. It can either reinforce bias, or amplify the voices of the unheard and the forcibly silenced. It is also the most expensive art form in the world. Costs for Hollywood films are at $1 million per finished minute, and rising. The high costs of filmmaking equate to de facto censorship. Join independent queer women of color and transgender people of color filmmakers as they talk about the impact of money and the magic they invoke to create authentic images of our vulnerable communities.
featured screening

Featured Screening

Wages of Injustice

Saturday, June 11, 7pm

“Wages of Injustice” reveals the sleight of hand it takes to live and love amidst poverty and income inequality. From a young man without money to honor his imprisoned father’s death, to the toxic harbingers of maqulidoras, from the sparkle of nail salons to queer & trans sex workers, these films reveal the smoke and mirrors of work, and wages.
Sunday centerpiece screening

Centerpiece Screening

Encuentros Con Amor

Sunday, June 12, 2pm

“Encuentros Con Amor” is a remarkable international program of queer & trans films from Latin America that includes QWOCMAP Films from Tijuana, Mexico. From a Trans Latina’s promising dream to a chance encounter with an inner child, from the summoning of liberation from gender roles, to powerful incantations of self, these films manifest encounters with love.
closing night screening

Closing Night Screening

Haven Bound

Sunday, June 12, 6pm

“Haven Bound,” summons the blessings of family from an Asian mother and daughter facing loss to safe havens for Black women, from the grace of Lebanese-Palestinian families to the adoption of all kinds of kids, these films invoke the blessing of wholeness.
Source Qwocmap

About Women, By Women

Here Is a Treasure Trove of News Writing About Women, By Women

Here Is a Treasure Trove of News Writing About Women, By Women

Legacy institutions like The Washington Post have massive archives full of truly amazing stuff. And increasingly, their current employees are going digging for cool finds to revisit—for instance, a new project to highlight coverage of women written by women.

Poytner reports on the WaPo effort, which started with the notion of picking out profiles of women, before developing the concept a little further:

On Tuesday, #womenbywomen debuted with social cards, a hashtag and a new presence on the Web. There’s Donna Britt on Alice Walker from 1989, Sally Quinn on Alice Roosevelt Longworth from 1974 and Lynn Darling on Maya Angelou from 1981. There’s also Martha Sherrill on Madonna from 1991, Marjorie Williams on Sandra Day O’Connor from 1989 and Elisabeth Bumiller on Gloria Steinem from 1983.

In a Medium post announcing the move, the Post’s Julia Carpenter encourages readers to go hunting for additions to the list and share them on Twitter under the hashtag. If you want to get really wild, you can expand your explorations to the Google newspaper archive. Just don’t forget to come up for air every once in a while, of course.

Article Source Jezebel


A minority, women owned globally focused distribution platform for multicultural independent filmmakers

FilmCloud Distribution Announces Independent Film Signings during South by Southwest Film, Music and Interactive Event

AAHollywood(TM) Market Films Now Available on FilmCloud Distribution’s Global Streaming Platform

Austin, TX – FilmCloud Distribution, LLC announced at SXSW that it has acquired several new titles during the film festival from indie filmmakers, adding to the platform’s growing library of multimedia content. Independent Filmmakers are excited about FilmCloud’s distribution model and their ability to generate revenue from distributing their films through FilmCloud Distribution.

Indie filmmakers are excited and encouraged by the new distribution model. “FilmCloud looks good,” proclaims Fedor Lyass (Moscow, Russia by way of LA) filmmaker and director of photography of the highly anticipated Hardcore Henry. “You are doing the right thing!” Dallas’ award winning director Jacolby Percy (Richetus Cry) agrees, “I really like the layout. The overall look is sleek, easy to use, and doesn’t have a lot of clutter like most streaming sites. Being able to navigate and find what you’re looking for is always a priority when your film is shown on any platform.”

FilmCloud has opened its AAHollywood market segment for FREE viewing during SXSW and through April 1, 2016. A limited number of quality independent films are immediately available for streaming on any device, anywhere in the world.

AAHollywood(TM) is FilmCloud’s trademarked market designation for its “All Americans’ Hollywood” or North American market, representing the diversity of the independent filmmakers throughout America; specifically African-American, Latin American, Native American, Asian-American, as well as independent filmmakers of European descent who support and tell the stories of America that are inclusive of All Americans.

Go to www.myFilm-Cloud.com and click on the North American continent to see the current and growing library of films. FilmCloud has a backlog of films currently under quality review. Those approved will proceed to contract and then on to FilmCloud’s global distribution platform.

FilmCloud Distribution LLC will be hosting its second event for independent filmmakers in Austin, Texas during SXSW at Coopers Old Time Bar-B-Que, 2017 Congress Ave, 78701. Come out and learn about the FilmCloud’s platform, Saturday, March 19th, at 11am – 12:30 pm.

Filmmakers may add their independent film to FilmCloud’s streaming platform today at no cost.

About FilmCloud Distribution LLC

FilmCloud is a minority, women owned company that operates a globally focused distribution platform for multicultural independent filmmakers. They are intensely focused on helping the filmmaker generate revenue and viewers for their films.

Article Source Dallas Weekly

New Initiatives for diversifying Hollywood

Tuesday, Mar 22, 2016 02:35 PM CST
Justin Lin: If we want more diversity in Hollywood, “the general public has to demand it”
The “Fast & Furious” director’s plan to support Asian American artists is one of several new diversity programs
Paula Young Lee

In 2016, the fact that Hollywood made a sequel to #OscarsSoWhite has energized longstanding conversations regarding systemic racism and sexism in the entertainment industry. In its wake: a rash of new initiatives aimed at diversifying television, film, and theater. As the squeaky wheels of progress turn inside the Hollywood machine, a few film directors are doing their part to pull it into the 21st century.

Director Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) founded the film distribution collective, Array, and hired women and people of color for the currently-filming production of the OWN network television series “Queen Sugar.” “Star Trek: A New Hope” director J.J. Abrams’s production company, Bad Robot, will henceforth require that women and people of color be submitted for writing, directing and acting jobs in proportion to their representation in the U.S. population. A new non-profit, We Do It Together, aims to finance and produce films, documentaries, TV and other forms of media that will challenge stereotypes regarding women, and its advisory board includes directors Catherine Hardwicke, Hany Abu-Assad, Amma Asante, Marielle Heller, Katia Lund, Małgorzata Szumowska, and Haifaa Al Mansour, among others.

In 2010, YouoffendmeYouoffendmyFamily (YOMYOMF), the Asian-centric blog and entertainment website founded by director Justin Lin (“Fast and Furious” series, currently filming “Star Trek Beyond”) initiated a competition, “Interpretations,” which asked aspiring Asian-American filmmakers to develop and shoot a 3-minute short around a four-line script. A resounding success, it is being run again this year, with a script written by Tony-award winning playwright David Henry Hwang. The four lines are:

Don’t do that.
Of course.
I have my doubts.
What is it?

(Confused? Here is a funny example of how it works.) The winners get the opportunity to craft a project for the initiative’s lead sponsors, Comcast and NBC Universal (NBCU).

In a recent interview, Lin told me the more the public gets behind these works and artists—both in front of and behind the camera—the more we’ll see things start to change.

“After I made ‘Better Luck Tomorrow’ and started taking meetings in Hollywood, I quickly learned that Asian Americans weren’t even in the conversation as a minority, since there wasn’t even a significant enough audience, and especially an audience for Asian American content,” he said. “I think it’s changing now with shows like ‘Dr. Ken,’ ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ and ‘Master of None,’ but obviously when we look at the film side, there’s still a lot to be done.”

“Interpretations” is the first initiative for the nonprofit YOMYOMF Foundation, which supports Asian American talent, and more programs are on the way. Lin says he started the foundation because he knows talented artists are out there, they just need opportunity and mentorship.

“I’m the child of immigrants. My Taiwanese parents came to America with no money and supported my brothers and me as small business owners in Orange County, which is close to L.A. but about as far away from Hollywood as you can be. I didn’t know anyone in the industry, but had a great deal of people help me along in my path,” said Lin. “I made a lot of mistakes along the way, but feel incredibly lucky to be in the position I am now and to be able to play a small part in trying to support talented, aspiring young filmmakers out there through a program like ‘Interpretations’ who, like me, had the desire and passion, but no connections to the industry.”

Lin also says if we want to see more diversity in film, “the general public has to demand it.”

“It’s about supporting the many talented artists and filmmakers out there trying to create work from that marginalized point of view,” he said. “Go out and buy tickets to their movies and plays, support their crowd sourcing campaigns, show the industry that there is a viable audience for this work.”

The pronounced under-representation of Asian-Americans in the entertainment industry has not gone unremarked. The Asian American Arts Alliance of New York, for example, just announced the launch of a new theater fellowship aimed at supporting young artists and directors of Asian descent by providing them with a stipend, mentorship, and other forms of support. When marginalized groups have limited access to opportunity, it shows up in various ways, including the ongoing drama of #OscarsSoWhite. As the Economist explains:

Oscar nominations have not dramatically under-represented black actors. Instead, they have greatly over-represented white ones. Blacks are 12.6% of the American population, and 10% of Oscar nominations since 2000 have gone to black actors. But just 3% of nominations have gone to their Hispanic peers (16% of the population), 1% to those with Asian backgrounds, and 2% to those of other heritage.

Given that Asians are not only are 60 percent of the world’s total population but Asian-Americans are also the highest income and fastest growing racial group in the U.S., it is statistically improbable that they are barely a blip at the entertainment industry’s most prestigious award ceremony.

YOMYOMF announced the second “Interpretations” competition this past weekend at the annual film fest organized by the Center for Asian-American Media in San Francisco. CAAM Fest, explains YOMYOMF creative director Phil Chung, “has been supportive of Justin from the very beginning when he came here with his UCLA feature, ‘Shopping for Fangs’,“ and so there has been a longstanding connection between Lin and the organization. “Seeing the packed 1,400 seat Castro Theater for CAAMFest’s opening night,” Chung tells me, “was a visceral reminder that there is a huge audience out there hungry for Asian American content–stories by, for and about our communities.”

 

A few television executives have already figured out that this audience is out there. Karen Horne is Senior Vice President of Programming Talent Development & Inclusion for NBC Entertainment and Universal Television. For many years, she explains, Comcast and NBC Universal have supported CAAM Fest, so partnering with “Interpretations” was a natural segue. The company’s diversity push (opportunities linked here) date back to 2000, when NBC “initiated a diverse staff writer initiative that has given start to many people like Mindy Kaling, Alan Yang, Danielle Sanchez-Witzel and many, many more,” she emphasizes. “Our initiatives go far beyond my department as well. It is company-wide and is a part of our DNA.” The winners of “Interpretations” will be featured at NBCU’s Short Film Festival finale in October.

Horne couldn’t promise me that NBC Universal would pick up where ABC left off and build a new comedy around John Cho, of the late, lamented sitcom “Selfie,” but did affirm that casting for new shows under development is “still underway, and I’m enthusiastic that this year, we will see more diversity across the board.”

The key phrase is diversity across the board. When all the other factors are taken into account, the tiny number of Asians in popular media is especially egregious, but Natives and people of Middle Eastern descent are so marginalized they often don’t even get mentioned in “diversity” conversations. The point is that Lin, DuVernay, Abrams and other directors are implementing their convictions, taking financial risks, and using their focused spheres of influence to change cultural perceptions. The result? Great visual storytelling and fantastic entertainment. Let’s demand more of this.
Paula Young Lee is the author of “Deer Hunting in Paris,” winner of the 2014 Lowell Thomas “Best Book” award of the Society of American Travel Writers. She is currently writing outdoor adventure books for middle grade and young adults. Follow her on Twitter @paulayounglee

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