James T. Yee Talent Development Program

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Introducing the James T. Yee Talent Development Program

In CAAM’s 30-year history, we have supported and nurtured hundreds of talented media makers, many were part of our James T. Yee Fellowship Program. Named in honor of CAAM’s founding Executive Director, the James T. Yee Fellowship has offered mentorship and funding for emerging documentary filmmakers with films intended for public television for over ten years. Since the inception of the James T. Yee Fellowship Program, CAAM has expanded our talent development initiatives to include:

- the CAAM Fellowship Program for narrative film professionals directed with independent producer Karin Chien;
- the Loni Ding Award for Social Issue Documentary Short given to promising shorts makers at our film festival each year with a one thousand dollar award;
- trainings like the Himalayan Youth Media Workshop that targeted an underserved but growing Bay Area community.

Moving forward we are consolidating the full range of filmmaker support initiatives under the newly named “James T. Yee Talent Development Program”. This umbrella Program encompasses the wide range of mentorships, fellowships and additional trainings and support services CAAM has been building upon over the last decade.

CAAM works to strike a balance between staying true to our public broadcasting roots with an emphasis on strong storytelling while adopting new technologies that are more interactive such as crowd funding. At CAAM’s 2012 film festival, we organized Ready, Set, Pitch where media makers pitched their projects to a live audience for seed funding from CAAAM and also engaged a wider audience through crowd funding campaigns on Kickstarter or InfieGogo. That event helped five projects raise more than

CAAM hopes to continue nurturing talent in new and innovative ways but more importantly we hope to foster a community of makers that are supportive of each other and can grow and learn from our strong network of Asian American media professionals.

JAMES T. YEE’s Legacy

James T. Yee, the former executive director of the Independent Television Service and founding executive director of the CAAM (then called NAATA), passed away on March 17, 2001 at the age of 53 after an 18-month battle with cancer. At his memorial service, his friends, family and colleagues hailed him as a “visionary, leader and warrior” in the cause of social justice and a democratic, diverse public media. They also recalled his warmth, humor, tenacity and devotion to the causes he advocated and to the friends and family he held dear.

While serving as CAAM’s first executive director, Jim fought to secure public funding to allow Asian American works to be created for and presented on public television. Under his leadership, CAAM inaugurated the first series on U.S. broadcast television on Asian Pacific Americans, ‘Silk Screen,” in 1983. Jim also launched the first Asian American film festival in San Francisco and created an educational distribution service that makes Asian American films and videos available to thousands of educators and community organizations.  Generations of Asian Pacific American film, video and multimedia producers will be forever in his debt for laying the foundation for a vibrant media arts institution.