CAAM 2012 Fellows

Over the years, CAAM has supported media makers through our James T. Yee Fellowship Program and the CAAM Fellowship Program for documentary makers and narrative film professionals respectively. Starting in 2012, we are combining the two programs into one CAAM Fellowship Program to benefit the overall film and media community. The goal of our Fellowship Programs is to nurture a community of talented makers and professional mentors from within the Asian American media microcosm. We’re excited to be announcing our slate of Fellows and Mentors for 2012. Come out to SFIAAFF 30 to meet and mingle with this impressive group of Mentors and Fellows!  Check out the blog of the 2012 Fellows!

Introducing CAAM Fellows 2012

Johanna Lee is a writer and director who studied at Columbia University and has a MFA in Film from NYU. She has created a number of award-winning short films, including BED, which played at SXSW and BITTER AND SWEET, which won the San Diego Asian American Film festival. She has received awards from the Academy of Motion Pictures and New York Foundation For the Arts. She has been a writer on numerous TV projects including THE POWER OF TEN on CBS with Drew Carey, PASSWORD with Regis Philbin, CASH CAB for Discovery (for which she won an Emmy Award), and feature screenplays for Producer Jooick Lee (Chen Kaige’s “Together”), and Forensic Films (Raising Victor Vargas). Most recently, she directed THE PIT, a documentary about Wall Street traders which has been playing nationally on PBS.

Harry Yoon is a Los Angeles-based editor who straddles the studio and independent film worlds. He edited the feature Half-Life which screened at Sundance 2009, SXSW, and won the Grand Jury Award at the Gen Art film festival. In 2010 he completed The PIT, a feature documentary about commodities traders in New York that aired on PBS, as well as an ensemble comedy feature called Let Go. He also co-edited the pilot for Detroit 187 which aired on ABC. Recently, he was a consulting editor on the feature Mosquita y Mari, which premiered in Sundance 2012, and a short film called Karrabingwhich premiered in the Berlin Film Festival. His credits as an assistant editor include Hunger Games, Footloose, The Crazies, and Lords of Dogtown.

Geoffrey Quan is an independent director and producer. His short films and productions have shown internationally at over 50 festivals, including Sundance, Directors’ Fortnight, New Directors/New Films, Clermont-Ferrand, SXSW, and Tribeca, and been nominated for two Student Academy Awards. Geoff’s work has been sponsored by HBO Films, RHI Entertainment, the Film Arts Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. He was a 2009 BRIO Award winner, a recipient of the 2009 IFP Marcie Bloom Fellowship in Film, a 2011 fellow in Film Independent’s Project: Involve, and has been named as a 2012 fellow for the Center for Asian American Media. Geoff has taught filmmaking at Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College, and has produced videos for New York Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. He recently produced the independent feature drama DETONATOR, which will premiere in 2012, and served as production coordinator on James Marsh’s feature documentary, PROJECT NIM. He is in development on two feature projects, Nelson Kim’s psychological thriller, SOMEONE ELSE, and Ambarish Manepalli’s romantic comedy, COWBOYS VERSUS INDIANS. His latest shorts, BE STILL and HIGH CARD TRUMPS, are currently on the festival circuit. Geoff is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA film program and the University of California at Berkeley. He lives and works in Los Angeles.

Ben Wang is a Japanese-Chinese American documentary filmmaker who grew up in Sacramento and currently resides in Oakland, California. Wang was the Co-Director/Producer of the feature documentary AOKI, a film chronicling the life of Richard Aoki, a third-generation Japanese American who became one of the founding members of the Black Panther Party. Wang is the co-chair of the Asian Prisoner Support Committee, and co-edited “Other: an API Prisoners’ Anthology.”

Esy Casey (Director/Director of Photography/Producer) is a Filipino American filmmaker. She produced and shot THING WITH NO NAME, (2008; available on iTunes), which was nominated for the Haskell Wexler Prize for Best Cinematography at the Woodstock Film Festival and Best Documentary at The Los Angeles Film Festival. Her short films with Sarah Friedland have been featured on the sites of Filmmaker Magazine and Art Asia Pacific, and her graphic design and illustration work has been exhibited and published internationally.

Introducing CAAM Mentors 2012

Gina Kwon (Mentor to Fellow Ben Wang)got her start in independent film working with Miguel Arteta and Matthew Greenfield, most notably on “Chuck & Buck”(Indie Spirit Award winnerfor Best Feature under $500,000) and “The Good Girl” (Indie Spirit Award winnerfor Best Screenplay for Mike White). She produced the Sundance/Humanitasprize winning feature “The Motel” and Miranda July’s debut, “Me and You andEveryone We Know”, winner of a special jury prize at Sundance and the CameraD’Or at Cannes in 2005. Kwon received the 2004 Sundance/Mark SilvermanProducer’s Fellowship and the 2005 Bravo/American Express Indie SpiritProducer’s Award. In 2010, she completed Miranda July’s second feature, “TheFuture”, in partnership with Razor Film’s Roman Paul and Gerhard Meixner(“Waltz With Bashir”, “Paradise Now”), The Match Factory and Film4, whichplayed at Sundance and Berlinale, and was released in July 2011 by RoadsideAttractions.

Steve Tao (Mentor to Fellow Johanna Lee) is a veteran film and television executive and producer with more thantwenty years of experience at Studios, Networks, and Production Companies. He started his career as a film executive at Walt Disney and Touchstone Pictures working on films such as THE THREE MUSKETEERS and WHITE SQUALL. He then moved to television and became Head of Drama for ABC Television, where he oversaw the Emmy Award winning THE PRACTICE, ONCE AND AGAIN, and NYPD BLUE. As Senior Vice President of original series, movies, and specials at VH1, he ran both the New York and Los Angeles development offices.

Troy Takaki (Mentor to Harry Yoon) is a top film editor who has cut such box office hits as THE BOUNTY HUNTER starringJennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler and HITCH starring Will Smith and Kevin James, both forSony and as part of his long successful creative collaboration with the director Andy Tennant.Troy’s other hits include DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: RODRICK RULES for 20th Century Fox and thedirector David Bowers, NEW IN TOWN starring Renee Zellweger for Gold CircleFilms/Lionsgate, and SWEET HOME ALABAMA starring Reese Witherspoon and PatrickDempsey for Touchstone and FOOL’S GOLD for Warner Bros. starring Kate Hudson andMatthew McConaughey, the latter two also with Tennant.

Mark Yoshikawa (Mentor to Harry Yoon) has been working in editing rooms for over 18 years. He as edited such feature films as “The Tree of
Life”, “Hick”, “The New World” and “American Pastime”. He has most recently completed post-production on the latest project from filmmaker Terrence Malick. After graduating from the Film Studies department at UC Santa Barbara and working for years on low-budget “straight to video” films, Mark had the opportunity to join the editing crew on Tom Hanks’ directorial debut, “That Thing You Do!”. This film opened the door for more union work and he joined the Motion Picture Editors Guild in 1996. As an Assistant Editor, Mark worked in several different cutting rooms and learned from a variety of accomplished editors. He has had the pleasure of working with such directors as Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest and Forest Whitaker, among many others. Throughout the years of working his way up from assistant to editor, the post-production process has changed from a film based system to a completely digital process. Mark has also edited numerous short films, including the award-winning short “Reflexus”, which he also wrote and directed. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles.

Based in Los Angeles, David Grabias (Mentor to Ben Wang) is an award-winning documentary filmmaker. Currently he’s in production on OPERATION POPCORN, which unravels the stranger-than-fiction tale of a Hmong-American businessman who faces life in prison for plotting to overthrow the Lao government. Previously, David produced HBO’s KORAN BY HEART, which profiles several devout Muslim kids on their way to Cairo for the world’s oldest Koran reciting contest. For PBS, he made the Emmy-nominated SENTENCED HOME, which followed three Cambodian-American men as they went through the deportation process. Other film credits include the Emmy-nominated WHY DOGS SMILE for Discovery, UNCOVERED and CENTRALIA for PBS, HARD TIME and FIRST TIMERS for National Geographic, and the indie doc THOSE WHO ARE IN LOVE. Through his company Artifact Studios, David also directs and produces a wide variety of non-fiction-based commercial work.


Director-Producer-Writer Ramona Diaz (Mentor to Esy Casey) is a filmmaker whose credits include many films such as SPIRITS RISING, about women’s role in the 1986 People Power revolution in the Philippines; IMELDA about the former First Lady of the Philippines which won the Excellence in Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival; and most recently Diaz completed IDA-nominated THE LEARNING, a documentary film that follows several Filipino teachers in Baltimore City across two school years. Ramona’s films have been funded by ITVS, the Sundance Documentary Fund, and the Center for Asian American Media, CAAM. Diaz is currently finishing DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’: EVERYMAN’S JOURNEY, about the iconic 80s band, Journey, and their new lead singer, Arnel Pineda, whom they discovered through You Tube. Diaz is in development on PACIFIC RIMS and THE BILL (working title), both of which recently received development funding. Diaz was born and raised in the Philippines, she lives with her husband, Rajiv Rimal, in Baltimore, where they are raising their American-born daughter, Sabina Diaz-Rimal. Diaz is a graduate of Emerson College, Boston and holds an MA in Communication from Stanford University.