Filmmaker Support

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) supports Asian American directors, producers and writers through our robust fellowship programs, from our CAAM Fellowship Program to the James T. Yee Fellowship, our Public Media Corps Fellows, and Ready, Set, Pitch! at CAAMFest.

CAAM is currently developing a new program that will include the CAAM Future Fund and a Fellowship Program for Asian American directors and producers with an emphasis on makers from regions and communities that are often under-represented, such as the American South. The program supports emerging nonfiction filmmakers with mentoring, professional development and funding opportunities as well as networking and community building efforts around the country.

CAAM is grateful for support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting on our new strategy for filmmaker support.

We are excited to be partnering with the Asian American Documentary community via A-Doc and other film and arts organizations like the Southern Documentary Fund, Appalshop, the Austin Film Society, and others.

Look for our announcement in 2018 for more information about the program.

National Minority Consortia Fellows 

CAAM is excited to be working with talented filmmaker fellows Tani Ikeda and Quyên Nguyen-Le and mentor Tad Nakamura to take part in the National Minority Consortia Fellowship Program led by Vision Maker Media (VMM), our Native American partner in public media. The fellowship program will launch this April in Lincoln, Nebraska during VMM’s film festival, “We Are All Related.” The Midwest Producers Lab will bring together fellows and mentors from the five members of the NMC: VMM, CAAM, Latino Public Broadcasting, Black Public Media and Pacific Islanders in Communications. Fellows and mentors will have the opportunity to connect with other producers of color working on developing their films for public media. CAAM is excited to be collaborating on this NMC-wide initiative, nurturing emerging makers and creating connections across communities to deepen our commitment to presenting this country’s diverse stories for a broad audience.

National Minority Consortia Mentor and Mentees

CAAM Mentor / Master Filmmaker

Tadashi Nakamura was named one of CNN’s “Young People Who Rock” for being the youngest filmmaker at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and listed as one of the “Top Rising Asian American Directors” on IMDb. The fourth-generation Japanese American recently completed the CAAM and PIC-funded Mele Murals, a documentary on the transformative power of modern graffiti art and ancient Hawaiian culture for a new generation of Native Hawaiians. Mele Murals was broadcasted on PBS and Al Jazeera and has received 14 awards at film festivals around the world. His last film Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings was broadcasted nationally on PBS and went on to win the 2013 Gotham Independent Film Audience Award. Nakamura’s trilogy of documentary films on the Japanese American experience, Yellow Brotherhood (2003), Pilgrimage (2007) and A Song for Ourselves (2009) have garnered over 20 awards. Nakamura has a M.A. in Social Documentation from U.C. Santa Cruz and a B.A. in Asian American Studies from UCLA where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. tadashinakamura.com

CAAM Fellows / Apprentices

Quyên Nguyen-Le (they/them) is a Vietnamese American filmmaker born and raised in Los Angeles, whose work explores the intersections of queerness, memory, and cultural identity. In 2016, Nguyen-Le wrote and directed Nước (Water/Homeland) with the support of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival’s Armed-With-A-Camera fellowship and has since screened the film in festivals, universities, art galleries, and community fundraisers across the U.S., Canada, Australia, U.K., and Vietnam. Currently, Nguyen-Le is the Project Director for the Project Fôtô program at the Vietnamese American Arts & Letters Association (VAALA) in Orange County and a Teaching Artist for the Little Saigon Mobile Museum project in San Diego. quyennl.com

Tani Ikeda is an Emmy-winning director who creates narratives, documentaries, music videos, and commercial films. She was recently selected as one of Sundance’s 2018 intensive screenwriting lab’s fellows and was also named one of Film Independent’s 33 Emerging Filmmakers as a Project: Involve Directors Fellow. Ikeda was an Executive Producer and Director on the Blackpills Documentary TV Series Resist with Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Patrisse Cullors about the fight against L.A. County’s 3.5 billion dollar jail plan. Ikeda has directed films in China, Uganda, India, and the United States. Her work has been recognized in The Hollywood Reporter, Teen Vogue, and Cosmopolitan and has screened internationally at festivals around the world, including at the Sundance Film Festival. Ikeda co-founded imMEDIAte Justice, a nonprofit that fosters the talents of young women artists working in virtual reality. She was named one of the “25 Visionaries Who are Changing Your World” by the Utne Reader. taniikeda.com

About The National Minority Consortia (NMC) Fellowship Program

Vision Maker Media (VMM) and the National Minority Consortia (NMC) are leading a year-long program to mentor filmmakers of color as well as create opportunities for training to producers in the Midwest region where VMM is based. NMC, VMM and the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center (The Ross), is excited to host a Midwest Producers Lab. This Lab will take place at VMM’s film festival “We Are All Related” which is a unique opportunity for Midwest audiences to see some of America’s best documentary films and meet the diverse filmmakers who produce this work. Our past experience in bringing filmmakers of color together has provided a foundation for opportunity and collaboration that lasts for years.

Each NMC Master filmmaker will screen their film at the Ross for the public—inspiring, educating, and empowering diverse audiences of all ages through media. The masters will facilitate the Producers Lab for 10 apprentices—selected by each master filmmaker and NMC—and provide mentoring for 12 months following the Lab.

While the intent is to provide focused training for the NMC’s filmmakers, the training will accept up to 15 additional filmmakers from the Midwest region—which is largely underserved by accessible and affordable training in the media arts. Reflective of America’s diversity, the project will create an exciting portrait of the future of public media.

Representatives of PBS-affiliated strands and funders will be invited to attend. Their participation will help the Lab participants learn more about producing for public television. INDEPENDENT LENS, POV, FRONTLINE, PBS NEWSHOUR, and AMERICA REFRAMED are some of the strands that will be invited.

While a Filmmakers Lab and mentorship program is not unique in itself, this combination of talent and diversity promises to bring long-lasting change to the Public Broadcasting system and producers of color.

CAAM Fellowship Archive

During 2010 to 2015, CAAM’s Fellowship Program worked with Producer Karin Chien to nurture Asian American media talent in both documentary and narrative genres with leading professionals in the field. The CAAM Fellowship Program with its unique field-wide approach seeking to develop the talents and skills of a range of media professions including producers, directors, actors, editors and writers.

Participating fellows had individually tailored mentor – fellow relationships to best fit the needs of the fellows and advisors. Fellowships ranged from fully integrated collaborations to regular feedback on current projects to an ongoing dialogue about professional development. Fellows also had the opportunity to connect with the larger community of Asian American media professionals through Producers Workshops at CAAMFest and a CAAM Fellowship Program Retreat in Los Angeles for all participating mentors and fellows.

The CAAM Fellowship Program is made possible with special support provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

Karin Chien, Director of CAAM Fellowship Program

Karin Chien is an independent film producer based in New York City, and the 2010 recipient of the Independent Spirit Producers Award. Karin has produced ten feature-length films, including The Exploding Girl (2009), The Motel (2005) and Robot Stories (2002), which have won over 75 festival awards, premiered at Sundance and Berlin, and received international distribution. Karin is the president and founder of dGenerate Films, the leading distributor of independent Chinese cinema. Karin is the curator and producer of the Chinatown Film Project, an inaugural film exhibition for the Museum of Chinese in America.

CAAM Fellowship Program Mentor

Angela Cheng Caplan is the President and CEO of Cheng Caplan Company, Inc., an independent literary/talent management and production company based in Los Angeles, California, representing Academy A ward nominated filmmakers, Emmy A ward winning television show creators, international best-selling book authors, Tony Award-winning playwrights and world-famous comic book creators.

Two weeks after finishing college, Angela was in Los Angeles working for a talent and modeling agency. By the age of 25, Angela became Hollywood’s youngest literary agent. After working for two prestigious agencies in Los Angeles and New York City, she opened Cheng Caplan Company, Inc.

At Cheng Caplan Company, Inc., Angela and her associates specialize in working with world creators and storytellers who can work across narrative forms. Angela’s clients come from all over the world, and bring their diverse life experiences into their work.

Angela holds a BA in Semiotics-French from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and her three children.

CAAM Fellows 2015
CAAM Fellows 2015 

Tala Al-Muhanna, producer

Vera Brunner-Sung, filmmaker, Bella Vista

Franklin Rho, TV writer

CAAM Fellows 2014
CAAM Fellows 2014

Soham Mehta, editor & director, Run the Tide

Michelle Krusiec, writer

Soojin Chung, producer, Escape from Tomorrow

Agnes Moon, filmmaker

Kiyong Kim, TV writer

CAAM Fellows 2013
CAAM Fellows 2013

Kimi Takesue, filmmaker, Looking for Adventure 

Derek Nguyen, screenwriter & director, The Potential Wives of Norman Mao 

Ernesto Foronda, writer & director, Sunset Stories

Eric Lin, cinematographer, Rudderless 

CAAM Fellows 2012
CAAM Fellows 2012

Johanna Lee, creator & TV staff writer, Royal Pains 

Harry Yoon, editor, Newsroom

Geoff Quan, line producer & producer, Obvious Child 

CAAM Fellows 2012
CAAM Fellows 2011

Soman Chainani, screenwriter & author of The School for Good & Evil 

Scotty Iseri, creator of web series, app, and PBS series The Digits 

Angela Lee, producer of Cannes and Sundance selection Songs My Brother Taught Me 

Cindy Fang, creator & TV staff writer

Canyon Sam, author of Sky Train & screenwriter

CAAM Fellows Testimonials
CAAM Fellows Testimonials

Ernesto Foronda – What I take most from the CAAM Fellowship Retreat is the feeling that I am not alone in the road that I’ve chosen.  Filmmaking and writing is often a very lonely undertaking filled with uncertainty and self-doubt.  During the retreat I’ve learned that there’s a community of filmmakers and artists that genuinely want to help you succeed – one that believes that your work and voice matters.  It is an empowering feeling that fuels me to keep working and creating.

Derek Nguyen – What I liked most about the Fellowship Retreat was CAAM’s focus on our career paths instead of an individual film project. Sometimes project-based film programs inadvertently create an unspoken sense of competition amongst the filmmakers because each are vying for the few limited spots to get our films made and seen. The beauty of the CAAM Fellowship retreat is that it created a strong sense of camaraderie and support for our careers in the long run.

Kimi Takesue – The CAAM Fellowship and retreat has impacted me in a number of meaningful ways. I’ve appreciated how the fellowship has been structured with so much care, consideration, and seriousness of purpose. Under the phenomenal leadership of Karin Chien and Sapana Sakya, CAAM has created a unique fellowship experience that offers support specifically tailored to individual Asian-American filmmakers working in different genres and across the industry spectrum. It has been wonderful to work closely with my mentor, Claire Aguilar, on specific film projects—but I also benefited tremendously from the spontaneous and honest conversations that emerged throughout the retreat, concerning personal goals, challenges, and overall sustainability as an artist. CAAM has created a non-competitive and non-hierarchical context for honest reflection and discussion amongst filmmakers and industry folks; I left the retreat truly feeling part of, and supported by, an Asian American film community

Eric Lin – When I started out as a filmmaker, I learned quickly there is no one path to doing what you want: director, screenwriter, DP, etc. What that means is that, more often than not, we’re all gambling. We’re betting that the hours investing in taking on this project, in writing that script will pay off and allow us to continue to keep doing it. And I’m not a gambler. At all. Encouragement is a great fuel when the passion runs dry. But with the fellowship, CAAM has done more than just encourage us. I’ve attended film labs in the past and the focus on individual projects sidesteps the larger question of what it means to sustain a career as a film/media-maker. The tailored CAAM fellowship really showed a commitment by CAAM to foster our growth as artists and helped us expand our notions of what is possible with our careers. I met comrades who also do not quite fit easily into the boxes laid out in front of us and hearing their stories and struggles was invaluable. I haven’t come across that level of attention from any media arts organization before and it is transformative to feel that someone has got your back when the cards are stacked against you.

CAAM Mentors

CAAM Mentors

Claire Aguilar, documentary film executive

Angela Cheng-Caplan, literary & talent manager

David Henry Hwang, playwright & screenwriter

Kourtney Kang, TV executive producer

Albert Kim, TV executive producer

So Yong Kim, writer & director

Gina Kwon, film producer & executive

Lisa Lassek, editor

Dennis Lee, director

Dan Lin, studio producer

Sophia Lin, independent film producer

David Mullen, cinematographer

Matt Porterfield, director

Quan Phung, TV producer & executive

Troy Takaki, editor

Steve Tao, TV producer & executive

Derrick Tseng, film producer

Sandra Tsing Loh, writer & performer

Nina Wallia, new media producer & executive

Iris Yamashita, screenwriter

Mark Yoshikawa, editor

Jessica Yu, film & TV director

Tanya Yuson, producer & creative executive