Learn about one of our Armed with a Camera Fellows from the Class of 2018 - 2019, Eleanor Cho, who directed the short film DAY BY DAY that premiered at the 2019 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.
The Armed With a Camera Fellowship for Emerging Media Artists application for the 2019-2020 cycle is now open and will close September 15, 2019. For submission guidelines and more info, click here.
How has life been after AWC? What projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently working as a Temp Executive Assistant at HBO in the Production department, while finishing up some applications for more filmmaking fellowships!
How did you first hear about AWC and what pushed you to apply?
I heard about AWC from my friends that were previous Fellows before. The idea of being surrounded by a community of Asian American & Pacific Islander filmmakers pushed me to submit an application for the program. And I’m so glad I did!
Tell us about the film you made as an AWC Fellow.
I created a short documentary called DAY BY DAY. I originally wanted to make a short doc about mental health in the Asian American community, but my mom suddenly was diagnosed with Stage IV Breast Cancer during the fellowship. Despite the heartbreaking news, my mother remained optimistic and hopeful. At first I was hesitant to share this news, but I was inspired by my mom’s joyful resilience throughout her chemotherapy. I grabbed my camera, and began piecing together a story about my personal superhero, hoping to provide support and comfort to families fighting the same battle. Through the lens of my camera, I gained a different perspective on the entire situation. I wanted to show the world that even though life can be terribly hard sometimes, we have to push through day by day and focus on the small blessings.
How has the program affected your filmmaking mindset or process?
The program reminded me that you don’t need a big budget to tell a good story. Limitations are there for a reason, to push you to use your creative problem solving skills and to use the resources that you have.
What was it like to have your film premiere at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival?
It was incredible!! My mom was able to attend, despite finishing her 10th chemo treatment just hours before the screening. Seeing hundreds of audience members celebrate her life and cheer her on to continue to fight her battle was an experience like none other, and was a great reminder of why I wanted to pursue filmmaking in the first place.
How did it feel to be part of the AWC Fellowship - working amongst AAPI filmmakers?
It was amazing to have a group of filmmakers that understood what it’s like to grow up as an Asian American, and the program taught me how important it is for us to share our stories because if we don’t, no one else will.
What would you say is the importance of the AWC program?
VC truly believes that everyone has an important story to tell, and does everything they can to support us filmmakers, and that continues to give us the courage to pursue our dreams.
Looking back, what was the most challenging or most memorable part of the experience?
The most challenging part was when I was thinking about dropping out of the program so I could help out more at home. But I knew that this program was something I really wanted to do, and the mentors and other Fellows encouraged me to stay and rely on them for any help, which they did by lending out their equipment (lenses) for me to use, and just providing emotional support.
What advice would you offer other young filmmakers or those just starting out?
Keep applying to those fellowships and competitions, and don’t give up when things get tough! It’s a process.
Visual Communications’ Armed With a Camera (AWC) Fellowship for Emerging Media Artists will begin its eighteenth season this fall, as we cultivate a new generation of Asian Pacific American artists committed to preserving the legacy and vision of our communities. Donate here to support the program!