Learn about one of our Armed with a Camera Fellows from the Class of 2018 - 2019, Isue Shin, who directed the short film MEN HELPING WOMEN 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 went to Korea for 6 weeks right after my AWC short premiered because I felt like I needed a break and I missed my family. I ended up shooting a short while I was in Seoul so I’m working on cutting that currently. The short is called SUMMER DAYS and is a coming-of-age story of Jina, a high school girl who is spending a summer at her grandmother's house. I wanted to revisit feelings that I had when I was a teenager of wanting to go forward but not really knowing how.
How did you first hear about AWC and what pushed you to apply?
I heard about the fellowship through a friend and I thought it would be the motivation I needed to make my own work again and to form a community with other filmmakers.
Tell us about the film you made as an AWC Fellow.
The film I made through AWC is called MEN HELPING WOMEN. It explores a more experimental and metaphorical understanding of gender violence. MEN HELPING WOMEN came about because I didn't feel like I could make a film about anything else. When I first moved to LA, the #MeToo movement was just happening. Exposés about Harvey Weinstein were flooding out, amongst other sexual assault stories prevalent in the film industry and elsewhere. I was daunted by the fact that this was the world I was stepping into, where rampant disparities in power dynamics make sexual assault common, and cover ups even more common. I wanted to make a film that talked about sexual assault without showing sexual assault on screen. Most of all, I wanted to create a visceral experience of discomfort.
How has the program affected your filmmaking mindset or process?
It was really great meeting twice a month to have people to bounce ideas with. It made the whole process a lot less lonely. I liked that there were deadlines to keep the ball rolling, as well as a runtime limit. Sometimes boundaries can actually enable you to work better.
What was it like to have your film premiere at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival?
I’ve attended the Festival multiple times as a viewer, so it was really exciting to go back with my own work. It was a really proud and gratifying moment.
How did it feel to be part of the AWC Fellowship - working amongst AAPI filmmakers?
I feel like there was lot that was understood and didn’t need to be explained- that was really nice. I think we all come from similar backgrounds and could resonate with each other on the immigrant experience, or being the only person of color in the room. Overall, it felt like a very supportive and safe space to share my work and learn about the work of others.
What would you say is the importance of the AWC program?
I think carving out spaces like this is incredibly important, not just for the artists but also for the overall community. There is a whole network of AWC alumni that I’m excited to be a part of now.
Looking back, what was the most challenging or most memorable part of the experience?
Making a film is challenging no matter what. But I think the week of the Festival was the most memorable; I feel like the fellows really bonded and it was a big moment when we got to showcase our past 6 months’ worth of work.
What advice would you offer other young filmmakers or those just starting out?
Just keep creating work in the best way you know how.
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!