Meet an AWC Fellow: Leatrice Ching

Learn about one of our Armed with a Camera Fellows from the Class of 2018 - 2019, Leatrice Ching, who directed the short film PORRIDGE 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.

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How has life been after AWC? What projects are you currently working on?

I have been working more on the post production side these days with editing short films and music videos. I'm also finding myself in roles aside from the creative and more so in the business or administrative end. I'm now working with the Film Fatales as a volunteer for industry recommendations whereby we help female filmmakers get exposure on their projects as they apply for film festivals, programs, grants, labs, etc. by a parity initiative that provides lists and project profiles to different organizations.

How did you first hear about AWC and what pushed you to apply?

AWC alums, Roxy Shih and Sheldon Chau were both also UC Irvine alums. I met Roxy when she was the judge of the annual festival at UCI and she became a mentor to me at that time, bringing me onto projects she produced or directed. One of those projects was with Sheldon Chau who DPed the short film and that's when they both shared their experiences with AWC. Roxy (who eventually became my AWC mentor) encouraged me to apply and told me about her personal experience with the program, which really inspired me to want to be a part of it.

Tell us about the film you made as an AWC Fellow.

PORRIDGE is a film about the culture of home, one shared between father and son. The conflict revolves around a young man dealing with an embarrassing emotional outburst by his father in front of his friend. Although the father accepts his faults, the generational gap between them makes it difficult for him to verbalize it. Meanwhile, the son grapples with the difficulty of deciding whether to resolve the issue with confrontation, or accepts his father's gesture of kindness that silently asks for forgiveness. The home is a place to bridge emotional gaps with care and acceptance, a place where a bowl of porridge can offer a new perspective.

How has the program affected your filmmaking mindset or process?

This program gave me insight into what it means to work under a deadline outside of school. I realized that the process of writing and rewriting is essential for myself as a filmmaker to be sure of the fundamental purpose and message of the film.

What was it like to have your film premiere at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival?

It wasn't just being a part of the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival that amazed me, but that I was part of the fellowship. To have fellows who went through the process with me made the experience so wonderful.

How did it feel to be part of the AWC Fellowship - working amongst AAPI filmmakers?

This fellowship brought me into a community of AAPI filmmakers that I had never been exposed to. I felt a kind of support that made me proud to have been a part of it.

What would you say is the importance of the AWC program?

The importance of AWC is the way it connects new filmmakers to established ones. AWC establishes a standard for its fellows and the quality of work they produce, so having completed the fellowship opens the door to a community of Asian Pacific American artists who support one another. And this is made possible because of the trust the community has with Visual Communications. The fellows become a part of a well respected network which is an invaluable resource for any artist looking to grow.

Looking back, what was the most challenging or most memorable part of the experience?

The most challenging part of the program was the writing portion for sure. It's difficult trying to tell a story in 5 minutes because it’s such a short amount of time, but our mentors helped us through this process. Learning to write in a limited scope was very humbling and a struggle that continues to influence my process today, but it allows me to be a better storyteller.

What advice would you offer other young filmmakers or those just starting out?

For young filmmakers just starting out, I would tell them to keep experimenting. Write stories and try to film them in any and every way you can think of. It's what will make your process sharper than others when you start to make your way into the industry, and it will be what gives you the confidence to make the choices you do. The longer you are in the industry, the more you'll be met with a lot of resistance and opinions, so as a new filmmaker, make as many mistakes and try as many new things as you can to find out what works and what doesn't for you.

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!