Learn about one of our Armed with a Camera Fellows from the Class of 2018 - 2019, Sarah Cho, who directed the short film COLOR-BLIND that premiered at the 2019 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.
The Armed With a Camera Fellowship for Emerging Media Artists will open for submissions for its 2019-2020 cycle starting August 1st. For submission guidelines and more info, click here.
How has life been after AWC? What projects are you currently working on?
Having a work sample that I feel reflects me as an artist has given me the confidence to definitively call myself a Director and Writer. I'm currently at Universal in the 2019 Universal Writers Program working on two feature scripts for the studio.
How did you first hear about AWC and what pushed you to apply?
I heard about AWC from a mentor who encouraged me to apply. I had never gone to film school. I had never worked in narrative. I had worked in the industry, but not in an official capacity as a director or writer. And so I wanted to take that next step to building my skill set and getting just a little bit closer to my dreams. It was incredibly scary, but also incredibly rewarding.
Tell us about the film you made as an AWC Fellow.
I made a narrative short film called COLOR-BLIND about a woman who is having an affair. She lies to everyone - her husband, her lover, herself. But, the most dangerous lie she's telling may not be so obvious.
How has the program affected your filmmaking mindset or process?
It's made me feel like I can actually do this. Beforehand, directing and writing were positions I badly wanted to do, but part of me (or a lot of me) wasn't sure I could actually do it. Now I know I can. And now I know how much I really love it.
What was it like to have your film premiere at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival?
It was absolutely incredible. Just seeing my short film on the big screen in an actual movie theater was surreal and exciting. It was also great to see just so many people, friends, family, and loved ones from different parts of my life come out to support. But, attending the entire festival was honestly the best part. Meeting so many great filmmakers and seeing their work was really encouraging and replenishing as an artist.
How did it feel to be part of the AWC Fellowship - working amongst AAPI filmmakers?
It felt right. After years of working in very white and very male spaces in the industry, it was great to be among people who understood me and my experience. They implicitly just got it. We really became a strong support network for each other and became a family. I could not have gotten my short done without all of them.
What would you say is the importance of the AWC program?
It gives filmmakers the opportunity to bring their vision to life. It doesn't matter what connections you have. It doesn't matter how much money you have. And even if you don't have the "right" experience, if you have a story and you have the will - VC will give you the resources and guidance so that you can make it. As my first narrative work and as my first sample as a director/writer - it has opened innumerable doors to me that would have been impossible otherwise. Without this program, I don't know if I would have ever been able to become a director.
Looking back, what was the most challenging or most memorable part of the experience?
The most challenging part was definitely attempting to make a narrative short with a micro-budget. It forced me to get creative, be adaptive, and be persistent. There were many times I thought it wouldn't come together. But, it did. And now - moving forward - I know that I will never have to make a film in more challenging circumstances. That sort of "test-by-fire scenario" has given me a special sort of confidence.
What advice would you offer other young filmmakers or those just starting out?
Be open to any and all opportunities. Apply to everything even if you don't think you'll get it (you'd be surprised). Push yourself even if you're not entirely sure you can do it (you're stronger than you think). Seek out work that scares you (never settle for complacency or comfort). That's how you grow.
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!