Posts tagged with "film"

Aug 5

'Awesome Asian Bad Guys' Q&A

Oct 8

The Project Ava Story

At Project Ava, we consider ourselves storytellers; yet writing this particular story is weird for me. It’s weird because just a year and a half ago, Project Ava didn’t exist. The dream that I’m chasing now was exactly that, a dream, and now I’m sharing with you our real story. People ask us all the time, “how did Project Ava start?” It’s a simple question with an answer that requires an amount of reflection.

Charlie and I were roommates all throughout college (and now). Not only were we best friends, we also shared two traits: a dislike for college work and a desire to do something meaningful with our lives. I studied business in school, and while the concepts were helpful, there were not many chances to apply them. For me, this was frustrating. It was frustrating because I knew that just beyond the dorm walls there existed a world filled with problems to solve. I was young, naïve, and too eager for my own good. During our sophomore year, Charlie nonchalantly mentioned that he wanted to start a business. I can’t remember if he was fully serious, but I jumped on that–“Yes! Let’s start a business.”

So for the next year, we played around with various entrepreneurial ideas in what we called our search for “The Million Dollar Idea.” Things that were considered included 1) square-bottom taco shells, 2) bottled oxygen, and 3) an American-made goods store. None of them made the cut. To be fair, I thought the taco shell idea was gold, but General Mills beat me to it. Dang.

That year, Charlie and I were also working on a social campaign about LGBT youth homelessness in Colorado. During one of our initial meetings, I naïvely suggested that we produce a documentary for the campaign. We all agreed. We had no idea what we were doing. We literally went around with flip-cams, thinking we were about to create the next Food Inc. or Waiting for Superman. Needless to say, it was a humbling experience. However, this was my first exposure to filmmaking, and I was intrigued.

The following year, I studied abroad in London, so I explored the film industry there. I bought my first camera, the Sony NEX 5N, and started learning as much as I could. I sat in on classes, bought numerous cinematography books, attended seminars, and even started doing some freelance work. My first gig was a burlesque show. Fun stuff. I quickly realized how much I loved filmmaking and telling stories through video. Then one day… it hit me. There are incredible stories everyone; stories about discovering love, overcoming tragedy, fostering talent, etc. Stories like my grandpa’s about how he built an entire farmhouse with his bare hands in rural China. What if these stories were shared with everyone? Could they inspire change? I decided, yes.

I quickly Skyped Charlie. We talked. We talked. He asked a lot of questions because that’s what he does. Blah blah blah. Eventually, the business model for Project Ava emerged. We would share meaningful stories in hopes of inspiring meaningful change. We would give visibility to voices normally unheard. We would finally do something meaningful with our lives. I invited Vanessa to found the company with us because I knew she shared a passion for what we were about to do. And throughout the first year, she really was the one driving our stories. Project Ava was born.

Project Ava’s first year was tough. We really had no idea what we were doing. Our clients were happy, but we were all over the place. Charlie, Vanessa, and I were still students at the time, and being student entrepreneurs is no joke. It sucked. To be honest, I was about to give-up on Project Ava after a year, but after I graduated, I had a life-changing experience. I had the opportunity to produce a film with the Jubilee Project in LA about LGBT bullying. Hanging with the JP guys was brilliant, and the most incredible part of the experience was meeting people with similar passions. After watching the short film I made, Alstroemeria, I realized just how far I had come compared to flip-cam, documentary guy. I couldn’t give up.

We expanded our team at Project Ava. We are launching our website. We have clients lined up. It’s all surreal and happening so fast. I tell stories at Project Ava full-time for no salary (and probably none for a while) because this is my passion. If there was ever a time in my life to be chasing dreams, it is now. I am young, crazy, and too blinded to realize if this is a stupid idea–and most importantly, I have a brilliant team that also believes in the power of storytelling. We are in this because we truly believe in our mission: to share and celebrate meaningful stories that move the advocates of today and tomorrow. I have this wonderful vision in my mind that one day Project Ava will be a platform for those who care to share what they care about. We aren’t the best entrepreneurs, filmmakers, photographers, or artists in the world. We are simply people who care.

Another question we get is “What does ‘Ava’ stand for?” I came up with “Project Ava” because “Ava” was the most popular baby girl’s name in England at the time. For me, it sounded youthful and fun. When I told people that, they were confused and gave me weird looks. “Ava” now stands for Advocacy Via Art. We tell stories through a variety of mediums, not just films. We call our brand of advocacy “Avalove.” For us, we believe choosing to celebrate and share the people, moments, and events around us is a lifestyle. It is a life filled with love, and that is what drives this company.

For us, we believe choosing to celebrate and share the people, moments, and events around us is a lifestyle. It is a life filled with love, and that is what drives this company.

Over the next couple months, we have amazing stories and campaigns in store for you, and to be honest, our whole entire movement depends on you. It depends on you watching, reading, sharing and celebrating the content we produce, so we thank you for your support. Now you know the Project Ava story.



SIGNAL BOOST | Asian American Film Lab


Lots of badass Asians and posts about representation PLUS opportunities in New York City for Asian-American artists. Give them a follow.

Calling for short film submissions!

If you have made a short film and want to submit it to an awesome film festival, email your 



Title of film (or if it’s online, the link)

Length of film

Phone Number

to juliet@relentlessaware.com


Spirited: A screening of my documentary-in-progress + Q&A


I will by screening my documentary in progress at the 2012 Eye See No Slant Asian Film Festival at Intermedia Arts along with several other amazing filmmakers. Please come support! 

Spirited is about the new wave of young Hmong-American spiritual healers (shamans) and the changing face of Hmong spirituality. 

Dec 7

Are you a filmmaker? Do you know someone who’s a filmmaker?

Submit to the Knickerbocker Film Festival! 

The submission deadline has been extended to January 31, 2013!


JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is the story of 85 year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearances, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious 3 star Michelin review, and sushi lovers from around the globe make repeated pilgrimage, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro’s sushi bar.

For most of his life, Jiro has been mastering the art of making sushi, but even at his age he sees himself still striving for perfection, working from sunrise to well beyond sunset to taste every piece of fish; meticulously train his employees; and carefully mold and finesse the impeccable presentation of each sushi creation. At the heart of this story is Jiro’s relationship with his eldest son Yoshikazu, the worthy heir to Jiro’s legacy, who is unable to live up to his full potential in his father’s shadow.

The feature film debut of director David Gelb, JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is a thoughtful and elegant meditation on work, family, and the art of perfection, chronicling Jiro’s life as both an unparalleled success in the culinary world, and a loving yet complicated father.
Angry Asian Man just posted about this scrumptious looking documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, about the world’s greatest sushi chef! Check out the trailer here and the website here.

(Source: blog.angryasianman.com)

Mar 1

Every year thousands of American men go to China to find a bride. The documentary film “Seeking Asian Female” follows an eccentric modern love story about Steven and Sandy – an 60 year old aging white man with “yellow fever” who is obsessed with marrying any Asian woman, and the young 30 year old Chinese bride he finds online. When Steven meets a willful young woman named Sandy from Anhui, China, over the internet and she agrees to migrate to the US to marry him. Fantasy and reality collide in this modern love story.

Told through the lens of Chinese American filmmaker Debbie Lum, who becomes the couple’s reluctant translator and marriage counselor, the film examines the penetrating effect of stereotype and expectations on love and relationships today. Debbie documents and narrates with skepticism and humor, from the early stages of Steven’s search for an Asian bride, through the moment Sandy steps foot in America for the first time, to a year into their precarious union. Global migration, Sino-American relations and the perennial battle of the sexes, weigh in on the fate of their marriage in this intimate and quirky personal documentary. “Seeking Asian Female” is at the intersection of several timely subjects – finding love online, an increasing interest in New China, and what it means to have a race-based dating preference in a supposedly “post-racial” America.

Read more: http://www.channelapa.com/2012/02/seeking-asian-female-trailer.html#ixzz1nochRxlc

Feb 7

Because art is a form of resistance.
(Source: Korematsu Institute)


Because art is a form of resistance.

(Source: Korematsu Institute)

Socially Conscious Fashionista and other open SUBTLE staff positions…


Dear SUBTLE friends,

In 2012, SUBTLE is seeking a wide variety of volunteer staffers offering a diverse array of interests and skills beyond writing.  Those who are inspired to join a new form of Asian-American activism, but do not know where to start, are especially encouraged to apply.

To apply please email us (weare@subtlemag.com) your a) name, b) location, c) resume/CV, and d) a one-paragraph personal statement on how SUBTLE has touched your life by December 31st, 2011.  SUBTLE will contact you with further details on the joining process.  (Referrals via SUBTLE readers are also welcome.  Simply replace “d)” in your application with e) a one-paragraph personal statement on what you wish a magazine such as SUBTLE might do for the Asian-American and American communities.)

While SUBTLE cannot expound on specific plans for 2012, the following are general profiles of open staff positions that are open to applications from anyone in the United States (for now):

  • Event Planner - You have had some experience helping plan successful events as part of an organization of some sort, and you are confident that you can put together a successful event in your local area in a relatively short amount of time.  Beyond your skills, your most valuable asset is your warm, engaging, and sincere presence.
  • Graphic Design Specialist - You are adept at HTML, photo editing, graphic illustration, print layout, or some combination of those skills.  And, your creative talent, driven by your conscientious commitment to social justice, allows you to design material in a politically artistic way.
  • Socially Conscious Fashionista - Yes, that’s right.  You have the eye of the (fashion) tiger that can see what does and does not go together for either a woman or a man.  More importantly, you cannot stand the Anglo-American artificial standard of beauty and the industry’s wide-spread cheap labor practices.  So, you know of styles, shops, and resources that are socially conscious and you can put together a look that does not look like another Anglo mannequin at the mall.
  • Music Content Curator - You, or you know of many who, make music from their heart as an Asian-American looking out at a world that does not seem to belong to Asian-Americans.  The melody, rhyme, rhythm, and/or lyrics all speak directly into the souls of any who experience something similar and who are looking for inspiration.  And, you know it will make a difference in the lives of others if they just heard it.
  • Fictional Writing Curator - You like writing or reading fictional short stories or novels that are inspirational and make bold statements about the state of society.  In particular, you dream about writing fictional short stories about the Asian-American experience and how it is so misunderstood by non-Asian-Americans.  If someone gave you a chance to do it, you know you could wow your readers by the profound depth of meaning in your stories.
  • Film/Movie Curator - You are an aspiring actor or director and either you or someone you know is involved in making films that inspire a commitment to social justice in the Asian-American community.  You have a special preference for “indie” (independent) film-makers that are trying to stay true to their beliefs and not be swayed by the money that goes around the industry.  And, you want them to get some very much deserved positive attention for their work.
  • Religious Content Curator - You are involved with a religious community that serves a large portion of the Asian-American population and you are able to think critically about its past and its future in terms of its interaction with the next generation of Asian-Americans.  In particular, you want people to see a particular side of religion that people usually do not see.  And, you can imagine a society with or without religion for the better.