By Catherine Woo
Welcome to NYWIFT, Amy Tiong!
Amy is a director, writer, and production coordinator whose stories bring underrepresented voices to the forefront. She directs both narrative films and documentaries, which received recognition from Bustle, NBCNews, PictureStart, Coverfly, and the NAACP. The vulnerability in her work empowers others and shines a light on topics such as disordered eating, grief, and sibling love.
Amy tells us about working on a microbudget project during pandemic times, collaborating with friends and her new immigration horror feature film, When You’re Ready to Go. Read all about it here!
How would you summarize your experience and career highlights in about 100 words?
I am a Gates Millennium Scholar and graduated from NYU Tisch. My recent narrative, Take Care Zora, which I co-directed as the Finish the Script Competition winner, was made in partnership with Dolby and Ghetto Film School. I was selected for Bustle’s New Filmmaker series, where I directed my editorial short BitterSweet which received press from NBC News.
PictureStart commissioned my documentary, highlighting the MMIW (Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women) movement. My feature script, When You’re Ready to Go, is in the top 3% of scripts on Coverfly and is an immigration horror story. I recently directed a piece with the NAACP for their cinematic shorts competition. I am developing two feature scripts while production coordinating at Vice.
I focus on stylized storytelling that puts BIPOC in the forefront.
What brings you to NYWIFT?
I am always looking to expand my network and love the welcoming, encouraging nature of NYWIFT. I could not pursue this filmmaking path without my peers, and I know that your community is paramount!
Your short film BitterSweet is a powerful reflection on your upbringing and relationship with food. How did it feel to make such a vulnerable, personal, and moving project?
This was my first time working on an editorial piece, and I was lucky that the team at Bustle allowed me a lot of creative freedom. We were shooting in peak pandemic times, so I had to ask myself what I can do on a microbudget with a 3-person crew. It was the limitations that led to this piece I hold dearly. Ultimately, having a small, intimate production crew of myself and two of my best friends (shout out to the very talented Briana Man & Kadi Tsang) led to something vulnerable. I felt free to mess up and be honest around them.
The pandemic was particularly hard for those with disordered eating because of our contained environments, so why not address it? Though it was scary being so honest, the biggest reward was the folks who reached out, saying the piece brought them comfort knowing someone out there shared their experience.
Following BitterSweet, you made For the Missing, a documentary about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. What was it like getting to know the people featured in the documentary and their community while making a film about such a painful topic?
Narrative pieces have always been my comfort zone, but occasionally, I do a documentary and feel so grateful afterward that I did. Meeting Jordan, Verna, and Northstar was awe-inspiring. Though this topic has a lot of grief, they approach life with determination and hope. I have never seen people that work harder. As a director, I had to emphasize that side of things. I think it’s crucial that when you’re working on any story that involves a tragedy (and in this case, it involves countless tragedies) that there is a purpose to the film – that you offer a way forward.
For the script to Take Care Zora, you collaborated with Antonio Salume, Rocky Perez, and Abby Perez. How did you all come together? What was the process of collaborating on this film like?
Antonio and I knew Rocky as she acted in a prior film of mine. She had mentioned that she wanted to tell a story emphasizing the caretaker role, and there was much to be said there. Anotnio and I applied to the Dolby x GFS Finish the Script challenge and ultimately workshopped our script with Carlos Lopez Estrada. Seeing the relationship between Abby and Rocky, we knew that the story’s core had to be sibling love.
Congratulations on your feature script’s advancement to the finalist round of the WeScreenplay, Screen Craft, and Stowe Story Lab Fellowships and the top 3% of scripts on Coverfly! What did this mean to you?
Thank you! Honestly, this script, When You’re Ready to Go, was the second feature I wrote, so it meant a lot that it was so well received. It gave me confidence that this story I hold dear to me needs to be told. The script is a horror immigration story that chronicles the life of a Chinese delivery driver. It wasn’t easy to write as it was often emotionally taxing, but for me, that unease is usually an indicator that it has a bigger purpose than just myself.
What’s next for you? Where do you hope to be in five years?
I am currently working on financing the short for When You’re Ready to Go while continuing to workshop the feature script. I am also developing another rom-com thriller that studies the nature of interracial relationships.
I’m just looking to create as much as I can right now! In five years, I hope to establish stronger industry ties, gain representation, and continue making films with my colleagues.
Welcome to NYWIFT, Victoria Duncan! At age 12, Victoria began making films, struck by her power to engage an audience using her imagination. This led her down an exciting path to SNL, The Blacklist, The Sinner, Vice, and branded content for huge companies like Wells Fargo and Amazon, just to name a few. Her LGBT+ ballet film I Am Enough was adapted for the stage and performed at New York City’s iconic Lincoln Center. She is currently working on the screenplay for a feature film. Victoria walks us through her incredible journey, from her childhood favorite movies to presenting a piece to the United Nations.READ MORE
Let’s give a warm NYWIFT welcome to new member Katja Haecker! As an experienced and award-winning creative for the advertising world, Katja Haecker had her calling in 2015. Since then, she writes and directs not only commercials within the luxury world but also personal film projects, like "Endless Orange Me," a car/fashion short, or "Laps of Honor," a documentary about the protagonist’s passion for fast cars. A German native, she moved to the U.S. in 2007 and, since then, has worked between continents or wherever her passion for filmmaking takes her. Driven, experienced, focused, and open to all kinds of topics, from racing cars to daily life, she always has thrillers and suspenseful plots in mind, with an artistically trained eye. Katja spoke to us about her most daring commercial projects and how her lifelong love of fast cars shows up in her professional work.READ MORE
Please join us in welcoming Toni Short to NYWIFT! Toni Short is an Aussie on a mission to tell the textured stories of women from around the world and heal the world through the arts. Following a personal breakthrough, Toni paved her own path towards artistic creation and invites others to walk beside her. This led her to found The Camp, an immersive space for children to learn about creative self-expression. Her project Sister Spirit Stories is a platform to highlight the stories of inspiring women. We Go High Productions produces both Sister Spirit Stories and Toni’s short film Meeting Mr. Oscar, which she wrote, produced, directed, and acted in. Toni told us about her personal healing journey, her most meaningful projects so far, and what’s coming up on the horizon.READ MORE
Welcome to NYWIFT, Hyonok Kim! Hyonok is an award-winning filmmaker and choreographer who creates innovative and experimental film. Hyonok was born in South Korea, then studied film and dance in Paris and New York. Rather than dialogue, her films use dance to express interactions, bringing the emotional experience to the viewer. She choreographed and directed 15 dance films including Weeping Water, For Sunrise, Dance with Horses, Ode on a Korean Urn, Isle of Waiting Souls, Passion & Rebirth, South Sea to Isang Yun and L’Heure de Coq. Her films were shown at international film festivals and broadcasted in France, Germany, Australia, China, Korea, the Netherlands, and the USA. Now, she lives and works in the Bronx. Hyonok shares her inspirations in nature, as a choreographer and as a storyteller here!READ MORE