FISCAL SPONSORSHIP SPOTLIGHT | First In An Occasional Series
BRUSHSTROKES IN HOLLYWOOD
THE LIFE AND WORK OF TYRUS WONG | By Pamela Tom
Pamela Tom is a native Angeleno and 5th generation Chinese American. She received her BA from Brown University and MFA from UCLA Film School. After graduating, she was a Disney Writing Fellow and worked in feature production and television documentaries before serving nine years as the Director of Diversity at Film Independent, where she oversaw its diversity talent program, Project: Involve.
Pamela first learned about the subject of her film, 101-year old Tyrus Wong, while watching the “making of” documentary on the animated film Bambi in the late 1990s. She was intrigued by the story of a Chinese American artist working in Hollywood in the 1930s and tracked Tyrus down in Sunland and invited him to lunch at her family’s Chinese restaurant. She soon discovered that Tyrus was not only a highly respected animation concept artist whose Chinese brush-style painting had a major influence on the look of the film, but was also a critically acclaimed fine artist, commercial artist, Warner Bros. pre-production illustrator for 26 years, and innovative kite maker. Pamela realized that Tyrus’s story – that of a young Chinese boy who came to America in 1919 and overcame a life of poverty and racial discrimination to become a renowned painter, Hollywood illustrator, and Disney Legend© - was as unique, as it was inspiring.
In 1998, with no funding and a two-person crew, Pamela borrowed a camera and filmed her first scene – a signing event at Disneyland with Tyrus and “Nine Old Men” animator, Marc Davis.
With the support of a small Pacific Pioneer Fund and her producer, she filmed Tyrus’s interviews in 2001. Over the next five years, she researched Tyrus’s story, and intermittently filmed verite scenes while working full time and raising two daughters. In 2007, she left Film Independent to work on several PBS documentary series and to focus on raising money to finish her film.
She applied for fiscal sponsorship at Visual Communications, which opened the doors to apply for grants and solicit funds from individual donors. A large fundraising party held in 2008 drew over 100 individual donors, including Roy Disney, David Ahmanson, and Diane Disney Miller. She also received grants from the Disney Foundation, The Louie Family Foundation, the County Board of Supervisors and the City of Los Angeles (Historic Cultural Neighborhood Grant). Many of the individual donors, especially those within the Chinese American community were familiar with VC and heartened to know that their support of the film was also supporting VC. Fiscal sponsorship was critical in raising the funds necessary to complete production and begin post.
Pamela is currently in the edit room with Walt Louie revising a 90-minute cut of the film. She and her producers, with the support of CTN Animation eXpo, plan to launch a Kickstarter campaign in the Fall to raise the remaining post funds to complete the film this year.
For more information about BRUSHSTROKES, or to contribute to the completion of the film, please contact Milton Liu, Director of Programs and Artist Services at 213-680-4462 x21 or email@example.com.