MEET AN AWC ALUM: KOJI STEVEN SAKAI

The Armed With a Camera Fellowship for Emerging Media Artists has recently opened its call for Fellows for its 2016-2017 cycle. Applications are due October 7, 2016. For submission guidelines and more info, click here.

What’s been keeping you busy? How has life been after AWC? What projects are you currently working on right now? 
My life consists of three things: Writing, working at the Japanese American National Museum, and driving my toddler around to his various activities. As always, I'm working on a ton of projects. So I'm turning my last novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, into an audiobook which should come out later this year, I'm trying to get a few film and television projects off the ground, and finishing up distribution on my last movie, Dying to Kill. My philosophy has always been to have as many coals in the fire as possible.

How did you first hear about AWC? What made you decide to apply?
It was a long time ago so my memory is a little fuzzy. But I probably heard about it through Angry Asian Man--which is how I hear about almost everything and anything that has to do with Asian Americans. I decided to apply because it was around the time I figured out that I wanted to be a filmmaker. I thought it would be a great opportunity to get my feet wet.

Tell us, how has the program experience challenged your filmmaking process?
It was one of my first projects I ever did that actually got shot, so as you can imagine there were a lot of ups and downs. But the biggest challenge was that I was a co-director on the project. It was the first (and only time) I've ever directed anything. The struggle of having to direct really helped me "see" my scripts in a different/new way. 

How did it feel to be a part of the AWC Fellowship - working amongst AAPI filmmakers?
Being part of the Armed with a Camera fellowship is great. I tell people that working with other AAPI filmmakers made me feel safe and also supported. This was especially important to me because as a writer so much of what I do is in solitude. Being with other filmmakers made me feel like I wasn't crazy for wanting to make a career out of making movies about Asian Americans.

Who do you think would benefit most of the AWC Fellowship?
The easy answer is that the Armed With a Camera Fellowship is for people just getting into the industry. But I truly feel that the fellowship is for anyone and everyone. In fact, I wish I could apply again! So... can I? 

What did it mean to you to have your film premiered at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival?
Screening my short film, "Yigga" at the LAAPFF film festival was an amazing experience. It was the first project that had ever played on the big screen and I remember thinking how cool it was that people were watching something I created. It confirmed that it was something I wanted to try to make my career.

Learn more about Koji by visiting his website.

The Armed With a Camera Fellowship for Emerging Media Artists has recently opened its call for Fellows for its 2016-2017 cycle. Applications are due October 7, 2016. For submission guidelines and more info, click here.