Mission StatementThere are thousands of Korean born transracial adoptees in the USA. With the current social climate surrounding Asian American identities, it's time we give a voice to those who are straddling two. Relationships to family can be complicated - this film is a vulnerable glimpse of that very idea.
About The Project
This film explores the double identity of those of us who fit the protoype for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion initiatives but emotionally struggle to truly understand the full breadth of what it means to be BIPOC. Being raised by a Caucasian family, the love may be indeed never-ending, yet the disconnect to culture can be complicated.
FOUND stemmed from a conversation Reena and Michalyn had about being raised in Longview, WA. Learning that it was so rare to see another Asian growing up, felt resonant, because as an Indian American at a High School in Mesa, Arizona, the experience was similar. Finding someone who understood the skin we're in - on a visceral level - was something neither of us truly had as kids.
When we started talking about how Mikie and her brother were adopted, Reena realised there are so many more layers to her experience. We started thinking about other films that discussed the cultural gap for adoptees, and we couldn't think of any except for a handful of documentaries.
We must make this movie happen.
Writing from the common experience of being misunderstood was conceptually exciting, particularly because the arts is in a racially charged climate pursuing representation on our stages and screens across America. I am floored by the demands of We See You White American Theatre and think the world of the folx instigating change.
How do we approach an innately more complicated scenario integrating Mikie's experience and the needs of our theatre community at large? Diaspora and representing all factions of a community is integral in order to achieve fair representation. We hope our movie will give a little bit more insight on the journey for transracial adoptees...in turn a bit more empathy to all the layers of what representation in the media means.
It is vital to increase visibility for BIPOC members of our community through the media, particularly since the awareness of hate crimes against Asian American communities has finally surfaced after decades of discrimination in the United States and abroad. We hope that upon completion of this project, the film will be used at institutions involving transracial adoption, Asian American history, as well as social and cultural awareness.
As a producer Reena has worked on several projects that she truly believes in, almost exclusively backdoor education films that have some element of social impact attached. She produced John Legend's music video for "Penthouse Floor", Lulu Wang's "Touch", she was a Line Producer on Tanuj Chopra's CHEE&T and the Sundance premier of "Akicita".
After a long span of working on vehicle projects for others, it's time to start making her own. With that, FOUND will be her first self-created, dialogue driven short film - a topic that she is incredibly passionate about.
We have partnered with Pequod Studios and Painted Tree Road Media to make this film happen, and with your support, we will bring this meaningful project to life together.
Our production schedule will be mapped out as follows:
- FOUND will begin production* on April 25, 2021
- POST PRODUCTION begins April - AUGUST 2021
- FESTIVAL CIRCUIT DECEMBER 2021-2022
- EDUCATIONAL IMPACT 2022+
*We will be shooting this project in a COVID-safe environment with a skeleton crew.
Our film will be a subtle drama, beautifully shot by Jeanette Li. Reference images of the look and feel we are going for are below.
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About This Team
Reena Dutt (Writer/Director) is a city girl with a country soul who believe in creating with a conscience, on and off stage. DIrecting Credits: Film/TV: “Good Trouble” (Disney|FreeForm, Shadow), “Too Many Bodies” (Director). Awards/Honors: 2019 South Asian Film Festival of America Audience Award (Full list of 11+ awards for “Too Many Bodies” available on request), In theatre she has directed and assistant directed in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco with most notable works at The Geffen Playhouse, Sacred Fools, The Vagrancy, Playground LA and SF, and East West Players. As a producer, her films have been seen at Sundance, Los Angeles Film Festival, Outfest, Frameline, Inside Out, Whistler, Cucalorous, and NBCUniversal. She has produced for John Legend, Lulu Wang, Justin Lin’s Youtube Network, and Evite.com. Fellowships and Awards: 2020 Drama League NY Directing Fellowship Semifinalist, 2016 SFFilm KRF Fellowship Recipient, 2014 Project Involve at Film Indpendent, 2012 Finalist NewFilmmakers: On Location Competition. Unions/Affiliations: Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Directors Lab West (Associate Producer), SFFilm, Film Independent’s Project Involve, IFP, Cinefemme. Website: www.ReenaDutt.com (dir) | www.PaintedTreeRoad.com (prod)
Michalyn Killian (Producer/Actor) is a choreographer, performer and educator in ballet, jazz, and musical theatre. Recent choreography credits include Mamma Mia, The Music Man, and Seussical the Musical at Mainstage Theatre and The Pirates of Penzance, Some Enchanted Evening, and Return to the Forbidden Planet at Stageworks Northwest Theatre. Her last acting roles were Helen in The Trojan Women (2020) and Corie Bratter in Barefoot in the Park (2019) at Stageworks Northwest Theatre. Michalyn studied theatre arts at Portland State University and has been choreographing shows since 1999. After traveling extensively, Michalyn now resides in the small town she grew up in, just north of Portland, OR. She feels it is vital to make contributions to the arts in her hometown as it directly affects the culture and community where she raises her two children.
Jeanette LI (Cinematographer) is based out of Portland, OR. They have a background in 35mm film photography and documentary (previously having directed a documentary on Chinese American communities living in the south.) They have spent the past 7 years working in various positions in camera department on short films, music videos, and narrative features (The Dark Divide, The Last Hot Lick). Jeanette first made the transition to cinematographer with a modern day web series adaption of The Secret Garden in 2015. That year Jeanette earned two nominations for Best Cinematography for their work on the web series adaptation and another short film at the Portland Indie Film Awards. Recently they were awarded a grant by the Regional Arts and Culture Council to complete photography on a surrealist trans Chinese American ghost story. Their approach to storytelling is shaped by their experience growing up non-binary, queer, and Asian American in a small Southern town and is rooted in a desire to shift culture and build a collective memory around identities that are often left unexplored in mainstream media.
Julisa Wright (Production Designer) has worked in the entertainment industry for 20 plus years. From stage to screen, Julisa's passion is visual communication and storytelling. She has travelled across the US, the UK, and Western Europe soaking in design elements, cultural histories, and meeting people with eclectic backgrounds. While living and working in LA for 11 years, Julisa worked not only behind the camera but in front of it as well. Working on small budget indie films, large studio t.v shows, and a handful of big award events such as the AMAS and the Oscars. Whether creating social media content, production design and set design, merchandising products, or styling photoshoots, she is extremely sensitive to every detail within the viewers eyes and creates environments that depict a feeling and story.
Vincent Hoai Pham (Producer) is a Vietnamese-American media and film Producer born and raised in Portland. "Growing up AAPI in the NW, I learned you can make a lot of great friends but still feel a bit different because your parents didn't come from the same place as everyone else's. The idea of being in good company, but still feeling alone is an Asian-American & Bipoc story I'm honored to help Reena tell."
After graduating from Portland State Film School, Vincent jumped on as many projects as he could on the west coast from short films, feature length movies, commercials and TV Series. Vincent currently works as a Studio Producer at BGI, creating media content with UFC Athletes and US Olympic Wrestling.
On Discovery Channel true-crime show "Wonderland Murders" Vincent was responsible for contracting and handling vehicles as picture car coordinator, also ensuring they are historically accurate. Vincent has collected significant experience in acquiring shooting locations, forming agreements with cemeteries, hospitals, fighting gyms, retail, office spaces, and scouting for Ford/Lincoln scenic ads. More recently, Vincent has practice in planning logistics for producing short films while maintaining covid regulations.
Jon Chau (Composer/Sound Designer) began his journey in the world of cinematic music, providing music and sound design to a multitude of acclaimed television shows, films, and video games such as The Walking Dead, Black Mirror, 10 Cloverfield Lane, and God of War. Since then, his focus has grown to many other mediums such as record production, live visual experiences, and sample creation. Recently he’s released a solo EP, opened a beat store, and collaborated with creators like Strangeloop Studios, 88 Rising, and Zedd. On an unending quest to evolve creatively, his unique experience and love for storytelling can always be heard.
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