Sponsor Maya Yu Zhang’s involvement in the UnionDocs Collaborative Studio.
I’m very happy to announce my participation in the 2016-2017 UnionDocs Collaborative program! It’s an extremely exciting journey I’m about to embark on – I’m looking so much forward to being part of UnionDocs and explore my potential as well as the opportunities that New York filmmaking community offers. I want to to first of all thank all the people who helped me get to where I am. I couldn’t have done it without my mentors, my friends and family who have been witnessing and supporting my artistic as well as personal growth. (I don’t mean to make this sound like an award acceptance speech but this does feel like a feat after all the confusion I experienced in the past year as a young filmmaker who tries to figure out a sustainable path/trajectory.)
Therefore I want to invite you onto this thrilling journey with me. Please keep helping and supporting me and each other. Happiness is only real when shared – or I always say, a meal is only good when shared. The food analogy is intentionally injected because I believe food, like arts, brings people together. Which is why I’m excited to share my works as well as my cooking as rewards to your contribution. (I’m a pretty decent cook, and I think all of my friends can testify.) Just as I think of my rewards to your donation as a means of sharing art/food with you, I also would encourage you to think of financially contributing to this campaign as a way to support a young filmmaker’s survival in New York. No matter how big or small your contribution is, I could spend a little less time stressing about finance and have a little more time devoted to my creative endeavour during my time at UnionDocs.
All your generous donation will contribute to my CoLAB program fee ($4800) that UnionDocs uses for bringing in filmmakers to teach masterclasses to the fellows, for showcasing nonfiction works that are otherwise hard to access for general audience, and for the general maintenance of the program. Therefore by contributing to my campaign you not only support me but also UnionDocs who work hard to ensure that there is a space for new talent and vision in the field of nonfiction filmmaking.
Thank you very much!
Maya Yu Zhang
Maya Yu Zhang was born and raised in an agricultural province called Henan in central China. She came to the U.S five years ago to attend Bryn Mawr College and recently graduated as an independent major in Film and Media studies. From 2012 – 2014 Maya worked for the Beijing Independent Film Festival which supports indie film productions that refuse to go through the state sanctioned censorship system. This experience inspired and encouraged her to pursue filmmaking. Under the guidance of Vicky Funari, John Muse and Homany King Maya produced her thesis film My Sister Swallowed the Zoo in 2015 which won honors and has been shown at various places including Black Maria Film Festival, Anthology Film Archive and Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia etc. She co-runs a film collective called “Gama no abura” with her friends in Philly.
The UnionDocs Collaborative Studio (CoLAB) is a 10 month program for a select group of media artists from the US and abroad. Based in one of NYC’s most exciting neighborhoods, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, CoLAB offers a platform for exploring contemporary approaches to the documentary arts and a process for developing an innovative collaborative project. The program consists of weekly production meetings, seminars, screenings and other public programs, along with regular masterclasses and critiques with visiting artists.
In a recent article in The New York Times, film scholar Scott MacDonald, remarked, “UnionDocs has a healthy sense that the older definitions of what constitutes ‘experimental’ cinema and what constitutes ‘documentary’ are up for grabs.” Similarly, the UnionDocs Collaborative Studio represents a new and alternative fellowship model, offering residency and visa support for six participants coming from abroad and an equal number of spots for local, non-resident participants. It is designed to be affordable and, although participants are asked to make CoLAB their primary creative focus, the schedule does accommodate full-time or freelance work. Rather than applying with a project proposal or rough cut, all participants are selected on the basis of previous work and enter the program at square one, open to discovery and fresh connections.
UnionDocs is not simply the host for this activity, it takes an active role producing the collection of short documentary works that comprise the collaborative project. The theme or focus for the year is chosen by the Artistic Director, and resources and research to support this direction are gathered. The CoLAB Director leads the group through an incremental process where new ideas and new partnerships form; each participant finding their own avenues of creative contribution. Regular readings and assignments for seminars stimulate creativity, open discussion and debate, and offer a common set of references for the group. Master classes with visiting artists provide encouragement, inspiration and exposure to a diverse set of conceptual perspectives and practical methods. As projects reach their final edit, unique plans for exhibition and distribution are formulated.
The Brooklyn Rail summed it up with the title of their feature article: “UnionDocs Brings Auteurs Together”. For some, participation in the program may lead to further study. For others, it may lead to independent projects or strengthened careers within the industry. For all, it is an unparalleled immersion in the expansive field of documentary art.
Learn more about the UnionDocs Collaborative Studio here