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Erin Lau (Photo credit: Antonio Agosto)

A national fellowship program to help drive the pipeline of Asian and Pacific Islander talent in the film industry will feature a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa alumna. Erin Lau, a 2014 graduate of the Academy for Creative Media (ACM), is one of three directors selected for the inaugural Future Gold Film Fellowship, hosted by Netflix, Tribeca Studios and Gold House.

Fellows will receive full funding, creative feedback and mentorship from Tribeca and Netflix executives, production support from Tribeca, added exposure within the Gold House network, a seat in Gold House Futures (the most promising next-generation Asian and Pacific Islander creatives, founders and social impact leaders) and have their short films considered for premiere at the Tribeca Festival in June 2022.

“I’m very excited for the mentorship side of this fellowship,” Lau said. “There is so much I still need to learn about both the industry and craft of filmmaking, and I’m grateful for the meetings the companies are setting up for us. It’s also wonderful to be able to work in collaboration with such amazing institutions on this project. I never thought I would get an opportunity like this to work with Netflix, Tribeca Studios and Gold House on a film.”

Lau pitched her film project Inheritance as part of the application process and will work on developing the film during the fellowship. Inheritance is about a local nature photographer who is struggling to make ends meet and is forced to confront the rage his family has held onto for generations. Lau’s writer for the film, Justin Omori, is also a UH Mānoa ACM graduate.

“At the heart of the story, we are hoping to explore the things that we inherit from our ancestors—both the beautiful and the difficult,” Lau said. “We’ll be filming on the Big Island for a week in the spring and have some exciting things planned for the film that wouldn’t be possible without the fellowship’s support.”

Lau was selected by a 12-person committee, which included notable names such as Daniel Dae Kim, Shang Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings director and former UH Maui College student Destin Daniel Cretton and Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu.

“We were pretty nervous when we saw the names listed for the committee and who would be reviewing our materials! You don’t always know if your ideas are just gibberish and crazy talk,” Lau said. “It felt very affirming to be recognized by such an accomplished group of people, especially when the folks on the list are my personal filmmaking role models.”

Developing skills at UH

Lau is currently working as a freelance producer, director and writer, recently completing an audio collection of stories with an R&B artist and is now working on a feature documentary on the Maunakea movement. Prior to that, she spent three years at Jubilee Media as a senior producer-director. At Jubilee, Lau produced more than 75 videos, often covering social issues and sensitive subjects.

“So much has happened since I graduated from the Academy for Creative Media. There isn’t one singular thing I’m most proud of because there are so many things I’m so grateful to have been a part of over the years,” Lau said. “…What I think all of those things share in common though is I’m most proud of any project I got to create that felt honest, vulnerable and served the community in a positive way. And I’m deeply grateful and indebted to all the people who helped me to reach those points. I am where I am in my life because of the generosity and patience of countless people. That includes the many amazing collaborators and mentors I had at ACM at UH Mānoa.”

This work is an example of UH Mānoa’s goals of Enhancing Student Success (PDF) and Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), two of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

—By Marc Arakaki

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