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Check Out Jonathan Chao’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jonathan Chao.

Hi Jonathan, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I was born and raised in the lovely beach town known as Santa Cruz, California. My passion for filmmaking initially sparked in high school from taking a video production class. From there, I fell deeply in love with storytelling and shooting films with my friends and cousins.

Upon graduating, I moved to Los Angeles and began my undergraduate studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). I majored in Anthropology to better understand people from different cultures, and I minored in Film, Television, and Digital Media. While at UCLA, I joined a professional filmmaking organization called Delta Kappa Alpha, where I continued to write and direct films and met many like-minded collaborators. After obtaining my bachelor’s, I applied to graduate film schools and got accepted into Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. I’m currently in the second year of my MFA Film Directing program, and at the moment, I’m in the process of writing my thesis film, which will be shot next fall. My program is heavily production based so I’ve been supplementing my education and further developing as a professional with internships at companies like Blumhouse Productions and Plan B Entertainment.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has most certainly not been a smooth road. After graduating from UCLA, I had a lot of difficulties finding a job in the film industry. As soon as I felt like I was starting to make progress with my job search, Covid-19 swept the world, and I had to move back home to Santa Cruz. During that uncertain time, I began to doubt that I had a future in the film industry. I convinced myself to start applying to business schools to obtain an MBA. However, a few months later, after a lot of self-reflection and discussions with my family and friends, I decided to pivot back to filmmaking by applying to film schools instead and I’ve been very happy with that decision.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a Chinese American director and screenwriter. As a person of color in the film industry, I’m passionate about elevating underrepresented voices in America, aiming to tell stories that reflect genuine minority and immigrant experiences. I’m extremely proud of the short films I’ve made in the past couple of years, especially a passion project currently in post-production titled “We’ll Get Through This.” It’s about two young Asian American skateboarders who were both left behind by the same loved one and they attempt to find solace within each other. After the film is finished, it will be submitted to festivals all over the world, and I’m excited for people to see it. I believe that my untraditional background being Asian American from Northern California and studying Anthropology, along with learning film production while also being exposed to the business aspect of the industry has given me a unique point of view on filmmaking.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
I’m a huge fan of traveling and photography. So far, I’ve been to 8 countries and seven states, my favorite places being Paris, France, and Seoul, South Korea. I’m looking forward to visiting Italy, Spain, and Hong Kong soon. As a storyteller, I believe it’s imperative to broaden your perspective about the world by experiencing as many new and different places as possible. During my trips, I always bring a mirrorless camera with me to capture street photography and gorgeous landscapes. Recently, I’ve started to dive into the fascinating world of 35mm film photography.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Cole McCarthy Frank Xu Kaylee Bao

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