The Director's Heroes: ADs & UPMs

May 15, 2024 An Eastern Diversity Steering Committee Discussion

On May 14, the Eastern Diversity Steering Committee (EDSC) virtual meeting featured the panel discussion, The Director's Heroes: ADs & UPMs. In a conversation moderated by Director Larry Teng, 1st AD Alan Chu and UPMs Victor Hsu, Sophia Lin, and Annie Tan discussed their roles in helping to achieve a Director’s vision.

During the conversation, Hsu shared his approach to helping Directors achieve their vision in episodic television. “When you work with a Director, you want to give them the tools to be successful so that they can shoot the episode successfully and it doesn’t turn into long shoots for everyone. A lot of that has to do with making sure they’re prepping with the 1st AD and DP in a way that’s efficient. Most Directors just want to be supported, so that when they come into their prep week that a lot of heavy lifting has already been done for them.”

Lin spoke about that same task in the indie world. “I think the approach is to make sure the Director understands what resources really are available, like how far your resources can really go. ‘Okay, you want to shoot 35mm? If that’s your choice, that’s fine, but it means there will be other things you will not be able to have.’ Directors can only make the best choices for their film, if they’re fully informed of what their choices mean within the scope of their resources.”

Tan spoke about how she felt her ethnicity has colored her career. “There are certain things that being an Asian American meant to others, like stereotyping as a hard worker. I think I felt that, but I think my work ethic is strong anyway. There was a little bit in the beginning where I may have been a little insecure about my place on the crew. Overall, I did feel accepted. I’ve been lucky that I didn’t feel like I had to really prove myself, maybe just to myself, not to others.”

Chu recalled his family’s reaction when he decided to move into the industry. “I worked two years as an engineer and hated it. I told my parents, ‘I really like working in films,’ and even though they had a movie theater, they weren’t too thrilled with the idea. I said, ‘Let me go to L.A. to give it a try.’ When I got to L.A. I didn’t know anyone. I was just knocking on doors, and the first person that gave me an opportunity was Oliver Stone. He gave me an unpaid internship. It lasted seven years. I learned from him that story is king, everything else is secondary.”

See video from this event in the gallery below.

About the Speakers:
Alan Chu1st AD Alan Chu 
Chu’s Assistant Directorial credits include features such as Russell Brown’s Search Engines, Ulrich Thomsen’s In Embryo and Matteo Ribaudo’s Beyond Paranormal; and episodes of the series Another Year. He has been a DGA member since 2021. 
Victor HsuUPM Victor Hsu 
Hsu’s Production Management credits include episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Transparent, Men of a Certain Age, Arrested Development, Veronica's Closet, Family Matters, MacGyver and St. Elsewhere. He has been a DGA member since 1979 and has served as the Chair of the Western AD/UPM Council and as the category representative for the Asian American Committee. 
Sophia LinUPM Sophia Lin 
Lin’s Production Management credits include features such as Trish Sie’s Players, Lila Neugebauer’s Causeway and Mariama Diallo’s Master; and episodes of the series One Dollar and The Girlfriend Experience. She has been a DGA member since 2007. 
Amy TanUPM Annie Tan 
Tan’s Production Management credits include episodes of Survival of the Thickest, Flatbush Misdemeanors, Search Party, High Maintenance and Half-Empty. She has been a DGA member since 1997. 
Larry TengDirector Larry Teng (moderator) 
Teng’s directorial credits include episodes of Watson, Tracker, NCIS: Hawaii, Nancy Drew, Lethal Weapon, Supergirl, Graceland and Medium. He has been a DGA member since 2007 and has served as an alternate co-chair of the Asian American Committee. 

 About the Eastern Diversity Steering Committee

The Eastern Diversity Steering Committee represents the concerns of Guild members of African, Asian, Native American, Arab-Middle Eastern or Latino descent residing in the East. Committed to improving the employment opportunities, working conditions and the skills of ethnically diverse Guild members, the Committee sponsors workshops, seminars, round-table discussions and networking events to showcase the talents of its members, recognize their contributions and increase their visibility in the industry. The Committee’s current Co-Chairs are Directors Seith Mann and Bertha Bay-Sa Pan and UPM Canella Williams-Larrabee.

Pictures & Video

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