VAFF Industry Insight (VAFF I²) Panel Series – 1
VAFF Industry Insight Series Panel 1: Diversity and Representation in Canadian Film and Television
Hollywood seems to be finally embracing diversity in the films and tv shows they are producing. What about mainstream media in Canada?
Kashif Pasta | Director of “Welcome to Surrey”;
John Wirth | Showrunner,“Wu Assassins”, “Hap and Leonard”, “Hell on Wheels”;
Sonny Wong | CEO & Co-founder of Hamakazi Wong Marketing Group, Co-founder of Leo Awards;
Lien Yeung | CBC News Anchor
Emcee / Moderator: Bessie Chow
(Please see below for Panelist/Moderator bios)
VAFF Industry Party – Kick off our VAFF Industry series this year with the intimate VAFF Industry Party on November 2, 2018 (Friday) at 10:00 pm at Bar None Night Club, 1222 Hamilton St Vancouver BC. ($10 – Limited Tickets for Sale), in the heart of the city’s vibrant downtown core. This exclusive party is for filmmakers, industry, media, and special VAFF guests.
As the co-founder of Dunya Media, Kashif works to tell stories that reflect the diversity of their audiences, resulting in filmmaking that both helps underserved audience’s sense of validation and self-worth, and helps mainstream audiences enjoy richer, more satisfying content.
Kashif co-created, directed, and acted in the Leo Award-nominated digital scripted series Welcome to Surrey, released in fall 2017. The show, intentionally formed in the image of CBC’s half-hour comedy guidelines, served as a test-run for a network series and has gained over half a million viewers worldwide with a story set in a completely unexplored Canadian setting where millions of people live: the suburbs.
Kashif aims to leverage Canada’s position as a nexus of nationalities and cultures to tell globally relevant stories that couldn’t come from any other place.
John Wirth has written and produced hundreds of hours of television and continues to be one of Hollywood’s most sought after television Showrunners. He is currently serving as Executive Producer/Showrunner on the Netflix original series Wu Assassins. He has served as Executive Producer on Hap And Leonard; Hell On Wheels; The Cape; Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles; Love Monkey; Ghost Whisperer; The District and Nash Bridges.
He’s worked as a Consulting Producer on Falling Skies and V, and as a Supervising Producer on the award winning Picket Fences and the cult favorite The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. He also worked as an Executive Story Editor on Remington Steele.
Mr. Wirth has held development deals with AMC, Touchstone Television, 20th Century Fox Television, Sony Television, Grant Tinker Television, and Warner Brothers Television, producing pilots for all four major networks, USA, CW and A&E.
Mr. Wirth conceived and co-edited the WGA’s TELEVISION WRITER’S HANDBOOK, and sits on the Showrunner Training Program Committee as well as the WGA’s Television Writers Council.
He has been honored with three Western Heritage Awards, an Environmental Media Award, an Angel Award, and the 2004 Ribbon of Hope Award for AIDS Awareness and Education.
Sonny is a social and marketing entrepreneur with a diversity of business interests and projects that span marketing/media, live programs and events, sustainability, arts and culture, film and television, creativity, and social innovation. He is president and creative director of Hamazaki Wong Marketing Group, an award-winning multicultural marketing-communications agency. Sonny is also co-founder and producer of the annual Leo Awards, BC’s awards program for the film and television industry.
His community activities find him as Chair of the community advisory board of Seattle-based KCTS 9 (PBS affiliate in the Pacific Northwest), board of trustees of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Foundation of BC, Pacific Council Member of OMNI Television, and chair of the Board of Change Society. He is also a founding member of the Chinatown Project, a grassroots group working on a revitalization solution for Vancouver’s Chinatown. Sonny has been recognized as a one of Business in Vancouver’s 40 Under 40. He has a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Marketing from the University of British Columbia.
Lien Yeung is an award-winning multimedia reporter, anchor and producer with CBC News in Vancouver. She has covered stories ranging from the opioid crisis to historic wildfires to diversity in media. Her journalism has taken her from the Pacific Northwest to the Atlantic Coast. She holds a Master’s of Journalism from UBC and B.A. from SFU. Lien took the leap to pursue journalism after almost a decade in marketing working with some of Canada’s most recognizable brands.
Bessie Chow is a long-time supporter and contributor to Ricepaper, a Canadian magazine showcasing Asian Canadian literature, culture, and the arts. As a first-generation Canadian-born Chinese, Bessie has long been sensitive to the challenges and opportunities inherent in the definition and defiance of different labels. Her passion for diversity and inclusion has manifested in a range of activities including starting the first station diversity committee at Global Ontario, sitting on media advisory committees for under-represented groups (CNIB, VIRCS), delivering cultural-sensitivity training to ESL instructors and learners, and participating in diversity in governance programs for boards of directors.