How ScreenCraft Feature Fellow Eris Qian Explores Identity and Innovation in Genre-Bending Stories – ScreenCraft

How ScreenCraft Feature Fellow Eris Qian Explores Identity and Innovation in Genre-Bending Stories - ScreenCraft

How ScreenCraft Feature Fellow Eris Qian Explores Identity and Innovation in Genre-Bending Stories Growing up in China as the only daughter of two doctors who never took vacations, borders to me meant the squiggly lines on the blue world map, the four walls locking me in with my homework, and the frame of the TV screen that took me to distant places. I wanted to break out of the constraints, but my parents insisted that jungles, deserts, and exotic lands were no place for a girl. They saw no other way of life than material success. As soon as I gained independence, I set off on a journey across five continents to pursue my passion. I picked up my camera to document the fresh scenery and kind strangers along the way. From the sacred Mount Gandis of Tibet to the hustling and bustling canteen in Hong Kong, I opened myself up to the world and pushed the boundaries of my experience. First Steps to Screenwriting Documentary filmmaking was my window into exploring diverse realities, yet it ignited a desire within me to craft narratives that transcend the boundaries of reality through imagination. This led me to pursue further education at the NYU MBA/Film MFA program, where I seamlessly transitioned into the roles of writer/director/producer in narrative filmmaking. In my narrative work, I build worlds that are grounded in research, and let my female characters defy the norms and find their place in the world, the same way I did. In my stories, I feel free. Alongside creating my debut narrative short, Mother Tongue , I had the privilege of collaborating with a multitude of talented filmmakers, supporting them in achieving their creative aspirations. Even three years post-graduation, I remain in awe of the exceptional caliber and unwavering determination exhibited by my fellow classmates. Read More: Screenwriting Wisdom from Some of Hollywood‘s Best Female Screenwriters Roadblocks As a multi-hyphenate, I wear many hats that reflect both my cultural roots and professional aspirations. However, I’ve often faced challenges from others questioning whether I could harmonize my Chinese heritage with my cross-cultural experiences and whether it’s possible to remain true to my creative passion with a business mindset. When those doubts manifest as critical notes in my writing, I find myself spiraling into a fear that my stories won’t resonate because they don’t neatly fit into conventional boxes. They pushed me to delve deeper into my identity and capabilities, ultimately realizing that my unique blend of experiences is a strength rather than a hindrance. Embracing this hybrid identity and multidimensional approach has liberated me from limiting labels, allowing me to create more authentic and impactful work. My feature script, Pulling Seedlings , delves into the perils of motherhood and moral conundrums posed by genetic engineering within a first-generation Chinese American family. Unbound, my episodic project, transports viewers to 1800s Mother Lode Country, where a young female Chinese Kung Fu master takes on white supremacists to avenge her town. My short script, Last Ship East , depicts the unlikely bond between a Jewish and a Japanese girl on a refugee cruise liner to Shanghai during War World II. From Chinese immigrants in near-future Seattle ( Pulling Seedlings ) to Holocaust refugees on a ship ( Last Ship East ), my work spans worlds that are one degree removed from reality, while being deeply rooted in researched facts and universal human experiences. Experiences with ScreenCraft Entering the ScreenCraft competition was a turning point in my career. Being a finalist for the ScreenCraft Feature Fellowship and Sci-Fi Competition brought me significant exposure and recognition. Working closely with the ScreenCraft team, I received invaluable guidance on navigating the industry, especially as an early-career writer/director. ScreenCraft facilitated connections with production companies, agents, and industry professionals, handpicked based on my work and style. This long-term relationship goes beyond the time of the placement, providing ongoing mentorship and opportunities. Through ScreenCraft, I not only gained visibility for my projects but also learned essential industry practices, networking strategies, and professional development. Their platform has been pivotal in expanding my reach and establishing meaningful connections that continue to shape my journey as a storyteller in the film industry. Coming Up Next I am planning to shoot Last Ship East this year – the script won Best Screenplay at LA Shorts and Best Female Screenplay at HollyShorts, and we secured a grant from the Claims Conference. We’re doing a Kickstarter campaign this month and hoping to reach our fundraising goal! I’m also in the process of rewriting my feature scripts and hoping to start packaging them soon. Eris Qian is a writer/director based in New York City and considers herself a global nomad. Born and raised in China, she leverages her diasporic experience to tell stories about women who defy the norms in finding their place in the world. Eris’s debut short film MOTHER TONGUE premiered at CAAMFest and screened at 15 prestigious festivals globally. Her first feature PULLING SEEDLINGS was selected for Sundance x Women In Film Financing Strategy Intensive and the Mubi Wscripted Cannes Screenplay List. Her upcoming short LAST SHIP EAST won screenplay awards at LA Shorts and HollyShorts. Eris is also a member of BAFTA Newcomers and the Stars Collective. As a natural multi-hyphenate, Eris holds MBA/MFA dual degrees from NYU’s Stern and Tisch.