December 7, 2022

Beyond Resilience: Why I Keep One Foot Planted in the Documentary Industry

Editor’s Note: As part of Firelight Media’s Beyond Resilience series, we’re commissioning BIPOC nonfiction filmmakers to share reflections on their own challenges, strategies, and experiences of creating and distributing work during periods of social transformation. In this edition, Jin Yoo-Kim, an alum of Firelight Media’s Impact Producer Fellowship, shares her experience as a documentary producer on films including the acclaimed documentary Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust, which was a Firelight Media Impact Campaign Fund grantee in 2021.


When I was approached to write this reflection I was in a place of inner turmoil. I knew I should talk about all the amazing, inspiring, and positive work I’ve been doing with producing Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust. But all I could think about was how to leave this industry.

Recently I overheard someone criticize my casual communication style, my perceived lack of professionalism, and inexperience. (Forget all the years I spent training myself to fit into the patriarchy of white America.) That day, however, my accent, sentence structure, and appearance suddenly felt foreign and, well, unacceptable. How was I so easily dismissed?

In reality, I had just onboarded two assistants. I would soon join a cohort of the Women at Sundance Adobe Fellowship. I’m currently working on a docuseries I sold that stemmed from an idea I had while in the bathroom. I can rattle off these successes because at least I know how to count my blessings. But deep down, I still wonder what I came here for and why I have one foot out the door.


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