Thursday, February 21, 2008

Citizen Shift - One Big Hapa Family Production Blog

I've been commissioned by the National Film Board of Canada to maintain a production blog for my next documentary One Big Hapa Family. I will be adding posts every few days about the progress of my next production. So far it's been quite the battle to get things going. Especially with all that's being going on lately with Yellow Sticky Notes and getting distribution for "What Are You Anyways?" So, getting One Big Hapa Family going has been tough to say the least. Anyways, this is my first venture into live action and the first documentary I've ever created. It should be an interesting adventure. I invite you to follow my adventures at:

Here's an example of my first post on February 15th, 2008:

Being based in Kelowna, I’m heading off to Vancouver tomorrow to meet with my producer, Ruth Vincent about my documentary One Big Hapa Family. This will be the first time we will have met after I revised my original proposal a few weeks ago. Needless to say, after I revised the proposal, it was over 7 pages long…and according to Ruth, 4 pages too long.

So far I’ve secured funding with my first version of the proposal last year by obtaining grant money from the British Columbia Arts Council, National Association of Japanese Canadians Endowment Fund for Cultural Development, and the National Film Board through a Filmmaker Assistance Program grant. The original proposal was intended to make a short documentary. Around 8 - 12 minutes long. After some discussion with Ruth a few months back, we decided this concept could possibly work for TV. So I went about revising the proposal for a 44 minute broadcast hour documentary. We’re hoping to submit the new proposal with the hope of obtaining a pre-license fee and maybe even securing a second window broadcaster.

Here’s a synopsis for the revised One Big Hapa Family documentary:

One Big Hapa Family is a 44-minute high definition live-action with animation documentary that highlights a Japanese-Canadian family reunion. The documentary explores why over 95% of Japanese-Canadians are in interracial marriages, the highest out of any other ethnicity in Canada, and how their children perceive their multiracial identities. Animation and narration are used to transition from narrative story structures to interview formats while exploring a unique outlook on Canadian multiculturalism from the perspective of Japanese-Canadian children of mixed decent, interracial couples, and opinions from Japanese elders who lived through WWII.

This blog will be a diary focusing on the pre-production, production, and post-production One Big Hapa Family. Being half-Japanese and half-European decent, the topics covered in One Big Hapa Family are very personal to me. In my animated film, “What Are You Anyways?” I explored my own experiences growing up of mixed-Asian decent in the small Canadian city of Kelowna. The film had phenomenal success screening at over 40 international film festival and winning 7 awards. Recently I just finished a new classically animated film, Yellow Sticky Notes, which premiered at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival where it won the Animasian Award for Best Animation. The film was created using over 2300 yellow sticky notes and animated straight ahead with only a black ink pen.

My filmmaking is created using thousands of hand drawn images. With One Big Hapa Family, this will be my first venture into the realm of live action. I’m bound to make a ton of mistakes along the way and I know making this documentary will be a true adventure that will push my filmmaking to the limit. This blog will serve to entertain, educate, and inspire people to see just what it takes to make a long form documentary from a guy who’s used to making all his films by hand with a pencil and some paper. This blog will be candid, honest, and real and highlight the process of creating a broadcast documentary from a guy who knows nothing about making a documentary!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Yellow Sticky Notes Wins an Elan Award - Press Release

Vancouver - During the 2008 Elan Awards, Video Game, Animation Industry and Digital Art Students turned out in full force to celebrate Canadian supremacy in the fastest growing entertainment industry in the world. Canadian video game developers and publishers, animators and studio heads and the brightest students and top academia gathered at the 2nd annual Canadian Awards for Electronic and Animated Arts (CAEAA) held at The Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts in eager anticipation to learn the winning names behind some of the biggest games and shows in North America.

Animation filmmaker and Kelowna resident, Jeff Chiba Stearns, took home an Elan award for Best Animated Short Subject for his film, Yellow Sticky Notes at the awards show, described as the Oscars of the Canadian video game and animation industry. The February 15th evening event was hosted by Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane. Awards were presented in 36 categories in three sectors of the Electronic and Animated Arts industry: animation industry, video game development, and student talent development. Each winner was presented with an Elan – a statuette similar to an Oscar but constructed of a majestic man and a woman resembling Greek gods holding up the world.

This is the second year in a row Chiba Stearns’ animated short films have won in the category of Best Short Animated Subject. In 2006, during the first annual Elans, his classically animated short film, “What Are You Anyways?”, a autobiographical recollection of Chiba Stearns’ life experiences growing up in Kelowna with a bi-racial background won in the same category. Yellow Sticky Notes, created on a budget of $100, was animated directly on over 2300 yellow sticky notes with nothing more than a black ink pen. After realizing that yellow sticky note “to do” lists were consuming his life, Chiba Stearns finally decided to visually self-reflect on his filmmaking journey by animating on the same sticky notes that caused him to ignore major world events for the last nine years. Animation meditation is blended with image, text, and an original musical score by Genevieve Vincent through the creation of a classically animated experimental film. The entire process of animating on these sticky notes took Chiba Stearns over nine months and was created through an animated stream of consciousness.

After a world premiere of Yellow Sticky Notes at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival in November, where it took home the Animasian Award for Best Animated Film at the festival, the film continues to gain accolades worldwide. Yellow Sticky Notes has begun its worldwide theatrical release by joining the infamous Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation 2008 tour. As well, the film continues to tour on the international film festival circuit.

“I am extremely honored and excited to receive an Elan for Best Animated Short Subject at the 2008 CAEAA Awards. It means a great deal to be recognized by my peers in the Canadian animation industry for the work I am doing in independent classical animation. Yellow Sticky Notes is a very personal film and I’m grateful that I’ve been able to showcase it internationally. I can only hope for continued success with all my future projects and that my work will continue to touch the lives of people around the world.”

Currently, Chiba Stearns is in pre-development of a 44-minute documentary on mixed-race identity and interracial marriage entitled One Big Hapa Family. The documentary explores the explosive statistic of how 95% of Japanese Canadians are in interracial marriages and asks Japanese children of mixed decent about their multiracial identities. Look for new film by Chiba Stearns to be released in early 2009. Check out for current updates.

For those in based in the Okanagan area, Yellow Sticky Notes will be screening for free as part of the Kelowna Art Gallery Film Nights series. The film will screen on Feb. 28th at 7pm at the Kelowna Art Gallery with the feature length documentary Social Genocide. Jeff will be on hand to introduce the film and conduct a Q&A session after the screening. DVD’s of Yellow Sticky Notes are also available for purchase at Komatsu Japanese Market in Kelowna and the Nikkei Place Museum in Burnaby.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Clip 2 from Yellow Sticky Notes and YSN joins the Spike and Mike's Animation Tour!

Here is a longer clip from the award-winning film Yellow Sticky Notes! Also, just so you know, keep an eye out for Yellow Sticky Notes hitting a city near you as part of the 2008 Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation. Yellow Sticky Notes isn't all that sick or twisted but it's been getting rave reviews from people who've seen the show in Detroit and other US cities so far.

If you are interested in buying a DVD copy of the film, they are $12 (which includes shipping) and available by emailing me at