Alumni Spotlight: Samantha K. Tan (BA ’20)

Alumni Spotlight: Samantha K. Tan (BA ’20)

May 4 2022

Temple University FMA alumni Samantha K. Tan (TFM ’20) found her passion for producing during her sophomore year at Temple University. In less than two years, she has dedicated her time and energy to creatives who highlight people of color, female filmmakers, as well as the LGBTQ community, as well as produced a variety of different projects.

Her body of work includes music videos for Fearless Records and howsaboutNOW Records; shorts and experimental films that have screened at the Rough Cut Film Festival and the Asolo Art Film Festival; as well as multiple web series, such as Ambitious, which has been featured on B&H Photo Video Pro Audio and is now partnering with a Philadelphia production company to reshoot and distribute the series.

Check out the interview below with Samantha to see what else she’s been up to, as well as an exciting internship opportunity to be a part of Ambitious!

How did you develop the idea for Ambitious?

Ambitious follows an impatient, bold Vietnamese-Cambodian-American girl who navigates her new life as a college dropout despite her immigrant mother's wishes and plans for her. Vietnamese-Cambodian producer and filmmaker Jenna Lam first developed the idea of Ambitious back in 2018 for her senior college project. She had a lot of real-life inspired stories revolving around the over glamorized hustle life and college pressure. As we further developed the idea in 2022, Jenna and I wanted Ambitious to reflect people of color in Philly. We wanted them to be able to see themselves on screen. We wanted to talk more about family and friendship. Cultural identity and values.

As a Vietnamese-Chinese-American myself, I am so proud to share that we were able to find Vietnamese, Cambodian, Black and/or LGBTQ writers to help us flesh out our characters more and bring our narrative to an unimaginably beautiful level. We got writers who understood the story we wanted to tell, who shared different experiences and used those experiences to portray our complex characters and storylines. Each writer was dedicated to a specific episode for a reason, based on their experiences and writing style. We couldn't have asked for better writers.

What was the collaboration process like?

It has been a pleasure working with Jenna Lam during the writing process and making of Ambitious. Jenna and I meet with each other every weekend. Whether it's our two-hour one-on-one meetings, or our four-hour Writer's Room, we are always working on our script notes and discussing administrative/production tasks. And when things don't get done on the weekends, we update each other on our assigned tasks throughout the week during or after our full-time jobs. Everything has been a super long process. After four-plus years of working together, it's been amazing to see how each of us both have grown and evolved in working together. Believe it or not, but this experience has been very tiring, long, but beautiful and fulfilling.

As a Vietnamese-Chinese-American, it warms my heart to see so many people of color, specifically Asians, in the Writer's Room. To connect, to craft a beautiful and authentic narrative, to work with people who share the same values and passions as you, and to see a part of myself on paper and on screen - that's one of the best things I could ever ask for. And I thank Jenna Lam for giving me that opportunity.

How did Temple’s FMA program help prepare you?

Without Temple's FMA program, I wouldn't have found my passion for producing. Temple made it really easy for me to connect with my peers and to try out a bunch of different positions on student film sets. I got to learn exactly what I liked and disliked, and I was able to connect with people who loved filmmaking just as much as I do.

Temple really challenged me to get outside of my comfort zone. Whether that's going out and finding gigs in Philly, or learning how to navigate a new head dept position, I took each opportunity as a learning experience. I've also had professors who cared so much about my work and what I stand for as an Asian-American producer and filmmaker. They really encouraged me, gave me guidance and helped carve a career path for me in LA.

I've grown, I've learned, and I've pushed to strive for what I want. I honestly could not have asked for better mentors.

How can students apply to the Ambitious internship opportunity? 

Ambitious is offering an internship opportunity for students who are interested in producing! This internship opportunity is open for Summer 2022 and Fall 2022. Flexible hours and college credits. POC/LGBTQ folks are strongly encouraged.

As an Indie Producer, I take a lot of pride in creating positive working and learning environments on and off set. Students will have an opportunity to dive in and learn exactly what they want to learn about producing and more! Whether that's contracts, location scouting, scheduling, budgeting or casting, I want students to take as much as they can out of this internship opportunity.

This is a very hands-on experience. Every week depending on their schedule and availability, they will be given tasks relating to the topics listed above. Through every task that is given to them, I will walk them through every step of the way to make sure they are learning and comfortable with doing the task. I really value self-care and communication in the workplace.

To learn more about Ambitious and its internship opportunity, please watch the video here. If you or anyone you know, is interested, please email your resume and cover letter to samanthaktan@gmail.com, jennalamx@gmail.com and ambitious.series@gmail.com.

 

What’s next?

In the late fall of 2021, I produced a short film called My Monster and I starring a young actress from Disney's Live Action Mulan. We are now in post-production for the short! It's a super exciting short, as it is a live action film with an animated monster within its universe.

I've worked on season two of the Emmy-nominated HBO Max The Flight Attendant as a Producer's Assistant. I am now working on another HBO Max show this year. As we wrap up the Ambitious Writer's Room, I'm also developing my own TV show idea following a Vietnamese family. 

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