ChiTownScreenwriting with Kat O'Brien - Issue #8 | Spark Social Change



Subscribe to our newsletter

By subscribing, you agree with Revue’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy and understand that ChiTownScreenwriting will receive your email address.

Welcome back to ChiTown Screenwriting with Kat O'Brien!
In this week’s issue:
  • On Writing and Creating: Films That Spark Social Change
  • Tips and Tricks: Movie Magic Moments in the Everyday
  • Wisdom & What I’m Loving: Mentorship Matters
  • Workshops and Events: Access & Opportunity
  • Someone You Should Know: Storytelling Duo - A Song for Manzanar

A Letter From Kat
Last week, we talked about being fiercely fearless.
This week, we’re exploring that fearlessness in action, highlighting opportunities to elevate stories that need telling and retelling, and to connect and engage in meaningful mentorships.
As we approach the end of AAPI Heritage Month, personally, I have appreciated seeing so many organizers centering AAPI artists and their work, and hope this intentional celebration outlives AAPI Heritage Month to substantially and meaningfully increase AAPI visibility in the media arts.
In this issue, I’m humbled to share a story about an incredible filmmaker, Kazuko Golden, and her family. Her award-winning narrative fiction short film, A Song For Manzanar, explores a dark chapter in American History, that is even more tragically relevant today.
While Americans honor those who have fallen in military service with a day off of work, I personally find this 3 day weekend to be a reflective opportunity to deepen our understanding of, and reckoning with the complexity of our American History.
I know many of us are also looking for the first big break to take some time to decompress from the pandemic stresses of the struggle juggle hustle as the world begins to open up again. This weekend, I hope these tips & tricks, workshops and events, and unique opportunities for deep dives into cultural explorations help you do just that.
I’ve also opened our call for submissions to publish, produce, or promote your work or upcoming projects in this newsletter. Scroll to the end to find out all the ways we’re trying to optimize this newsletter to create opportunities for its subscribers. Thanks for connecting & engaging.
On Writing & Creating: Films That Spark Social Change
This week’s guest contributor is Kazuko Golden, a native from Springfield, Illinois, now living in Los Angeles, California as a filmmaker. She is a driven, imaginative Film Producer and Director, who leverages vision, passion, and a robust network to create and acquire compelling, authentic stories with unique, box-office value that drives social justice and change.
A Song For Manzanar by Kazuko Golden
This short narrative drama film by Kazuko Golden is based on a true story about her grandmother and the relocation of the Japanese Americans to American Concentration Camps during WWII. A Song for Manzanar was Golden’s graduate film for her Creative Producing master’s degree at Columbia College Chicago and the recipient of the Weisman Award, receiving a generous grant from the Weisman family.
The Inspiration
The film is based on one chapter of a novel written by her mom, author, and educator Yosh Golden. Set in the 1945 Manzanar Japanese American Internment Camp, the film tells the story of a young mother, Sachie, who is driven to instill hope in her son while communicating with her beloved sister Hiroko who still lives in Hiroshima. Although not physically together, the sisters write letters to each other, and through the Japanese childhood folk song, ‘The Crow,’ they maintain hope that they will be reunited. The film’s main characters include actresses portraying her mother Yosh, born in Manzanar, and her grandmother Sachie, the main protagonist in the film.
Directing a Period Film
Golden co-directed the film with Phil Emerson (the pen name for a scriptwriter in Hollywood.) She produced it by herself with the guidance of her instructors, advisors, and classmates at Columbia College of Chicago. Her former classmates Josh Garvin and Zach Mehrbach co-wrote the script. The period piece costumes and kimonos were designed by Costumer Laura Wong. The film was shot in Manzanar, California. For most of the cast and crew, including the Japanese Americans, it was their first time visiting and learning about the concentration camps.  
Screenings to Spark Social Change
Golden hopes the film’s legacy will be an avenue for a discussion to educate about the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. She felt passionate about going to school and producing it in Chicago because this is where her family and many Japanese Americans were relocated to after the camps. Her grandfather lost everything he once owned in Los Angeles. With the mere $25 check he received as he was walking out from the barbed wire gate, he continued his life as a factory worker in the paper mills in Chicago and most importantly, as proud father to eleven children.
Between 2017-2019 the film was not screened very regularly. Lately, however it has been requested to be screened at several panels to discuss Asian hate crimes. Golden is available to talk with people in a zoom Q&A to any groups that are interested in learning more or hearing about the conversations that we have been having about Asian Racism and Misogyny in America. The sad part of all the recent media attention of the violence against Asians is that this is not a new phenomenon– and that is evident from A Song for Manzanar.
Golden created a special promotion page on her website for our ChiTown Screenwriting readers to rent A Song for Manzanar for $1. It will be up for 30 days and the rental period, once the reader pays, is 72 hours. The page is
A Short Narrative Drama Film by Kazuko Golden
A Short Narrative Drama Film by Kazuko Golden
On My Feed: Tips & Tricks
My tips and tricks this past week were all about weekend mindsetfocused on relaxing, recharging, and reframing perspective. Whenever I get a break I find that I start to gain bandwidth and capacity and in so doing, dream of #moviemagicmoments.
I hope you’re having a relaxing weekend to recharge in some way, #chitownscreenwriting! Cheers!
PS: In case you’re wondering, my twitter poll was 50/50 on best chocolate for s'mores between Hershey’s bars and Godiva squares. I’ll be real with you: I love local chocolate shops and that’s my s'mores preferred go-to. Tip: these little details about character, POV, and setting matter in crafting #moviemagicmoments
Kat O'Brien
Thinking about #moviemagicmoments...

...Is it the wknd yet? Prepping s'mores kits. Campfires on the beach. Marshmallows from scratch cuz they melt better in the flames. Debating chocolate. What's your go-to for s'mores?

#amwriting #workhardplayhard #tuesdaymotivations
Kat O'Brien
When you see opportunities to #elevate fellow #creatives to collabo, for historically underrepresented voices to connect, to build pathways to platforms - all it takes is a simple 💖RT/QT #share to #boost #amplify and help others #engage.

#Tuesday #Tips #chitownscreenwriting
Script Pipeline

Sorry for the caps and emojis but it’s Tuesday so how else would we get your attention?

@NyxHorror has a really unique structure to this film fest. You have to check it out...

We’ll be reviewing + helping develop the top selections! 🦊
Kat O'Brien
The *someone* who said this was obviously a golfer and a caddy and a writer and I think it's some legit #Wednesday #Writers #Wisdom.

Hit me with your best punchlines?

#amwriting #amgolfing #amtakingabreakthisweekend
Kat O'Brien
YES *sometimes capacity changes* and this is true for development execs, producers, directors, managers, consultants, fellow writers too -- juggling a lot, wanna help & mentor but sometimes Life Happens. Empathy is its own reward. 💖

#amwriting #query #mentorship
Alexandria Brown
Dear #amquerying authors if I’ve ever said please reach back out to me in *insert timeline* & I’d love to reconsider, I don’t say that to everyone and I very much mean it. Sometimes capacity changes so if an editor or agent has said this do it! Don’t give up✨ #WritingCommunity
The Black List
One feature writer will be selected for a two-step Guild minimum blind deal as a part of the second round of our partnership with @mgmstudios! Screenwriters interested in the family-comedy and/or action-comedy space are encouraged to apply.

Learn more:
The Black List
One feature writer will be selected for a two-step Guild minimum blind deal as a part of the second round of our partnership with @mgmstudios! Screenwriters interested in the family-comedy and/or action-comedy space are encouraged to apply.

Learn more:
Kat O'Brien
If only life were like the movies, right? TBH tho, as a rom com writer, I actually 💖 applying rom com logic, or just movie logic in general, to real life every day experiences. If you think about it, solves most problems.

What do you think? 🧵

#chitownscreenwriting #amwriting
Kat O'Brien
1) It’s not the grand gesture that’s going to win them over, it’s being authentic, and speaking from the heart.
Notting Hill (9/10) Movie CLIP - Just a Girl (1999) HD
Notting Hill (9/10) Movie CLIP - Just a Girl (1999) HD
Kat O'Brien
2) Always walk away from NBD explosions in slo-motion
Top 5 People Walking Away From Explosions in Movies
Top 5 People Walking Away From Explosions in Movies
Kat O'Brien
3) Someday, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me
Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me
Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me
Writers' Wisdom: What I've Been Loving
Mentorship Matters
I’m loving how so many in my network are elevating WOC and female-identifying and non-binary community connection, engagement opportunities for mentorship and collaboration. Frankly, I think this intentionality is a key facet to bringing about social change in terms of broadly increasing diverse representation and visibility in the content creation marketplace.
Two luminaries I want to spotlight for our ChiTown Screenwriting community this week:
The Cinema Femme network for female-identifying and non-binary filmmakers now has a community page where they share news, ask questions, have online discussions, and share resources. This is a private group. If you are interested in learning more and joining, please email with the subject line “Cinema Femme Filmmakers”.
And #Startwith8Hollywood, a diversity, equity & inclusion program proudly presented by Women of Color Unite and The Bitch Pack. More on both below.
Cinema Femme
Vietnamese-diaspora women in film panel with Le Ly Hayslip, Thuc Nguyen, Marion Hill and Adele Pham 
-- Cinema Femme
Moderator Thuc Doan Nguyen was born in Vietnam and grew up in The American South. She’s lived in London, New York City and Los Angeles, and has an Irish as well as an American passport. She writes screenplays centering Women of Color. She founded The Bitch List of feminist screenplays and #StartWith8Hollywood, a free mentoring program for Women of Color with Hollywood’s A-listers. Thuc is a contributing writer to outlets like The Daily Beast, VICE, Refinery29 and others and has done punch up work for Paramount Pictures. She would always rather be in the woods or by a quiet oceanside with her dogs. Via Cinema Femme
Learn More About #Startwith8Hollywood
Home - #Startwith8Hollywood
Sign Up To Be a #Startwith8 Mentor
Shannon Riggs
Colleagues and friends, sign up to be a mentor for this next session! I love my mentees and am blown away by them every day. 💫
Calling all #StartWith8Hollywood MENTORS!

Sign-up here for #StartWith8 Hollywood Summer 2021 and get matched with 8 wonderful WOC mentees in your field!

Let's change Hollywood together.
#Startwith8 Hollywood Edition - Summer 2021 - MENTOR Intake Form
Get In The Loop Re: #Startwith8 Mentee Cycles
Join Women of Color Unite
On My Calendar: Writing Workshops & Events
If you’re zoomed out, you can still sign up to attend many virtual events and get the video recording later. We are in a unique time for unprecedented virtual access to amazing workshops and opportunities to continue to learn and engage as a community of content creators and collaborators. Thanks to my creative partner Tamika J. Spaulding @tjmadeafunny for curating this wonderful list for us!
  • The Blacklist & The Redford Center
  • Wednesday, 6/2 @ 5:30 pm PT
  • Writers Guild Foundation
  • Thursday, 6/3 @ 4 pm PT
Shamanic Writers Circle
  • This month will pick up from last month’s writing about mothers and turn to fathers in honor of Father’s Day. There will be writing prompts, time for sharing, and q & a about any writing topics you want to discuss.
  • Please RSVP to This offering is donation-based. If you’d like to make a contribution, please do so at @bridget-boland-5 for Venmo, or for PayPal.
  • Saturday 6/5 @ 10am CT
On My Calendar: #SelfCare
I have trained with the artists at the Japanese Culture Center for years and credit the world-class coalition of teaching artists connected here for empowering me to be tuned in to my stress levels so I know when and how to dial up my need to meditate, and in various practices / across multiple disciplines. You can go to their website to navigate their classes - many of which are *virtual* and thus accessible all over the world.
Japanese Culture Center | Martial & Cultural Arts Classes In Chicago
Check out this awesome class!
Check out this awesome class!
Virtual Japanese Culture through Ghibli Movies
Tuesdays June 1, 8, 15, 22 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
If you love Studio Ghibli movies and want deeper insights on Japanese culture, please join us! Professor Sachie Banks Sensei looks forward to meeting everyone. Let’s explore Japanese culture together!
In this course, we will explore Japanese lifestyles, traditions, customs, values and ways of thinking through watching four Studio Ghibli movies: My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Only Yesterday, and Princess Mononoke. No Japanese language skills are required, but the participants are expected to watch the movies prior to starting the course (available at HBO Max).
  • Textbook: Copies of PPT slides will be provided for each class.
  • Course Duration: 1.5 hours x 4 weeks
  • Cost: $120 for 4 classes
  • Week 1: My Neighbor Totoro
  • Week 2: Spirited Away
  • Week 3: Only Yesterday
  • Week 4: Princess Mononoke
Inspired by the Studio Ghibli films? Check this out!
Inspired by the Studio Ghibli films? Check this out!
Visit the event sign up for full schedule of events and map
Visit the event sign up for full schedule of events and map
Save The Date: The Japanese Culture Center Chicago will be presenting an Ikebana Walking Exhibition in the Lakeview/Roscoe Village / Southport Corridor with Japanese Culture Center Ikebana instructors, artists, and students from two different schools of Ikebana; Ikenobo and Ohara Ryu. 
This event is free of charge, and there will be a ribbon cutting at an opening ceremony on June 12 at 12 PM CDT with local community leaders and special guests. Also, there is going to be a free sake tasting at Galleria Liqueurs from 1-4PM on both days of the event!
Writers' Spotlight: Someone You Should Know
KAZUKO GOLDEN, Producer & Co-Director
Kazuko Golden, a native from Springfield, Illinois, now lives in Los Angeles, California as a filmmaker. She is a driven, imaginative Film Producer and Director, who leverages vision, passion, and a robust network to create and acquire compelling, authentic stories with unique, box-office value that drives social justice and change.
After graduating with a Sociology and Peace and Global Studies Bachelor of Arts degree from Earlham College, she attended graduate school and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Producing from Columbia College of Chicago. Her undergraduate international studies, whereby she studied the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the works of Mandela and Desmond Tutu in South Africa inspired her desire to document political stories of the change via still photography and film.
While in graduate school, she interned at the Emmy Award-winning Kartemquin Films and assisted at the Sundance Film Festival with the 20th Anniversary premiers of Hoop Dreams and the premiere launch of Life Itself, a Roger Ebert Documentary. In 2015, her directorial debut and graduate thesis A Song for Manzanar was accepted into the Short Film Corner of the Cannes Film Festival and several festivals across the US and globally. This short film is a narrative piece based on the writing and authentic life of her mom Yosh Golden.
Golden founded a film production company with these diverse, enriching experiences, producing eleven short films and three television shows, and achieved international festival recognition. With her innovation, robust network, and a firm grasp of the current media landscape and conflict regions, she focuses her career and passion on uncovering stories yet unexposed to the market that provokes critical thought and social awareness.
She has recently been in various positions at STARZ, Lionsgate, Fox Sports, and Relativity Media. She has been a consultant and script reader for film grant submissions. She completed a feature film adaptation of a novel, is working on a documentary short, and is working with her mom to make a feature that will continue A Song for Manzanar.
Springfield was a complex city for her racial identity. However, once she lived in Japan and was repeatedly asked if she was American, she realized that “yes, of course, she was American,” which brought her proudly to tears.
Kazuko Golden, Producer & Co-Director
Kazuko Golden, Producer & Co-Director
YOSH GOLDEN, Writer / Based on Story
Yoshimi Yoshimura Golden, resident of Springfield since 1970, was born in an American concentration camp, euphemistically referred to as a “relocation center” in California. The camp comprised of uninsulated tar-paper wooden barracks was hastily built in a desert area just the other side of mountains from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Her parents, Yoshizo (James) Yoshimura, wife Sachie, and older brother Hajime (John) were citizens, all born in the United States. Never charged with any violation of law, they spent the next 3 ½ years in Manzanar, a mile-square prison camp bordered by barbed wire and gun towers placed around the perimeter to stop anyone wanting to escape. The 120,000 Japanese Americans (2/3rds of them citizens, and their immigrant parents (by law unable to become citizens) were ordered out of their homes along the western coast of the United States and under armed guard herded onto trains that transported them to 10 major camp areas and numerous federal camps scattered across the United States. They were told it was for their own protection - but the guns in the towers were aimed at the “inmates”.
 Yosh did not learn about this episode in her parents’ lives until she was in college writing a senior thesis on propaganda techniques employed against Japanese Americans during the years before WWII and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. She has, since then, spoken to elementary, high school, and college students, to fraternal organizations in Springfield, and provided historical advice to my daughter Kazuko who, for her master’s project in filmmaking, created a 17-minute film that was chosen to be part of the Short Film Corner at the Cannes International Film Festival (2015). Her film has been chosen and screened in numerous film festivals over the past six years.
You may find her few writings on family at Northwestern University’s on-line literary publication: -issue 140. Just scroll either under the “contributors” column, or title, “Tales from the Willow Tree”. She has also published a few stories/reports in The Illinois Times.
YOSH GOLDEN, Writer / Based on Story
YOSH GOLDEN, Writer / Based on Story
Connect & Contribute to #chitownscreenwriting
Writers and creators, in Chicago and around the world, please share ChiTown Screenwriting with anyone you think might enjoy it, and be sure to let us know how ChiTown Screenwriting can uplift or support you and your projects. As we continue to build community + opportunity, I’m actively seeking to hand the feature reins over to other voices besides my own. I got this party started, you can find me at the bar/on the dance floor, I want to put *you* in the spotlight/center stage!
Upcoming Issues | Call for submissions!
We’re looking for feature essays, random thoughts, creative pieces, images and/or videos exploring the following topics:
Ongoing Call for Submissions!
As this grassroots movement finds its voice and expands our reach, we’ll continue to solicit content contributions in the areas of:
  • advice on writing and creating
  • tips and tricks on twitter (tag me @uknowkatobrien if you got some!)
  • wisdom, think: self care, mindfulness, changemaking and more
  • workshops and events to continue our professional development, and foster opportunities for connection, and collaboration
  • as well as writers and creators you should know
  • cool projects launching that we should spotlight
Who’s someone that I should know, ChiTown Screenwriting creators? Ping me @uknowkatobrien.
If you enjoyed this, or have writing/creative life questions I can unpack and answer, or are looking for support to promote your work and projects, reach out and let me know? And please share widely! #grassroots #letsgo
Thanks for reading, and see you next week #chitownscreenwriting!
Thursday night is Hacks night now
Did you enjoy this issue? Yes No
Kat O'Brien
Kat O'Brien @uknowKatOBrien

ChiTown Screenwriting is a publication that I write and edit, for writers and creators to find community on their journey to getting published and produced.

More ambitiously, ChiTown Screenwriting is a movement, and a mindset. Global and local, we're a community connected by creative collaboration, and we're all about connecting collaborators to creative opportunities!

Each issue shares the wisdom and advice from storytellers and changemakers, with the goal of demystifying some of the more elusive processes and strategies for navigating the business, art and craft of getting our stories to our audiences.

In order to unsubscribe, click here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Created with Revue by Twitter.