Walking Iris Media was established by filmmaker S. Leo Chiang to facilitate the research, production, distribution of media projects which aim to engage the public on relevant historical and current issues through compelling storytelling. Through Walking Iris Media, Leo collaborates with other mediamakers and partner organizations to produce high-quality work and reach a broad audience with the work.
Walking Iris Media is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization.
JOHNNY SYMONS is a veteran documentary filmmaker. His film Daddy & Papa (2002), about gay men raising kids, premiered at Sundance, aired on PBS’ Independent Lens and received an Emmy nomination for Best Documentary. Johnny co-produced the Academy Award-nominated Long Night’s Journey Into Day (2000), about South Africa’s search for truth and reconciliation, which won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at Sundance. Ask Not (2008), about the US military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, broadcast on PBS’ Independent Lens. He has a BA in Development Studies from Brown, and an MA in Documentary Production from Stanford. He is an assistant professor at San Francisco State University.
Richard Liang has been working on documentaries for over 10 years. As one of the most active producers building bridges between Chinese filmmakers and international market, Richard has produced several documentaries with international partners. In addition to being a producer, he is also a distributor and event organizer. He runs a copyright agency for feature documentaries in China; he has been scouting Chinese films for IDFA since 2013 and was in the jury of IDFA in 2015; he also organizes a monthly event that screens feature documentaries in one of the largest cities in China.
Jian Fan is a documentary director who focuses on Chinese social issues through character-driven storytelling. He has directed six feature-length documentary films, most recently Still Tomorrow, (Special Jury Award, IDFA 2016; HotDocs 2017). His work has screened in competition at the Berlinale, Full Frame, Sheffield, Busan, and dozens of other film festivals around the world. Jian studied at the Beijing Film Academy and is now based in Chongqing, China.
Jean Tsien has been working in documentary for 35 years as an editor, producer, and consultant. Her editing credits include Scottsboro: An American Tragedy, a 2001 Academy Award nominee. Dixie Chicks: Shut Up & Sing and Miss Sharon Jones! both of which were shortlisted for the Academy Award. Tsien consulted on many award-winning films such as: Give Up Tomorrow, High Tech Low Life, Rich Hill, Hooligan Sparrow, Nowhere to Hide, Risk and Still Tomorrow. She executive produced The Road to Fame, Daze of Justice, Please Remember Me, and Plastic China. Tsien has served as an editing advisor at the Sundance Institute Edit and Story Lab since 2010. She is a member of American Cinema Editors, Rough Cut Service and the Documentary branch of the Academy.
YANG SUN is a Beijing-based documentary director and cameraman. He is on staff at China’s Central Newsreel and Documentary Film Studio, making documentaries for broadcasters including CCTV, Youku and the Travel Channel. He has directed several short and mid-length documentaries, including The Second Album, Aken, After He Rose To Fame, as well as the ten-part series Take Me To Travel. He worked as a director of photography on A Century With Nanjing, Century Master, and South Of The Ocean. Yang Sun holds a Masters degree from the School of Television and Film Art at the Communication University of China.
LAURA NIX is an independent filmmaker committed to exploring provocative characters and subject matter. She directed the documentary The Light In Her Eyes, about a Syrian Quran school for women, which premiered at IDFA in 2011, was broadcast on the series POV on PBS, and was included in Sundance’s Film Forward program. Other feature directing credits include the critically acclaimed fiction feature The Politics of Fur, Whether You Like It or Not: The Story of Hedwig, and The Yes Men Are Revolting. Nix co-wrote the Emmy-nominated PBS doc California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown. Her nonfiction television work has appeared on HBO, IFC, Planet Green, and the History Channel.
SALLY WU was born and raised in Taiwan. She studied media and advertising before transitioning into documentary film editing. She produced & co-directed The Mosou Sisters, the story of two spirited daughters from China’s last matriarchal society, which was funded by ITVS and aired on PBS’s Global Voice in 2014. She spent five years collaborating as an editor with David Sutherland on his six hour FRONTLINE series, Country Boys, which aired nationally on PBS in January 2006. She was a co-editor on HBO’s Run Granny Run (Audience Award, SXSW 2007) and was also editor on Sutherland’s Independent Lens/FRONTLINE series A Kind Hearted Woman, which aired on PBS in 2013.
MERCEDES COATS has directed and produced the award-winning documentaries Little Stars, about the unpredictable and challenging world of child actors, and Seoul II Soul, about a Korean/African-American family in post-riot Los Angeles (National PBS broadcast, 2002). She is the recipient of several awards and honors, including the Alfred P. Sloan Award, an Entertainment Weekly production grant, and the Women in Film/Paramount Pictures Crystal Award. Mercedes collaborated with producing partner, S. Leo Chiang, on To You Sweetheart, Aloha. She earned her MFA in Film Production from University of Southern California, and holds a BA in Theater from Occidental College.
BRITTNEY SHEPHERD is currently producing and directing Eye, Camera, about a San Franciscan artist’s attempt to install a wireless video camera into her prosthetic eye. She co‐produced A Fragile Trust (ITVS), about the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal at The New York Times, and a co-‐creator of the ITVS-funded alternate reality news game, Decisions on Deadline. A longtime Walking Iris collaborator, she is co-producing Out Run and associate produced A Village Called Versailles and Mr. Cao Goes to Washington. Brittney has produced extensively with the Academy-Award winning director Debra Chasnoff. She has a B.A. in Ethnic Studies from University of California, Berkeley.
Daniel Chein is an independent filmmaker and recipient of the 2017 Princess Grace Film Award. His most recent film Basha Man won the Student Film Award at CAAMFest2017. As an editor, his work on Changa Revisited earned the film the OutStanDox Award at the Astra Film Festival. Daniel is an Associate Producer for Walking Iris Media and a board member of the Global Lives Project. He is currently completing his MFA in Cinema at San Francisco State University.