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.
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.
EVA MOSS is a freelance producer, cameraperson, editor and audience engagement coordinator for web-mercials, short promotional videos and social issue documentaries for public television. She currently enjoys directing, shooting and editing “micro-docs” for small to medium-sized businesses and non-profits. Past feature documentary projects include Emmy® Nominated A Village Called Versailles (Associate Producer), States of Grace (Co-Producer), Out Run (Co-Producer), Ask Not (Associate Producer), and Mr. Cao Goes to Washington (Associate Producer). She graduated from Smith College with a degree and a half in Film and Theater Studies.
JOANNA SOKOLOWSKI is an independent Bay Area documentary filmmaker. Besides Walking Iris Media, Joanna works as an associate producer at Open Studio Productions, and she is also the associate producer for Very Semi-Serious. Joanna is currently in production on The Ovarian Psycos with her filmmaking partner, Kate Trumbull-LaValle. The film is supported by ITVS, Pacific Pioneer Fund and Women Make Movies. Her past directing credits include Still Time, a film about life after serving a life sentence in prison. She holds a BA in Community Development and received her MA in Social Documentation at the UCSC, where she was the recipient of the Human Rights Center fellowship.
DANIELA FLORI is an Italian-born documentary film producer. After studying Communication and Documentary Film in Bologna and Paris, she left for Canada and joined the Montreal-based documentary film company EyeSteelFilm where she worked as production manager and supervisor. Her credits include Last Train Home by Lixin Fan and China Heavyweight and Fruit Hunters by Yung Chang. She now works at the San Francisco Film Society as the Documentary Program Coordinator and collaborates with Walking Iris Media on the feature documentary projects Out Run and Ma Liang’s Time Machine.
Daniel Chein is an independent filmmaker based in San Francisco. His experimental short film The Fallow Land questions anthropocentrism through landscape and premiered at the Fargo Film Festival. As an editor, his work on The Chairman and the Lions, the story of a village leader’s struggle to protect his community, won the film First Prize at the ETNOFilm Festival and the Special Jury Award at the Zanzibar International Film Festival, and he is currently completing Changa Revisited, an intimate portrait of a Maasai family on two ends of a thirty year divide. Daniel is the production manager for Walking Iris Media and an MFA candidate at San Francisco State University.