HIFF36 / Roger Ebert Foundation's Young Writers Cohort, 2016

Ten students will participate in an immersive program that will give them industry passes for HIFF42. They will receive free access to film screenings, panels and receptions. In addition, these ten students will participate in 4 mentoring sessions by working critics in the online film journalism community in unique silos: Writing, Podcasting, Video Essays and Vlogging. Here, they will learn the tricks of the trade in their respective fields. Aside from the “nuts and bolts” of their trade, these mentors will also provide insight in logistics, building their brand, sponsorship opportunities and growing their audiences.

The mission of the HIFF ONLINE CREATIVES & CRITICS IMMERSIVE program is to encourage film criticism in Hawai‘i by using the influencer branding strategies to spark career opportunities in the State and not be hampered by oceans, state borders and distance, because geography is no longer a barrier. 


David Chen is the host and producer of podcasts such as The Filmcast, The Tobolowsky Files, and A Cast of Kings. Episodes of his shows are downloaded over 100,000 times each week. Previously, David has worked as a marketer at Amazon and Microsoft and as a Research Associate at Harvard Business School. 

David is also a video essayist and filmmaker. His video work has been featured or mentioned in online publications such as Rolling Stone, Buzzfeed, Slate, Vulture, Indiewire, Laughing Squid, Bustle, Cosmopolitan, Metro.co.uk, Vimeo Staff Picks, Allocine, and Digg. In 2014, he directed a film, The Primary Instinct. In 2015, he released a looping cello EP. David currently lives in Seattle, WA. 

Patrick Willems is a filmmaker and video essayist based in New York. Patrick rose to prominence following the viral success of his short film “What if Wes Anderson Directed X-Men.” Since then, his channel has grown to focus on film commentary and analysis in videos that blend non-fiction essays with cinematic narrative storytelling. In 2022 he released his first feature film, NIGHT OF THE COCONUT.

Taylor Ramos & Tony Zhou are a Vancouver-based filmmaking duo. She draws, he edits, and they write and direct together. They are the co-creators of the YouTube video essay series Every Frame a Painting and served as writer/director/producers on the David Fincher-produced Netflix series VOIR. Their collaborative work has also been featured on FilmStruck and the Criterion Collection.

Taylor has worked as a 2D animator for television for almost a decade. Her credits include Hilda, The Last Kids on Earth, Dogs in Space, Pinecone and Pony, and The Legend of the Three Caballeros.

Tony has worked as an editor in features, commercials and animation since 2007. His credits include The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The Friendship Game, Dragons: Rescue Riders and the upcoming series Megamind’s Guide to Defending Your City.

Kirsten Stevens & Duncan Caillard are Melbourne-based researchers and film programmers. Kirsten’s research on film festivals and the Australian film industry includes a forthcoming book exploring the impact of streaming services on national feature film industries. Duncan’s research focuses on contemporary Asian-Pacific screen culture, and he is the current Vice-President of the digital film journal Senses of Cinema.


“Print is dead,” or so says this old adage (uttered by Egon Spengler in GHOSTBUSTERS) that is definitely prescient when it comes to the current state of print media and journalism. As newsrooms are dwindling, so is cultural criticism where the likes of Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert are a bygone era. In a world of Rotten Tomatoes, Letterboxd and social media influencers, film criticism has become truly egalitarian. One does not have to be in the newsroom bullpen but can now produce their own brand as a film critic–from the internet movie geek culture that was spawned in the late ’90s like Aintitcoolnews and IndieWIRE, to video essays and supercuts from Fandor and Criterion, to the rise of millennial torchbearers in the form of vloggers like Chris Stuckmann, RedletterMedia, Screen Junkies, and Slash Film, and the podcast boom with thousands of shows being produced about film and pop culture and listened on Spotify and any platform where you get podcasts. 

Internet film criticism has joined the ranks of mainstream cultural journalism, just and influential and important to the business of Hollywood and global cinema. Online Critics societies are gaining prominence and a seat at the table of fall/winter awards seasons; popular film critics who started in their bedrooms, and still do, are important components to major press junkets. With the onslaught of streaming and over 500 series being produced annually, we now live in a world of TV recaps, STRANGER THINGS reactions, and Zoom interviews with Hollywood’s elite. 

There are no barriers anymore. Nor is geography a factor anymore. The most popular online film critics are not based in NYC or Los Angeles, and rack up hundreds of thousands of views and millions of followers, generating income that no longer makes these endeavors hobbies. In fact, with a good number making it their full-time job. Therefore, HIFF is excited to launch the HIFF ONLINE CREATIVES & CRITICS IMMERSIVE powered by DBEDT and Creative Lab Hawaii.

The Goonies Are Back!! | Reunited Apart with Josh Gad


Applications are Now Closed

DEADLINE TO APPLY: Wednesday, October 12, 2022
NOTIFICATION: by October 19, 2022


  • Candidates should be 18+ 

  • Either currently enrolled in college/university, OR you consider yourself early career

  • Can demonstrate a strong interest/background in film/internet media

  • Must be in Hawai'i and able to participate in-person activities during November 3-13, 2022

  • Willing to participate in quarterly meetings with cohort throughout 2023 (via Zoom)

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