Past Recipients Student Testimonials  

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities/Theater from the University of Southern California, Dean Yamada moved to the mountainous countryside of Sakuma, Japan, to teach English and study the culture. From Japan, he traveled to Hong Kong where he began a slow journey by train to London with stops in Mongolia and Russia. Upon returning to the U.S., Dean decided to spend the winter season snowboarding while teaching children how to ski at Alpine Meadows, Lake Tahoe. It was during this postundergraduate odyssey that Dean realized that making films was how he wanted to spend the rest of his life. He returned to USC in 1998 to pursue his Masters of Fine Arts at the School of Cinema Television.

At USC, Dean produced a documentary entitled not black or white, which focuses on three Asian American women who are making a difference in the Western media. The documentary features actress Ming na (ER, Mulan), comedian Amy Hill (All American Girl) and cartoonist Lela Lee (angry little asian girl). Dean also produced the upcoming short film tough girl.

His own graduate thesis project, The Nisei Farmer, is a story which was inspired by his father, a second generation Japanese American farmer in Northern California who spent three years of his youth behind the barbed wire of the Tule Lake Relocation Center during World War II. The Nisei Farmer was shot on location in Dean's hometown of Davis, CA. A few scenes were filmed at the actual restaurant where Dean's dad has been eating breakfast every morning in the same seat for the past thirty years. Dean is honored to have the Caucus Foundation support this film.

While going to school, Dean has been fortunate enough to find work as a production coordinator and assistant Avid editor at a company which produces shows for the History Channel and A&E. He is currently finishing The Nisei Farmer and working on a couple of feature scripts that he hopes to direct in the near future

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