Erin Lau

Writer / Director / Producer

Los Angeles, California, United States

Raised in the quiet valley of Kahaluʻu on Oʻahu, Native Hawaiian filmmaker Erin Lau fell in love with the medium in middle school, while filming concerts and public access TV commercials for her father's Hawaiian music non-profit. She later moved to Los Angeles after receiving a full-ride merit scholarship from Chapman University, where she completed her MFA in Directing in 2018. During her education, she was selected as a Sundance Native Lab fellow for her most recent film, The Moon and The Night. After the film was shortlisted for the 2018 student BAFTAs, Erin signed with the United Talent Agency (UTA) and LINK Entertainment. Now, by day, Erin currently works as a Senior Producer-Director for Jubilee Media, a digital media company with over 4 million subscribers. By night, she is developing and writing content inspired by her family, heritage, and the socio-economic issues that plague indigenous communities.

Artist's Chosen Interviews:

Artist's Chosen Resources:

1.)  I follow a few indigenous activists and artists who are at the forefront of decolonizing art, education, and our overall way of thinking. They serve as role models for me, but also remind me of my purpose as a filmmaker whenever I see their work. Here are a few examples: 

2.)  Even though I live in Los Angeles now, I still make an effort to read Hawaii’s local newspapers. One of my favorites is Civil Beat. A lot of my stories are based around situations and characters back in my home. Reading local papers gives me a way to stay current and aware of local issues, and keep the health of my home and community close to my mind and heart. 

Outside of that, sometimes I’ll even just create a digital scrapbook of stories and interviews that catch my eye from blogs, magazines, newspapers, or even thread conversations to pull inspiration from later. I use penzu as an online journal to keep track of my creative doodles and things that evoke inspiration for me. 

3.)  I think it’s deeply important as storytellers to try to understand other perspectives and realities beyond our own. There are two places I frequently visit that give me a window into others’ experiences. The first is Reddit. I think it’s one of the best ways to get access to different communities of people and to also read first account experiences outside your bubble. I especially recommend reading subreddits that involve issues happening today to better understand what it’s like for folks on the front lines of those situations. For example, during the 2019 Hong Kong protests, I followed a few different subreddits to try to get a better understanding of what it was like for folks on the ground there. 

Some subreddits I follow: 

4.)  Youtube is the second place I go for similar insights. A couple channels and shows I find interesting are Jubilee Media’s Spectrum (not a plug, I promise!), Solfa experiment videos, and although more for educational purposes than human observations, Kurzgesagt.

Digital content is also a growing space and taking time to better understand the medium may be advantageous for the future.

5.)  I try to look at other mediums of expression for inspiration. One of my favorites to indulge in is Anime. I think there are a lot of shows in that world that are exploring complex themes and interesting relationships, as well as making incredibly creative cinematic choices. Some of my favorite shows and films I’ve pulled influence from have been Death Note, Cowboy Bebop, Attack on Titan, and Princess Mononoke (but honestly watch any Hayao Miyazaki film for inspiration).  

6.)  Another medium that I look toward for inspiration is dance. My dance classes are the highlights of my week. I love to watch dancers express themselves through their bodies and outright pouring their souls into the movements. It makes me reflect on blocking and more abstract ways to translate emotion without leaning on dialogue. It’s also a great way to get out of your head and rejuvenated if you’re struggling with writer’s block or just feeling blue. Some of my favorite choreographers are Ryan Heffington, JaQuel Knight, and Marty Kudelka.