Success Stories

Award-winning filmmaker teaches

Eric Yang

When Eric Yang attended college in his homeland of China, he was assigned a major in material science. But that was not where his passion was. As a kid he watched a lot of Hong Kong movies and eventually came to the U.S. in 1999 to study film.

This spring his film “The State of Sunshine,” which he wrote and directed for his master’s thesis at Florida State, won the silver medal in the Narrative category for the 2008 Student Academy Awards. It was presented to Yang during a ceremony in June at the academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, CA.

“They flew me out to L.A. for a week of professional activities and programs prior to the awards ceremony,” said Yang. “I was informed that I won an award, but not told which one until it was announced at the event.” In addition to the trophy, Yang received a $3,000 prize as the silver medal winner. The same film also won a student award from the Directors’ Guild of America in 2007.

“The State of Sunshine” tells the story of a brother and a sister, Danny and Lily, who emigrated from China to the Florida Panhandle. In desperation, the two have been forced to turn to prostitution to pay their debts. As the day-to-day realities of their life begin to push the siblings apart, Lily holds on to hope, while Danny dismisses her dreams as naive and impossible.

Yang earned a master’s in communications with an emphasis in film and video from the University of Memphis in 2003. He also earned an MFA in film production from Florida State University in 2007.

Yang brought his skills to the School of Communications as a visiting professor in fall 2008 to teach the post-production practicum for the Summer Film Project, “Walter’s Wife.”  He works with 12 students to shape a film from the footage shot this past summer. The film will premiere locally in spring 2009. 

by Mary Isca Pirkola

This story was filed with the tags: Arts, Awards, Film, First-Rate Faculty