Rickshaw Film Foundation

Rickshaw Film Foundation

Rickshaw Film Foundation is a non-profit organization focused on amplifying and uplifting South Asian voices and stories in the Film/TV industry through community engagement, programming, and mentorship. A “rickshaw” or “auto-rickshaw” is a motorized, three-wheeled vehicle used to transport passengers. Rickshaws are widely used all across Asia, transcending the barriers

Rickshaw Film Foundation

Rickshaw Film Foundation is a non-profit organization focused on amplifying and uplifting South Asian voices and stories in the Film/TV industry through community engagement, programming, and mentorship. A “rickshaw” or “auto-rickshaw” is a motorized, three-wheeled vehicle used to transport passengers. Rickshaws are widely used all across Asia, transcending the barriers of wealth, religion, and race, to provide transportation for all people. Inspired by the humble rickshaw, Rickshaw Film Foundation is the vehicle that brings cultural perspectives from overseas to a new land, breaking down barriers to entry through the development, promotion, and patronage of South Asian American art and artists. This whole journey began when we started our careers in the film industry and looked at the landscape in front of us. As South Asian filmmakers looking to tell stories that represent our community, we were disappointed by the fact that there weren’t more South Asian artists, grant opportunities, and stories within the American film industry. That initial disappointment inspired us to be the change we wanted to see in the industry, and led to the genesis of Rickshaw Film Foundation. At Rickshaw, our core values are community, accountability, integrity, and kindness. These values are pervasive in everything we do, from our virtual incubator programs to our in-person events, and we are committed to upholding these values as we continue to push for increased equity and inclusion in the entertainment industry.

About the Organization:

Rickshaw Film Foundation is a non-profit organization focused on amplifying and uplifting South Asian voices and stories in the Film/TV industry through community engagement, programming, and mentorship. A “rickshaw” or “auto-rickshaw” is a motorized, three-wheeled vehicle used to transport passengers. Rickshaws are widely used all across Asia, transcending the barriers of wealth, religion, and race, to provide transportation for all people. Inspired by the humble rickshaw, Rickshaw Film Foundation is the vehicle that brings cultural perspectives from overseas to a new land, breaking down barriers to entry through the development, promotion, and patronage of South Asian American art and artists. This whole journey began when we started our careers in the film industry and looked at the landscape in front of us. As South Asian filmmakers looking to tell stories that represent our community, we were disappointed by the fact that there weren’t more South Asian artists, grant opportunities, and stories within the American film industry. That initial disappointment inspired us to be the change we wanted to see in the industry, and led to the genesis of Rickshaw Film Foundation. At Rickshaw, our core values are community, accountability, integrity, and kindness. These values are pervasive in everything we do, from our virtual incubator programs to our in-person events, and we are committed to upholding these values as we continue to push for increased equity and inclusion in the entertainment industry.

organizational budget

$0 - $50,000

existence for

0-5 Years

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

California • Hawaii

organizational budget

$0 - $50,000

existence for

0-5 Years

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

California • Hawaii

The Issue:

South Asians are the third-largest immigrant population in America. Despite this fact, South Asian representation in the American film industry has been far from equitable. Only three male South Asian actors have been nominated for Academy Awards since the Academy was founded in 1930, and a South Asian woman has never even been nominated. In the last few years, we’ve seen many South Asian creatives jump into the forefront of popular culture. Projects created by Mindy Kaling, Hasan Minhaj, Aziz Ansari, Kumail Nanjiani, Riz Ahmed, and many more have achieved tremendous amounts of critical and commercial success while providing visibility for South Asians in America. These stories mean so much to our community — they connect us with our families, our culture, and our identity as South Asian Americans. And people from inside and outside the culture alike can’t seem to get enough. So why aren’t more of these stories being told? We believe it has to do with a fundamental lack of financial and educational resources for South Asian filmmakers and artists. We are on the cusp of great social change in this country, and we must advocate for and invest in art that reflects that change. We must cultivate this opportunity to inspire, engage, and motivate the next generation of South Asian artists and stories here in America.

The Solution:

Our organization’s goal is to cultivate the first end-to-end career pipeline for South Asians in the entertainment industry. Our first step in achieving this goal was launching The Writer’s Room back in 2021, our first incubator program aimed at fostering South Asian talent and stories in our community. The program was designed to take projects from raw ideas to ready-to-shoot scripts over the course of ten weeks.
Since we first launched this program, we expanded our programming to include incubators for producers, directors, and alumni members. We have had over 120 participants in our incubator programs and have fostered the development of over 85 short, pilot, and feature scripts. For the first time this year, we have partnered with the South Asian Writers Committee, a group of seasoned Film & TV writers who are members of the WGA, to build and offer a mentorship program for our writers.
Aside from programming, we run public events and initiatives such as our Fireside Chat Series, where people can hear perspectives from established creatives, and our monthly Chai Stands in New York and Los Angeles, where the community has the chance to connect, network, and exchange ideas in-person over a cup of chai. As we continue to build the Rickshaw pipeline, we hope to offer greater support to South Asian filmmakers and stories, through additional programming, long-term mentorship, and robust grant opportunities. Through social change and cultural growth, we hope to create a more diverse, inclusive world in which all people can feel proud of their roots and find inspiration from within — kickstarting a national and global movement and enabling all artists to tell their stories.

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