It’s a card that measures 2.1 inches by 3.37 inches. But it carries so much weight.
This past July, film and television director Marie Jamora received the card of the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the world’s preeminent organization representing directors and members of the directorial team with a membership of some 18,000 people.
The benefits are myriad -- economic, creative, pension and health plans, residuals, contractual and legal protection, invitations to special events, and access to screenings.
However, to Jamora, there is one more benefit -- she also represents the Filipino people in the guild and gets to do projects that helps the Filipino-American community.
“For as long as I have been in love with television and film, it was a dream of mine to be a part of the DGA,” Jamora said. “You see the DGA in film credits and I know that many of my idols, from Steven Spielberg, Ava DuVernay, Christopher Nolan, and Steven Soderbergh, to name a few, are part of the guild. So it has been this forever dream of mine.”
That opportunity presented itself when Jamora's film, “Ang Nawawala (What Isn’t There)” was included in the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah where it received a nomination for Best Narrative Feature.
“It was there where I met my husband, Jason McLagan, and we would later move to Los Angeles to start a new life,” she shared.
"I got my first industry break as an editor for the film, ‘The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?’ that was a behind-the-scenes look at the cancelled Tim Burton film, ‘Superman Lives.’ From there I got a call from Anderson Le who saw that I was doing a lot of documentary work and he asked if I wanted to do a pilot for a show, 'Family Style,' which is an Asian-American food and pop culture series on HBO Max. We did two seasons of that.”
While Jamora continued to receive attention for her work such as LEGO’s "The Build Zone" digital series, which was nominated as the Best New Series in the Tongal Awards, she was itching to work on her own projects.
“I wasn’t getting to do my own work when an opportunity presented itself in the form of the HBO Asian Pacific American Visionaries Competition where you could make a short film and HBO will show it. I discussed this with Jason and we self-financed 'Flip the Record' (which is her homage to the Filipino-Americans’ contribution to hip-hop music in the Bay Area). We didn’t win HBO APA, but we got shortlisted in the Academy Awards and were in competition in more than 20 film festivals around the world.”
This was the beginning for Jamora getting more opportunities. With every project she worked on, it led to one door to another until this huge breakthrough.
“Some friends of mine -- Benjamin Tolentino and Carlo Mendoza -- told me to apply for this American Film Institute (AFI) Directing Workshop for Women,” related Jamora. “They told me this would be great for my career. I applied just because they told me to. I got in and it opened the doors for me to do a new short film that is currently making the film festival circuit. Right after that, I got into the Warner Bros Television Directors’ Workshop. And because of all these, it led me to my getting my first episode of 'Queen Sugar' which is a drama series about three siblings in rural Louisiana who must decide on what to do with their sugarcane farm after their father’s death.”
"Queen’s Sugar" creator, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, became aware of Jamora’s work through Cinema Sala, a project that began at the McLagan’s home five years ago where they invited Fil-Am filmmakers over to show their films over potluck. Since her ARRAY Campus is located in Historic Filipinotown, DuVernay was looking to do something to celebrate the Filipino-American community when she became aware of Jamora’s work.
From there, she got to direct the third episode of the sixth season of "Queen Sugar" (the episode will air September 21, 2021).
With her acceptance into the DGA, there is a newfound respectability for Jamora and her work. She hopes to not only continue to trailblaze for the Filipino but Asian female directors, which she describes as “a minority within a minority.”
“Being a director of color and in a union like this will give more opportunities to people of color. And I will do my best to represent the Filipino and Asians in this guild,” summed up Jamora.