Stephen Yia, Editor
In the throes of his freshman year of college, Stephen Yia began to harbor ambitions for a creative future. Hindered by the lack of film-related courses in his college, he joined the film club, recounting a pivotal meeting with the film club president that ignited his motivation: “He planned to go to Columbia University for his master’s degree, and I was sort of inspired to have the same motivation about my future.”
Undeterred by the absence of film classes, Stephen deliberated on dropping out or transferring to a film-centric institution. He recalls creating a roadmap during a meeting, mapping out his goals: “Funny enough, I still have the roadmap that we created.” The journey led him to submitting applications to NYU and Drexel. Reflecting on the experience, he shares, “I’m sitting in my dorm room doing my best to meet deadlines for transfer submissions at NYU and Drexel.”
The rejection from NYU became a setback, but acceptance from Drexel marked the commencement of Stephen’s immersion into the film industry. Guided by an influential professor at Drexel, Stephen delved deeper into video editing, sparked by his professor’s extensive film industry background: “I created a deeper passion for video editing because my editing professor had worked on so many films.” This passion fueled his determination to shape a better future.
The initial foray into the film industry came through an internship at a friend’s company, where Stephen filmed interviews and edited videos. Reflecting on his journey, he shares advice for newcomers: “When editing, don’t focus on the soundbites that sound good by themselves, but focus on what soundbites work best together.”
Stephen’s experience encompasses various roles in pre-production, production, and post-production. At Drexel, he engaged in camera work, minimal lighting, sound tasks, scriptwriting, directing, acting, and pitching ideas. A turning point in his career was joining Maestro Filmworks, facilitated by a mutual friend’s recommendation: “A mutual friend was able to put in a good word for me!” When asked about a lesson learned at Maestro, he humorously states, “More like learned to love – Live editing with someone giving me notes.”
Since coming to Maestro Filmworks, Stephen has pushed himself beyond editing. He edited an Award Winning documentary, Taking Root, that was played at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival. Also in 2023, he took over as the Long Story Shorts coordinator. Facilitating shoots and workshops, Stephen’s been a huge asset and resource for Ensemble members to gain more experience on set.
If given the opportunity to swap roles for a day, Stephen expresses a desire to step into the shoes of a cinematographer.
Stephen’s journey into the film industry has been a tapestry of challenges, successes, and continuous learning. Navigating this creative landscape, he draws inspiration from those who paved the way before him, shaping his path toward a future filled with cinematic possibilities and a diverse array of personal interests.
What’s one thing you’re not afraid of? “Showing my edits.”
Favorite lunch: “A hot bowl of Pho. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”
Favorite dessert: “Homemade ube”
Music recommendation: “Frisky – Dominic Fike.”
Hobbies: “Picked painting back up. Now I aspire to be an impressionist… Watching movies of any genre. Also started to learn how to play guitar.”
Hidden talents: “I’m sometimes a soundboard. I can recall any meme or vine… If not that, then I’m very good at playing video games competitively.”
Favorite fashion trends: “I used to be heavily into street fashion, but not anymore.”
Future goals: “I dream of editing a feature film. Participate in a group show (art exhibition)… or have my own. Work on keeping creative and artistic classes at high schools.”
Self-description: “I love to be creative and artistic. I’m curious with really anything. I think way too hard and deeply most of the time, even when things aren’t serious.”
Who’s a coworker that you share a common interest with: “Maria C. – Editing and making amazing art!”
Office secret: “Secretly a cloud-gazing enthusiast.”