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Biography

Van Phan is an award-winning filmmaker, designer, animator, and educator, who as worked on projects which went on to win the best of the show at the Venice film festival, and SIGGRAPH. As a refugee escaping from Vietnam, Van's childhood dream job was to become a storyteller through comic books; however, his parents wanted him to pursue a more stable career, so off he went to UCLA. Upon graduating with cum laude honors in Psychology and Business, he worked for Ernst and Young. As Van was crunching numbers as an accountant, he yearned to doodle instead. Fortunately, a chance screening of the SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater changed his life. After seeing a computer-animated short created just by one person, Van was inspired and transformed and had an aha moment. He realized he could tell his own stories if he learned emerging technology which was computer animation at the time. He enrolled at USC and created two award-winning animated shorts. Two decades later, Van is still passionate about using emerging technology, and this time it is XR and real-time rendering that is allowing him to push the boundaries of storytelling. He will premiere his new 360 films Upstander at the Tribeca Film Festival 2020. To help create maximum impact for the social cause, the Filmmaker will donate funds from licensing or distribution of Upstander to the youth charity the Diana Award. In addition to storytelling, Van also finds purpose as an educator by helping the next generation of storytellers create their own WOW moments. He teaches at various colleges in the San Francisco Bay area.

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