This documentary explores the legacy of Claudia Kishi, the iconic character from the hit Baby-Sitters Club books—and one of the only Asian Americans in 80s and 90s popular culture. Claudia inspired a generation of young readers of color, many of whom are now successful writers and artists creating stories of their own.
Claudia Kishi is an eighth grader who loves art, elaborate DIY outfits, and her grandmother Mimi. She’s a terrible speller, but an avid reader of mystery books. She hides junk food around her room because her parents don’t approve. She’s also Japanese American.
For many Asian American women—and other women of color—who grew up in the 80s and 90s, Claudia was the first time they saw themselves represented in popular culture. A main character in Ann M. Martin’s best-selling series The Baby-Sitters Club (BSC), she was one of the only Asian Americans in popular media when the books debuted in 1986.
Not only was Claudia a rare Asian American protagonist, but she also defied stereotypical portrayals of Asian and nonwhite characters: She was creative, fashionable, popular, and (gasp!) bad at school. For young readers of color who craved seeing themselves in the media they consumed—not as distant historical figures, exotic outsiders, or diversity lessons, but as fully realized human beings—Claudia was a revelation.
As a blossoming artist, Claudia was an especially meaningful role model for creatively inclined readers—many of whom are now producing groundbreaking and inclusive stories of their own. The Claudia Kishi Club will feature interviews with fans including YA authors C.B. Lee and Sarah Kuhn; comic artist Yumi Sakugawa; and Angry Asian Man founder Phil Yu. We also interview Naia Cucukov, the producer who is currently adapting the books for a new live-action TV series.
We have some amazing rewards that we are super excited to share with you! Our digital rewards include Claudia Kishi GIFs, production stills, and great behind-the-scenes moments with interviewees.
We also have exclusive print gifts that we will mail to you. These include SIGNED copies of Yumi Sakugawa’s iconic (and now out-of-print) Claudia Kishi zine, and a brand new fanzine we are putting together that will feature art and writing from our interviewees and other creators.
And for those of you who are based in LA or are willing to travel, we also have tickets to a private BSC-themed screening party before the film is released to the public. Join the director and local interviewees for drinks, behind-the-scenes stories, and Claudia-appropriate junk food!
Director Sue Ding is a documentary filmmaker based in Los Angeles. She directs and produces nonfiction media—from feature documentaries to virtual reality—for a wide range of outlets and clients, including The New York Times, PBS, and MIT Media Lab. Sue’s documentary work explores the intersection of identity, social justice, and storytelling.
Sue also writes about documentary and new media, and is currently producing an interactive installation at Manzanar National Historic Site, where more than 10,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during WWII. She is also spearheading an emerging media program for the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.
This film’s central theme is the importance of diverse voices and representation in media, so it’s only fitting that our crew so far is 75% women of color, and the interviewees featured in the film are primarily Asian American creators, representing a wide spectrum of AAPI experience. In producing this project, and in our overall creative practices, we are all passionate about expanding the range of voices and stories represented in media.
WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP
We are raising funds for an additional shoot in New York, where we hope to sit down for an in-depth interview with BSC author Ann M. Martin herself.
We are also raising funds to begin editing, so we can bring Claudia’s story to life. This crowdfunding campaign will help us move forward with the film, as well as connect with the many, MANY Claudia Kishi and BSC fans out there!
HOW YOU CAN HELP
- DONATE: Any amount helps! Pledge directly or check out our fun reward options.
- JOIN THE TEAM: We're looking for an editor and motion graphics designer—send us your recs or let us know if you're interested!
- SUBMIT ART + WRITING: If you're an artist or writer and have work that you'd like to publish in The Claudia Kishi Reader, please get in touch here or at firstname.lastname@example.org!
- SPREAD THE WORD: Please share our project on social media and with your communities! Follow #ClaudiaKishiClub on our Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter.
Risks and challenges
We have already filmed over half of our interviews, so the film is well on its way. That said, there is still so much left to do—and that's where your help is so important! These funds will enable us to set up a shoot in New York, where we are hoping to interview Ann M. Martin herself. The funds will also help us move forward with post-production, and to continue bringing on additional partners and grant funding. It takes a long time, a huge effort, and a large community to make a documentary film, but Claudia is worth it—please join us on our journey!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)