Gene Cajayon Director

Gene Cajayon was born in Saigon during the Vietnam War to a Filipino father and a Vietnamese-French mother. As an infant he and his family immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in Orange County, California. Growing up with equal doses of Filipino, Vietnamese and American culture, he fell in love with movies at an early age. From Ang Lee to Spike Lee, he is influenced by a broad range of contemporary filmmakers, and is committed to portraying a diverse image of America in his work.

Cajayon attended film school at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where he began work on The Debut, his first feature film. A groundbreaking coming-of-age story about a Filipino American family, Cajayon and his Producer Lisa Onodera (Picture Bride) completed The Debut after an arduous 8 year production process. From there the film embarked on a successful film festival run which included awards for Best Feature Film from the Hawaii International Film Festival and the San Diego Asian Film Festival.

The Debut's crowd-pleasing success on the festival circuit inspired Cajayon to launch an ambitious theatrical self-distribution campaign. For 2 years, The Debut's grass roots promotional team (consisting of Cajayon, Onodera and a full-time staff of 6) traveled to 15 major cities across the United States and promoted the film directly to Asian Pacific American and mainstream communities. Utilizing aggressive grass roots promotional tactics, targeted advertising and traditional media coverage, The Debut eventually grossed US$1.8 million at the box office and won the Ammy Award for Best Independent Feature Film.

The movie's extraordinary success in theaters led to a domestic and international distribution deal with Sony Pictures. 12 years after Cajayon first started work on The Debut, the film has now been released in theaters, DVD, home video and television in over 50 countries worldwide. Cajayon is currently developing several feature and TV projects, including Saturday Morning Christmas, a poignant feature film about an immigrant family that explores timeless themes of belonging, identity, and the redemptive role of faith.