Kelly+Yamamoto Productions | What’s The Big Deal?
For more than twenty-five years, independent filmmakers Nancy Kelly and Kenji Yamamoto have been making critically-acclaimed films that have screened in theaters, film festivals, museums, and communities worldwide and aired on PBS, Showtime, Sundance, and Britain’s Channel Four, (among others). Their filmmaking philosophy is to take alternative looks at stories, themes and characters and to tell specific stories from which audiences can generalize universal truths.
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What’s The Big Deal?

Think you are too jaded to watch another Silicon Valley story? These fresh characters will challenge any judgements and stereotypes you have.



WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? chronicles what happens to most of the brilliant and ambitious people who try to make it in Silicon Valley. any arrive without resources and end up at a hacker house where they pay $40 a night for a bunk bed in a shared room with seven others.


This intimate portrait of four immigrant entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley is not about who becomes the next big thing. Sometimes they succeed but when they fail, they reinvent themselves and come out on the other side with new ideas, new dreams. That’s the big deal.


The Entrepreneurs


Carlos (Madrid) founded Startup Embassy, a community that was so successful at warmly welcoming fellow immigrant entrepreneurs, it was soon named one of the Top Ten Hacker Houses in the Valley. But he struggles to balance his entrepreneurial dreams with obligations to family at home.


Habibe (Istanbul) is a Uyghur Turkish material scientist who invented a fire extinguisher the size of your cell phone. She stays at Startup Embassy while looking for venture capital. She had never experienced anything like Silicon Valley’s openness to ideas and risks. She loves it but concludes that she is being passed over for people who look more like venture capitalists themselves – white and male.


Lucas (Seville) lives in a reckless yo-yo’ing between success and failure in his personal and professional lives.


Sergey (Minsk) quit his job at Google to partner with Carlos on creating a hacker hotel where Carlos can help many, many more entrepreneurs.


Kenji (San Francisco) edited a multitude of videos for Apple, Google and Facebook but always wanted to create a film of his own. When he met Carlos, Habibe, Lucas and Sergey, he wanted to know, “How can they be so free? How can they take such huge risks? Can I do that?”

Key Credits

Director/Producer/Director of Photography/Editor: KENJI YAMAMOTO
Writer/Producer: NANCY KELLY

Funded by

The ITVS Diversity Development Fund
Desjardins/Blackman Fund
DocLands Documentary Film Festival Jury Prize
Stevens-Smith Charitable Fund
Loveland Fund