Since graduating from TFS’s Film Production Diploma program in 2014, the 25-year-old has not only landed a producing job at HKFilm – one of the largest film production houses in Vietnam – but was also the lead producer on the summer of 2019’s highest-grossing Vietnamese movie.
“Superstar Teacher (Anh Thay Ngoi Sao) is the most recent film I produced that was in theatre…it’s on Vietnam Netflix now, and I’m very proud of it,” said Nguyen, who characterized the month-long experience of shooting the film on a remote island a six-hour ferry ride off the mainland as a challenging, yet ultimately rewarding one.
“It was a very good experience for me as a producer because I had to work with the extremes. We didn’t have a lot of stuff, so we had to be creative to get all the things that we wanted.”
Born into a family full of filmmakers, the uber-organized Nguyen said the role of producer was always one that appealed more to her than some of the industry’s more creative pursuits.
“I’ve always been good at organizing and working with scheduling and budgeting, so it was natural for me to choose to produce,” she said of her calling, which ultimately led her to Toronto Film School.
“When I first started researching schools, TFS popped up as one of the best film schools in North America, and that’s why I enrolled.”
Nguyen said that while taking that leap to pursue her passion as an international student was initially somewhat overwhelming, the warm welcome she received upon her arrival at TFS helped her feel at home, despite being halfway around the world from her family and friends.
“It was hard at first because I was alone and I didn’t know a lot of languages, but everyone from the class was always nice to me and helped me get used to the environment,” she said of her successful transition to student life here in Canada
“One of the first impressions I had of this school is that on the first day I got to work with a camera right away – and that was when I was really confident that I’d made the right choice.”
Fast-forward six years since graduating, and Nguyen now has a lead producer credit on three feature films – all of which, including Superstar Teacher, have screened in Vietnamese theatres.
“It was a little tricky to bring everyone from Vietnam to here to shoot,” said Nguyen, whose producing duties on the film included filling crew positions, local casting, location managing, and translating, among other responsibilities.
Her second film project, Girls 2 (Gui Mi), was a likewise international affair – albeit one that was filmed in her native Vietnam.
“It was a co-production between China, Hong Kong and Taiwan…so, I worked with a lot of foreigners on that, and they all have a different way to go about how we shoot and do production,” she explained.
“My position was line producer, so it was a lot of working with them and merging their way of work to the environment in Vietnam, and making a good movie from that.”
Hot off Superstar Teacher’s summer success at the box office, Nguyen said she’s now hard at work on her next project – a thriller whose success she’s hoping will help her continue the climb towards her ultimate career goals.
“The film industry is a lot of hard work and it’s a lot of networking, and you have to constantly work your way up. So my advice for anyone who’s thinking of getting into the industry is to make sure you’re very passionate about filmmaking,” she said.
“In five years, I want to see me being one of the most successful producers.”