Thien A. Pham – “The Vietnamese Media Pioneer”

August 12, 2017

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Recently, I was able talk to someone I find very admirable, Thien A. Pham.  He’s doing what I have always dreamed of: producing.  I was fortunate enough to be able to get an interview with him.

Chị Kayla: I don’t meet many people often that are invested in the Vietnamese media.  My first question to you is: why are you into film?

Thien A. Pham: My family lived in a small town in Vietnam and there wasn’t a lot of entertainment around except going to the cinema. My parents liked going to the movies and my mom tells me they watched a lot of films when she was pregnant with me. Even into my early childhood, they’d take me to the movies where I’d get rocked to sleep. So maybe that’s why I love films so much since it was such a big part of my life early on.

CK: Wow that’s really awesome! Can we look forward to seeing more Vietnamese films in the near future? What is your vision or hope for Vietnamese media?

T.A.P: We definitely hope to bring more Vietnamese films to the audience here. Of course, that really depends on the amount of support from the community. If it was up to us, we would have a Vietnamese film in theaters every month. But as you may know, there are many obstacles when releasing a Vietnamese film in the US. The Vietnamese audience here is not yet used to watching Vietnamese films in theaters. It’s not an entertainment lifestyle yet compared to watching concerts. Also, the younger generation may not be attracted to watching Vietnamese films because they may feel they won’t understand it or they can’t relate to it. In addition, the theaters have a lot of films to choose from, so in order for them to continue selecting Vietnamese films to show in theaters, there has to be a good audience turnout, or else it doesn’t make sense for them. We believe in order for our community to grow stronger, our entertainment and media industry needs to grow stronger. The Catch 22 is in order for our media to grow stronger, the community needs to support it. Some people ask why we don’t see more Vietnamese films in theaters. I think the question should be, how do we get people to come and watch Vietnamese films? If a large number of people come out to watch Vietnamese films, I’m certain we’ll be able to release more Vietnamese films. One of the feedback we received is that Vietnamese films released in the US are old films, which had been released in Vietnam months, sometimes years ago. That’s been true so far and that is what we’re aiming to change. We’re in discussion with studios to do same day theatrical releases in both Vietnam and US. Hopefully we will start seeing that happening in 2018.

CK:  Any encouraging words to the Vietnamese creators that are out there trying to also make it in the entertainment industry? Also are you looking for more to join your team?

T.A.P: What I would say to Vietnamese content creators is to keep on creating. The distribution platforms and technology can and will change, but content and the need for content will not go away. More importantly, the more content creators we have, it will show our community there is a viable career for content creators. We’re not all meant to be lawyers, doctors, or engineers. When I first started, I wasn’t sure this was the right path for me and my parents definitely didn’t think so. There is so much instability in this industry. But the instability, or the unknown, shouldn’t be a reason for us to stop creating. It should fuel us even more because it means every day brings new possibilities. One of the reasons we have been able to keep at this competitive business for many years is because we keep very nimble and always look for good collaborators to be part of the team depending on which project we work on. There is so much amazing talent out there and we’re definitely open to working with new creative people.

CK: Thank you so much for this interview I really appreciate it!