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Lost in Love
14Feb
2019

In October 2018, one of America’s biggest reality TV series, NBC’s The Bachelor, returned to Vietnam for its 23rd season, selecting the magnificent coastal beauty of Nha Trang and Cam Ranh to be its destinations of romance.

Having worked with the show in the past back in 2013, The Creatv Company understood the scope and extremity of this project.

Our preparation process was intense from scouting and securing locations, planning over-the top dates/activities, to art support, costumes, transportation, and logistics for possibly the largest TV production ever.

With each of the dates was designed to be a unique romantic adventure, from sea urchins fishing in the ocean bay, to cozy mud baths in a man-made tropical jungle, and martial arts training at a century old ancient house, we were working days and nights to make sure even the tiniest details were topnotch.

The production was so massive that on shoot days, our production transports, which was around 50 vehicles from cast and crew vans, equipment vans, to arts trucks and catering trucks stretched easily hundreds yards down the block, with each of the vehicle was accompanied by at least 2-3 bilingual PAs.

Like any other reality series, changes are always part of production, thus we were always on the lookout, especially for matters we have no control over such as the weather and able to act quickly to support any crucial changes relating to locations, talents, and transportation.

Our team was racing, literally on their feet, against the deadline and the odds, to ensure that everything falls perfectly into place, all in the name of love.

Photo courtesy of NBC Universal

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Trung Nam Group (TNG) has been widely recognized as one of the top real estate and infrastructure developers in Vietnam. In 2017, the company began its biggest project to date, a series of watergates, or floodgates, that span across Ho Chi Minh city. Considered the first ever of its kind to be built in Vietnam, this eighteen months project was aimed to solve the city’s biggest problem, mass flooding.

This project is part of a twenty years master-plan of making Vietnam a modernized and sustainable country by 2020. As we are arriving at the gate of modernization, and climate change constantly threatens the country with unpredictable rain and rising tide, actions must be taken to save the city from sinking.

Having previously delivered stories for BP’s Lan Con Son Gas Project (phase one and two), and a time-lapse for Phu My Bridge, which was the first ever to be done in Vietnam, The Creatv Company was recommended by one of Vietnam’s major national broadcasting networks. http://creatv.com/?port=bp-exploration-ncsgp-phase-i-2002-05

However, TNG chose us to document the mega-structure not only because of our pioneering experiences, but also because they wanted a reliable partner who willing to the extra mile to tell the story the best way possible. From underwater zone to hundred feet above the ground, surrounded by nothing but steel, smoke, and debris, we have been there every step of the way to capture the technologies, the actions, and the dramas.  We were also granted access to exclusive interviews with TNG’s top executives, engineers, and architects. As a production company, our biggest priority is to make the stories and their subjects fascinating. This involves integrating technologies information with genuine and touching human story that, altogether, can resonate with a wider range of viewer. The most difficult challenge for us when it comes to production is having to follow TNG’s agenda and schedule. This means we had little to no time time to prepare for the next shoot, most often one or two days, if we are lucky. Our production team including b-roll, interview, and fly-cam was working with news crew mentality, and always be ready to move upon short notice.In addition, we also committed in a quarterly delivery of a fifteen to twenty minutes story episode reporting the latest challenges, solutions, and progress of the project. Until this moment, all construction has been completed more than seventy percent and scheduled to be activated next year. The Creatv Company is very proud to be the creative mechanism behind this project, which considered a major step forward in fighting global warming.

Follow the link for our latest updates: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/3/folders/0BzgJYVDevk8gSGZZdXJicUw5MEE

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The Wolf Duo
13Dec
2018

A production partnership between The Creatv Company and A-List actor/producer Ngo Thanh Van’s Studio68 Productions. Song Lang (The Wolf Duo), marked The Creatv Company’s latest foray in Vietnamese feature filmmaking. Previous films include: Saigon Eclipse, The House in the Alley, and Gentle.A directorial debut from Leon Le, a Vietnamese American stage actor, whose artistry came from his work on Broadway. Song Lang is a period drama about a debt collector who finds unexpected friendship with a Cai Luong actor (Vietnamese traditional opera) in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. With the friendship deepening but the mutual love unconsummated, their internal conflict ultimately draws them closer to each other but further away from their everyday lives. With a very limited budget, unknown talent, and a socially sensitive topic, not to mention employing traditional opera as the theme and backdrop, we knew this movie would be challenging. But as the Vietnamese feature film market is often flooded with crude comedies and forgettable action flicks that aim merely for the box office, Song Lang’s story offered us an opportunity to make a statement.The film’s cinematography by newcomer Bob Nguyen is nothing short of exceptional down to the minute detail in every frame. Veteran Production Designer Ghia Fam lent his visual prowess to the period sets, backdrops and both demure and extravagant period costumes to help relay the story of the everyman and the dramatic-over-the-top world of Cai Luong.

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Slide on the Edge
11Dec
2018

In summer 2018, The Creatv Company was tasked with facilitating and building the sets for a campaign by Vice Scandinavia for Malibu Rum. Hosted by Nick Jonas, this was an explosive three days event taking place at a beautiful coastal city of Mui Ne, Vietnam, which we won the bid against Mexico, a heavy contender considering their coastal landscape.

Preparation was mainly focused on a series of complex infrastructure constructed entirely from scratch including an oobleck double pool and a beach arena.

But the most daunting task our team had to face was building a water slide on top of a sand dune of a desert.Standing at 100 feet altitude and a 45 degree angle, this is the largest water slide ever been built in Vietnam, and possibly the largest in the world.The challenge here was not simply building a water slide, but raising it on top of the edge of the sand dune next to the ocean. This also called for a great extent in safety measure, especially ensuring the base structure of the slide is secured and rock-solid on the constantly shifting sand.As time was at the essence, our team of nearly one hundred professionals including designers, architects, and laborers, worked tirelessly for two months in the burning sand to execute the massive project.This was another summer highlight in our book as it proves that nothing is ever impossible when you have an a team of rock-stars who not only work hard, but also work smart with every bit of knowledge, experience, and dedication they have.

For more videos of the events, follow the link below to Malibu Rums official channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6W9oC-9-nEV2lnSjTQjFyQ

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It was exhilarating for The Creatv Company when the creators of the Emmy and Golden Globe winning This is Us (“TIU”) contacted The Creatv Company to line produce a two-episode story arc to be filmed in Ho Chi Minh City.

Considered a breakout series when it first premiered in 2016, This Is Us has since gained its place as one of the best modern dramas in recent memory. True to TIU’s storytelling structure, The Creatv Company was tasked with finding the best locations for TIU’s multi-timeline plot with one story line taking place during the Vietnam War while the other unfolds in Present Day Ho Chi Minh City. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Having serviced several war time period projects, notably The Quiet American (2002) and Oriana (2013), we were mentally equipped when we started our scout. However, the last decade has seen rapid progress throughout Ho Chi Minh City, including heavy infrastructure projects – which made it challenging for both period locations!

But tackling challenge is nothing new for The Creatv Company, and so off we went, in search of perfection. Ultimately, we found locations untouched by progress; there were dirt roads, stone bridges, rice fields, lotus ponds, banana trees, and bamboo thatch huts. And we were able to highlight modern day Saigon with its tall glass towers, and iconic monuments of the past, despite the massive inner-city transformations.

Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

This is Us airs on NBC in the United States and The Creatv Company is based in Ho Chi Minh City, servicing Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.

 

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Axis Bank and Chrome Pictures India entrusted us to provide location and line production service for a digital effort that will be featured on their official Youtube Channel.

This project marked a second production partnership between The Creatv Company with Chrome Pictures and their creative powerhouse Amit Sharma.  Chrome’s last project was an epic location shoot at Ban Gioc Waterfalls at the Vietnam Northern border, a TVC commissioned by Lowe Mumbai.

This time, was a simple creative that involves a few talents, a boat, and a jungle.

However, it was not a simple request for location.

The clients were not just looking for any ordinary jungle. They wanted a very specific scenery that can be played off as the tigers-roamed Bengali jungle, where the production was originally slated but due to severe drought, the location had to be changed.

Even so, the story still takes place in the Bengali jungle and the mission was to scout for a location that resembles the original location the best way possible. In addition, for better logistics, the location needs to be  close to the city and our base camp.Our location and production managers delivered just that, the mysterious and beautiful Can Gio national park with dense mangrove and secluded waterways, located just outside of the city. Not only that, the location bears an uncanny resemblance to the Bengali jungle.The production itself was a race against time as the crew faced unpredictable weather and fast receding tide. But, as always, we successfully completed the project to show that with The Creatv company, Vietnam can become a versatile canvas for any desired settings.

 

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We have the pleasure to introduce our new commercial Executive Producer: Daniel Gordon Jones. With decades of experience in advertising agencies and in the Vietnamese Market, Daniel joins our group to reboot the commercial production department.

Daniel J. Gordon Jones

22 years in the creative, media & marketing industry. Building world-class teams producing world-class work. Emphasis on cut-through, creative campaigns, resulting in ROI, profitability & growth for brands. Worked on over 50 ATL campaigns including Lipton, Vinamilk, Heineken, Coors Light, Saigon Special, San Miguel, Honda, Nokia, Perfetti, Wrigley, Nutifood, Wonderfarm, Abbott Labs, TP Bank, BIDV, HSBC, ANZ, Bluescope Steel, Mobifone, SFone.

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Vietnam recently stepped up to the occasion serving as a location on the Legendary Pictures “Kong:  Skull Island.” Speaking to Thanh Nien News (Vietnam’s largest news agency), Director Jordan Voght-Roberts said “[he] chose Vietnam as a filming location as he wanted to offer audiences something new and different, adding that the scenes in Vietnam are among the important ones and would be as stunning as scenes in The Lord of the Rings.”   Ninh Binh Marsh here-s-our-first-behind-the-scenes-look-at-kong-skull-island-929258

And prior to that, Studios such as Warner’s and Paramount extensively surveyed the country for their upcoming productions.  Vietnam is certainly a different place.  Much different from the Hollywood backroom stories told about a certain English Secret Agent filming in Vietnam’s legendary Ha Long Bay, a World Heritage Site almost twenty years before. vlcsnap-error404

America and the World’s impression of Vietnam has changed significantly since the last of the Huey’s took off from the roof of the burning US Embassy building on that fateful April 30, 1975 day.  And while films like The Quiet American was entirely shot throughout Vietnam, long gone are the days where Vietnam would only serve as the backdrop of war.  Though of course, it can and still serves as such, for example in the 2013 war era made for television movie Oriana for RAI Uno. vlcsnap-error674

We, at The Creatv Company, have been privileged to have service-produced both Kong:  Skull Island and The Quiet American.  We also service-produced Oriana, and in addition to those, we’ve been blessed with regular visits from The Amazing Race (and its various franchised versions) along with ABC’s The Bachelor and Warner International’s The World’s Most Dangerous Roads or Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern just to name a few.

 

Image via Warner Brothers
Image via Warner Brothers

It may sound like we are bragging here, as we’re definitely name dropping just a little, but the reality is this, Vietnam has plenty to offer, to both the large and small scale production.  So while we may not have tax incentives (please remember, we are still a developing country!), we do have breathtaking landscapes and vistas, majestic mountains and rough, rugged terrain, but also world wonders’ that make us the perfect backlot.  What we lack in tax rebates and incentives, we make up for in low labour costs! vlcsnap-error023 Add to that, and as proven on Kong:  Skull Island, Vietnam’s government has surely opened it’s doors to the world and more specifically filmmakers and storytellers.  The Prime Minister’s Office, The Ministry of Finance, Customs and Immigration, and The Ministry of Culture through its respective ICD’s  (International Cooperation Department) along with dozens of other Ministries and Departments contributed significantly to Kong’s filming success in Vietnam.  With assistance with work permit visas and customs clearances for an entire cargo plane of filming equipment and over 20 40’ containers of art, machinery and other filming support equipment, Vietnam’s government showed its hand in open collaboration with the filmmakers.  Immigration officers assisted the people charter, helping to expedite work visas, and even greeting them as they arrived on the ground from Immigration through to baggage claim and into their vehicles, ready to hit the road for what promised to be stunning scenes not yet experienced on the big screen.

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As someone who’s spent twenty years helping to build Vietnam’s film industry infrastructure, and contributing to its growth both in terms of domestic volume and depth of experience through the key creatives and crews who have grown with us, we can definitely affirm that Vietnam offers breathtaking range.  We’ve serviced productions under 10K and we’ve serviced productions 200M and everything in between, we are proud to call Vietnam home and offer her majestic beauty to the world’s big and small screen. vlcsnap-error450

Images courtesy of Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers

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Executive producer John Brunton had one question when thinking about bringing The Amazing Race Canada to Vietnam: could this faraway land of jungles and rivers provide enough technical support for his large crew and contestants?

Yes, was the final answer, but there was a road block or two along the way. Viewers can see for themselves starting with Tuesday’s episode of the show on CTV at 8 p.m. The nine remaining two-person teams race from Calgary to Vancouver then across the international dateline to Hong Kong and finally Vietnam. The first stop there are the vital commercial waterways of the Mekong Delta.

As always, the location was scouted in advance. Brunton’s fears that individuals might falter in the tropical heat were well founded. Temperatures soared close to 40 C during the race in May. Two crew members and two team members needed medical attention.

Brunton insisted the local authorities provide enough electrolytes at each location to keep everybody properly hydrated. “And we got electric lights!” he says, roaring with laughter.

Language problems aside, Brunton says it was important to bring the race somewhere that was “dramatically different” for Season 4. Last season saw teams visit Argentina and Chile as well as India.

The challenge, however, is that in a world that is becoming increasingly dangerous, safe exotic locales are in short supply. Viewers who lived through nightly Vietnam War TV reports in the 1960s and ’70s will now see it as a safe, conflict-free destination, whereas terrorist targets such as London and Paris seem risky.

Brunton checked with the producer of the American version of The Amazing Race, Bertram van Munster, who gave the destination a big thumbs-up. “Then there’s the other factor: what’s affordable? What are the labour costs?”

He found a local contact “of very high integrity, not always the easiest thing to find,” says Brunton, who has dealt with authorities all over the world.

“You have a culture in Chile where the law is very strict,” he says. “If you ever tried to bribe anybody, you could go to jail.” With other jurisdictions, says Brunton, it’s hard to get anything done “without a big roll of dough in your pocket.

“We knew from the outset that this was a pretty reasonably honest place to do business.”

Still, it is communist country with a conservative regime in place. But the red tape was worth it, says Brunton, who saw an opportunity, in the wake of Canada’s generous Syrian refugee efforts to reflect upon a “boat people” story from decades earlier “that is so central to who we are now.”

Jon Montgomery was already well-versed on the virtues of Vietnam. “It’s my parents’ favourite place to visit,” says the 37-year-old host.

Montgomery spoke from a thatched-roof river resort overlooking the swift-flowing delta. Teams will have to board one of the many water taxis docked out front and explain they want to go to the floating market. You can buy everything from live eels to caged rats at the market, the latter fit for frying, according to the locals. Tuesday’s episode will also feature duck herding in the blazing Vietnam sun as well as frog harvesting. A drum dance at a temple is also on the agenda.

Vietnam packs its own culture shocks as teams travel two hours by bus north to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) for the following week’s episode. Players crammed into buses and sat next to commuters carrying baskets full of fish. “One of the weird things you wouldn’t see back home,” said one team member afterwards.

Once you arrive at Ho Chi Minh City, you can buy “banh mi” — Vietnam baguette sandwiches — for 33,000 dong or a little less than a toonie. Simple, concrete vending stalls stand alongside highrise, North American-style office towers and hotels, with McDonald’s and KFC locations almost as numerous as the swarms of scooters that dart around pedestrians like schools of fish.

Week four will also bring a stop at a local street vendor with an unusual menu: larvae, crickets, centipedes, two live coconut worms and a bat.

That was hard to swallow for at least one team member.

“Their legs kept getting stuck to my teeth,” she said afterwards. “I threw up in my mouth and had to go through it all over again!”

Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont. While in Vietnam, Brioux was a guest of the CTV network.

https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/television/2016/07/11/the-amazing-race-canada-heads-to-vietnam.html

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A Compilation of our best Aerial cinematography work in 2015

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