Check out Creatv Company’s Head of Production, Irene Trinh talk about our production services on Kong: Skull Island in Vietnam.
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Check out Creatv Company’s Head of Production, Irene Trinh talk about our production services on Kong: Skull Island in Vietnam.
Congrats Amazing Race Canada from your friends at The Creatv Company. Here’s to many more season’s of Canada’s most watched television show!
CTV’s The Amazing Race Canada was the non-news television show that dominated the Canadian Screen Awards 2017, earning five trophies for photography, picture editing, writing and directing achievements. It also won best reality/competition program or series, the night’s final prize.
In an exclusive interview with Vietnam Tourism, the country’s premiere location managers reveal to us why Vietnam is on the fast track to becoming the next big international filming location.
When it comes to Vietnam’s dynamic duos, creative tag team Othello Khanh and Irene Trinh are high up on the roster. The production professionals have led the vanguard for Vietnam’s growing film industry for over two decades, with Khanh at the helm of The CREATV Company, Vietnam’s longest established private production service, and Trinh as Head of Production, International Service and Feature Films. To add to a list of impressive credentials including, but not limited to, Miramax Films’ The Quiet American in 2002, RAI Uno’s L’Oriana, CBS’ The Amazing Race, ABC’s The Bachelor, and Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, CREATV was tapped for the Vietnamese development of Legendary Pictures’ Kong: Skull Island. With the release date of Kong: Skull Island less than a week away, we caught up with Trinh and Khanh to give us a scoop on their experiences on set.
What was your involvement in the making of the new film?
Trinh: CREATV Company was approached by the movie’s Executive Producer Eric McLeod to provide production services for Kong: Skull Island. Initially, in December of 2014, we were first approached by Legendary’s production coordinator about possible locations in Vietnam —and at that time, we had just completed location scouting with another big Hollywood studio and so the pictures were fresh from the latest reconnaissance. They included: Ha Long Bay, Sapa,et c., so the timing worked out well.
On Kong: Skull Island, Othello served as CREATV Executive and I served as the Vietnam Production Supervisor, working closely with Legendary Pictures’ Production Supervisor Russell Allen to prepare the logistics of filming including the final location recces, securing all filming permits, locking all locations, hiring the local Vietnamese crew to support the 200 or so American film professionals, and of course, setting up offices in Hanoi to supervise and manage the entire production from our main base.
Why was Vietnam chosen to be the film set for this blockbuster?
Trinh: I think the director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, said it best in his recent interview with TuoiTreNews:
“Vietnam has a powerful and unspoiled beauty. Our movie does not take place in Vietnam, but instead the aesthetic of it is a huge piece of the puzzle to create the look of our story’s fictional Skull Island.
Vietnam is entirely different from any of the other countries we scouted and together we want to fuse several different looks and locations into a living, breathing place that feels, unlike anything you’ve seen before but also seems very real.”
Of the three main filming locations in Vietnam, was there a location that really spoke to the cast?
Trinh: This is from one of the interviews the Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts did: “We came to Vietnam… and were immediately stunned by the surreal beauty of the country, from the mountains to the vistas of everywhere we set foot upon. We believe movie fans in the U.S. will wonder in awe as to where these beautiful places are.” The director also revealed that the scenes to be filmed in Vietnam would be the most pivotal scenes in the film.
For the cast, I think waking up each morning, it was a new adventure, whether in Quang Binh or Ninh Binh’s spectacular Trang An or the magnificent Ha Long Bay—each place was a world wonder. Besides the locations, I think if anything, the people—happy, smiling, generous people—I think that’s what they will take away from their experience of Vietnam.
How was the production of Kong: Skull Island received in Vietnam? What kind of assistance was necessary to accomplish this large-scale endeavor?
Khanh: Vietnam’s government has surely opened its 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.
On top of assisting with work permit visas and customs clearances for an entire cargo plane of filming equipment and over twenty 40-feet containers of art, machinery and other filming support equipment, Vietnam’s government showed its hand in open collaboration with the filmmakers. Immigration officers went above and beyond, helping to expedite work visas and personally greeting cast and crew when they arrived in Vietnam, escorting them through immigration to baggage claim and into their vehicles.
What do you believe sets Vietnam apart from other filming locations in the region?
Trinh: Location, location, location–we have some of the most pristine, untouched, majestic locations in the region. In addition to that, a depth of skilled talent (crews), latest equipment, etc., and most importantly the support from all of the ministries, especially the Culture and Tourism sectors.
What are the prospects for Vietnam as an international filming location?
Trinh: In the last two decades, Vietnam has emerged as one of the most exciting countries for investment, with two of its major cities being listed in the top 10 dynamic cities in the world according to the World Economic Forum.
Khanh: 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. Surreal landscapes and vistas, majestic mountains, rough, rugged terrain—Vietnam’s host of world wonders make it the perfect backlot. It is also important to mention that after the release of Kong: Skull Island, we hope that the industry will understand that Vietnam is the location to not only shoot Vietnam-themed movies but any film looking for unique locations, skilled crews, affordable production costs and friendly government support. We are proud to call Vietnam home and offer her majestic beauty to the world’s big and small screen.
Are there any upcoming films that are set to be shot in Vietnam?
Trinh: There are several war-era films that are eyeing Vietnam at the moment, in addition to films from Canada, the Netherlands, and even Thailand! Imagine that, Thailand coming to shoot in Vietnam! That goes to show exactly how beautiful this country is from coast to coast to coast.
Besides the well-liked Halong Bay and the newly discovered Phong Nha caves, are there other locations with cinematic potential of note here in Vietnam?
Trinh: Clearly, Ninh Binh’s Trang An and Tam Coc are spectacular and as a result were chosen as the main location for Kong: Skull Island. In addition to them, Ho Chi Minh City (“Saigon”) and the Mekong Delta, Dalat (“French era”), Danang/Hoi An (old port, heritage town), Sapa, Ban Gioc, Thai Nguyen, Dien Bien, Ba Vi…Phu Quoc, Con Dao…and let’s not forget Hanoi, Hue—the current and imperial capitals respectively… pretty much all of Vietnam! At every turn, on every corner, there is something that speaks of the old and new worlds, and the seamless combination of the two and as you venture away from the cities, you can’t help but take in Vietnam’s natural beauty. In fact, Vietnam boasts five Cultural Heritage sites: The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long (Hanoi), The Citadel of the Ho Dynasty, The Complex of Hue Monuments, Hoi An Ancient Town and My Son Sanctuary; two Natural Wonders: Ha Long Bay and Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, and one mixed wonder (Cultural and Natural): Trang An Landscape Complex.
Lastly, what are some of your favorite films about Vietnam?
Khanh: “The Lover” (by Jean-Jacque Annaud, 1992), “Indochine” (by Regis Wargnier, 1992), “Ao Lua Ha Dong” (by Luu Huynh, 2006) and “Three Seasons” (by Tony Bui,) to name a few.
Thank you Irene and Othello for chatting with us!
For a quick look at their portfolio, watch the video below:
BY IZZY PULIDO
A Bostonian by way of the Philippines, Izzy Pulido is an avid collector of first-time experiences. She is the host of Street Feast Vietnam, a food-centric web series and regularly contributes to the creative consortium Vietcetera. Find her musings on wayfaring over at thenextsomewhere.com.
Our production ” STING Trust ” lead by Executive Producer Daniel Gordon Jones reaches close to 5 Million Views in less than a month.
“Although it was a complicated shoot in PepsiCo’s high tech factory and a stadium, the final tvc beats our high expectations, mainly because we had a great client and agency to work with.” DGJ
Client: Pepsi Co.
At the close of another year we gratefully pause to say THANK YOU.
It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with you this year.
Best wishes for a Happy Holiday Season and our sincere thanks to those who have made our progress possible. We appreciate your loyalty and goodwill.
The season premiered on 13 October 2016 and promised to be the most adrenaline-fueled season ever. Eleven teams chosen from across the region competed in a high-octane dash around the world for a chance at the winning crown and USD$100,000 in cash.
Airdate: 10 November 2016
During the Pit Stop, all teams were moved to Nai Yang Beach Resort to begin this leg of the race. The Fast Forward which told the teams to go to Khu du lịch Bình Quới 1 in Bình Thạnh District and eat rice inside some clay pots in an attempt to find a Vietnamese gold coin in one of the rice. For every clay pot they selected, they must break the clay pot. Once they had found the gold coin, they would receive the Fast Forward clue.
The Detour was a choice between Badminton Bash and Flower Power. In Badminton Bash, teams must travel to Công Viên Tao Đàn Park, where they would have to play badminton. If they could score 10 points before their opponent scored 21 points, they would receive their next clue. In Flower Power, teams headed to Hồ Thị Kỷ Flower Market. Then, they must carry two empty baskets and find some flower stalls inside the flower market to gather some flowers. After they gathered all the flowers, they had to deliver the flowers to the flower retailer, H2 Flower Shop to receive their next clue.
The Roadblock required one team member to eat five courses of Vietnamese exotic delicacies; which were rats, bats, centipedes, scorpions and lizards. Once they had completely eaten all the foods, they would receive their next clue.
Airdate: 17 November 2016
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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! 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.
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.
Images courtesy of Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers
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.
“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.
The CREATV Company facilitated 3 episodes of The Amazing Race Israel Season 5.
The 11 Hanoi locations were scouted and prepped months before the Israeli crew arrived. It was an amazing-crazy day as the 3 seventy minute episodes were all shot in just a 24-hour day!
An intense production as per the Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HaMerotz_LaMillion_5
Airdate: 30 August, 4 & 6 September 2016
At the Hanoi Opera House, teams had to stand on the roof and watch the busy roundabout below, on the look-out for seven numbers found on marked vehicles and people. Once they have all seven numbers, they had to head to a nearby motorcycle parking lot and find one of a few license plates matching all seven numbers to receive their next clue. This was also where they had to vote the team that would be U-Turned.
At Hoàn Kiếm Lake, teams faced this leg’s detour, where they chose between Slow & Fast. In Slow, teams had to perform thirty minutes of Tai Chi to receive their next clue. In Fast, teams had to perform Cardio Aerobics to receive their next clue. Once they completed their respective detours, they were directed to the U-Turn board at Trúc Bạch Lake.
At Trúc Bạch Lake Marina, teams had to ride in a swan boat, where they took a mandatory break from the Race.
At Tu Lien School, teams faced the Double-Battle for this leg. In this challenge, one team member must perch themselves on a thin pole while maintaining balance and trying to knock their opponent off the log in order to score a point. The first team to score two points receives their next clue, while the loser waits for the next team to battle.
At the Temple of Literature, Teams would pick up a pair of shoulder harnesses with baskets and fill them with rice. They would then carry the rice along a marked path around the temple until they reached a set of scales, where they would weigh their rice. Once teams reached a total of 284kg of rice – the amount that an average Vietnamese family consumes in a year, they received their next clue.
At Lenin Park, teams would find a series of blocks on the ground. One team member would stand on the starting block, while their partner would retrieve bamboo ladders of varying lengths from a large pile. They could only lay down ladders if they fit perfectly between a pair of blocks. Teams needed to find a way to use their limited amount of ladders to cross all of the blocks to reach their next clue.
At Nghia Mai, teams had to find a marked coal shop, where teams would use local tools to make 30 round coal bricks, a traditional Vietnamese fuel source, using wet coal. They would then have to use tongs to pick up four bricks, two per team member, and carry them through the neighbourhood without damaging them or putting them down. Once they delivered them to a marked vendor, she would use them to power her stoves and give the teams the next clue.
At Thu Le Park Zoo, teams would have to learn how to perform a traditional Chinese lion dance. During the dance, teams would need to jump across a series of platforms while wearing the lion costume, taking care not to fall off. If successful, teams would receive their next clue taking them to Hung Lien Bun Cha Restaurant
At Hung Lien Bun Cha Restaurant, teams would have to eat the entire contents of the foul-smelling durian, freshly picked off the tree. Once they finish their meal, teams would receive their next clue.
At the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, teams had to enter a specific building, where they would find 1500 Vietnamese ‘non’ hats. One team member had to look through the hats for one with a tiny race flag on the underside. For every hat they picked up, they would have to place it on the head of their partner, continuing to stack them up higher and higher. If the hats fell off of their head at any point, the team would have to serve a 10-minute penalty before continuing. Once teams found the hat with the tiny race flag, they could exchange it for their next clue, directing them to the Pit Stop at the Imperial Citadel of Thăng Long.