Othello Khanh discusses using Vietnam as a filming location
Othello Khanh is one of the most prolific production professionals working in Vietnam today, having spent over 30 years in the business and working on projects for Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Unilever to name a few. With credits in Directing, Producing and Screenwriting, Khanh also stands as the Managing Director of the Creatv Company, a Vietnamese production service company.
Vietnam recently stepped up to the occasion serving as a location on Legendary Picture's Kong: Skull Island. Speaking to ThanhNien 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 for almost twenty years beforehand.
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 productions. 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 are proud to call Vietnam home and offer her majestic beauty to the world’s big and small screen.
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