HCM CITY — While state-owned studios drag their feet in putting out new films, private producers have been much more aggressive in grasping market share and catering to the tastes of audiences.
After the government developed a policy to welcome overseas Vietnamese to produce films, the local private film industry began to be more robust after a slow period, according to a report in Sai Gon Giai Phong (Sai Gon Liberation) newspaper.
The film companies have begun to invest millions of dollars in producing movies.
"We are not only thinking of the domestic market, but also of the foreign market. So the film should show Vietnamese culture but also have international standards for sound and technique," Ngo Quang Hai, a film director, said.
Hai is currently directing the film Mua He Lanh (Cold Summer), which he wrote. This is the first film for his Vimax Film company.
Although he has not revealed the exact investment, it is estimated the film will cost about US$1 million, according to the newspaper.
Soon after finishing Mua he lanh, Hai will also make another film Ngung Dat Cuoc (Stop Betting) for about the same cost.
In addition, Galaxy Studio is shooting a 3D film My Nhan Ke (Beauty Trap) scripted and directed by Nguyen Quang Dung. Expected cost for the action and comedy film is VND20 billion (US$1 million).
Thanh Huong, director of Galaxy, said: "Investing VND20 billion for a 3D film is not much money compared to other countries. We made a 3D film Bong Ma Hoc Duong (Ghost in the School) and succeeded, so that we are confident to continue to invest in this kind of film."
"We are using state-of-the-art technology, so we hope for the best," she added.
There have also been films made with millions of dollars in investment, including Dong Mau Anh Hung (The Rebel) and Bay Rong (Clash) of Chanh Phuong Films, Ao Lua Ha Dong (Ha Dong White Silk Dress) of Phuoc Sang Films, and Thien Menh Anh Hung (Blood Letter) of Phuong Nam Films.
Con Duong Vo Tan (Long Endless Road), invested in by the famous actor and actress Tran Bao Son and Truong Ngoc Anh, who are also husband and wife, will be released soon. And the list is expected to grow.
Filmmakers are seriously considering the overseas market as well.
"We want to have a really good product that we can sell to other countries and participate in international film festivals," Le Lam Vien, director of Phuong Nam Film, the producer of Thien Menh Anh Hung, said.
Director Ngo Quang Hai also said that if they did not invest well, the film would not have acceptable quality in content and technique, and thus could not enter the foreign market.
"Releasing a film in Viet Nam can hardly recoup all the costs. Another reality is that modern cinemas in Viet Nam like MegaStar and Galaxy have reached international standards. Films not meeting technical standards do not have chances to be screened at these cinemas," Hai said.
Filmmakers also want to enter more international film festivals.
Dong Mau Anh Hung and Bay Rong joined several international film festivals, and the copyrights for use as a movie, DVD and on cable TV were bought overseas. Bay Rong was screened on Star Movies, for example.
The copyright for Thien Menh Anh Hung was sold to western and eastern European markets. The film will be included in a film festival in Canada at the end of this month.
Although it has not finished, Mua He Lanh and Ngung Dat Cuoc plan to join several festivals and their producers have contacted foreign publishers so they can go abroad.
With a film project, producers usually map out detailed plan for each phase: content and genre, investment, advertising and release.
Filmmakers with enough funds and interesting content to carry out projects have changed the mindset about the subsidisation of the industry by the state.
These new producers and directors are giving the industry a new face, and bringing excitement to viewers, as well as inspiration to other filmmakers. — VNS