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An Exclusive Interview
with Director Vu Le
This time we are glad to have our second Vietnamese American guest, Vu Le, a Vietnamese American
filmmaker. Vu Le is enthusiastic about filmmaking, not only is he the executive producer of young
and promising director Sam Akina's Bullets, Blood & a Fistful of Ca$h, he is also preparing to direct his first
feature film Rise of the Dragon. In this interview, director Le talked about his experience as an independent
filmmaker as well as his latest projects. We would like to thank director Le for sharing his invaluable time with us.
Please enjoy the interview!
* Special thanks to Jessica Ly (VietShowBiz Entertainment) for arranging the interview.
* The interview was conducted in English.
Who is Vu Le?
Vu Le is a Vietnamese American filmmaker based in the U.S.. Before he started his career in filmmaking, he worked
as a Juvenile Corrections Officer and made music video for friends in Seattle.
In 2004, Le met another promising young filmmaker Sam Akina, and the two began to think of making a feature film
together. Le quitted his daytime job and devoted all his time to filmmaking.
Vu Le and Sam Akina finished the production of Bullets, Blood & a Fistful of Ca$h recently and they are looking to
distribute the film themselves. After that, Le is scheduled to direct his first feature film Rise of the Dragon.
Cinespot: As a promising and emerging Asian American filmmaker who is yet to make his directorial debut in 2007, I am sure
many of our readers would like to learn more about your background. So please give us a brief introduction of yourself, and how you managed
to start a career in the film business
Le: I've directed music videos for friends who were local singers in Seattle as a hobby between December 2003 to February 2004. I
then realized I wanted to make a feature film called Rise of the Dragon. This is a story about two brothers living in two different generations.
The concept of Rise is from my own experiences growing up in America as a Vietnamese American. It's kind of like BoyZ N the Hood meets
American History X. Rise is more of a cultural coming of age film with powerful messages. During this time period, I met Sam Akina
and I signed on as Executive Producer and Producer for Bullets, Blood & a Fistful of Ca$h and officially started my film career July 2004.
Cinespot: You are the executive producer/producer of Sam Akina's Bullets, Blood & a Fistful of Ca$h. As someone who has never
actually produced a feature length movie before, how did you handle this job and make sure everything was under your control?
Le: Producing a movie comes very naturally for me, because I've always been able to put the pieces together and make things happen.
Making a lot of phone calls and being persistent at it. The very reason why we were about to make Bullets come about in such a short amount of time
and financing, was because of our ability to make things happen.
Cinespot: From an interview you did with the International Examiner, you mentioned that you only saw Akina's short film and decided you
would invest your money on his feature project. Wasn't it a little risky to invest on someone who didn't really have any feature filmmaking credit?
Can you tell us a little more about how you came up with such a decision?
Le: The decision was very simple, Sam is a talent hidden in the Northwest (Seattle) I watched a lot of movies, so I was able to see the talent in
Sam. It doesn't take a genius to figure out sooner or later Sam Akina is going be a big time director. Though he only directed a short film, yet it shows
he's got the visions. Therefore, I collaborated with him, my philosophy has always been, if you can't beat him, join him!
Cinespot: How did your family and/or friends react when they knew you have made such a decision?
Le: They thought I was CRAZY, I quit my job as a Juvenile Corrections Officer to do WHAT??? Two of my good friends backed me up from
the get go! Doan Nguyen and Kevin (Hai) Hoang saw my vision and passion for the film industry supported my decisions. Everybody else just doubted
Sam and I, but it's all good because Bullets was a very ambitious project. Now everybody wants to make movies with me!
Cinespot: From the same interview, it states that you and Akina were trying to make a film that is commercially viable, rather than something that
shows more cultural significance. Why?
Le: The film industry is all about business, so making a commercial film proves that you are worth something, so you can eventually make any
movies you want. We have a few cultural movies we're going to make, but for now we want to break into the Hollywood system first, and then come
back to our artist sides.
Cinespot: Bullets, Blood & a Fistful of Ca$h will be premiering at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival. What is your expectation? And what
has been the response so far?
Le: We didn't make it to Toronto last minute because our sale agent Ronna B. Wallace had personal issues to deal with us and this prevented
her from putting her full attention to get us in as planned, things didn't work out, and she's no longer with us! We're preparing to take Bullets theatrically
ourselves, just like Passion of Christ more financial rewards that way. We're now entering the real world of the film industry.
In Part II of the interview, director Vu Le would talk about his new film
Rise of the Dragon. Please click here to go to Part II!