Sunday, 10/09/2023 08:42

Sound director launches vision fund for Vietnamese filmmakers

Tiikerie Pham, a sound researcher and filmmaker. — Photo courtesy of Tiikerie Pham

Tiikerie Pham is a sound researcher and filmmaker who has been involved in numerous global projects and won awards.

He plans to organise a TEDx event in Oregon, USA, which seeks to connect Vietnamese artists with global audiences and Vietnamese-Americans.

He also wants to establish a fund dubbed Compassion Community Fund to support young filmmakers, especially within the overseas Vietnamese communities, to enable them to make a global impact.

Việt Nam News talks with him about his career as well as the fund.

Inner Sanctum:  Would you please introduce yourself and what made you decide to become a sound researcher and filmmaker?

Coming from a sports background, fate led me to the world of sound, fuelled by a childhood dream of electronics. Initially struggling to connect studies with real life, I chose sports due to family circumstances over a path to Japan. A chance encounter ignited my passion for sound and filmmaking. Early exposure to low-frequency sounds, like bass guitars and aquatic motions, shaped my love for their impactful resonance.

My childhood curiosity about animal survival, balanced by understanding their role, further influenced me. Movies like Wall-E shifted my view on humanity's reliance on machines. This drove me to use film, with sound as a vital element, to evoke concealed emotions.

My vision is rooted in the story of The Little Match Girl from Denmark since I was a little boy facing the world of good and bad, driving me to kindle latent emotions through films while recognising the pivotal role of sound, realising my creative mission in the world.

Inner Sanctum: Who has been the biggest influence on your career? Did you ever think that you could be as successful as you are today?

In the radiant spirit of Bruce Lee, I've learned that cinema possesses the incredible potential to mould our world. Beyond the pursuit of mere success lies a deeper aspiration: the profound impact we leave on others. Each day, I treasure the journey and the newfound self-assurance it brings. In every corner of existence, I'm ready to harmonise my purpose with the remarkable trajectories that fellow souls are charting.

Inner Sanctum: Your collaborations with various artists and filmmakers have gained significant recognition and prestigious awards. Could you share a bit about your most memorable project and how your sound design contributes to these successes?

The film Ròm stands as a particularly memorable project in my journey. It was a five-year odyssey with the film crew of Ròm, a group of young yet remarkably talented artists whom I've had the privilege to collaborate with. Together, we achieved success at the 24th Busan International Film Festival, as well as various awards and international film festivals, acknowledging the fruits of our creative labour. The distinctive tapestry of Ròm lies in the untold stories - a series of Behind the Scenes that chronicles this process.

For years, I've harboured a strong motivation to engage seriously in sound post-production for films, both in Việt Nam and France. The film encapsulated, with unwavering heart, the multifaceted emotional nuances of the Saigon [Hồ Chí Minh City] populace as they confronted the changing tides of the economy. This not only moved audiences to tears but also stirred contemplation about the "thorn-laden honey" creative process spanning those five years.

Tiikerie Phạm (centre) ventured to France to undertake post-production work for the film 'Ròm' alongside Trần Thanh Huy (left), director of 'Ròm' and Director Trần Anh Hùng (Best Director at Cannes Film Festival 2023 for 'La Passion de Dodin Bouffant'). — Photo courtesy of Tiikerie Pham

Inner Sanctum: You have completed many works over the years. Are you afraid of repeating yourself?

One of the most interesting times of my life has been the Netflix Original series I worked on, Witcher (2020) and Money Heist Korea (2021) alongside two other award-winning art exhibitions in Barcelona, Spain and Shanghai, Become Alluvium (2020) and Mute Grain (2019). People in my industry often wonder how I manage to switch between being a creative powerhouse for commercial projects and a wild, imaginative kid all at once. You see, I'm a sound designer and director for these global releases and exhibitions, and it's my obsession with sonic exploration that fuels my fire not to repeat myself.

My driving force: Sonic explorations.

The thrill of researching then evoking emotions - no matter if it is a mall ambience, a childhood memory or religious songs or public policies and human behaviours - with a reinvented sound frequency, that should be my mark in the world. That's why I'm all about being "sound-forward" – it's where the magic happens!

Inner Sanctum: Regarding your plan for the near future, can you share some information about your upcoming TEDx event in Oregon as well as the inspiration behind the establishment of the Compassion Community Fund?

As the co-founder and sound director of TEDxSaigon since 2011, I have been passionate to bring ideas worth spreading in the world of filmmakers, policy makers and creative thinkers together to share unique narratives of our generations onto the world with global minds but Vietnamese roots.

This year, I will organise a TEDx conference and the newly launched Compassion Community Fund where global artists from any part of the world can share their creative proposals and projects about compassion. This conference theme will aim to trigger artists, researchers, filmmakers and storytellers about inspiring the world to DO GOOD in the most updated definition of their times.

We look to see a “biodynamic” garden of diverse views and backgrounds of global artists about Việt Nam, as well as those who are Vietnamese rooted and have some difficulty making ideas happen. We look forward via this TEDx event in Oregon to fund art films and narratives that will surprise the world about Vietnamese artists and filmmakers around the world in the most hopeful way.

Tiikerie Pham at a TED round table conference sharing ideas worth spreading in sound research and sonic impacts on human behaviours from childhood to religions to filmmaking and public policies. — Photo courtesy of Tiikerie Pham

Inner Sanctum: According to you, what are the biggest challenges faced by young filmmakers in Việt Nam? How does your fund empower them to overcome challenges and shine on the international stage? What advice do you have for young people who aspire to become a sound researcher and filmmaker like you?

The biggest challenge is how they can have the right mentorship and vision when they start their journey as a long-form creator and filmmaker in a chaotic emerging world of short-form content and hype. They must be resilient and stubborn with their unique take on who they are in the world - and thus what impact they will envision to plant forward just from their seeds of purpose and stories.

Therefore, the ultimate goal of our Compassion Community Fund for Vietnamese-rooted artists and filmmakers around the world is to build an effective platform to match them with the right mentors and experts in their field/genre - who are exposed to international awards and stages but love to inspire youngsters - so that we can inspire and celebrate their worldviews towards their global audience. VNS

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