Director Trinh Dinh Le Minh’s schedule these days is truly packed. Along with his teaching duties at Fulbright, Le Minh is completing pre-production for his upcoming film project “Ngày xưa có một chuyện tình” (Once upon a love story) scheduled to start shooting this December.
On teaching filmmaking, Le Minh observes: “A film crew is one coherent entity, there is always cooperation between departments which requires the understanding of your colleagues’ responsibilities and on-going tasks. So learning to produce a film, first of all, is to acquire the competence for teamwork and task organization, vital skills that transcend professions”. In addition, filmmaking demands a breadth of knowledge, in both technical and social matters. Technical mastery helps directors create movies with eye-catching angles, colors and layouts. An understanding of society helps them forge intricate story lines that deal with pertinent social topics, creating works with cultural and historical values. Art and Media Studies is an invaluable area of studies for students, whether pursued as a major, minor, or simply out of curiosity.
Lessons on the fundamentals of filmmaking from director Trinh Dinh Le Minh
At Fulbright, director Trinh Dinh Le Minh is the passionate lecturer behind “Introduction to Video and Film Production”, and “Narrative,” plus one new course slated for next semester, “Documentary Filmmaking and Video Journalism”. In “Introduction to Video and Film Production”, students are exposed to basic filmmaking techniques where they learn about screenwriting, imagery, sound engineering, and narrative techniques to weave captivating tales. Through small projects and one final short film, students gain an understanding of the overall process of film production. Along the way, they gain insights on creativity, storytelling, project management, and human resource management, and so on. With “Narrative”, students learn to tell stories (an art form that makes up the tapestry of human history, useful in work and life). Students will use this skill to apply to content production work in various media.
“Studying Art and Media Studies within Fulbright’s liberal arts framework liberates minds to embrace cross-disciplinary thinking, cultivates the skills to apply diverse knowledge, and fosters teamwork and leadership capacity. This opens the door to diverse career opportunities,” Trinh Dinh Le Minh shares.
Director Trinh Dinh Le Minh looks for proactive, curious, and daring learners
Director Trinh Dinh Le Minh notices that Fulbright students are eager and proactive learners. He observes with admiration that Fulbright students “approach reading and viewing with gusto; for them, these activities are prerequisites. I see this as truly commendable in learners.”
Art and Media Studies is the right major for those who are “curious and open to new experience; even when we might not favor these new ideas or experiences; what’s crucial is to retain an openness to receive them, because they will help you collide with the world, ignite inspiration and hone what you really want to follow.” He added: “The idea of “collision” here also includes seeking feedback, standing alongside creative works by other artists, seeing diverse methods, from all this to further grow and refine one’s own art.” These are sensory and intellectual insights that give filmmakers grounds for contemplation and to elevate the caliber of their works.
Liberal arts education as the perfect foundation for students to develop knowledge and skills in the arts and media
For Trinh Dinh Le Minh, Fulbright’s liberal arts education model allows for the study of art and media to benefit students of diverse interests and career paths.
Artists do not confine themselves to studios, but must always be in conversation with life, to gather interdisciplinary knowledge about the economy, society, culture, politics, and beyond, to tap into topics that matter and carry their projects to fruition. The liberal arts education model at Fulbright gives students majoring in Art and Media Studies a rich base of knowledge, along with research skills that are applicable to diverse professional fields. Even when graduates do not go on to work directly with arts, they can find a rewarding career in related industries such as audience studies, marketing, management, or event organization, and so on, where technical art and media knowledge is required. Additionally, students of majors such as Psychology, Sociology, Business Administration, etc., can develop the ability to appreciate aesthetics as well as cultivate a management mindset when taking courses in Art and Media Studies. Indeed, this major opens doors to many applications and possibilities.
Quoting Dr. Pamela Corey, Major Coordinator for Art and Media Studies, director Trịnh Đình Lê Minh delves deeper: “Researchers must ‘keep in mind practical applications’, and producers must ‘have a good grasp of art history, art analysis, and comprehend the artistic currents that have arisen and evolved with time’, in order to birth innovations.”
Director Trịnh Đình Lê Minh makes films to explore life
Personally, Le Minh does not immerse himself in any particular artistic school, but rather draws inspiration from directors who came before him. It’s the allure of the beauty of art in general, and the resonance in the cinematic canvas in particular, that motivates him. Equally crucial for him is the connection between the audience and the filmmaker, where both can find a common ground in their perspectives on life, and resonate to the deft touch of the director’s artistic designs. This is also the philosophy he imparts to students at Fulbright during his lectures.
To Trịnh Đình Lê Minh, no matter how many films he has made, each one is a unique experience: “Directors are on an eternal search. We voyage through worlds and explore characters in our scripts. Our perspectives also change with time; hence even the same story is told anew every time through the lens of evolving experience. That’s what I find fascinating about filmmaking.” In his philosophy, “art stems from life, but it also reflects aspects of life that can’t be expressed otherwise.” Art is a deep dive into the depth of perception, a quest to illuminate life’s nuances and paint vivid portraits of life that might slip through the cracks of simple observation.” Therefore, Lê Minh doesn’t merely make films to “express his perspective on life,” but also to “explore different facets of life that he might have missed had he not embarked upon that cinematic journey.” Heightened emotions blended with fresh looks into life at the point of convergence that gives birth to beautiful and meaningful cinematic creations.
This December, “Ngày xưa có một chuyện tình” will officially start filming. This tale of young love, set in the Vietnam of the 90s and early 2000s, promises to strike a chord with today’s young moviegoers. Eras might have shifted, but the essence of love remains. This movie hopes to connect young viewers with their parents’ generation, whose youth and love was as exuberant and colorful and worthy of celebration as ever there has been youth and love. It’s a story from nearly 30 years ago, but will surely not be outdated.