Crash courses bring Hollywood skills to young Vietnamese

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David Worth (R), Clint Eastwood (3rd, R) and the film crew of "˜Bronco Billy,' which was released in 1980. Hollywood director and cinematographer David Worth will lecture in Vietnam this week.

A local company called House of Wisdom (HOW) is bringing foreign filmmakers to Vietnam to teach local aspirants.

Hollywood guru Dov Simens and script supervisor Pillar Alessandra were the first to teach crash courses on filmmaking in Vietnam early this year, and now David Worth a director, producer and cinematographer has become the third foreign expert brought to Vietnam.

From June 22 to 24, the accomplished filmmaker will attempt to enlighten his students with his own experiences.

HOW spokesperson Pham Tuong Van said her team wants to be the trailblazer that gives Vietnamese students the motivation and opportunity to pursue their silver-screen dreams.

"Crash courses are a popular form of training in any country. They can help people approach the fields they're interested in more easily," Van told Vietweek.

"The American film industry is the world's biggest player in the entertainment world. What we want is just to bring good Hollywood teachers to those locals who really have a heart for cinema."

Van also said the courses were more about broadening students' minds about the possibilities of filmmaking than learning specific techniques, processes or effects.

"Many attendees told me that the biggest thing they gained [from the courses] is a change in their awareness," she said.

Van said that Worth was chosen this time not only for his experience in filmmaking, but also for his experience as a veteran lecturer.

"I think his teaching will attract a lot of students because he will talk about making films on a low budget, which is totally apt to Vietnam's situation."

Go East young man

David Worth is not an unfamiliar name in Hollywood. As a director and cinematographer, Worth has collaborated with Clint Eastwood and Jean-Claude Van Damme on films such as "Bloodsport," "Kickboxer" and "Bronco Billy."

He told Vietweek that he comes to Vietnam with two beliefs; 1) that his students can improve through just three days of specialized training, and 2) that the language of film and cinema is "international and universal."

"Whenever filmmakers are doing their best job, they are dealing with the human condition and human emotions which are understandable in every language and culture. In the famous words of John F. Kennedy: "˜We all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children and we are all mortal...'" Worth told Vietweek in an email.

"Whenever we open our hearts and minds to someone else's life, experience and work, when we "˜walk a mile in their shoes'"¦ It helps us to grow and to become better as artists and as human beings."

Today, with cheap digital cameras, editing equipment and the ability to broadcast online, Worth said that amateur filmmakers have better opportunities than ever before to make good movies.

"My directing and cinematography seminars concentrate on the basic art and craft of filmmaking, as well as what can be accomplished inexpensively by filmmakers in all corners of the world using new technology," he said.

Worth said he first began lecturing and teaching in 2007 when he was asked to fill in for a semester at Chapman University in Orange, California.

"That semester turned into over 20 months, during which I also was a professor at USC and published my first "˜graphic' textbook: The Citizen Kane Crash Course in Cinematography. When Chapman opened a new branch in Singapore I was one of the first to volunteer since I had been married to a Singaporean for over 20 years and had done five features in the Far East. I taught at Chapman Singapore for a year and then continued my teaching and lecturing at UCLA and presently at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco."

Having a long history with the Far East, Worth said he was delighted when HOW Vietnam contacted him to do a directing seminar in Vietnam.

"I hope to return to Vietnam in several months to do a cinematography seminar."

 Worth said that although he is presently concentrating on teaching, lecturing and writing, he also has several film projects in development in various parts of the world.

"I've already written two books and just finished developing an on-line course for one of my classes at The Academy of Art University. I would love to direct a feature film in Vietnam," he said.

"I recently watched two feature films made in Vietnam "˜The Owl and the Sparrow' and "˜Clash'. I thought that they were both well done and I enjoyed both the small intimate film as well as the larger action adventure martial arts film."

HOW courses usually cost at least VND3.5 million (US$175).

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