Quiet on the set!

September 23, 2008

A member of the sound crew works during a scene of Nguyen Quang Dung’s Giai cuu Than Chet.

In Vietnam where the noise of local activity seems never to stop, movie-making can be difficult work.

The constant beeping of horns, public sound systems, and noisy wildlife are just a few of the many obstacles when it comes to shooting a movie scene and capturing the actor’s dialogue.

To avoid such pitfalls, many Vietnamese directors choose to dub their films. But this is less than ideal and can come off sounding inauthentic.

The crew of the film Vu khuc con co (Song of the stork), an epic docudrama set during the Vietnam War, encountered a problem with a public loudspeaker while they were shooting in Hanoi in 2000.

Whenever they were about to shoot a scene, the loudspeaker – which serves as a public news broadcasting system – would begin blaring.

The directors, Jonathan Foo and Nguyen Phan Quang Binh, were at a loss how to stop the noise while the actors were put off by the continual interruptions.

The crew sought permission from the district’s People Committee to turn off the speaker during filming but the nuisance persisted.

One young assistant (now celebrated director Nguyen Quang Dung) came up with a clever idea.

He climbed up a tree, cut off the electric wire to the speaker and reconnected it after they finished shooting.

The crew of Dong mau anh hung (The Rebel), last year’s action-packed martial arts smash hit – directed by overseas director Charlie Nguyen and produced by Chanh Phuong – also experienced a comical situation on set.

During a scene featuring stars Johnny Tri Nguyen and Ngo Thanh Van in a deserted house, the two actors were supposed to express their passionate love for one another. Waves of laughter erupted on set when the loud snores of a technical assistant were heard echoing through the “deserted” house.

The entire scene had to be re-shot but Dong mau anh hung ultimately went on to win several awards including the grand prize at the 2007 Los Angeles-Asia Pacific Festival and the Silver Lotus prize at the 15th Vietnam National Film Festival.

Another sound problem arose on the set of the romantic comedy Giai cuu Than Chet (Rescue the Grim Reaper), the sequel to the blockbuster film Nu hon Than Chet (The Kiss of Death), directed by Nguyen Quang Dung.

Just when the crew had almost wrapped up filming a scene featuring An An (Minh Hang) and the teenage Grim Reaper (Chi Thien), someone’s cell phone suddenly rang, marring the entire shot.

In another situation, the crew was busy shooting a night scene and was shocked when a motorcyclist darted straight out at them.

The motorcyclist even sped up and began yelling, thinking he was being robbed when a crew member tried to stop him.

In another scene where the actors were supposed to be discussing business, a tourist stepped out from an elevator ruining the entire shot. The tourist then began shouting that the crew was blocking the entrance of the building.

While shooting a scene at the Giang Dien waterfall in southern Dong Nai Province for the critically acclaimed TV series Mui ngo gai (Scent of coriander), cicadas buzzed noisily each time Korean director Kim Hyo Joong called for quiet on the set.

Four assistants were sent in to shake the trees and scare the insects away.

Despite the effort, however, the buzzing noise still made its way into the sound recording.

Reported by Do Tuan

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