H: The conception of Hanh, Solo began during a stage in my life where I was experiencing a lot of major changes. I had just broken with a serious boyfriend, and moved out on my own for the first time after college. There were a lot of different emotions swirling around, and this felt like the best outlet for it.
2. How did your friendship with Jason Taylor inform the screenplay? Were there scenes in which you felt would not have been as effective without Jason’s involvement as a writer?
H: I like to think of Jason as my creative better half. Of course, don’t tell him that (we certainly wouldn’t want to inflate his ego haha). When we started writing Hanh, Solo, I was working at my first restaurant job. I would come home late, go to Jason’s room (we were roommates at the time), and we would basically try to write as much as we could. He certainly carried me whenever I needed the extra boost, and without him, I think the whole script would’ve taken a lot longer for me to complete on top of working and writing and as it was also my first feature that I attempted.
3. Were there scenes that were pulled more from your experiences rather than Jason’s? Would you consider Hanh, Soloat least somewhat autobiographical, perhaps to the extent you are Hanh’s namesake?
Hanh, Solo is very autobiographical, and overall (as far as the experiences you’re watching on screen) pulls more from my life.
4. While shooting the film, were there instances where you felt that what was originally written did not fit who Hanh was as a person at that time, precipitating into a change in the script?
Fortunately, the script in its entirety was able to be finished when I was a certain type of “Hanh”. However, since it did take quite a while to shoot, I did grow a lot during the production process, and would come back to the script at times, and reflected on who I was before we began this whole thing. However, I didn’t change anything because Hanh, Solo was made during a very specific time. I think any changes would’ve been untruthful to that.
5. Is there an “intended audience” for this film or a segment of movie audiences that would benefit most by seeing this film?
Although Hanh, Solo takes place during my 20s, I think the themes are pretty universal and would hopefully still be relevant years from now.
6. What drew you to this project and why did you wish to star in it?
It’s based on my life =]
7. How has being part of the Vietnamese-American diaspora influenced how you approach acting in this film and in other projects?
Hanh is Vietnamese because I’m Vietnamese, but I think Hanh could’ve just as easily been african american, caucasian, hispanic, indian, etc. I think the issues that she faces in the film transcends cultural boundaries, and are experienced by a lot of people from very different backgrounds. My hope was that it would work on a universal level, and lend a voice to things experienced by people of my generation, regardless of what your background is.
8. How do you imagine Hanh, the character, learning from the lessons of this week of her life doing in the near or distant future? Would you consider a sequel in some form?
To a certain extent, the ending is up to you (the audience). Personally, and I might be biased because I’m a little too close to the project ;-], I think there’s hope there at the end. Jason and I have joked about doing a sequel where her next search would be for a girl best friend.
9. How has Hanh the character – by virture of being a twenty-something Vietnamese-American woman afraid of failure and reinvention – separate herself from other films in the canons of romantic comedies or coming-of-age dramas?
Maybe it’s a little simplistic, but I would say it’s different by the mere fact that she’s Vietnamese. Hanh, Solo has sort of the “spokesthemes” of this current generation, and there are a lot of popular shows out there that speaks to the same things (Girls, Master of None, etc.), but I have not seen anything starring a Vietnamese American before.
10. What films, filmmakers, and other actors have influenced your approach to acting and writing?
This is sort of seasonal and depends on whatever show/movie I’m currently inspired by.
11. What other opportunities are you aiming for and looking forward to in the future in film or elsewhere?
Like most people in this industry, the dream would be to be able to support myself doing what I want to do creatively. On the business end, I just recently moved from New York, so I’m currently looking for representation. On the creative end, I’m currently working on getting a short made that I wrote.
12. You mentioned to me in the last email about assisting VAALA through volunteering or mentorship. What’s behind your thoughts and do you have any specifics in how you wish to contribute?
I’d love to be able to get involved in some sort of mentorship program. I come from a more traditional background where I have parents that don’t entirely support what I’m doing and I also graduated from college with a degree in psychology so I think I could offer a lot of insight and emotional support to kids who are going through the same thing. I could also give a lot of insight on the technical end as far as acclimating to the acting industry as I’ve been in it for a while now and I have some business know-how with it as well since I worked for a management company for a few years.
**Hanh Nguyen and the crew will be present at the festival for the screening on Saturday, October 13th, 1-3pm
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