BLOG: On the set of "Young Master" Shoot - By David Minh Tam Nguyen

Filmmaking & martial artist - David Minh Tam Nguyen
David Minh Tam Nguyen is a little dynamo on set and also through his quirky re account of the shoot. Not only was he the sound guy on the set, he was also one of the stunt extras as well as our blogger and vlogger of the shoot. Check out his journey! - Maria Tran

It’s not every day I find myself surrounded by people smacking each other around in fridge fight scenes, or trekking around unused drainage systems to recreate classic Jackie Chan scenes. But then again, it’s not every day that I spend crewing and filming with Maria Tran – the contagiously energetic Western Sydney Filmmaker who’s got her eyes set on completing her ambitious, constantly evolving film project, ‘Quest for Jackie Chan!’.
Click here for the behind-the-scenes link
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by filmmaking and have grown to adore the medium immeasurably. With the continual influx of affordable film equipment today, practically anyone can make films but I’ve always held onto the idea that no amount of expensive, flashy equipment can substitute a genuine artistic sense of storytelling. Maria Tran understands this better than most.

She utilises trusted friends around her for the technicalities, so she herself can focus on her zany ideas and shifting duties as director/producer/actor and interviewer. Being a young director and filmmaker myself, I can tell you that she’s got her plate full.

The recent full day shoot on the 25th of March proved all sorts of fun. It’s been a while since I’ve met such a nice bunch: the always wonderful production manager Thuy Ng, the solid camera operator Guido Gonzalez, the wacky assistant choreographer James Nguyen, and the massive and friendly Kevin Tran. Maria just seems to have a knack for surrounding herself with the friendliest of people diverse in talent.

As well as sound recording and being a lion dancer (not particularly foreign, being a performer at Dong Tam Association), I was also in charge of capturing behind the scenes footage and interviews to edit later in a promotional video and it was a fun, quick piece to put together.

It’s flattering that Maria immediately trusts my filming and editing skill set, both things which I thoroughly enjoy and take pride in. I’ve got somewhat of a good reputation in the online and Australian martial arts tricking community for my YouTube video works and I’m now focused on elevating my name equally as a short film and narrative filmmaker.

This is the fourth time working with Maria - three times with me being on her shoots, and one where she was featured in my recent documentary ‘Vietnamese Voices’. In fact, it was Maria who encouraged me to make the short documentary which earned me a Vietnamese Community Film Festival prize so I’m very thankful for her push. It also partly spurred me to then also enter last year’s ‘48hr Film Project’ competition, (short: 'Hangman') where I happily won the ‘Best Emerging Director’ award.

All in all, it was an awesome shoot and I’d easily say that no other project shares the same laid back and welcoming vibe set by the adventurous Maria Tran. So whenever Maria needs an aspiring, storytelling, martial arts tricking, film-obsessed crew member for her 'Quest for Jackie Chan!' – she’ll know exactly who to call.
Maria Tran getting excited about something on set. Not sure what it was though. It could have been the rat, black cat and ducks that we spotted at the sewerage place
 Jaytee Newen & David Minh Tam Nguyen in preparation for the "Young Master"Shoot
Cheers! We love water!
Quest for Jackie Chan! Adrian Chino Castro showing the team what he captured on Justin Gong's gear
 Thuy Ng (Production Manager) complaining about how short she was to Dat Huynh (interview subject). How professional :) 

Dat Nguyen, Maria Tran and Thuy Ng
The thugs from "Rumble In the Bronx" played by Kevin Ares Tran and Jaytee Newen

Maria Tran in deep concentration while directing the action. Meanwhile, Guido Gonzalez (DOP/ Camera Operator) is also in deep thought.

Behind-the-scenes/ Vlog - Quest for Jackie Chan! - "First Strike" Scene

Date: Sun, 11 Dec, 2011
Time: 9am-6pm
Location: Marrickville, NSW, Australia
Another day and another fight sequence to complete. Jackie Chan made two films in Australia, one being "Mr Nice Guy" and the other "First Strike". I chose to do a playback of the scene where he uses all sorts of things to fight back the other guys and I've even gone as so far as making the overalls! (literally dyed yellow and painted black).

This was the first time I worked with Alan La, James Nguyen, Kevin Tran and David Wong, together in a group fight sequence with flying paper, sticks, tables and a ladder. It was great to be under the supervision of Adrian Castro (co-producer and fight choreographer) and also the DOP work of Justin Gong.

We had extra support from a hard working production and camera support team: Guido Gonzales, David Cheng, Thuy Ng, Wendy La, Teresa Pham, Ben Cao, Jane Le, Tony Dinh. Special thanks to Craig Anderson (Craig FX) for letting us use the studio and a backdrop.

I think the vibe has been going strong with the quest. Despite being no-budget, the production itself showcases individual characters in team work situations. With that in mind, the spirit of making something out of nothing, venturing through the hard yards to get to where our dreams live.

There is still plenty more to get involved and still a lot of work to do. But this is my destiny project shared with my many comrades who have the same vision and comes with me on a journey to present something epic in action comedy from downunder.

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UPDATES: Quest for Jackie Chan! "Gangland Showdown" Scene

Things have been trucking along quite well. The project is gaining momentum. Bold ideas have now formulated to action. I've been doing back to back shoots of the film and additional scenes (as inspired by Cabramatta's turbulent history of gang and triads in the 90s). The additional scenes is what blends the past with a reinterpretation that is refreshingly comedic and fun.

After the initial rehearsals of the "Gangland Showdown" Scene on Friday (Check our pic below)
Rehearsal Night
featuring a man with a publicly notorious past, Joe Le ("The Finished People") helped with the authentic touches of what gang leaders who roamed Cabramatta in the bad days were like and particularly why the kids did what they did, which is really much more complex than what the media headlined.

Most of the talent playing these gang member roles were mainly new to the who acting arena, with the exceptions of Quan Tran and Khanh Trieu. But it was great to see everyone giving it a go, exploring their boundaries for the performing arts and reclaiming the streets with something artistic and different.

PRODUCTION: As usual, I was nervous as anything, because I wasn't sure what would go down. 25 actors playing gang members in the heart of Cabramatta (days after some muggings and attempted kidnappings on the streets) was a bit of a risk. Even Joe expressed his surprised, even in the presence of Cabramatta's CCTV cameras that the cops didn't bother us.
The whole cast and crew
Some fun scenes that started the night was Farid Farid's rescue from a migrant bag. He popped out of the bag all topless, and sweaty with a comical response of "Thanks for the rescue". I couldn't stop laughing watching the rushes.

Another one was when we were filming the scene where the gangsters entered the alley way and one of them (Kevin Tran) slipped out of frame on a small cherry.

I was so pleased to have Adrian Castro (co-producer/ camera operator) managed the logistical shots and getting as many different variations for me to explore in the editing room. Thanks also to Justin Gong (who unfortunately was sick) for the equipment.

Other people I saw developed further was Thuy Ng (Production manager), Sophea Ergo (Sound) and Quan Tran (Photographer).
Farid Farid (in bag), Sophea Ergo (Sound), Maria Tran (director/ actor) & Adrian Castro (Co-producer/ DOP)

Quan Tran (Actor/ photographer), Thuy (Production manager/ First AD), Adrian Castro, Maria Tran and Farid Farid

Quan Tran, Kevin Tran, Khanh Trieu, Joe Le, James Nguyen, David Wong and Roger.

Next up is Quest for Jackie Chan! "First Strike" Scene due on the Sunday, 11th of December, 2011, 10-4pm. That one will involve some fully sick action packed choreography with hand to hand combat, stick fight as well as furniture throwing. the production is looking for some production assistants who can help with sound, lighting or camera work. Come on board and learn some more skills! Email me at

Behind-the-scenes/ Vlog - Q4JC - "Who Am I" Scene | Maria Tran vs Chris Pang

Chris Pang vs Maria Tran. "Like" the Quest for Jackie Chan! on Facebook! 

Time: 7.00am-1pm
Date: Sunday, 13th of November, 2011
Location: Melbourne

I must have had the dragon on my side because it didn't rain during my shoot! After choreographing some of the fight movements in Sydney and practicing it on fellow filmmaker, Adrian Castro, Thuy Ng and Alan La, finally we took it down to Melbourne.

It was a tightly scheduled day but we just had to get the shots (and we did). I would like to extend my special thanks to Somchay Phakonkham (DOP/ Camera - Reinvent Productions), Rob Hammad (Powderman and production assistant), Andy Minh Trieu (Assistant fight choreography), Jack Ngu (Camera Assistant), Quan Tran (Stills Photography) &; Christopher Pang (a.k.a "Tomorrow When The War Began" & "Citizen Jia Li") + Desmond.

Currently, it has been edited and now handed over to Adrian Castro for the sound design. Looking forward to seeing this one in the movie. Please 'like' our page!
Jack, Desmond, Somchay, Maria, Chris, Andy, Rob (red clipboard) & Peter

Mini blog account by Melbourne-based graphic designer - Peter Dang: 
Hi Guys,

Just taking this opportunity to say thanks for having me onboard the 4JC (Melb shoot) It was a very different & fun experience for me personally. I never realise how much effort and love is involved in such a small yet large project.

You guys each have unique qualities which sums up an awesome team. I am more than happy to part take or help out whenever I can, so let's not be strangers ey ;)

I love the closeness and down to earth personalities you guys posess! I reckon you guys will succeed in whatever you put your mind to. So, In summary I'll like to give you guys my overview on how I see each person I met on the day.

Maria: There is no surprise with you, strong, extroverted and very confident, you've got a lot of balls for a chick! Kick ass personality.. nice seeing you speak @ panel, very lively and engaging with the audience! good stuff!

Somchay: Small world, I've seen your work before but never knew the master mind behind it (because of you vid - youcake)
Flipped out when I saw you spin the camera on one of the fighting scenes, awesome technique and cool personality.
From all the panel speakers on Sunday, I like your style the most.. Keeping it real and say it how it is.

Quan: if I could describe you in one word "Deep" you speak from the heart, I respect this quality about you.

Pang: lol, comedian's good to be working with comedians, it's always nice to have fun in everything we do. Haven't seen your TWTWE yet, but will definitely let you know my thoughts when I do get around to it.

Jack: Jack, a 'strange' character, you make me laugh man.. you also make me question about your sexuality? (do you get this often? lol)

Rob: The secret philosopher, Love @ first site with you.. I throughly enjoyed our conversations and do look forward to seeing your Anchovies movie once it's all ready to go. PS: Sorry, but I filmed your ass crack (BTS) just had to! lol lol lol

And Finally Andy, Hmmm.. pretty boy :) love the martial arts; pretty boy perhaps just the coverup, when you were doing the cherography, You were really zoned into your character. Gl with the kids ;)

Well; Once again thank you Maria for the opportunity, and it was nice meeting you all. Looking forward to more future fun with you guys. All the best ^^