Anh Vu — Director, Framestore Pictures

Anh talks to TheNextGag about moving to the US from France, evolving from animation to live action and why you shouldn’t upgrade your TV set.

Anh Vu is a Director at Framestore Pictures in the USA.

Anh is a director based in New York City with a background in design and visual effects. Having started at Psyop in 2007 as a Designer, Anh quickly elevated into Psyop’s director collective. After 9 years at Psyop, she joins Framestore Pictures as one of their newest signed Directors.

To date, Anh has contributed to several award-winning campaigns for brands like Aetna, GE, Volkswagen, JBL, Samsonite and Stand Up To Cancer. Her latest work at Psyop included commercials for Michelin and Silk.

Anh was raised in France and went on to earn her BFA in Broadcast Design and Motion Graphics at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Prior to Psyop, Vu worked on the short film ‘Lemon Tree’ combining live action characters within 3D environments and implemented with 2D animation. The film was recognized in many international film festivals and won several awards.

Vu recently launched a compelling personal project, ‘Never to Forget,’ which portrays the lives of women and children from the state of Rajasthan, India and their fight for equality.

THENEXTGAG: WHAT PUSHED YOU TO THIS LINE OF WORK ?

ANH VU: My background studies came from painting and computer art. I was quickly picked up by a production studio called Psyop. There I grew to become a designer and quickly became a director. At the time, the work that I focused on a lot was visual effects and animation because that was what Psyop was known for.

It was a natural progression for me to move away from directing animation and to lean towards directing more live action. Production is a tedious long process and I was yearning to find more real human connection with my work, something that was hard to capture with CG.

Ultimately, I was fortunate to have met the right people at the right time. These people believed in me, my vision and in my capability to excel in directing.

TNG: HOW EASY WAS THE TRANSITION FROM EUROPE TO THE US ?

AV: Transition was a very interesting experience. I grew up in Toulouse and moved to Biloxi Mississippi when I was 16. Moving there was a culture shock. I had this presumed vision of what America was: a futuristic country, where everything was shiny, new, advanced, but instead I experienced the opposite. It felt like we were going back into times. I’ve seen racism, poverty, drugs, gangs, rundown towns, people divided by their race, religion and their economical status.

But there was great things about this transition to the US. I have learned to accept myself, my background, I’ve started to embrace my Vietnamese culture. Something that I always tried to reject when I was growing up in France. All I always wanted was to be just like the French people because I was ashamed of being different. But here, I have learned and felt more acceptance even though the country is going through a rough time now.

TNG: HOW HAVE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES CHANGED NOW THAT YOU ARE A DIRECTOR ?

AV: I’ve been directing for about 7 years now. I think my responsibilities are semi the same. I just have a different focus now. I am focusing more on what my vision is about, making sure that the work is true to my style. The stories and visuals have to feel meaningful.

TNG: DO YOU SEE A DIFFERENCE WORKING ON A SHORT FILM VS A COMMERCIAL PROJECT ?

AV: Commercials are beast of their own. It’s fun, challenging, sometimes rewarding, but most often it’s about gaining more experience for bigger projects down the line. Short films are passion projects that makes you feel good about crafting something creative and meaningful, it puts everything you’ve learned to the test.

My most recent work tend to be more human, intimate and poetic

TNG: WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOU HAVE A CERTAIN STYLE OR AESTHETIC IN YOUR PROJECTS ?

AV: My most recent work tend to be more human, intimate and poetic. Moody and emotional that’s how I would like to describe my style.

TNG: DO YOU FIND IT IMPORTANT TO KEEP UP WITH THE LATEST TECHNICAL EVOLUTIONS ?

AV: I think it is important to keep up with new technologies but I also think that we shouldn’t get lost within it. It can be distracting and sometimes you lose sight of what is important. I used to work with very technical teams, I am aware of the technical evolutions but I like to avoid it and keep things simple and real.

TNG: WAS THERE A PIECE OF WORK THAT YOU SAW IN 2016 THAT YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYED ?

AV: I loved Arrival and La La Land!

TNG: TV SETS ARE BECOMING MUCH CLEARER WITH HD AND NOW 4K. ARE WE ABOUT TO LOSE THE MAGIC BECAUSE OF TOO MUCH ON-SCREEN REALISM ?

AV: I do think that new TV that are set with a crazy defaults settings are ruining the pictures. I don’t understand who sets those standards but people are getting used to see interpolated motion or “smooth motion”. It just cheapens everything we know about film. Making everything look like a soap opera.

As far as image sharpness, I think it’s unavoidable. Your eyes adjust to brighter, clearer images quickly and then it becomes a new standard.

When shooting, I prefer using imperfect lenses, something that feels softer and a little bit more painterly rather than sharp and modern.

TNG: WHY DO YOU ENJOY WORKING WITH FRAMESTORE ?

AV: Framestore Picture is the live action production company under the umbrella of Framestore. I recently signed with them as one of the directors within their roster of many talented directors.

What I really enjoyed from this new partnership is the vision that Jennifer Siegel and John Duffin, the EPs at Framestore Pictures, have for their directors. They grow their talent based on their skills but also strongly believe in our visions.

Obviously, it’s a great plus to have the power house of Framestore to support the VFX side of any projects. The quality of work that comes out of Framestore is always very stellar.

TNG: WHAT WOULD BE A DREAM PROJECT FOR YOU ? A FEATURE FILM ? A VIDEO GAME TRAILER ? A 3D PROJECTION MAPPING ?

AV: Dream project would be a feature film down the road. I would love to work on a long format. Even a storytelling VR project would be amazing to work on. Anything that has to do with people and nature I would do it in a heartbeat!

Anh Vu

Framestore Pictures

Director

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