We had the good fortune of connecting with Linh Tran and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Linh, why did you pursue a creative career?
I came from a family of doctors and business people, and I grew up in Vietnam, so growing up, making films or art never actually crossed my mind. None of my peers were aspiring to be artists, and no parent that I knew, my parents included, encouraged their kids to be filmmakers. And then I came to college in the States, and the first class I took was acting and that kinda opened up other possibilities to me. I fell into theater and then fell into film. And it just dawned on me that I had to make films, because I loved it so much, even though I heard a lot of noises around me, about how hard it would be to survive as an artist. But I just have to do it. It’s less a choice to me, more like a necessity. I know I have stories, which I could tell visually. And I have a perspective that is a perspective of a person of color, an immigrant, that I should get out there, and because of this, I hope people could benefit from watching the things I make.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I tell very personal stories with my films, mostly I use materials from my life and from the people that I know around me, which makes it different. And I try my very best to bring Asian faces and stories on to the screen as well, because these are my people.
A thing that I’ve discovered recently is that it is much better, and sometimes easier, to let the truth and real life carry me away, rather than trying to construct a thing from outside. So I focus on the rawness of the people I work with, especially my actors. I do a lot of interviews with them and a lot of improv when I make films. But this also requires a scary amount of vulnerability, and sometimes, it’s hard to confront your own demons. I’m speaking for both me and my collaborators here. It wasn’t always like this, I think I had to overcome a lot of my fears and uncertainties about making art and I have to resist the temptation to compare myself to other people to be able to stay true and absolutely honest.
And that said, I always try to make my art with kindness.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am based in Chicago, and there are a lot of great spots around here. But my absolute favorite is Garfield Conservatory. I really like plants, so the green houses here are great. When you step outside, it’s like a different world, you forget that you’re even in Chicago. It’s honestly the best landscape for thinking and daydreaming!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The most important person who helped me with my journey is my mom. She doesn’t have an artistic background, but she is the most supportive person in my life. Sometimes filmmaking is really hard, and I would come to her, and she always reminds me of how much I love it. She has helped me getting support making my movies. My mom loves her job as a doctor, and she always told me she didn’t care what I do for my career, as long as it’s something I love.
And I wouldn’t be here today without my teachers in college and in film school. Some of them were really nurturing, some of them were strict, and I guess I needed a bit of both to find my voice, grow and become daring and fearless with my art.
Connor O’Keefe Jewells Santos David Foy Hailie Dang