Published: 17 July 2009
Best intentions find a home with orphans
Charity fundraising and helping aspiring actors are the twin motivators which have helped a marketing lecturer at The University of Queensland turn a dream into a full-length feature movie.
Dr Doan Nguyen wrote and directed Home of Strangers using a cast of young actors and students, giving them a chance to experience life on a movie set without having to move to Sydney or Los Angeles.
The movie is also set to raise funds from screenings and DVD sales for a Vietnamese orphanage through Que Huong Charity. Shot at UQ and Toowong, The Gap, Wynnum and Manly, Home of Strangers will be screened at The Schonell Cinema on August 1.
There are also plans to screen the movie at The University of Melbourne as part of their Asia Week festivities on August 19. Negotiations are underway for inclusion on an international film festival circuit.
Home of Strangers tells the story of a young Vietnamese man who escapes a gang and flees to Brisbane, only to have the gang's leader track him down and try to force him back into a life of crime.
Dr Nguyen said completing the self-financed movie had been a big ask, but worth the effort.
"I ran into young people who wanted to be in a production but did not have the opportunity, unless they went to LA or at least Sydney. They had to wait tables or do anything to survive," she said.
"I had a script and had students wanting to work for the experience and getting something under their belt. I decided to make a movie and raise funds for the orphanage."
Dr Nguyen admitted she was fearful no-one would respond to the casting call, given that the cast would not be paid for their work.
"There was no money to pay people, from the top right down to the bottom, but within hours we had so many applications – even from professional people. We had to turn some applications down."
But it did not end there, with high-profile actor Steff Dawson waiving a fee to add a song to the soundtrack, Lindy Morrison flying to Brisbane for a cameo, Sally Tang contributing the theme song and members from Camira group Shotokan Budokai Karate completing action sequences in the movie's fight scenes.
Away from the movie set, Dr Nguyen's marketing students were involved in seeking sponsorship and design students helped put together a poster and a website.
Dr Nguyen said the effort proved anything was possible.
"It showed, yes, we can do it. We are small Brisbane groups, but it is possible to make a movie and raise money for a charity."
At last count, the Vietnamese orphanage had 322 children in need of care.
Dr Nguyen hopes to make further movies and raise money for charities such as Rotary and Red Cross.
Home of Strangers will be screened at The Schonell Cinema on August 1.
Visit www.outside-the-box-movies.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media: Doan Nguyen (0407 116 815, 07 3365 7151) or Erik de Wit at UQ Communications (07 3346 7086)
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