Vietnamese-American Writer Turned Down $5M To Shoot Her Own Story In New Orleans

“Everyone has tried to tell our stories on film and television, but they are inaccurate because the producers, directors, and storytellers haven’t lived it.”  — Thuc Doan Nguyen described the other filmmakers who wanted to finance her upcoming film but were never satisfied with what they could do for her story.

Nguyen was eager to continue working on her script “Scent of the Delta,” a semifinalist at the 2020 film festival that will shortly be filmed. Carrie, a multiracial lady in New Orleans, is caught between two cultures. The narrative discusses anti-Asian prejudice, Asian sex workers’ misery, human trafficking victims, and Vietnamese patriarchal standards.

This gave Nguyen focus and purpose, and she became a screenwriter. Her first assignment in New Orleans showed her how misunderstood the Vietnamese population was. She cited her family’s terrifying refugee experiences and which fueled her desire and determination to do more.

Nguyen’s initial career path never involved writing. As a 3-year-old, she was entrusted to churchwomen, whom she refers to as her American grandmothers, because her family did not speak English when they immigrated to the United States. Her family relocated to southern Maryland with new employment opportunities awaiting her parents.

Since Nguyen had already made it to the semi-finals of the 2022 festival and Sundance Film Institute had expressed interest in the script, she decided to push forward with the project. She anticipated additional difficulties and major setbacks while adapting the screenplay into a film. Vietnamese-American producers had expressed interest in funding the film, but she knew they were missing the mark. 

She believes that the production team and actors cast by the producers will not complement her story. Because of this, she has made a life-changing choice. She declined a $5 million sponsorship offer for her film and decided to make it herself. As a result of her discernment, she was able to meticulously plan out the production of the film version of the story that she envisioned. 

Her film will be developed and directed by her team and a well-known production. She chose Le Ly Haslip, who wrote Oliver Stone’s “Heaven and Earth,” and Maria Judice, a science-fiction film producer. 

Nguyen wants the audience to comprehend the genuine narrative behind her writing, as shared by people who experienced it. The film’s shooting is set to get underway in Louisiana in 2023.

This upcoming fall, she was also nominated for the 2022 Gold Fellowship Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences due to her continued perseverance and incredible creative work.