Interview with Huynh Vinh Son, Creative Director Saola Creative

By AMRITA VALECHA | 7 September, 2011 - 11:32

Huynh Vinh Son started his journey in the animation industry more than twelve years ago. After falling in love with animated cartoons and facing many difficulties he is now the Creative Animation Director at Saola Creative, one of the biggest animation studios in Vietnam.


Could you tell us how you started in this industry?
I choose animated cartoon as my undergraduate major but during the first half of the time, I thought that I would choose the career as a traditional painter. At that time, my world was plenty of brush, frames and oil-colours. However, when I got into the second half of the time (the concentration period), the more knowledge and practices I got, the deeper I fell in love with animated cartoon. Facing many difficulties because animation was not really recognized in Vietnam, my desire became more consistent. Being young somehow means taking challenges and being inspired by difficulties. After more than twelve years, that unique energy has brought me here as a desirous and creative animation director.

What inspired you to get into Animation Direction?
The two corner-stones that create my decision of  pursuing animated cartoon as a life-time career are passion and something more than passion. I have been inspired by the idea of being one of the first Vietnamese artists who can win the hearts of Vietnamese animation audiences as well as making profits in this industry. I want to prove that pursuing a life-time dream doesn’t mean being poor and having a difficult life.

Could you share with us about some of your part work?
I like to mention some of my completed projects. Firstly, there was a ninety-minute animated cartoon named “The Dragon’s son” (which was ordered by HodaFilm). This was presented in 1000th birthday anniversary of Thang Long – Ha Noi (the Vietnamese Capital). Secondly, a series of one-minute short animated cartoons financed by The Ministry of Health Portal and BBC Trust. This created a message about protecting the youth from HIV/Aids. Last but not least, I have been creating several series of animated cartoons (13 minutes per espisode) for Entertainment Division, Vietnam National Television.

What are you currently working on?
Currently, my first priority is finishing “The Bubble Boy” movie, the second is creating the visual frame work for two channels of AVG – a new coming television program in Vietnam. Besides, a ten-minute 3D cartoon (which is ordered by an entertainment enterprise in Hanoi) and a series of short cartoons advertising for a resort in the Middle of Vietnam are in the process.

Tell us about your company, its core focus? How many artists are working in your company?
Saola Creative Studio somehow is considered to be young as we just celebrated the 4th anniversary. However, based on our recognized achievements, we strongly believe in our future. The studio’s core competencies (also our advantages) are creating cartoons and visual works for many television programs in Vietnam. Most of our staff are freelancers who work in the South or North of Vietnam. I will invite some of them depending on the requirement of a particular project. It doesn’t mean we are all freelancers. We currently have seven talented artists working as full-time employees. These artists are the backbone of the studio.

What would be your most memorable piece of work?
Unfortunately, my most memorable piece of work, which can make me really proud of, is still somewhere ahead in the future. Although, I have been trying my best as well as putting all my hearts on projects, I haven’t got anything as wonderful as I expect. I am still working for it.

Are there any animation events in Vietnam?
Extremely rare. The animation industry in Vietnam has some little positive changes but in general it is still very sleepy. The most current and also the only event (until now) is the International Animated Cartoon Festival which was organized by Japan on January, 2011.

Annually, we have the “Golden Kite” movie festival, a professional awards granted by Vietnamese Movie Association. Every two or three year, we have the “Golden Lotus” movie festival. At these festival, there are always calls for animated cartoons but Vietnamese audiences haven’t been interested in this type of art. I personally think the reason doesn’t come from the audiences, it comes from the cartoons and the artists who create them. I feel really encouraged when observing a lot of audiences joining the Japanese

International Animated Cartoon Festival in Hanoi. They love animated cartoons. My life-time dream is winning Vietnamese audiences’ hearts by Vietnamese animated cartoons created by myself and my partners.

Do you have any government support for the Digital Industry in Vietnam?
Animation has faced a lot of difficulties and challenges in Vietnam. Previously there were some private companies that invested heavily in this field. Unfortunately, because the cartoon quality was not really high and the outputs were not really appreciated by the audiences, most of these companies decided to stop investing further.
As a result, the Government is currently the biggest investor and sponsor in Vietnam. Every year, the Government finances around 40 works (including both single and series of animated cartoons, each one is about 13 minutes). The financial supports are divided among the three main cartoon makers in Vietnam: Vietnamese Animated Cartoon Enterprise, Animated Cartoon Division of Vietnamese National Television and Giai Phong Enterprise.

What would your message be to the upcoming artists in Vietnam?
There is no easy way to anything. Obviously the animated cartoon industry in Vietnam still lack positive signs. There have been a lot of difficulties, challenges. However, if you can maintain strong belief, continuously build and practice skills and knowledge, you are absolutely successful. You can earn your living by doing many different jobs. But my question is “what is your life-time dream?”. When I mention a “life-time dream”, I mean something so strong, so committed, something you are ready to pursuit for whole life, something that makes you smile whenever you think about it. If your answer is “animated cartoons”, just go for it. There is a Vietnamese old saying “if you try, finally you will gain”. Vietnamese animated cartoons will be recognised internationally.