Film Producer Chi-Minh De Leo

Film Producer Chi-Minh De Leo

Film Producer Chi-Minh De Leo

As a producer and partner at production house Clubhouse Films, 33-year-old Chi Minh De Leo has to be adept at multi-tasking.

With a Vietnamese mother and Italian father, he was born in Germany but has lived in Vietnam since he was aged nine. After spending a decade in the advertising industry, he launched Clubhouse with his business partner just over three years ago.

He says his working day is organized around four broad areas: pitching for new work, pre-production, filming days and post-production.

“We mostly do TVCs (television commercials), so our clients are agencies. I have eight or nine I’m pitching on now,” he says.

These agencies are here in Vietnam, but also from other countries in Asia and Europe. De Leo’s production team will break down the potential job to put together a quote, while he searches for the right director for the project. These, usually international, directors are choices based on the style required.

“I find directors that suit the job, depending if there is a lot of CGI (computer-generated imagery), animation, or if it is very cinematic or comedy.”

Once a job is secured he moves into organising pre-production and things really heat up. During this process he and his team will scout locations or build models of sets, cast actors, design the wardrobe, and begin booking the technical crew among many other things.

Two days before the actual filming begins there will be a final pre-production meeting with the client. At this meeting everything thing is presented to the client for their approval. De Leo says this is to ensure there are “no surprises” when the cameras actually start rolling.

Shooting days typically start at 5am, and there can be up to a hundred people involved with the addition of freelance and contract workers for everything from catering to sound and lighting technicians.

He says the budget for the shoot usually only allows for two or three days of filming. “So we do the three-day shoots in two and the two-day shoots in one-and-a-half.”

If everything goes according to plan, the shoot will wrap for the day about midnight, but if not, then it is not unusual for the team to be at it at 6am the following morning.

“There are lucky days, where we finish at five or six [pm], but that doesn’t happen very much,” De Leo says. “There are a lot of things that go into a 30-second TVC.”

Once the filming is ‘in the can’ the editing process begins. What it called an ‘offline edit’ of the commercial, without any special effects or graphics, is shown to the client. Once approved the digital wizardry is added and the finished piece is ready to go to air.

De Leo and his partner share out the projects as they often have several on the go at once in different stages of development. “Sometimes I am on a shoot and I will be on the phone about a pitch,” he says.

“In one day we do everything. It can get a little stressful, but it is still a fun job.”