Like billions of viewers worldwide, The CREATV Company is counting down to the 366th and final episode of the shocking, tense, ludicrous, callous and unbelievably heartbreaking unscripted disaster series 2020. We join our colleagues in other creative industries unequivocally rooting for this programme’s cancellation, with no re-runs, spinoffs or expanded universe in the pipeline.
In all seriousness – with all due respect and empathy for the so many who’ve faced down and lost so much in the all-too real version of 2020 – it is with a sense of incredible relief and good fortune that we reflect on the year from our studios in Ho Chi Minh City. Through decisive action and sound policy, Vietnam crushed four waves of Covid-19. The nation’s safe-haven status was hard earned and all of us are proud to have played roles in it, even if they were bit parts.
With the exception of a nationwide lockdown in April, during which our studios were shut for several weeks, our Ho Chi Minh home base remained open all year. For a perennial city on the move, one that hearts the hustle, it’s nothing short of a miracle (during this season of wishing for them) to close out the year reeling only from the economic knock-on effects of the worst pandemic in a century.
Since its inception, The CREATV Company has been in the business of making Vietnam an international filming hotspot: selling line production services bringing the world to Vietnam, and Vietnam to the world. For a Vietnamese-American kid who grew up in the Hollywood studio backlots where many red-meat action flicks set in 'Nam' were filmed, this concept resonated deeply. To think that, one day, stories set in Vietnam would be filmed in… Vietnam! And, what’s more, that the country’s striking landscapes could double as other global locations, from West Bengali mangroves to The Bund in the 1930s.
After two stellar, back-to-back years of consistent international line production work, The CREATV Company welcomed a pivot to our valued local clients. Not only have they been absolutely instrumental in helping us through this unprecedented time, their determination and accomplishment is itself an inspiration.
“We got involved deeply with clients who represent purpose,” said Othello Khanh, The CREATV Company’s founder and managing director. “Understanding the way the world was changing, the way society was changing… we find ourselves working on projects that gave answers to our questions.”
2020’s challenges and setbacks were not limited to Covid-19. From record-shattering floods here in Ho Chi Minh City, to devastating landslides triggered by monsoons in the country’s central provinces, Vietnam’s exposure to and vulnerability from climate change was brought into sharp, painful focus this year. It’s therefore a great honour to have documented the as-it-happened construction and opening of Southeast Asia’s largest PV Solar Farm in Ninh Thuận or the epic Watergates resurrection of the past few years, which will culminate in the Ho Chi Minh City Flood Prevention mega-project when completed.
It’s one giant leap towards Vietnam’s carbon neutral future, a promise the country made when it ratified the Paris Agreement on 31st October 2016.
We started the year excited about the international projects greenlit to make Vietnam the world’s backlot. We end it with attention fully focused in our own backyard, realising that, more than ever, our role in preserving it, caring for it, matters. Our diverse backgrounds are part of our identity here at The CREATV Company. Many of us have roots in or connections to countries other than Vietnam. That could be schooling, years of lived experience, or family living abroad.
We wish our friends overseas the same peace and stability we have been so fortunate to live and work in. And long for the day when the world – having healed and able to piece itself together in a way that’s managed wisely, done at the right time and under proper circumstances – can reunite again.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and, for crying out loud, wear a mask!
- Stirling Silliphant, development and digital content editor, The CREATV Company