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Phuong Mai Nguyen

Phuong Mai Nguyen

Meet animation film director and storyboard artist from Paris, Phuong Mai Nguyen

GirlsclubAsia-Artist- PhuongMaiNguyen-Photo

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hello, I’m Mai. I grew up in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and came to France to study when I was 15 years old. I graduated from Gobelins, L’École de L’Image and La Poudrière, two French schools specializing in animation filmmaking. Recently I co-directed a TV series adapted from a graphic novel called Brazen written by Penelope Bagieu. And now I am working as a storyboard artist for a long feature film.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

Paris is a city for art and food lovers. There are always a lot of exhibitions and artistic events to see in this city all year round. It’s lively and great to walk around and get lost. You can stumble on small streets that look like a village or a garden hidden behind some buildings.

 

Paris is a city for art and food lovers.

 

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

The best is you always have something to do or to visit in Paris.

The worst is driving in Paris.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Multicutural, Romantic, Poetic.

 

How did you start your career in art?

I always loved watching animation films. And when I was in high school, (I was 14 years old) I got a job experience in an animation studio in Vietnam. People there showed me how animation works and I found it really magical. I asked my parents if I can continue my highschool in France, in a school that’s specialized in art and illustrations. A friend of mine talked about the Gobelins, L’École de L’Imagethere, and took me to their public open house. A lot of students there showed me their works and it really amazed me. I was telling myself this is the place where I can learn a lot from other people and be a better artist. So, at the end of high school, I passed the test for the school and got accepted.

 

When I was in high school, (I was 14 years old) I got a job experience in an animation studio in Vietnam. People there showed me how animation works and I found it really magical.

 

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

When I was a kid, I was the silent and introvert type of kid. I could spend hours building a Lego town and making stories with my toys. My parents sent me to drawing classes very early and were always encouraging me to do what I wanted. I think that they are happy to have a creative mind in the family because they are more in the business field.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

I would like to write a graphic novel and direct a long feature.

 

I would like to write a graphic novel and direct a long feature.

 

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

Nora Twomey

 

How would you describe the women around you?

I grew up in a house with a lot of women. My mother and sister are both businesswomen. They are strong-minded and hard workers.

 

I grew up in a house with a lot of women. My mother and sister are both businesswomen. They are strong-minded and hard workers.

 

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

When I grew up in Vietnam, I wasn’t much aware of female creatives, I guess they were not so well known at that time.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

In the animation industry, women used to only be colorists. Nowadays, there are more female directors or key positions but the numbers are still too low in France. When I was asked to direct “Brazen”, the TV series, I felt very inexperienced and the job offer really frightened me. I was always asking myself if I was the right person, talented enough, etc. I figured out that I haven’t seen a lot of women as animation film directors, so there was a lack of role models here for me and it seems to be something impossible to do. So maybe the challenge is that you need to cross the road to people who can trust you and give you the opportunity to the key positions.

 

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because it’s the natural way of learning.

 

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because it’s the natural way of learning.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Phuong Mai Nguyen.

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