Filmmaker Spotlight: Ham Tran

Featured films this May for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month on the X1 Asian American destination include “How to Fight in Six Inch Heels,” directed by Ham Tran. We got the chance to speak with Ham about the inspiration behind this rom-com and his journey as a Vietnamese American filmmaker.

Photo: Ham Tran

Tell us about your film featured on X1 this month!

Ham Tran:How to Fight in Six Inch Heels” is a romantic comedy about Anne—a very talented fashion designer—whose fiancee, Kiet, has just been offered a manager position at his job in Vietnam. Anne gets jealous when she sees photos of Kiet at events with a beautiful woman, so she takes the first flight to Vietnam to investigate. Her cousin, Danny—a famous makeup artist—tells her that Kiet has actually been seen with three different models. Comedy and mayhem ensue when Anne pretends to be a model and befriends these three model, but the truth is a serious and sobering lesson about love and friendship.

How to Fight in Six Inch Heels” was a great experience because it was the first feature film that I directed in Vietnam. I got to work with fellow Asian American filmmakers like Tim Bui, Bao Nguyen, and Kathy Uyen. Most importantly, I got a chance to work with my wife, Nuchsuda, who is a fashion designer. Nuchsuda and Joy, my sister-in-law, created all of the amazing dresses and shoes featured in the film. My wife and I totally fell in love with Vietnam, and I’ve been living and making films there since.

How did you get into filmmaking?

HT: After I graduated with a BA in English from UCLA, I joined a Vietnamese American comedy troop called “Club O’Noodles.” I wrote, performed and directed performances pieces there that traveled to university campuses across the U.S. I also earned an MA in Directing from the UCLA Graduate School of Film and Television. My first two short films were nominated for the Student Oscar and my thesis was short-listed for the 2004 Academy Award for Best Live Action Narrative. From there I directed my first feature film, “Journey From the Fall,” premiered at Sundance in 2006.

Photo: Ham Tran

What are some films and/or filmmakers that have inspired you?

HT: I have a wide and eclectic taste in films. For example, my top three favorite films of all time have been “The Princess Bride,” “When Harry Met Sally,” and Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: Space Odyssey.” I think I’m a romantic at heart, which is why romantic comedies are so appealing to me. However, as a filmmaker, I’m inspired by Kubrick and Ang Lee—directors who not only are able to work in many different genres but also have their films leave a mark in each of those genres.

Do you have a favorite Asian American film?

HT: Better Luck Tomorrow.” I think the story of Justin’s success and how he has always used his success to promote better representations of Asian Americans in films is inspiring.

How does your Asian heritage influence your work?

HT: I think that streaming platforms have brought more opportunities to Asian Americans in cinema and it’s very hopeful and exciting time.

What’s next for you?

HT: I’m currently working on a thriller based on the true story of Vietnam’s first reported serial killer. There’s never been a serial killer genre film made in Vietnam before, so I hope that this film will do well and pave the way for a new genre in the market.

Photo: Ham Tran

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Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Ham Tran! Watch “How to Fight in Six Inch Heelson the X1 Asian American destination or with Xfinity Stream this May for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Just say “Asian American” into your Xfinity X1 Voice Remote!

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For more Filmmaker Spotlights or Asian American news and entertainment visit Xfinity Asian American.