Phan Vu Diem Hang, 24

When she's not on a movie set, Hang Phan (below left) is usually cruising the city's lively streets with her friends.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
When she's not on a movie set, Hang Phan (below left) is usually cruising the city's lively streets with her friends.
My Reading Room

“I’m on a film set.

After a long day of shooting, I’m surrounded by an exhausted crew aglow under the harsh lights. My name is Hang Phan, but my close friends call me Hakki. As an assistant producer for a film production house in Ho Chi Minh, a typical work week for me is anything but typical.

Sometimes, I work 18 hours a day, six days a week. Other times, my schedule is much more relaxed and I can head out to a nice bistro for a chill evening.

My job is to manage the financing, planning and coordinating of projects like music videos or feature films. This includes everything from editing the script and casting the actors to colour-grading and filming behind-thescenes footage. In short, I’m responsible for anything required to bring the production to life.

This sort of work doesn’t follow a nine-to-five schedule. During the production stage of a feature film, I have no personal time until all the filming is completed.

Thankfully, once we move on to the post production stage, my time is freed up (just a little), and I can finally sneak in a celebratory drink after work.

While the nightlife scene here is vibrant, with clubs, bars or karaoke lounges at every turn, I’m not a big fan of the blaring, chart-topping music that plays in popular night spots.

Depending on my mood and the weather, I usually head to Anan Saigon – a fusion Vietnamese bistro with a pretty rooftop view – for a refreshing cold beer, or a cosy izakaya on Le Thanh Ton Street for refreshing umeshu on the rocks and light Japanese snacks.

I get a base salary each month, but what I take home varies from project to project because I handle different responsibilities for each one. This doesn’t stop me from living quite comfortably. Once the rent and utility bills are out of the way, I spend most of my income on dining out. But I always set some savings aside for my next trip abroad or other future plans.

Without the stability of a ‘normal’ office job, and with rising inflation rates, I worry about the future. Will I be able to sustain my current lifestyle, and will I be able to support my parents in the future?

For now, I hope to accumulate enough experience from my current job to start a business of my own within the next five years.”
My Reading Room