It’s a Wrap! – The making of FilmLAB’s OLD MISS

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In January the cast and crew of the film OLD MISS, a CinemAsia FilmLAB production, gathered in Rotterdam for their final day of filming. The short film OLD MISS, by director and writer Chinh Van Tran, tells the story of Miss, a Vietnamese nanny living in the Netherlands, looking after two Vietnamese children. When she learns that her service for the family is no longer needed, she has to decide how to say goodbye to the little children she has taken care of for all their lives.

Chinh wrote the script three years ago, pitched it during CinemAsia’s PitchLAB event in March and started its development in December together with CinemAsia FilmLAB producer Helen Tsang. Chinh found the inspiration for the story in real life when she visited her cousin’s family living in Europe and got acquainted with her cousin’s two kids who were raised with the help of their nanny. The lovely relationship the kids had with their nanny formed the starting point of what would become the story OLD MISS. Because OLD MISS is such a personal story and so close to heart, Chinh decided to direct it herself, making OLD MISS her directing debut.



Chinh: I feel really grateful for the team and feel blessed in many ways. I have written for a lot of short films and worked with my friends during their first directing jobs. So, I learned about all the things that can go wrong during the production and I worried about that. But, with this production a lot of things went right, and I feel blessed about that. Everything was planned out well, we even made many versions of the story board. I am also very happy with our main lead actress Miss H. playing Old Miss. For me it was very important to cast Vietnamese actors and for Old Miss in particular, someone who actually speaks Vietnamese. When I see movies in which an actor is cast that is supposed to be Vietnamese but when they speak you can tell they are not, it aches me. So, I am really happy we found Miss H. to play the role. She fits the part perfectly.

For Miss H. OLD MISS will be her acting debut. She moved from Hanoi to the Netherlands about two years ago and enjoyed the acting experience very much.

Miss H.: Over the past days of filming the cast and crew have become very close. Which is why I feel a little sad that it is the last day of filming already. I am for sure going to miss it. It has been really fun on set, and it was very nice to work with the child actors Louis and Celine. They are so funny and unpredictable at times. I hope to do more acting in the future.


Most of the final day of filming takes place in a nicely decorated and cozy apartment in Rotterdam near Voorhaven Delfshaven. And as beautiful as its surroundings, with an impressive windmill and a great view over the canal, is also the inside of the apartment for which the set design has been taken care of by Indy YuQain.



Indy: Working on set has been, a bit chaotic sometimes, but really fun. I am from Leeuwarden and usually when I work on set design and costumes, there is a local team of people to help me and with whom I work together all the time. Here in Rotterdam, I do not have my own team from Leeuwarden to help out and also do not know a lot of people yet either, making it a bit challenging sometimes but really fun. I did everything from set design, dressing and food styling and am really impressed by how well Louis and Celine are doing. They are still so young, but they have done an amazing job.


And when there is nothing left to be filmed on the first location, it is time for cast and crew to move to the second one. Which will be outside, near the Vietnamese restaurant Pho Hanoi. And in charge of keeping the train rolling and having the right people at the right place, at the right time, is first assistant director Sam van Lieshout.

What is special about the production of OLD MISS is not just the predominantly Asian and Dutch-Asian cast and crew but also the fact that multiple languages are spoken on set: Vietnamese, Dutch, and English. It is also Sam who helps navigate these language barriers.

Sam: I am here to support Chinh in her role as director. For me, it is my first time as a first AD but I enjoy it very much. I aspire to be a producer in the future. So far, everything runs very smoothly planning-wise. I am really happy about that. Chinh speaks English and Vietnamese and when she is directing the children, I will help by giving Chinh’s instructions in Dutch. Just to make sure everything is clear to everyone. Louis and Celine speak Dutch and Vietnamese but do not always understand Chinh well because she speaks in another dialect compared to the Vietnamese they are used to at home. Switching between all these languages can be confusing at times but it is also really funny. I am curious to see the end result. I have seen how it will look on screen but because the dialogue is in Vietnamese, I do not fully know the meaning of it yet. So, I cannot wait to see it come together (with subtitles etc.) in the edit.



It is getting dark outside and when Chinh is happy with the last take, it is time, after five intensive days of filming, to wrap it up! The day ends on a celebratory note, not only because the filming is finished and everyone is exited for OLD MISS’s world premiere at the CinemAsia festival in March, but also because it happens to be Louis’ birthday!

Congratulations Louis, and of course the rest of the cast and crew with the successfully wrapping up the filming of OLD MISS!

CAST: Miss H., Anna, Louise and Celine

CREW: Helen Tsang – Producer, Chinh Van Tran – Writer/Director, Sam van Lieshout – 1st AD,  Luca Ottmann – DOP, Stein Boon – Gaffer, Kristian Dekker – 1st AC, Ting Fung Cheung – Sound operator, Indy YuQian – Production designer, Rebeka – PA/Runner, Sonriza – PA/Runner


OLD MISS is a part of CinemAsia’s Crossing Borders: Asian-European Media Makers shorts program screened on Sat 9 March, 11:30 at Studio/K. The screening will be followed by the panel “Who Can Tell What Story? — Exploring Positionality in Storytelling,” where filmmakers and decision-makers will discuss the complexities of representation and positionality in the Dutch Asian media landscape.

Get your tickets here!



Author: Aubrey van Leeuwen