In this experimental surrealist thriller, a young woman is inducted into a bizarre family as their new surrogate daughter. Shot on 16mm film with a predominantly Vietnamese cast, DAUGHTER is a uniquely diverse and genre-bending tale in the vein of Yorgos Lanthimos's Dogtooth and 10 Cloverfield Lane.
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Inclusion StatementThis project wouldn't have been possible without such an inclusive mix of talent both in front of and behind the camera, including a crew whose demographic makeup included 80% people of color and 60% women during principal photography.
About The Project
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DAUGHTER is less a film about a family than it is a parable about choice and freedom. At its center, however, is a real-life family and community. This film came into existence because our writer/director Corey Deshon and I both itched as creators of color to make art outside the confines of the stereotypical genres and narratives Hollywood often limit us to.
When Corey started writing the script for DAUGHTER, he began with myself, Ian Alexander, and Elyse Dinh. It made sense to make us a family; we’re all Vietnamese American and close friends. Corey then gave us a gift and set out to write a script that did not use the Vietnam War to wholly define us. He went even further and chose to create characters that would stretch us in ways our respective careers had not yet done.
As we headed into production, our chosen family grew to include the rest of our cast and crew. We were thrilled to find our diverse team believed in our little project about a twisted mixed family as much as we did. It’s rare for multiple Vietnamese American characters to be at the center of a story. It’s even more rare for Vietnamese (and queer) actors to star in weird little art films. It was magic. I joined some of my closest friends everyday on set where I could also call on my fellow cast, makeup artists, producers and UPM to help me perfect my Vietnamese dialogue. A younger me would have never imagined this scenario to be tangible. Even at its most challenging, this film never failed to nourish me.
Why a bilingual film? Why did a black director work with a predominantly Vietnamese cast? Why did we choose to make an absurdist drama? We say, "Why not?" This film and our little film family exists because we believe it should. Join us on our journey and help our family make this unique film a reality.
— Vivien Ngô, Actor/Producer of DAUGHTER
A hood is removed from her eyes as a strange man, her kidnapper, stands over her. From now on, she will know him only as FATHER, and he will know her only as DAUGHTER. She will be welcomed into the family to meet her new MOTHER and BROTHER, and it will be her place to make this happy family whole once again.
As Daughter navigates through this twisted family dynamic coping with the loss of her own freedom, dark secrets about the past are revealed, leading to even darker implications about the future.
CASPER VAN DIEN ("Father")
Casper Van Dien is beloved for his breakthrough role as Johnny Rico in Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers. Other notable credits are Tarzan and the Lost City, Tim Burton's The Sleepy Hollow, Alita: Battle Angel, and The CW's All American. As a real life family man and father of four, Casper is thrilled to have had the opportunity to portray such a loving and wholesome Father in DAUGHTER.
ELYSE DINH ("Mother")
As a child, Elyse wanted to be an FBI agent, Solid Gold dancer, and a superhero, but became an actor to hopefully play all those people. She loves Star Wars, the Bee Gees, and phở, sometimes all at once. She has appeared in Spider-Man 2, Queen Sugar, and HBO's Watchmen. Elyse has played mom to some of the best Viet actors including Kelly Marie Tran, Hong Chau, Dustin Nguyen.
VIVIEN NGÔ ("Daughter")
While she found her role in DAUGHTER stimulating, Vivien is most proud of her work speaking no lines as the dead goat Sylvia during a scene presentation in drama school. Other career highlights include being drowned on primetime tv, eating nước mắm on cable tv, and talking to an imaginary dagger on Shakespeare's Globe. In her free time, she enjoys browsing the web for Vietnamese memes. And dogs.
IAN ALEXANDER ("Brother")
Ian is an actor best known for his role as Buck Vu in the Netflix sci-fi series The OA. This May, he will be making his video game debut as "Lev" in the highly anticipated The Last of Us Part II for Naughty Dog. Ian is a passionate advocate for transgender and racial justice, and he hopes to see more representation of transgender youth in media. When he's not on set, Ian loves taking naps and walking his dog Max.
After 13 days of filming and a weekend of literal forest fires threatening to burn it all to ash, we've proudly wrapped principal photography on DAUGHTER by the skin of our teeth and have been hard at work in post-production ever since. After stretching our budget, favors, and credit cards thin, the time has now come for us to ask for your help in order to finish bringing our dream to life.
With this campaign, we hope to raise finishing funds for Sound Editing, Sound Design and Mix, Composing and Recording an Original Score, Final Color, Film Festival Entries, Deliverables (including a 35mm projection print!), and some last lingering non-fire-related Insurance costs.
Ways To Get Involved:
DONATE. Help us make our fundraising goal by making a tax-deductible donation to our campaign. In return, you can receive some of the amazing incentives we're offering, including one of a kind artwork, a limited-run vinyl pressing of the soundtrack, and tickets to join us at the LA premiere!
FOLLOW. If you'd love to contribute but can't make a financial commitment at this time, all hope is not lost! Hit the FOLLOW button at the top of this page and help us gain more traction for our campaign. Having a high follower count on Seed&Spark also helps us unlock filmmaker rewards like film festival submission waivers and amazing discounts on post production services that could save us thousands of dollars!
SHARE. Spread the word about our film. Share this page and the teaser with your own Father, Mother, and Brother! Tweet about us, give a shout out on Instagram, invite us to stalk you on Facebook, whatever you'd prefer. By sharing online, you'll be alerting others that there are Fathers out there hunting for new Daughters, and only good things can come from that!
Family is the most important thing in this life. Join ours while the kids are young.
We learned a lot while making this film, and invite you to peruse our BTS photos so you too can learn the ins and outs of microbudget filmmaking!
Every sucessful film shoot begins with a ritualistic hosing down of your lead actress.
It is a known fact that all Cinematographers love when there's flash photography on set.
Don't forget to hide microphones in your lead actor's clothes.
Then you'll know when he's talking about you.
Then, you'll want to harvest your crew's blood for cold storage in case of emergencies.
Sweat and tears are optional, but highly recommended!
Sometimes cast members like to wander off set between shots, robbing your day of valuable minutes. At DAUGHTER, we found a creative solution to keeping them present at all times.
We recommend not filming during brush fires, and are 98% sure we didn't start this one.
Filmmaking is often serious business...
...so break up the monotony with daily dance competitions!
The winner gets their paycheck on time. The loser is now a volunteer.
Some actresses don't like sitting in the makeup chair.
Ignore their compaints, and go treat yourself to a coffee. You've earned it.
Everyone has time for product placement!
Even if you have literally no time to place any of the products.
Producers can often suck all the fun out of moviemaking with their budget concerns and California Labor Laws. Put your Producers at a table outside with snacks to keep them busy.
And last but not least, don't forget hyper-stylized cinematic slow-motion zoom-ins on waffles.
Eat your heart out, Kubrick!
Now you've got all the tools you'll need to go out, and start your very own filmmaking family.
Until then, we hope you'll join ours!
To help raise finishing funds, we'll be offering eight one of a kind paintings made exclusively to appear in the film. Here's everything you need to know about these abstract creations...
In DAUGHTER, Brother is a young artist whose paintings explore the infinite secrets of the darkness in the twisted home around him. They represent not only a unique creative outlet for Brother, but their varying complexities speak to the increasing uncertainty he feels about the world around him as the plot progresses.
The paintings on Brother's bedroom walls are busier and less refined, a reflection of his development as an artist over time. The later paintings that leave the house to be displayed in a gallery reflect his artistic confidence thanks to the support of a loving family.
Off-screen, these works are all original pieces painted by our director Corey Deshon, on canvases handmade by our production designer Emily Peters. Each was painted using only the colors that appear in Father's home in the film's restrictive palette, as these would be the only colors that Brother has ever seen.
In one particular scene where Brother paints in the film, Corey and Ian took turns each adding something to the canvas, passing the brushes back and forth between shots as the full painting formed. The sequence was only shot once, so any "mistakes" had to be embraced and embellished upon until they belonged.
Fun Fact: In keeping with the film's theme of family, the paintbrushes that appear in the film and that were used to create each piece are from a set collected over the span of several years and handed down to Corey by his grandmother.
Here are a few behind the scenes photos of when the paintings were first created...
There's a secret in Brother's master creation. Will anyone be able to find it?
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About This Team
COREY DESHON | Director, Writer & Producer
Corey is an award-winning director, screenwriter, and photographer, currently known for writing the theatrically-released independent feature films Shine and Trespassers. He has directed short films that have won awards domestically and abroad, including Best First Time Director at the Madrid Art Film Festival and the Audience Award for Best Short Film at the Orlando Film Festival for his film To Police. His photography has appeared in numerous print and digital publications and has been exhibited in galleries in LA and Miami. Corey’s unproduced screenplays have consistently placed in major competitions including the Academy Nicholl Fellowship Semi-Finals (Top 2%) and the Austin Film Festival Semi-Finals (Top 2%).
HANA KITASEI | Director of Photography
Hana is a Japanese American cinematographer who guest-lectures at the AFI Conservatory and is a core member of the International Collective of Female Cinematographers. She received her MFA in Cinematography from AFI in 2015, was an apprentice under Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind cinematographer Ellen Kuras, and recently completed the inaugural Fox DP Lab, a program launched by 21st Century Fox and AFI to expand opportunities for female cinematographers.
TRACY CHITUPATHAM | Producer
Tracy is a filmmaker whose body of work spans narrative features, branded digital content, and much more. She has served on the producing teams of award winning feature film There is a New World Somewhere and screen adaptation of David Henry Hwang’s critically acclaimed Yellow Face. Tracy has worked on scripted and non-scripted shows for Hulu, VICE Media, and AwesomenessTV. She is a member of the DGA and currently working on an upcoming series with Academy Award winning Tremolo Productions. Tracy is also a member of community groups such as Women of Color Unite! and Int'l Rescue Committee.
As a first time producer, Vivien is honored to be working alongside such a talented and inclusive crew. Vivien is most known for her role as Trinh Phan on Ava Duvernay's Queen Sugar. Other credits include NCIS: New Orleans, Shameless, and films that have played at Slamdance, SXSW, Fantastic Fest, and Cannes. Prior to her work on screen, she studied at and appeared on stages at the Guthrie, South Coast Rep, and Shakespeare’s Globe (in London, UK). Vivien plans to continue producing after DAUGHTER, with a focus on projects that live at the intersections of entertainment, social justice, and politics.
JES VU | Producer
A child of Vietnamese refugees, Jes is Canadian-bred but Philadelphia suburban-raised. She has been on the producing team of shorts that have screened at LA Asian Pacific Film Festival and NBC Shorts Fest. She also produces Hard NOC Media's Southern Fried Asian, a podcast which profiles Asian Americans from the American South. As a community organizer, she is involved with organizations and platforms such as CAPE and Project Yellow Dress. Outside of entertainment, she collaborates with Justin Lin's YOMYOMF for The 2020 Project, a non-partisan Asian American-targeted civic engagement campaign.
LACY LEW NGUYEN WRIGHT | Co-Producer
Lacy is a social impact consultant using pop culture to foster social change. She is the project manager for BLD PWR, an initiative founded by Kendrick Sampson to connect cultural influencers with grassroots organizers. Lacy has worked as a coordinator at the CAA Foundation, advising CAA clients on their social impact strategies. Formerly, she was Editor-At-Large for The Huffington Post and Editor-In-Chief for the Penn Undergraduate Law Journal. In her free time, she works to inspire political activation such as creating Ballot Breakers, a series highlighting young Dems running for office. DAUGHTER is Lacy’s first foray into film producing.