• by Heloise Wilson



In the late ’90s, San Yvin’s parents owned a fusion bistro named “Cyclo Bar’’. Located in the heart of Hanoi, Vietnam, it was named after the infamous “Cyclo” chairs (otherwise known by some at Tuk Tuks). One of the first restaurants to offer a fusion between Vietnamese and French cuisine, it was a big tourist attraction. San Yvin grew up between the tables, observing, taking it all in. As he observed his parents’ dedication in the kitchen, the recipes, and the dishes they would creatively come up with, a little light turned on in his mind. A voice kept whispering that he too, would create big and bright things.

Drawn to all things artistic, San started out with oil painting - an apparent success as his mother proclaimed right away that he was “a prodigy”. Perhaps this opportunity to be praised as an artist from a young age encouraged him to aim high and see big. After an art exhibition at the age of 14, the same year San accomplished what other children often dream about: He became a published author. It started as an afterschool project, San and his schoolmates worked on for the whole year. San worked on the story of a boy and a blue dragon, it was illustrated with watercolor. After its publication, it was a huge success. Selling over $20,000 in proceeds, the funds were donated to a namesake charity, Blue Dragon, a foundation for street children. Perhaps this could be the origin story of San Yvin, who launched his wish to pursue a career in the arts. Or it could have been the day his mother gave him an A510 Canon camera and the days and years that ensued where he could not stop taking pictures.

Creative Director San Yvin during the production of Piano Bar

Pictures turned into films and videos. For his mother’s 40th birthday, San spent all the prior days and nights recording and filming what would be a video project. He recalls the experience vividly. “My interest in imagery was only starting.” His work was already high concept, even at a young age: “A portrait of her dark brown eye with the reflection of a mysterious man in her pupil. As I finished the video, something clicked in me: I felt thrilled. Elated, and proud of my work.” he mentions.

Today San is a creative director in New York. A big stretch from the restaurant in Hanoi, but maybe not so much. “Food was the love language I was fed. It always felt natural for me to tell stories around and about food. But I don't think I've ever seen a film or series that explicitly showcases Vietnamese dishes and that baffles me because It's such a beautiful and complex cuisine, Immersed in history, tradition, and pride. And I'm proud of my heritage. I want to show it off and put it on the big screen.” he shared. Today, San still works with images, commercials, fashion campaigns, retouching, 3D, narrative films. He first graduated from New York University before diving into the media world.

Poster of Flystuck, a short film written and directed by San Yvin

Perhaps it is his natural curiosity or stamina, but San’s career spans from working with big agencies and major fashions brands to representing films for distribution at Cannes Film Festival. It seems like creativity as a whole is his roadmap. Eager to stretch his talent and skills, he supervised post-production for a studio called D-Factor Paris. Working with a team of several retouchers, San lent his creative direction to luxury brands campaigns like Givenchy, Hermes, Chloé, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Jean-Paul Gaultier, or Dior. You most likely have seen them at home while shopping (or virtual window shopping) for a new wallet or bag. Currently, San is the creative director of NewKino studio, a 3D start-up. Working with NewKino is also exciting. His creative directing involves working hand in hand with the 3D designers, rendering photoshop models. Those late nights working and finessing images behind a computer as a child certainly had an influence on his present.

While San is at home as the creative director with the splendor of prestigious and luxurious brands, he also has a fulfilled career in the narrative world - after all, he is a storyteller at heart. A detail-oriented person working on commercial projects, his creative direction for the narrative screen is delicate and vulnerable. Music videos, thrillers, comedies, including one award-winning short film “Flystruck”. The narrative of the film is centered around the protagonist’s bond with the son of his restaurateur boss, a portrayal of immigration and the food industry. Perhaps, the vision and the core of his creative direction are human stories. Another project, “Piano Bar," is a pilot that has been pitched to HBO and NYU professionals: “I want it to become not only a beacon of representation for Vietnamese artists but also a celebration of Vietnam's own unique melting pot of cultures. I want to create a spark of interest in the Vietnamese heritage while deepening the public's general education on the matter”, his words reflect the mind of a creative director who puts human emotions and cultural identity at the forefront.

Creative Director San Yvin during the shooting of the commercial for fine dining restaurant “The Clover” in Hanoi, Vietnam

In 2019, San also went to the Cannes Festival representing the production company Saboteur Media. The company’s mission is to bring vital films to audiences around the world, and with a focus on empowering filmmakers to engage directly with their audiences. They are one of the top companies in the world when it comes to distributing documentaries. San put on his fancy clothes and walked around Le Palais Des Festivals and had a productive time: After pitching one of their films “Danger Close” it was sold. San, as the creative director, oversaw the whole pitching process prior to it: flyer design and art direction, visual content, marketing in order to attract deals. He is an informed and educated creative director, one that knows every aspect of the industry: The film world is a field that juggles creativity, craftsmanship, and a lot of bureaucracy. Like architects and chefs, filmmakers must master the technical flip side of their job in order to enable boundless creativity - which in turn can be more gratifying than ever - and this is what I enjoy knowing. The more I learn, the more I am able to manipulate and mold my artistry - in the hopes of mastering the art of storytelling and its strategies.” He could not be more right.

For the future, San hopes to keep feeding his vision and develop stories as a creative director. Working with agencies, startups, fashion brands, or on narrative projects, he brings up his desire to always focus on meaningful storytelling, “The often-untraceable members of society, my unsung heroes. “ The stories he already knows. His heartfelt inspiration is matched with an informed eye. His creative vision has the power to shake things around. Much like the child he used to be, the one who sat between tables and observed, it now our turn to keep an eye on San’s work.



Website www.sanyvin.com

IMDB San Yvin

Vimeo San Yvin

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