Folk Stories

17: Following the Filmmaker's Journey with Bao Tran

May 27th, 2019 (66 minutes)
Photographer: Steve Korn

Bao Tran is a professional filmmaker currently raising money for his first feature film, The Paper Tigers, a "Kung Fu indie feature film about three guys who are one kick away from pulling their hamstrings".

Despite knowing that he wanted to do film from watching kung fu movies as a kid, Bao got a degree in computer science as it was the responsible thing to do for someone that is the child of immigrants. This tension between following your dreams and doing what is expected is a theme that is explored both in film and in life for Bao.

Outside of The Paper Tigers, Bao's editing credits include CHO LON, one of Southeast Asia’s highest-budgeted action blockbusters, and JACKPOT, a heartfelt comedy selected as Vietnam’s official entry to the 2016 Oscars for Best Foreign Film.

In today's episode, we talk about kung fu and the action movie genre, we talk about what its like to fundraise for a film, and we talk about telling a good story and what that might mean.


You have a lot of people you might start out with earlier on but they kind of go their separate ways or they go civilian as we say… Its just industry is very tough and its very hard to keep going and continue doing this.

– Bao Tran


  • how Bao's love of kung fu films let to a career in film
  • pursuing passion vs fulfilling family expectations
  • marketing and sales for people that would rather do anything else
  • Bao's first feature film - The Paper Tigers
  • film fundraising and kickstarter
  • diversity and shooting with a mixed race cast
  • shooting action movies and telling stories


  • inspiration
    • as artist, always looking for the work that goes behind art that looks effortless, really impressed with Beyoncé's homecoming
  • surprising fact
    • have a background that is not just film (eg. computer science degree)
  • principle
    • the golden rule
  • closing notes
    • always looking for people that could support the film and want to help - if that's you, reach out


  • Bao's website:
  • Bao's email:
  • LinkedIn:
  • Socials
    • Twitter: @_thepapertigers
    • Facebook: @ThePaperTigersMovie
    • Instagram: @_thepapertigers