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My first time trying out the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset—to immerse myself in Game of Thrones!

Until recently, I refused to call myself filmmaker. I’d go by videographer or video producer, because I didn’t recognize any of my thousands of videos as films. But now that I’m a full-time creator, and have produced a documentary—intended for a big screen, and it’s been accepted to a film festival!—I’m ready to say, I’m a filmmaker!

Just got back from Vegas—where I was covering the Consumer Electronics Show. So many people don’t know what 4K means, so let me explain, and let’s talk about this new 4K camera from Panasonic. Will it replace my camera that just broke?

srirachamovie:

David Tran has beaten greater odds than Srirachapocalypse

Dec. 20, 2013—As Sriracha maker David Tran deals with odor complaints from irritated neighbors and a state-imposed 30-day hold on his hot sauce—a complication that’s come to be known as “Srirachapocalypse”—history demonstrates Tran has overcome much tougher challenges.

This weeks marks the 35th anniversary of Tran’s ouster from Vietnam. Aboard the Huey Fong, a dilapidated Panamanian cargo ship with a 1,500-passenger capacity, 3,318 refugees sailed from Cat Lai (east of Ho Chi Minh City) on Dec. 18, 1978, unsure of their future.

After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, the relationship between the new Socialist Republic of Vietnam and China—former allies—soured. By 1978, government officials had organized a profitable business of secretly exporting ethnic Chinese citizens.

Tran and his family, members of this unwanted minority, were pressured to leave their homes and possessions to the government, and charged 12 taels of leaf gold per adult passenger—2 for the voyage, 10 to the government. Adjusted for inflation, that’s roughly $11,500 (USD) each.

The Huey Fong freighter, codenamed “The Bride,” departed Vietnam under the cover of darkness. The bogus ship manifest claimed Bangkok, Thailand as its origin and Kaohsiung, Taiwan as port of call.

But after five days at sea—Dec. 23, 1978—Captain ‘Shorty’ Kwok anchored his ship off the coast of Hong Kong. He claimed his passengers—codenamed “frozen ducks,”—were shipwrecked refugees he’d rescued off the coast of Vietnam.

Suspicious British officials, facing a surge of refugees—1,000 per day—refused to let the ship disembark. In newsreel footage from Dec. 26, 1978, a Royal Navy patrol ship hails the Huey Fong—”This is an immigration control area. You are to leave immediately. Do you understand?”

The Vietnamese refugees remained stranded through Christmas and into the new year, sustained by humanitarian helicopter deliveries of food and medicine. After 31 days at sea—Jan. 19, 1979—the The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) convinced Hong Kong officials to provide temporary asylum.

Over 3,000 taels of gold—adjusted for inflation: $3 million (USD)—was discovered on board, and Captain ‘Shorty’ Kwok and 11 associates were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the government by illegally importing refugees. Their prison sentences ranged from 15 months to 7 years.

From 1975 to 1995, Hong Kong provided temporary asylum to 195,833 refugees. The United States relocated the majority of these “boat people” from several Asian nations—424,590 settled in the U.S.

The UNHCR placed Tran and his family in Boston, but they quickly moved to Los Angeles, one of many big cities where Vietnamese immigrants converged.

In 1980, Tran founded Huy Fong Foods, naming his company after the ship that carried him to a new life. Starting from nothing, his Sriracha hot sauce business has grown roughly 20% every year without advertising. In 2012, Huy Fong Foods sold 20 million bottles of Sriracha.

To learn more about David Tran and the complete history of Sriracha, watch the 33-minute documentary “Sriracha,” directed by Griffin Hammond.

srirachamovie:

It’s finally here! The film that started as a hopeful Kickstarter project—that put me inside David Tran’s Sriracha factory, and sent me across the world—premieres right now!
Watch “Sriracha,” the 33-minute documentary, for only $5.
"Gorgeously shot… a profile of the entire Sriracha sensation," writes Paolo Lucchesi, San Francisco Chronicle.
I’m so thankful to the 1,315 backers who believed in this project. Your overwhelming support made this a bigger, better film, that I’m really proud to share with the rest of the world.
And now anyone who enjoys this film can help it succeed! Rate the film. Share the trailer. And follow the progress of the film on Facebook.
Thank you for supporting this indie film!

srirachamovie:

It’s finally here! The film that started as a hopeful Kickstarter project—that put me inside David Tran’s Sriracha factory, and sent me across the world—premieres right now!

Watch “Sriracha,” the 33-minute documentary, for only $5.

"Gorgeously shot… a profile of the entire Sriracha sensation," writes Paolo Lucchesi, San Francisco Chronicle.

I’m so thankful to the 1,315 backers who believed in this project. Your overwhelming support made this a bigger, better film, that I’m really proud to share with the rest of the world.

And now anyone who enjoys this film can help it succeed! Rate the film. Share the trailer. And follow the progress of the film on Facebook.

Thank you for supporting this indie film!