The story of how the PHOcumentary came to fruition starts in 2013 when I left the creative agency I’d co-founded. I left the agency for many reasons but one of the biggest was that I wanted to find creative work that I could feel passionate about.
So, to shake things up my girlfriend and I packed all our belongings in our tiny car and moved from Denver, Colorado to Santa Ana, California.
I’d always loved pho (Denver has some phenomenal pho places) but in California my love for pho grew exponentially as I discovered that I had moved to an area of California that is home to the most Vietnamese people outside of Vietnam – Orange County.
We started going out for pho multiple times every week. Trying new places around Orange County and rating each place on how rich their broth was and how fresh their ingredients were.
One day, while getting our weekly fix of liquid heaven, I started joking about making a pho documentary.
After that I found myself daydreaming almost daily about different scenes and shots for the film. With each daydream, the idea became less of a joke and more of a serious idea.
On one particular pho outing my buddy Matthew and I even storyboarded a brilliantly choreographed opening scene for the film.
I started quietly plotting out scenes and planning for a Kickstarter campaign without knowing when or if the film would actually ever happen.
Meanwhile, I was feeling lost creatively and overwhelmed with ideas for projects that I couldn’t see myself feeling passionate about.
I tried to start a few different startups in 2014 but nothing stuck and by the end of the year my girlfriend and I packed our belongings into a 5×10 storage locker and left California to road trip up the West Coast in search of our next home.
While living on the road we started playing with the idea of going on an extended trip to Southeast Asia. The timing was perfect – Our belongings were already in storage, we had no lease or mortgage to pay, and my mom was watching our dog.
I knew it was now or never.
After doing some research and outlining a rough story, I called up my long-time friend, Curtis Bell, a personal chef and fellow entrepreneur, to see if he’d be interested in being a part of the film. Without hesitating he said “Yes!”
That’s the moment I knew that the PHOcumentary was real.