Set within the first day of school, Hiep Nguyen is a exuberant
Vietnamese student going on an exchange program to a
Christian high school in South Dakota.

At the school, Hiep stumbles into the challenge of conforming
to an environment of all-white, very religious Midwesterners. As he tries to finagle his way through hilarious obstacles emerging from intense cultural clashes, Hiep will have to ask himself: Should you accept yourself wholly, or should you change in order to connect with others in this school?

  • Jackie Tran
    Key Cast
    "Hiep Nguyen"
  • Duc Anh Nguyen
  • Duc Anh Nguyen
  • Chris Merola
  • Janine Bujie Zhang
  • Duc Anh Nguyen
  • Luna De Buretel
    Associate Producer
  • Lenti Liang
    Associate Producer
  • Ji Lee
    1st Assistant Director
  • Nobutaka Emura
    Director of Photography
  • Achim Mendoza
    Edited by
  • Duc Anh Nguyen
    Edited by
  • Yo Chang
    Sound by
  • Willa Cuthrell-Tuttleman
    Sound by
  • Rosio Selden
    Costume Designer
  • Paul Sinacore
    Casting by
  • Christa Duggan
    Music by
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Comedy, Coming-of-Age
  • Runtime:
    16 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    September 1, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    20,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English, Vietnamese
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - University of Southern California
Director Biography - Duc Anh Nguyen

A Ho Chi Minh City native, Duc Anh is an MFA Film Production candidate at the University of Southern California, ranked #1 best film school in America by The Hollywood Reporter for 7 consecutive years. Previously, he worked as video editor and producer at marketing agencies.

Ever since Duc Anh got introduced to cinema through bootleg DVDs, he knew he wanted to contribute to the powerful world of visual storytelling, hoping to promote diversity in the film medium through writing, directing, producing and editing.

He is among the selected few to helm an advanced thesis project under USC’s
guidance, and looks forward to furthering Vietnamese representation in film through his works, alongside giving the audience a chance to laugh a ton.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

I went to American high schools equipped with knowledge gathered from the cultural phenomenons that are “High School Musical” and “American Pie”.

Quickly, however, I realized America is a much different place than I had expected. Especially for minorities. To cope with the intense isolation stemmed from cultural difference, I began “erasing” my identity as a Vietnamese in any ways possible. First, it began with using an American name. My experience had led me to write this coming-of-age short.

MIKE is about the classic American dream, examined within the landscape of the 21st century, where international student comprised of 1 million students in the United States. 36% of them reported to have experienced mental health issues and identity crisis. These students cope with ignorance and racism, all while trying to fulfill their social desire as a human being. Stop
being who you are, thus, becomes a survival mechanism. It begins with changing your name. Long before you know it, you become unsure of who you really are.

I want to explore the genuine comedy and pain that stem from this situation. Through this short, I hope anyone out there who has to go through isolation within this massive world will feel seen. They will become brave enough to see what their true self has to offer - something which I wasn’t able to see in myself back then.