Hong Kong Cinemagic
Version française English version
 Capsule Reviews   English Board   Facebook  
 Movie Studios
 Your Settings

HKCine Search
Switch to Google Search
>> Help

 Film directors

 Drama & Opera

 Shaw Brothers
 Film Industry
 Cultural & Societal

 DVD Tests
 HK Cinema Books
 Where to buy?

 OST & Music
 PDF & E-books
 VIP Guestbook

 Site Map
 Editos Archives
 Site History
 Visitor guestbook
 HKCinemagic 2

Statistics :
11630 Movies
19215 People
1448 Studios
29 Articles
73 Interviews
12 DVD Reviews
32452 Screenshots
3722 Videos
Interview with Ninja director Godfrey Ho
The IFD era 1/1 - Page 3
Author(s) : Arnaud Lanuque
Date : 3/3/2007
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Betty Chan Kwai Wa
Terence Chang Chia Tsun
Godfrey Ho Chi Keung
Philip Ko Fei
Joseph Lai San Lun
John Woo
Yuen Woo Ping
Movies :
Kill Bill Volume 1
Companies :
Cinema City & Films Co.
D&B Films Co.
Filmark International
Filmswell International
My Way Film Company Limited
< Previous
Page 2 : The Korean Connection
Next >
Page 4 : Working in the USA

HKCinemagic: Let's discuss your IFD years. How was your collaboration with Joseph Lai and Betty Chan?
Godfrey Ho: Betty Chan is Joseph Lai's wife. I worked with Joseph Lai for distribution; I learned film distribution from him. I worked with him on film markets. Each year I would attend film festivals.
HKCinemagic: What did you do for him?
Godfrey Ho: At the very beginning, I directed for him but I could not afterwards because I was so busy with the dubbing, the production. I just introduced some people to direct for him. I would take care of the dubbing and the distribution. That was the golden time, man! The first years in Milan film festival, he would do the contract himself, like 20 to 30 contracts and finish. Amazing. But now it's no longer like that. You're already very lucky if you can do 10 to 15 contracts. Before, 30 to 40 was so easy. Because there were so many buyers, from Turkey, France, Germany… The market was booming. Such a good business….
HKCinemagic: Your relationships with him remained only professional or you became friend in the process?
Godfrey Ho: I just worked as a staff for him. He said he would give me shares, verbally, but it never happened. It's too bad because verbal contracts have no value. That's quite typical of Chinese people. Before I got in the company, he told me “Godfrey, let's work together, you will have shares in my company”. And if he got his Rolls Royce, I should get my Mercedes, right? (laughs) But actually not. That's why my wife said to me “come on, don't work for him any longer, you are making money for him, not for yourself, think about your future.” That's why I just le ft him and joined My Way Company and established my own, Filmswell, to produce and distribute movies. After that, he seldom made movies anymore, because the movies I make are better than his. They were hard to sell and the market was becoming tighter and tighter. But he still managed to produce things, for a very small market, on DVD.
HKCinemagic: So, when you were shooting films for IFD, what type of working conditions did you have? You had a script? You were working on several movies at the same time?
Godfrey Ho: Yeah, 2 at the same time. We would get someone as a co-director to shoot some kind of Chinese parts and then, the foreign parts with foreign people, I would supervise them.
HKCinemagic: It's in the editing process, you would make one and only movie, right?
Godfrey Ho: Exactly. Some time, the direction was not so good though, it's only through editing we would combine the story. First time, you just watch the movie, you find it interesting. Second time, “oh, there is something wrong there”. Third time, “Oh, that's not the way”, that kind. It's the action which can cheat you, that's the point.

Richard Harrison « speaking each other » with Jack Lam
in Ninja Terminator
HKCinemagic: Usually, who was supervising the editing process? Was it Joseph Lai in person?
Godfrey Ho: I was the one supervising the editing but afterwards Joseph would ask the editor to make some change. It's a bad habit of the producers in Hong Kong . It's not like in the US , if you want to change the script, you must call the scriptwriter to let him do so. Otherwise, you cannot change a single word, you would receive a letter from their attorney. It's because of unions.
HKCinemagic: In many of the movies you did, there is the same music score. Was it something composed specially?
Godfrey Ho: No, that's what we call “can music” from the public domain. No copyrights. Sometimes, we would ask a composer here, and he would grab music from all around the world. Now, they have to buy the music from Warner Brothers but, before, no rules.
HKCinemagic: How long would it usually take to shoot an IFD film?
Godfrey Ho: Some were done in 2 weeks while some in 3 weeks -- a short period of time. Because the foreign parts, we would just edit it in between. You can see there is a Chinese part and a foreign part.
HKCinemagic: You are referring to the movies bought by IFD in Thailand or elsewhere?
Godfrey Ho: Right. We would usually have it in the beginning, the middle and the end.
HKCinemagic: And it would make the movie more marketable this way?
Godfrey Ho: Oh, yeah, yeah. Because the video market was still ok. Distributors from Turkey , they would buy the copyrights for 5000 US $ for example. Distributors and producers only care about the money. Filmmakers care about art. That's the difference (laughs).
HKCinemagic: You seem to often shoot in the same places, I guess it's once again to reduce the costs?
Godfrey Ho: Yes, we had to. It was a technique to minimise the cost. That's also quite important. Somehow, that's also why I teach my students “you want to do a movie? It doesn't a matter if it's a big or low budget. If the screenplay is good, even if it deals only with 2 persons in a room, it can make a very good story.” Like Saw . “You're not like James Cameron; you're not qualified to be Titanic's director yet. You have to start with small productions. Make somebody think you are a talented director and then climb steps by steps.”
HKCinemagic: As you said, the movies you did for IFD were dubbed afterwards. Was it because the sync sound would cost too much?
Godfrey Ho: Yes. Sync sound always cost a lot. At that period of time, most of the movies were not shot sync sound. But now, this past 10 years, most of the movies are shot sync sound. Before, they were all dubbed. So you can see all the dubbing in English is so funny (laughs).
HKCinemagic: That's what you told us, because the people dubbing were from Chungking Mansion and places like that.
Godfrey Ho: Right. Somehow, they didn't care. They didn't care about the story, only about the action. Most of the audience, they would concentrate only on the action, finding it tremendous. Because compared to Hollywood , it was completely different. Not now because John Woo and some HK action directors work there like Yuen Woo Ping, doing Kill Bill and action scenes the Hong Kong style.
HKCinemagic: Were they any professional English dubbing artists working in Hong Kong ?
Godfrey Ho: Actually, I trained an American guy to be the dubbing supervisor. I trained him to dub first and then he became supervisor. There was a lady also working as dubbing supervisor, she did good quality work, for higher budgets like Cinema City and the likes. There are more than 15 professional dubbers. Most of them, they would work for radios or TV stations. The dubbing for amateurs was only a part time gig, because it's hard to survive only on dubbing. But at that time, some of them became professional dubbers. Because, there was so many movies! So, they would quit their jobs to dub. But, after that, when the market fell down, no more. Even the dubbing supervisor, named Scott, went back to the States. He cannot survive here anymore. Now, not many dubbers can be found. They are back to radios or TV stations.
HKCinemagic: Joseph Lai is also credited as producers of many cartoons and some credits show many of your usual crew members. Explain.
French VHSGodfrey Ho: The cartoons were made in China [NDLR : Or maybe in South Korea?]. It would make the budget lower there, he invested in them. But I don't think it ever got to be popular. Because it depends a lot on the screenplay too and there are so many cartoons all around the world. That kind of cartoons can't compete with those like Walt Disney. But somehow, it shows he was ready to invest and participate in filmmaking. Like, when he emigrated to the States, before I would do films like Honor and Glory with my own company Filmswell, I told him: “you want to make American movies, man, because you're now living in the States, you can meet the distributors there, like Imperial or Canon, talk to them!”

And also, actually, Joseph Lai is the brother of the boss of Intercontinental, a Hong Kong-based company. They are a big distribution company, they buy a lot of rights of foreign movies to distribute them in Hong Kong . So he met a lot of distributors. With this connection, why not produce B grade American movies? Still, he didn't make one. He was scared to do so. But I did three: Honor and Glory, Undefeatable and Manhahttan Chase. They did ok.

HKCinemagic: On some credits, there are people listed like Omer Kwong, Benny Ho… Is it you or other real people?
Godfrey Ho: (laughs) Normally, the films I direct, I use my own name, Godfrey Ho. But the others may be not my own name, only distributors. Joseph Lai would change the name to have another Ho something like that. But Benny Ho is my own name too. The others, no, I don't know who they are.
HKCinemagic: In a website interview you supposedly did, it is said you use the name Alton Cheung…
Godfrey Ho: Alton Cheung is an actor's name. It's not my name. The only names I used are Godfrey Ho, Benny Ho , Godfrey Hall or Ho Chi Keung. Other names are not me.
HKCinemagic: How did you recruit the western actors for the movies?
Godfrey Ho: By going to Chungking Mansion , things like that. I would send some kind of line producers: “go to the Chungking Mansion , meet the foreign people there, ask them if they want to do movies or not.” I just need their face, they would be ninjas and the stuntmen would do the fights for them. They would just say a line and go, very simple acting. I need their face only. “Bring anybody you can find,” [I used to say.]

"Chungking Mansions"
HKCinemagic: Do you remember how many movies had been made by Philip Ko for IFD?
Godfrey Ho: Quite many. He would be credited under his real name.
HKCinemagic: Some people who worked for IFD said the working conditions were very harsh, shooting in the night, very late and that even some triads were involved in the crew. Can you confirm?
Godfrey Ho: Actually, sometimes, it can happen because of the low budget. At that time, the shooting conditions for the crew could not be compared with Hollywood . In Hollywood , I had to make a coffee table ready for 24H00 with some biscuits. Because the crew, especially the best boy, the electrician, when they are working they go there to have a coffee and bla bla bla. But not in Hong Kong ! There is just a lunch box and a bottle of water, that's all. It cannot compare because we don't have unions. That's why. It's a bad thing for the crew here but now it is better because if you want to be professional, you have to become like in Hollywood .
HKCinemagic: Do you have an idea of the number of movies you directed?
Godfrey Ho: Pretty close to 40 or 50. Something like that.
HKCinemagic: According to Mike Abbott, when you worked for IFD, you could not work for Filmark, and the contrary. Was there a rivalry between the two?
Godfrey Ho: Oh yeah. Because the boss they were in the same company originally, Thomas Tang and Joseph Lai, and later they split. There was competition. As I'm a good friend of Joseph, I just worked for Joseph, not Filmark.
HKCinemagic: Were you involved in the production of “Crocodile Fury” and “Robo Vampire” ?
Godfrey Ho: I have no idea about the two films mentioned. If possible, please kindly check with the credit at the opening or rolling credit at the end of the films.
HKCinemagic: It's not easy to figure all the production companies you've been involved in. There was IFD but also Ada Communication, Bo Ho and Win.
Godfrey Ho: It's IFD again. They were mostly dealing with video. Joseph Lai created Ada to deal with v ideo distribution. Bo Ho, I don't know what it is. As for Win, it's the company which was previously China Star.
HKCinemagic: Rights of Filmark films seems to have been sold to a director in the Philippines, do you know about that?
Godfrey Ho: They sold the film to anywhere, worldwide. I remember on one film, he did a very good deal with Japan . Thomas Tang had good commercial skills.
HKCinemagic: Like Joseph Lai.
Godfrey Ho: Yes, they were very good at doing this kind of B-movie. At that time, movies didn't have good distribution. Except for Terence Chang, the partner of John Woo who worked for D&B. They were doing good movies, he brought them to markets and sold them for good prices, the A prices. Our movies were only for B prices because they were different budgets.
Page :  1  2  3   4  5  6  Top
Previous :
Page 2 : The Korean Connection
Next :
Page 4 : Working in the USA

 Advertise with Google AdSense   Submit a review   Contact   FAQ   Terms of use   Disclaimer   Error Report  
copyright ©1998-2013 hkcinemagic.com