|Peter Chan : UFO comprised first of three, then five, then six people: filmmakers, writers, directors and producers. By 1996, when I wrapped Comrades, I knew that the HK film industry was coming to an end, and we couldn’t deny it. The whole industry stopped in 1997 --that was the bottom line.
All the professional investors, long time film investors, like Golden Harvest, Golden Princess that financed Cinema City, or D&B, all those studios closed down. Shaw Brothers even closed down earlier, in the mid 1980s. So Golden Harvest began to be a distribution company. They don’t produce movies anymore; they instead ask you to make movies to supply them. So we knew that, from that day on, the HK film entertainment industry was replaced by videos, by mostly videos and music.
Producers want to buy videos from the Golden Harvest or Cinema City [catalogues]. But now, they don’t make movies, so what are they going to do with their videos? ?They’ve got to invest money to make movies. They put money to make big movies, with the idea they can benefit from the video distribution. These people have a very small mind --they’ve a video mind. Even Stephen Chow’s movie Shaolin Soccer is financed by Universe [Ed.: a major DVD/VCD distributor from HK]. The bottom line for them is video. No matter how big the movie is, they only think about video exploitation. And video is like bucks to us filmmakers. Videos are the most stable source of returns, of recoupment for film investors. You cannot do without it because it’s the only stable source of revenues. So we need that money to make movies. At the same time, video is the movie biggest enemy. You cannot live without it but you’ll die eventually with it. So it has become a very unhealthy situation. So when I decided to leave, I didn’t decide to go to the US, I only decided to take a break and observe and see what was gonna happen before I jumped back to HK.
So I was in L.A., I decided to make a film with DreamWorks [The Love Letter] and then I came back to HK to Applause. But when I left, a year after Comrades, Chee Li [Lee Chi Ngai], my partner in UFO left to go to Japan to do a movie, Sleepless Town with Takeshi Kaneshiro. When both of us left, there was still Jacob Cheung in UFO, who eventually left a year later. And then Jane the writer left, Chen left.
What was left of UFO was just the administration and Eric Tsang the producer. The label is still there because they didn’t want to get rid of the label, but all the creative elements left. So technically UFO isn’t closed down, but the people who have made UFO are all gone.