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Statistics :
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Interview Nicholas Chin on Magazine Gap Road
An artistic flair 1/1 - Page 3
Author(s) : Mounir Zekhnini
Thomas Podvin
Date : 7/12/2008
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Comfort Chan Kwong Wing
Movies :
Happy Together
In The Mood For Love
Infernal Affairs
Magazine Gap Road
My Blueberry Nights
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Page 2 : Exceptional cast and crew
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Page 4 : Nick Chin and the HK cinema

HKCinemagic: Chan Kwong-wing’s soundtrack is mesmerizing. How did you collaborate with him?
Nicholas Chin: Comfort Chan [Ed.: music composer for The Infernal Affairs trilogy] is very much in demand so we both knew that time was limited when we started. So we decided to approach the music differently. We wanted the feel of live music like the old silent films with live orchestration so we recreated it in his studio. We played long scenes on a screen and he jammed and improvised as the scenes unfolded. We played around with what works, recording all the time. Later he did small tinkering with some of the takes which we used in the film. I love working this way! It keeps things fresh and frees up styles.
HKCinemagic: Magazine Gap Road is very sleek and looks different from any other HK films. The production value is excellent. Why did you want to have this type of visuals, as such a level of sophistication is rarely seen in indie films?
Nicholas Chin: Thank you, it was one of our questions when we started. Why should all indie films visually feel a certain way?
HKCinemagic: Digital colorist Deborah Huen, who worked on HAPPY TOGETHER and IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, gave the movie a special look bumping up ultra-saturated colours. Can you explain this visual choice?
Nicholas Chin: There was mistake in the press kit -- Deborah did the color for My Blueberry Nights NOT Happy Together or In the Mood for Love. She is very talented and we spent a LONG TIME working out the color scheme to film. For me personally, color is a visual pleasure, it can melt on the eyes and is one of the reasons to go to the cinema. To give the film a distinctive coldness but richness we worked on the blues and purples, colors that came up during shooting on some of the locations and that were actually not part of the original color scheme. It set the tone for the whole feel of the film.
HKCinemagic : Do you feel that the visuals of your film could evoke the films of Wong Kar Wai?
Nicholas Chin: He is the master and an original. There is a visual sophistication and complexity to every single frame of his films that belong as much to painting than film. My background is in art history and I have always felt he is as much a painter as a film-maker.
HKCinemagic: A reviewer said this is a cold drama, lacking of warmth. Why did you want to give this tone to the film?
Nicholas Chin: Magazine Gap Road is in a part of Hong Kong above the city center called The Peak, and it’s a very different world up there, full of discreet meeting places, secluded mansions and guards. It has its own style, but ultimately it’s quite sterile, not as soulful as the crowded streets below. I wanted to capture this icy coldness and show a different side to a city I love.
HKCinemagic: I read you were inspired by Max Ophuls. How so?
Nicholas Chin: I watched and re-watched a lot of Ophuls work while writing the script. I love the juxtaposition of beautiful elegant surfaces he evokes, Viennese waltzs and ball gowns, etc, but underneath, the stories are brutal and about characters who are beaten by love.
HKCinemagic: What are you other sources of inspiration for the film? The movie has a special “film noir” ambiance. How did you work on that?
Nicholas Chin: I love Paul Schrader. His work is true noir but feels very contemporary, not simply noir by appropriation. I kept watching his films like Light Sleeper (1992), Comfort of Strangers (1990) and American Gigolo (1980). I only much later realized if you turn down the color knob when watching them on a television they could be straight from the 1940s.
HKCinemagic: You wrote the script yourself. Did you use your personal experience to create the characters?
Nicholas Chin: I knew one of these ex-mistresses in Hong Kong – I’d met her long after she left that world. But one day, when we were hanging out, she got a call from a friend of hers who was still in the trade. I listened to the conversation and I was struck by how utterly different my friend sounded at that moment from the woman I knew – much tougher, much colder. And the girl on the end of the phone was in trouble.

I was fascinated by the duality of the friend I knew vs. the person I was seeing for the first time, the one she’d been in her former life. My perspective was immature back then, very black and white: Prostitute, bad, upstanding member of society, good. But after overhearing the exchange that one afternoon, I became aware that there was much more to it than that. I wanted to explore the grey areas.

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