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 Chee Keong Cheung, on his HK action film debut
Film-making in HK 1/1 - Page 4
Author(s) : Thomas Podvin
Date : 30/12/2008
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Stephanie Langton
Carl Ng Ka Lung
Richard Ng Yiu Hon
Shing Fui On
Vincent Sze
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
< Previous
Page 3 : An eclectic cast
Next >
Page 5 : Filming action

HKCinemagic: Do you mean you always changed the script on the spot?
Chee Keong Cheung: Not all the time, but sometimes. I like to feel [and incorporate to the story] what the actors will bring and I am open to that. It’s a collaborative process. For any film, casting is the key and it’s important to allow actors to contribute and offer ideas to their characters. Of course the script is an integral part of any film and forms the blueprint and structure, but I like to have some freedom. The key with the improvisation and any suggestions in my opinion is to ensure that it’s in context and the basis is covered: “this is what we need to convey within the script, this is the intention we want to get across.”
HKCinemagic: So the completed version of Bodyguard was close to the original script or not?
Chee Keong Cheung: I’d say a mixture. Sometimes through choice and other times through production restrictions. Working with a limited budget, we utilised and maximised all the resources available, but of course as with any independent productions there are restrictions and limitations, which sometimes led to cuts to some sequences. This happens unfortunately and one has to find a way around it to ensure the narrative flows. Also some ideas don’t necessarily work out as you’d first imagined and need re-working and other scenes work a lot better than first expected. It’s certainly an exciting process and journey.
HKCinemagic: It feels a bit like the guerrilla system for which HK filmmakers are known for. They sometimes work from a treatment and change the script as they go.
Chee Keong Cheung: I really like the HK way of film-making. To be honest, it [shooting a film there] was a mean to experience that. Having spent so much time in the West and making films here [in the UK], [the HK way] it’s a different way of thinking. I find myself adapting to adjust to that, the environment and the way to make it work. It only gives you a lot more freedom. It was interesting and it took me a little bit of time to adapt. I speak Cantonese but not overly fluent. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is American, Stephanie Langton is English and neither speak Chinese, Richard Ng and Carl Ng both speak English and Chinese. It was a strange mix because [in HK] I talked to my co-producer, Ean Tang and my DOP [Henry Chung] in English and to my AD [Ma Siu Ling] and to some actors like Shing-Fui On in Chinese. So it was a mixture and I was constantly switching language. On the first day I spoke in English and soon realised that some of the crew and cast didn’t understand fully what I was saying. So I had to repeat all in Chinese (as best as I could). But when you say something in English it doesn’t always translate well into Chinese. It can be a bit more discursive in the West; you can talk about mood and feels and looks. It’s less like that in HK I think and sometimes things can get lost in translation.

In HK, I personally found it to be more direct, it is a lot more like “what do you need? What do you want?” There’s no messing about and they implement it quickly. I think it’s different from crews in the West but that’s just my opinion. Both approaches are valid and there’s no right or wrong way to make a film. I found the HK crew were some of the most professional, efficient and hardworking I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with but that’s not to say the West aren’t.

HKCinemagic: Having said that, the DOP Henry Chung and the producer Mike Leeder are both used to the HK way. They helped you I take it.
Chee Keong Cheung: Working with all of them absolutely helped and working as a director, you kind of have to adapt. You need everyone to understand your vision irrespective of the country you’re in, you need to bring everyone on the same page and you need to maximise time. Yet, this challenge of communication and different styles and approaches is universal, in any country that can happen and one needs to embrace that. As a director, the key is to convey your ideas to your team to create the environment to tell the story.

We shot for about two weeks in HK. It’s a different pace than in the UK. It was certainly an intense shoot and hopefully people will be impressed with what we achieved.

Mike Leeder and his Co-producer Ean Tang really made the HK shoot possible. As I mentioned earlier, they brought so many talented individuals together both in front and behind the camera and to have their experience and the experience of the crew for the film was great. Henry Chung has a great eye. The HK sequences he photographed were very visual and vibrant.

I noticed, when you live in London, you take London for granted. So often you don’t tend to show all of London or maybe forget to in a film. In HK, I wanted to film these big exteriors [representative of the HK cityscape], yet similar, for people living in HK, it’s just HK so maybe to some degree they also take it for granted.

When I was in HK, I would see a location, like a rooftop or a street and would go “OK, we don’t need any dressing here.” The place [itself] adds some production value. Like someone in the street pushing a trolley, I like to keep that on camera, rather than clearing it. From my point of view, that’s what made the film more fresh and unique. As a director I always look at ways to maximise what is available and also give the film more production value and make the film look bigger than it is. When working with a limited budget this is particularly important and you want to show off the diverse and eclectic mix of locations.

HKCinemagic: So it was very much the HK guerrilla style… Did you film in crowded area on the sly or actually cleared the streets?
Chee Keong Cheung: For the action sequences and logistical and health and safety reasons we had to ensure there was a clear set.
However, there were certainly times we would take a more guerrilla approach and travel around HK with a minimal crew following Vincent Sze, the bodyguard and Stephanie Langton, with the real public walking across frame, crossing streets, as they are roaming and being chased through the markets. There was no problems, which was great. It was certainly chaotic at times, but it made things more authentic and less set up and these were definitely some of the most enjoyable days.

In HK, they are quick at adapting and they are quick to get things done with no hassle. And I liked that.

Page :  1  2  3  4   5  6  Top
Previous :
Page 3 : An eclectic cast
Next :
Page 5 : Filming action

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