|Arthur Wong: Actually, my directorial debut was in 1979, Fool Escape. That was a comedy owned by Mr. Lau Kar Leung and his brother, the Lau film company. When I was in Shaw Brothers, I asked the company to send me to the States or to England to study films, and in exchange I was willing to sign a five-year or seven-year contract. They refused. Because they produce more than 150 films a year, why would they send somebody out to learn something and come back and say “oh this is too old or this is not good.” So I learnt from experience, I learnt the right from wrong.
At this time in HK, disco was very popular. It was the disco hype with Saturday Night Fever and I was still a young man by the time I was first cameraman. I was 23 years old. I liked disco very much, and some directors wanted me to be an actor, and I began to write my first script about disco dancing and about how young men would fall into this fever. The company refused I started this movie because they were afraid of censorship, they were afraid that all the students would only be concerned about playing or dancing -- the bad influence on the students would move on to the censors. So it might not pass through the censorship.
I was only a 23-year-old young boy, I got really mad and asked to get my contract discontinued. I was going out and I trusted I could find some companies to support me. So I quitted everything, including my cameraman contract, and went out of Shaw Bros. That was my bad year, because all the companies said the same: if the biggest studio is not ready for the project; we are not ready either. Of course.
So I quitted, I was very down and in bad mood. Director Lau Kar-leung came to talk to me and said: “Ok, do it for me, but no disco dance. Think about action comedy for me.” So I directed [and scripted] my first movie.
So after this first attempt, I felt I was not experienced as a director, I was too young. So I preferred to be a famous cameraman instead of a very bad director. I jumped into a new strong company specialised in comedies called Cinema City. The boss of Cinema City was one of my good friends, Karl Maka. We met when I was working for overseas productions, he was the first assistant director, I was also an assistant; we became good friends. After some years, he said he was starting a new company and asked me to come and join him. Very shortly, and luckily, every single Cinema City’s picture became a box office success.