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Through the Lens of Arthur Wong
Drama queen and IA2 1/1 - Page 6
Author(s) : David Vivier
Thomas Podvin
Date : 12/1/2005
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Teddy Chen Tak Sum
Henry Fong Ping
Andrew Lau Wai Keung
Peter Ngor Chi Kwan
Movies :
Infernal Affairs II
Companies :
Shaw Brothers
< Previous
Page 5 : Hong Kong Society of Cinematographers
Next >
Page 7 : Shooting Jackie Chan

HKCinemagic: You have worked on many film genres: Police, kung fu, and comedies to name but a few. What kind of film is the most difficult to shoot?
Arthur Wong: I got famous with action and kung fu pictures, but I found out that the most difficult [type] for the technique in photography work is drama, because of the lighting to create the mood. With action, the momentum is already there. You can just follow the performers and the [camera] movement is good. But in drama, in dramatic scenes, why are you moving the camera? Why this speed, why not faster, why not slower? Why using this kind of lens? This all depend of the sense of the drama. Of course the same script can be done by ten different directors and it will come out in ten different ways. The first thing is to get a crystal clear understanding of the scene and communicate with the director. [To get] what he wants. It’s HIS movie, not YOUR movie. You are only the DP, you only help people to tell the story with visuals. But this is not your movie, this is his movie above all.

First of all you have to clearly understand the script, to depict the character’s state of mind, and [to determine] the point of the whole sequence. Then you understand clearly the dialogue and the movement.

HKCinemagic: So you discuss with the director who gives you instructions, but you also share you own ideas, don’t you?
Arthur Wong: Yes. Some directors, if they get a very strong sense for visuals, they would tell you or they would give some examples, like showing you some other movies. Or some of them, if they cannot tell with visuals, you have to give them a lot of choices and communicate properly. Now, you don’t want to spend too much time on the set when we are shooting. So I can say, after five years as cameraman, I began to concentrate on dramatic scenes. Actually, most of my awards come from dramatic scenes, not action films! (Laugher). So, if I got to choose which genre is challenging I’d say definitely the drama genre.

It was a good opportunity for me to learn from those directors from the new wave. I could learn from them, I adored [them] so much, because I didn’t have the chance to go abroad to study.

HKCinemagic: Talk about Infernal Affairs 2 (2003), in which you had a small role as a triad…

Arthur Wong: Actually the director, Andrew Lau Wai-keung, was my assistant when I was a cameraman at the Shaw Brothers. He was my second assistant. But now he is a very famous director. One day he called me as he wanted me to act in Infernal Affairs 2.

[SPOILER] In the end all the [triad bosses] on that table got killed. I said “wow, you just want to find an excuse to kill your mentor.” (Laugher) [/SPOILER]

Actually the four big brothers there, were me and my focus puller, my first assistant and Andrew’s own assistant. [Ed.: They were Teddy Chen, Peter Ngor and Henry Fong].

HKCinemagic: It’s a little family and you really are the big brother.
Arthur Wong:(Laugher). Yes, right.
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