|Clement Cheng: There are always a lot of external forces to stop you from whatever you want to do. Because they don't know what you are doing. I am the only person who knows, and my partner. The thing is, you just have to deal with it. The more pressure there is, and the more constraints, [these] help you for your own creativity. If there is an unlimited amount of freedom, you can't come up with anything. It's like a box: you are in there and you try to get out.
Peter Chan once told me that when a HK director goes to Hollywood, people in HK praise him and if he goes up north to China, he is a sell-out. But it's actually not true. You need to make a lot of compromises in every system, in Hollywood or in China. It's just a question of how creative, how smart you are to work around things and make things happen. He did two movies in Hollywood and five in China. He told me it's actually harder and there are more rules to follow in Hollywood than in China, even thought censorship is kind of sensitive in China. He said he had a lot of freedom under the circumstances.
It is a shitty place working in movies because people in HK, and especially in HK, are constantly yelling. All the time. There was a script I wrote on - some well-known script-writer was the guy who yelled at me at the conference room for five hours. For every page and every line, he said “it's shit” and I am “crazy” and I am “immature”. For five hours. I really doubted myself. After five hours, the director came in. We were kind of friends before but then it got tense. He asked me if I still wanted to be his assistant director. If I followed my guts, I would have said no. Because I didn't want to be in this place and be yelled at every fucking day. I could be having wine somewhere else.
Everybody wanted to leave. No one knew what was going to happen but I wanted to stay. Funnily enough, they hired another scriptwriter and it took that person a month to re-write the script. And afterward, I was a scriptwriter again because the producer read both scripts and she thought mine was better.
And if I hadn't stayed, I wouldn't be writing scripts or making movies anymore.