6 Feb 2013
Hong Kong Through a Lens
Supercapitalist, the story of a maverick US hedge-fund trader who moves to Hong Kong to orchestrate a deal that swiftly escalates beyond his control, has been in the Hong Kong iTunes top 20 since August
With its distinct skyline and bustling harbour, Hong Kong has provided the backdrop to many Hollywood blockbusters in recent years including Contagion, The Dark Knight and Johnny English Reborn. Hong Kong movies continue to attract Chinese mainland audiences to the cinema, and 2012’s Chinese Zodiac, distributed by Emperor Motion Pictures and starring Jackie Chan, took in more than US$135 million at the box office, making it the sixth-highest grossing film on the mainland last year.
Other Hong Kong movies have found success beyond the Chinese market, including Donnie Yen’s Ip Man franchise. Distributed by Mandarin Films, it has been released in Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, to date. Mr Yen is now poised to set up a production company with the CEO of Media Asia Entertainment Group, Peter Lam. The group is responsible for making some of Hong Kong’s biggest movies including 1911, starring Jackie Chan, and A Beautiful Life, starring Andy Lau. The two plan to work on another martial arts franchise, Enter the Master, following the success of Ip Man.
The Rise of Independents
US film distributors are using Hong Kong to gain Asian exposure through FILMART, the world’s third-largest film market
New Yorker Derek Ting recently shot his first full-length feature movie, Supercapitalist, which is set in Hong Kong and
Still, there were some challenges. “I was a newcomer with no track record, so there was a lot of knocking on doors, and asking people if they want to collaborate.” Distribution, too, was a challenge, which Mr Ting cites to stiff competition from other independent movie-makers and the film not being easily pigeon-holed. “With Supercapitalist, we were telling an international story, so I don’t think we fit in anywhere. But that’s definitely a growing trend – movies are becoming more global.”
Fuelled by his success – the movie has been in the Hong Kong iTunes top 20 since last August – Mr Ting is working on another big project and a small independent film, both of which will be shot in Hong Kong. He now hopes that his film – which was shot on a modest filmmaking budget of less than US$500,000 – will inspire other independent filmmakers to think big. “I hope people can look at my experience and say, “Oh this guy did it, and he didn’t have any connections.”
Investing in Film’s Future
Hong Kong is the most effective place for connecting with the “movers and shakers of the TV and feature film industry in Asia,” says Ashley Jordan, CEO, Bigfoot Entertainment
Based in Causeway Bay, the 27-story building was recently constructed by Bigfoot Properties Group, and Fashion One, its worldwide television network. “We shoot original TV series from Hong Kong such as the Fashion Correspondent Search: Hong Kong, and many interviews with local celebrities and designers. We also shot the feature film, Irreversi [a thriller directed by Bigfoot founder Michael Gleissner] in locations throughout the city.
US filmmakers are using Hong Kong as a cinematic gateway to Asia
Bigfoot, which also has a studio in Cebu, Philippines, is committed to the future of film, establishing the International Academy of Film and Television (IAFT) to teach and train aspiring local and international filmmakers and actors, introducing filmmaking techniques straight from Hollywood to its students via industry veterans. “Many of the school‘s graduates get jobs working for Bigfoot and the Fashion One television network after they graduate,” says Ms Jordan, who adds that they are in the process of setting up a campus in Hong Kong in addition to its locations in Los Angeles and Miami. The focus of IAFT, she says, is to deliver solid film school experience at a fraction of the price to aspiring filmmakers from all walks of life.
The company CEO says Bigfoot hopes to shoot another movie, set in Hong Kong next year. “Hong Kong is a fast-paced city,” she says. “We feel that it’s important to work and move quickly to stay ahead of the game, and Hong Kong is set up to help us achieve that.”