I spent a hectic and all too alcoholic week at the Hong Kong Film Market. I never intended to go but I had a pass and so popped in to see if there was anything useful happening and ended up hanging around all week.
One would assume that there must have been something useful actually happening, but that is not how it is with Film Markets. Most of the guys there are sellers and very few are buyers. Even fewer are investors!
I've come to the conclusion that for the most part these sort of conventions enable one to meet up with fellow warriors and moan about the decline in swordsmanship and the lack of decent barons to employ your skills. The military metaphors are justified in Hong Kong given that martial arts movies are really the only game in town.
And so one met up with friends, hung out at the Asian Film Awards, bullshitted about the next project, bemoaned the ones that got away and, well, ogled the girls, of which there are many. The "Hot Asian Babe" is a concept that is always thought to sell a movie, though if one looks at most Asian movies the hot babe is very skinny and whiny and as often as not destined to die or at least suffer miserably. Sexy is not a word that comes to my mind while watching Chinese movies. Though I haven't seen Sex And Zen in 3D yet.
I have no doubt that it is a cinematic event of gargantuan significance, complete with Japanese pornstars to up the screen orgasm count. However I suspect that it is more rude than erotic.
Maybe I'm just odd but somehow I also found "Lust Caution" a peculiarly un-erotic experience. I guess it all depends on how interesting you find Tony Leung's bottom and Wei Tang's hairy armpits. Nope, Hong Kong and China really don't do sexy.
In real life however, it has to be said that Hong Kong's actors are beautiful, guys and all! And I noticed Harvey Weinstein welcomed many a photo opportunity with more than a few hanging off his arm. They were stunning. He was grateful. Come to think of it I had more than a few "Hot Asian Babes" hanging off my arm as well, and I too was grateful and my wife probably checked my facebook page a lot more than she would normally.
Me, Stephanie, Bey Logan
Harvey Weinstein and me ignoring him
More than a few of us buzzed around Harvey, because we wanted to support Bey Logan's latest effort: Snow Blade. Quite a number of my friends are involved in that one, especially Yung Yung Yu, now rebranded "Sable Yu" by Bey. The teaser they shot features "Sable" indulging in a naked swordfight. She moved very well and how they got the blur of a blade, the shift of an arm, a sudden cut to cover her modesty in the nick of time was a miracle of editing.
Bey is a great aficionado of the "Hot Asian Babe" school of thought and determined to actually make it sexy. He is shooting these movies in English because he would find a very restricted market in Chinese, despite the China market being in theory enormous. In practice it is tightly controlled by Beijing, has a lot fewer screens than the US, and there are no ancillary profits from DVDs etc. because of piracy. And as a Gweilo film maker, I suspect, he is simply a lot less likely to get distribution there anyway. But Bey's also of the never say die school of film makers who just make films and hope for the best.
Whether Bey's output will go the way most Indie movies go no one can tell. Snow Blade has the hall marks of a cult film that I am certain he could screen in many venues if he took himself along to present the film and give a talk about making movies in Hong Kong. So I can see a unique sales campaign making a splash in chosen movie houses across the US.
As for the rest of us writing and making films here, I cannot even claim that one's interstitial status as neither Chinese nor fully Western any more can be blamed for limited opportunities. I spoke with Chinese writers I knew and all of them complained that Hong Kong was dead and that they would either move to Beijing or Singapore.
One friend had some funding for a movie set in Singapore. It was an Asian Horror movie, the exact genre that I know the Media Development Authority were trying to establish as a Singaporean genre, much as Kung Fu is exclusively Hong Kong's. And another friend had various historical Chinese dramas that he was shopping around Beijing. But he was finding the whole closed shop mentality of Beijing hard to break through, and he too was looking towards Singapore as a base of operations. He had recently moved his company there and shut up the Hong Kong operation.
I was thinking it was just me and my low grade Cantonese that drove me to considering Singapore more suited to me. But apparently Chinese writers also find the place attractive. Anyway I am heading there for the first week in April to give my screenwriting course at the Singapore Media Academy, and to try shoot a pitch for the feature that I'm putting together with Derek Lui in Singapore.
Oh, and a few other interesting things that I can't talk about right now turned up at the film market. Film Market's are never completely useless. The question always is, when one sobers up, will these conversations bare fruit? I guess they won't if you never have them in the first place.