The Holidays are exciting times for everyone, and it’s no different here.
A few weeks before Christmas, fellow mentor Gilbert Po, treated myself and several of the staff and students to a preview screening of director Ho Hung and producer Teddy Robin’s “Doomsday Party”. The feature debut for Ho, a veteran commercial director and business partner of Gilbert, stars Paul Wong (of legendary band Beyond) singer Kay Tse, Kelvin Kwan and impressive newcomer Fish Liew. Robin even doubles up on his duties as the producer to bring a lot in a supporting acting role. I particularly appreciated how the script addresses Hong Kong’s rising social turmoil and it’s weaving of multiple story lines. It was a packed house for the preview and everyone left the theatre with enthusiastic praise. In chatting with Ho Hung and Robin afterwards, Ho revealed that he had worked for five years to get the film made, approaching several studios until Robin stepped up. Indeed, Robin said that it was Ho Hung’s tenacity and passion that struck him and led him to believe in the project. Certainly, both veterans’ faith and hard work is rewarded by experiencing the positive feedback from the audience. By the time this blog entry is published, Doomsday Party will have left the theatres but it is certainly worth keeping an eye out for it when it is released on iTunes!
A little closer to Christmas, again I had the treat of dinner with acclaimed Hollywood and independent director producer and writer, Julie Dash. Julie burst onto the cinema scene in 1982 with the feature Illusions and then wowed audiences with Daughters of the Dust in 1992 and won awards at the Sundance Film Festival. I was in film school in the US when Daughters of the Dust came out and I remember everyone talking about the groundbreaking storytelling, use of rich storytelling, song and language as well as its lyrical visual imagery and beautiful cinematography. Any description of the film is inadequate and so if you haven’t seen Daughters before you owe it to yourself to check it out. Julie was in Beijing and Hong Kong for retrospective special screenings including her more recent films The Rosa Parks Story and Brothers of the Borderland, narrated by Oprah Winfrey. While she had been to Hong Kong once before, she kept exclaiming how much she loved the scenery, food and energy of the city. I wholeheartedly agree and look forward to talking with her again in the future.
Finally, just yesterday was the beginning of the new term at IAFT and in looking toward the cutting edge and future of the industry I welcomed to the Directing 303 class, transmedia director and producer Marco Sparmberg via the internet from Singapore. Marco is a founder of and CEO of the Hong Kong/Singapore transmedia and branded-entertainment company Haexagon Concepts. As the students will write, shoot, direct and produce a web series as their major project of the term, Marco delivered a great introduction to web series and transmedia. He showed some exciting examples of the creativity that this platform allows to filmmakers and as this platform is emerging, many aspects, including funding, are still being written. The importance of this class cannot be understated as the opportunities that this platform gives to filmmakers multiplies each year as I see in my own productions that I am working increasingly with internet distribution and exhibition. Again, the not just the holidays are exciting!
– SETH HENDERSON, IAFT MENTOR