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Gov’t-funded films flourish

July 16, 2017

A star is born

A star is born:  Wong Chun is named Best New Director at the Hong Kong Film Awards after securing government funding under the First Feature Film Initiative to make his debut Mad World.

Creative licence

Creative licence:  In Your Dreams director Tam Wai-ching says the First Feature Film Initiative gives her freedom to pursue her movie vision.

Star power

Star power:  In Your Dreams director Ms Tam (left) secures the help of award-winning actress Carina Lau who takes on the lead role and serves as a producer for the film. (Pic: One Cool Pictures)

Dazzling debut

Dazzling debut:  Oliver Chan (right) is making her first movie Still Human after winning the 3rd round of the First Feature Film Initiative.

Golden opportunity

Golden opportunity:  The 4th round is now open for application. Those who dream of becoming a director can submit their proposals by August 15.  

Weeds on Fire and Mad World stole the limelight at this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards, with the films scoring 16 nominations and five trophies between them.


Based on the true story of Hong Kong's first Chinese teenage baseball team, the Shatin Martins, Weeds on Fire is an inspirational sports movie.


The directorial debut of Chan Chi-fat, the film won the hearts of locals and movie critics.


Mad World is also the first feature film of young director Wong Chun, who scooped up the Best New Director Award.


It portrays how a bipolar disorder patient reintegrates into society.


The young man’s struggles and his reconciliation with his estranged father captivated audiences.


Talent training

The two movies were supported by the First Feature Film Initiative, launched by the Government in 2013 to discover fresh talent through a competition on screenplays and production proposals.


First Feature Film Initiative panel member Felix Chong said the contest provides a platform for first-time directors to flex their creative muscles.


“They produced excellent work with limited resources. They exceeded our expectations.


“Their achievements showed the First Feature Film Initiative can identify and nurture talent for the local film industry. Given the Government’s support, 25 new directors came on the scene in Hong Kong last year.”


Another aspiring director Tam Wai-ching was the winner of the 2nd round of the initiative.


Her debut In Your Dreams is a love story between a 16-year-old student and his teacher.


She said she wanted to make a romantic movie that appeals to people’s emotions.


 “Weeds on Fire is an inspirational film while Mad World is a gritty drama that explores social problems. My film is very different from them.”


Ms Tam majored in film studies at the City University of Hong Kong School of Creative Media.


After graduation, she worked as a scriptwriter for some big local productions.


However, she said her dream was to become a director.  


“I wanted to be a director. Directors can make a film in the way they envision it to be.


“The First Feature Film Initiative allows me to make my dream come true without worrying about market response or investors. I can make the film into whatever I want.”


Star endorsement

Despite being a novice, Ms Tam’s talent was recognised by stars and veterans in the industry who were impressed by her screenplay.


Award-winning actress Carina Lau starred as the lead character and served as a producer for her film.


Ms Tam also secured the help of Choi Sung-fai, the cinematographer favoured by comedian-director Stephen Chow.


Both Lau and Choi worked for Ms Tam for no pay.


In post-production now, In Your Dreams will be released at the end of the year.


Encouraged by the support given to her, Ms Tam says there are many opportunities for young directors in Hong Kong.


“Everything is ready for you. You just have to take the plunge and be courageous. The most interesting thing about the film industry or being a director is that you do not know what the finished product will be like until the very end.


“No matter how much education or filmmaking experience you have, you cannot guarantee your next film will be a success. However, I enjoy the process of making a film a lot, as I am the creator from start to finish.”


Taking the leap

Following in the footsteps of Ms Tam, Oliver Chan is also chasing her dream.


She was the winner of the 3rd round of the First Feature Film Initiative.


Her screenplay for Still Human portrays the bond between a paralysed middle-aged man and his young Filipino domestic helper.


“I have dreamed of becoming a director since primary school. It may be a tough job. But I will do my best and have no regrets.”


The 4th round of the First Feature Film Initiative is now open for application.


Winners will receive up to $5.5 million from the Film Development Fund to produce their first feature film.


Those who dream of becoming a director can submit their applications by August 15.