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Filmmaker seeks independent vision

Published on Thursday, 07 Jun 2012
Inspired by the 2008 protests, Lo Chun-yip says he is saddened but not discouraged by lack of support for independent filmmakers.
Photo: May Tse

Unlike most filmmakers who focus only on shooting commercial movies, Lo Chun-yip chose also to work in independent films about politics. As a secondary school student, Lo – better known as Siu-yea and a member of the so-called post-’80s generation – knew nothing about politics but the 2008 Legislative Council election, and the series of demonstrations against the building of the high-speed railway connecting Hong Kong and the mainland, focused his attention on society and politics. He hopes to promote wider awareness of politics through his independent films.

How did you get started with video production?
In Form Six, I got the chance to edit a video for a school event. My father taught me how to do it. That was my first encounter with video production. My father was not in the movie industry but he knew how to edit videos because in the ’90s, the business of making wedding videos was booming and he worked in it as a part-time job.
Why does video production fascinate you?
I never considered myself a talented artist. I didn’t do well in art lessons with my drawings and sculptures. I was never into art until I found that I had the ability to thrive in art-form video production. It feels great to create something on my own.

I took part in video production contests at school and studied creative media at City University of Hong Kong. My interest in video production grew as I learned more about it. I am always looking to expand on the topics that I shoot, and on ways to improve my shooting style and technique.
What is the message you want to send in your productions?
I want to focus people’s attention on politics. As a secondary school student, like most Hong Kong people, I knew nothing of, and had no interest in, politics. That changed when I was bombarded with media coverage about the fight for universal suffrage, and against building the high-speed railway.

My final year project, 21 Years After, is a story about one secondary student’s lonely and winding road towards learning about politics. He is keen to discuss politics with his classmates but no one cares. This is a reflection of our society’s lack of interest in politics.

Then I made a documentary, Days After and Coming, a collection of the demonstration footage that I have shot. Youth has played a significant role in fighting against building the high-speed railway, but what’s next? My documentary investigates this subject.
What have you learned about politics?
I used to be fascinated by the pan-democrats. Their idea of universal suffrage seems to be the solution to all problems, but a closer look at the Western world tells me that this is not the case.

Westerns countries that have elected rulers seem to have more freedom but that freedom is granted from the top down by the ruler, not initiated by the people. I don’t see such freedom as real freedom. Universal suffrage is not the ultimate goal for Hong Kong, but it is definitely a step that we have to take to fight for democracy.
What is your career plan?
Right now, I work on a freelance basis. I do cameraman jobs for commercial movie production. I have my own studio, Define Creations, which shoots commercials. These are the ways I make ends meet.

I can’t say what I want to be in 10 years. All I know is I have to give my best in order for my next job to come, and so far I have not been short of jobs since I graduated two years ago. I never want to contribute only to commercial movie production. I will always allocate time and resources to producing independent films.
What do you plan to do to promote independent film production?
Many people are critical of independent film production because it brings in no profit. But not all things can be measured in cash.

A healthy movie industry should allow both commercial and independent film to co-exist. But in Hong Kong, the government gives little or no support to independent filmmakers, which makes me sad but not discouraged.

I will give lessons to teach people about making independent films. The investment is small, anyone with a camera can do it, and there are no worries about box-office income. Getting more people to produce their own independent films will keep the industry going.

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