September 18, 20101:14 AM MST
Director Kit Hui’s film “Fog” will open at the ID Film Festival in Los Angeles next month. She recently answered a few questions for Examiner.com:
What inspired you to make “Fog”?
The inspiration came from a documentary I saw about a young man who was found wandering outside a hospital entrance, having suddenly lost all his memory. I was intrigued by this man and his search for his identity. I thought it’d be an interesting concept if this story is set in Hong Kong, which at the time the city was preparing for its tenth anniversary celebration of the handover. Plus, I know Terence well, having worked with him on “Missing”, I thought he’d be good for this role, so I began to develop the script.
The film was shot in Hong Kong. Do you think the environment is more supportive to filmmakers than the US?
It’s just different. The U.S. system (specifically the Indie style since I haven’t shot in the Hollywood studio fashion) is more organised, everything and every department has its own hierarchy, each crew member knows who does what etc. Filmmaking in Hong Kong, by and large, was and still is an apprenticeship system, people don’t really go to film school to academically learn and theorise about film and the craft of filmmaking. So when on set, everyone just jumps in and does whatever that needs to be done. Things are much more spontaneous and there is a certain energy or “anything-goes” attitude that runs through the HK set, quite a few times I was amazed by the things that the grips would do or could do that would never be allowed on an U.S. set. That said, the U.S. system provides a certain comfort and assurance, they problem solve in a more organised fashion and you know who is responsible for what, so you know things will be achieved.
There’s a deep sense of being in circumstances beyond your control. Is that a situation that you feel yourself in?
Filmmaking is an interesting art in which the filmmakers create a seemingly organic and coherent world for the audience, but behind this illusion there is constant chaos and uncontrollability. I try my best to prepare myself and with my team, so when the uncontrollable circumstance hits us on set, we’re more ready to deal with it, but there is only so much you can do and the rest you just have to ride with it. Sometimes on a good day, we might even be able to take advantage of the unforeseeable circumstance and turn it into a “happy accident”.
What are some of the difficulties as an Asian female director that you have encountered?
I don’t think about it much and I don’t project myself as an Asian female director but rather a film director who happens to be an Asian woman. I remember back in film school sitting in my directing class on the first day, my teacher (also female) told the class, “if you’re a woman and you’re like this,” she then raised up her pinky finger and continued, “you better make sure that this is what you really want to do, it’s going to be a tough ride.” I guess if you’re a petit woman and have a softer voice, it’s harder to exude authority, and if you try too hard, people might label you with the B word. To be honest, the difficulties for me usually come from within. Being brought up in an Asian culture, and as a female, I apologise way too much. On set, I often begin a sentence with “I’m sorry, do you mind…” or “Is it alright with you if…” When you’re on set, time is critical, I shouldn’t be spending those extra seconds to say those words… you don’t really see male directors doing that as much.
Your film will show at ID Film Fest in October, your LA premiere. Are you excited about bringing your film to Los Angeles.
Yes. I’ll get to see my old friends, meet some new people and maybe even find new collaborators. Actually my very first film screening was in LA for my short film, so it’s sort of like coming back to a full circle, except now the film is longer and I’m a lot older.
Your film was recognized for visual achievement at AAIFF in San Francisco. How would you categorize Kit Hui’s artistic style.
I’m not conscious of my style. I don’t think about it when making films but rather the best way to communicate the emotions to the audiences. For “Fog” specifically, I wanted to create a natural world as if we were in the same space as the protagonist Wai, so instead of “showing” what happened and be in people’s face, I chose to reveal Wai’s world and let it seep through us. A curator once told me that my films seem to have a gentleness to them yet with a strong undercurrent that challenges the audiences… I’m not sure what it means, but I do like to challenge my viewers and make them work. As a filmmaker, my responsibility is fulfilled once I created a reality and projected it onto a screen, now it’s the audience’s job to engage and accept that reality, or not.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m currently developing my second feature which went to Pusan PPP last year. I just finished the script that required quite a bit of research, and I’m happy with the direction it’s heading.