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HKBU Alumnus Mr. Herman Yau (Communication)

The BUddy Post reporter has interviewed a distinguished alumnus and renowned film director, Mr. Herman Yau (Communication). Amid his busy working schedule, alumnus Yau shares with us his inspiration and experience on film production.

Reporter: How did you start your career as a film director?

Alumnus Yau: When I was studying Film at the Hong Kong Baptist College, I got acquainted with some graduates who were very eager to introduce me to the film industry. Upon my graduation, my first job was working as a continuity clerk at site, and I was mainly responsible for coordinating the scene, monitoring and recording the flow of each shot. In addition, I needed to ensure the continuity of each scene, as well as the chronological sequence and script of each actor or actress. This is how I started my career in film production.

Later on, I started working in a video production company. At that time, this kind of video production company targeted for TV drama was very popular. I enjoy photo-shooting very much. By chance, I had an opportunity to become a cinematographer, participating in photo-shooting in various films. In 1987, I started producing my first movie. Yet, the box office was not as good as I expected. I only began to produce my second movie four years later. During the interim, I focused mainly on cinematography.

Reporter: What are the qualifications to become an outstanding film director?

Alumnus Yau: From my experience, I think we should make use of every opportunity to acquire skills and knowledge. During the training period, we should broaden our horizons as much as possible. It is also crucial to ask yourself if you really enjoy and love this job. It is soulless to produce a film without a clear direction, a subject/story that touches your heart. It would be rather meaningless if you shoot a movie for the sake of shooting one. For instance, if you are invited for an interview by a reporter, how could you arouse the interest of your readers if there is no focus at all in your interview?

Reporter: Amongst your film productions, which one are you most satisfied with and which one is the most unforgettable?

Alumnus Yau: In fact, there is no one movie in particular. Why? I believe that whether a movie is successful or not depends on various factors, and I am not in the position to give critics on my productions. It would be quite meaningless if I give high rating to my movies. The final product of a movie or a novel should belong to the audience. Afterall, the final product should be judged by the audience. As of now, I am not fully satisfied with any of my films as I think there is still room for improvement. Besides, it is certainly quite difficult to measure the level of success. Should success be based on the box office, reputation and number of awards won, or merely a compliment by a highly respectable guru in the film industry regardless of other fierce critics?

Usually, shooting ancient period Chinese movies and overseas outdoor movies is very toiling. I remember the time spent for producing “The Legend of Zu” was very long, and the working condition was extremely poor. We had difficulty in adapting to the environment. Many grains of sand were found inside our underwear after we had shot in the desert for one whole day. The shooting of “Seven Swords” took place in Gobi, in which the weather was very dry and the temperature at night was below 20 degrees. If there was a sand storm while we were shooting the outdoor scene without wearing adequate clothes, we would have died even the temperature slightly dropped below 0 degree. In fact, the feeling towards film production is rather weird. The satisfaction overrides the difficulty encountered during the production process. Once the filming is completed, I will not recall any unhappy incidents.

Reporter: Which film director do you appreciate the most?

Alumnus Yau: My favorite film director is Rainer Werner Maria Fassbinder (1945-1982), who was a German “New Wave” director specialising on Neuer Deutscher Film. Although he passed away in his thirties, he had produced more than 40 movies and dramas on stage and TV. One of the most remarkable feature-length films lasted for 12 hours. He was one of the most important representatives of the New German Cinema in the 1970’s. Moreover, he was a highly regarded film director among the German in the post-war period. As a dedicated film-maker, he was devoted to producing films that were not fallen into the main stream, which in turn broadening his creativity and experience as a film-maker. In addition, he had included some sensitive themes in his movies such as homosexuality.

Reporter: In your forthcoming film productions, which artist would you like to collaborate with?

Alumnus Yau: It really depends on the theme of my movie. I usually select the cast after I have decided on the theme of the movie. For instance, if I am going to shoot the movie called “Young Gambler”, it will be in appropriate if the cast is Chow Yun Fat because it is more appropriate to find an actor who is young to fit into the theme of the movie. Take for another instance, it would also be inadequate for both Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt to be the main actors for my upcoming movie if I am filming “My mother”.

Reporter: Nowadays, the film industry in the Mainland China is booming, have you participated in the film productions in the Mainland China?

Alumnus Yau: Under globalisation, there is actually no difference between Hong Kong and the Mainland China. On one hand, most of the Hong Kong movies need to be shot in the Mainland. On the other hand, there are a lot of Chinese investors investing in the Hong Kong film industry. Therefore, I will produce film whenever it is appropriate. I do not have the concept of developing business in the Mainland China. Prior to exploring other parts of the world, I certainly hope that Hong Kong is the base of my career development, and I would like to give my staunch support to the film industry in Hong Kong.

Reporter: In retrospect, amongst your film productions, the majority of them are horror movies and thrillers. Do you particularly enjoy producing these kinds of films?

Alumnus Yau: To a certain extent, I agree. However, I should not limit myself to filming only these kinds of movies. The audience will also get bored.

Reporter: Currently, what are you busy working on? As a film director, sometimes you have to work almost 24 hours a day. How do you allocate your time in order to be work-life balanced?

Alumnus Yau: I am busy working on the Cantonese and Putonghua voice over post-production for the film which I have produced in the Mainland China earlier this year. If you think that your work, family or friends are important, you will cherish them wholeheartedly, and be able to spend some time with them out of your busy schedule. When some people said that they do not have time for their families, it just simply implied that their families do not have a place in their hearts. It is a matter whether you can prioritise your agenda or not. All in all, if you are really concerned about a particular person or matter, you will place them in your “Top Priority List”.

Reporter: What is your advice for the fresh graduates of HKBU and what is your motto in life?

Alumnus Yau: I do not recommend imposing our own philosophy on the new generation. Youngsters should develop themselves freely. We certainly understand youngsters have their own thoughts and beliefs as we have experienced before. I think it is rather outdated to tell the younger generation what we have done while we were young. The society is progressing and it is a bit unfair if we are always comparing the previous situation with the current one. My life motto is to live up your life fully.



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