Sep 23, 2010|
I have been drawn to movies since I was a little kid. My uncle used to take me to the cinemas quite often.
Back then the cinemas only had three screenings a day. And there was an extra screening in the afternoon where they only played oldies, mostly WWII films. The tickets were cheap so I watched tons of them.
At that age I didn’t have any concept of how to make a film happen, but I just thought it would be cool if one day I could make something that could be played on big screens.
My mother is from Tahiti and she has a quite distinctive perspective of the world. She has always been very supportive to me.
I had really bad grades in school. I fell asleep in the classroom all the time. But
I was very into music and sports.
I got to concentrate on learning cinematography during high school.
And once I graduated, I went to work for Shaw Brothers Studio despite my father’s disapproval. He thought the film industry was a dirty and chaotic circle.
I started there as a cameraman, but from the first day of work, I knew my ultimate goal was to become a director. I thought I could make it by the age of 24. Of course I was wrong—I became a cinematographer at 24, and finally directed my first film at 29.
I require myself to keep up with trends. You can see it in the costumes in my movies— even when the story is set in the ancient times, the characters all wear trendy, fashionable clothes.
If you don’t want to die out in this industry, you’ve got to keep learning new stuff and moving forward.
I have to read a lot of magazines and check out YouTube videos that my kids are watching. I also go to Mong Kok frequently to observe the youngsters there.
When I was offered to direct the Korean film “Daisy,” I didn’t hesitate at all. Yup, learning Korean from scratch was a pain, but I saw it as a great challenge and opportunity.
You have to be a much more patient director to work in Hollywood. When I was shooting “The Flock,” there were unions, so many meetings to attend, and I had to repeat myself a million times and be specific about everything. I wasted so much time talking bullshit there.
I like the Hong Kong way better—the director is the king.
I guess part of the reason why spy movies are so popular in Hong Kong is because Hong Kong people suffer from an identity crisis. Especially before the handover, we felt like we were neither British nor Chinese—a very awkward situation.
When Martin Scorsese won an Oscar for “The Departed,” I was watching it live. I was shocked and pissed when the announcer mistakenly said that it was based on a Japanese film. But I soon got over it, I just think it’s rather embarrassing for them to make such a mistake.
The great thing was that Martin went up on stage and corrected the mistake and thanked me. That felt good.
It took a lot of effort to come up with the script for “Legend of the Fist.” Ideas were bouncing back and forth between me and the writers like we were playing table tennis.
I want to make the stories of Genghis Khan and “Water Margin” into movies, and I’ve been working on some ideas. It will be an incredible challenge to direct stories of such complexity.
I don’t have many hobbies. My life is kind of miserable as it’s always about work. But I love sailing, it’s the best way to decompress.
Andrew Lau’s latest film, “Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen,” is in cinemas now.