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Daniel Chan
Director , Producer , Screenwriter
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"Smile For Me" Production Diary Week 1

Thought I would write down a few things about my experiences of making my first film in Hong Kong as a director...

It's been a week since I moved into our new production office in Kwun Tong... It's been a tough week for me, tho I am not always the first one back at the office, I have been the last one to leave on most nights, between castings and location scouting and revising the final draft of the script, not to mention rehearsals with the actors after dinner each night...

I am not used to people calling me "Doe Yeen" director for those who don't know the Cantonese word... watching other people work on and carry out the words I wrote on a computer in my underwear 2 years ago is a strange feeling... I have directed an indie film before, back in 2003, a small film that my producing partner and I did everything for, we did costumes, we were the production designers, we were also the writer and director... we also drove the actors to set, so on and so forth...

So this time around, having other more experienced film workers asking me what I would like to do, makes me feel guilty, because I know that by me telling them the ideas I have in my head, they will go do the work that eventually will help me get this movie made...

Having a production designer is great, I made the mistake of drawing a location with a pencil in front of her and she didn't ask me to stop, and I went on drawing for 5 minutes, until she couldn't put up with my drawing anymore and showed me he 3D rendered real time movable environment on her Mac Book...

The Production manager would tell me how much certain things would cost in a certain scene, and as an indie filmmaker, the first thing out of my mouths would be... wait, I can do it cheaper... after putting up with me saying that for 3 days, our PM sat me down and told me that... I need to be a selfish director, one who only cares about what he wants... then it's comes down to the skills of the production manager to give me what I want in under budget...

Having spent a day with my 1st AD, made me realise, how I could never do what he can do... to read a script once, then put out a scene and location breakdown and be able to summarise each scene with one short phrase and still the story would make sense... what's more frightening is that he is able to remember all of these things out of sequence... the 1st AD's job is to schedule the most efficient shoot possible and sometimes that means shooting out of sequence...

The Assistant PM's job is very much like an AD, but they possess a certain finesse about them, the way they ask for things, firm yet not forceful... it is with this skill that they are able to get people to give up their time, their house, sometimes their own bedroom for a crew of 20 people to come trampling in with their shoes on and turn your home upside down all because some nerd (ME) wrote a bunch of words on his computer...

Then we have the associate producer... their job is to find "goodies" for the project... like a discount at a post production facility for your editing, lining up sponsors to lend your project their products... to liaise with the actor's managers and negotiate a good price... Our associate producer has been bringing us goodies all week... it is their eye for talent that makes their shoes so hard to fill...

My producer has been busy promoting our movie before it's even made... most of the work that the aforementioned people can usually be appreciated easier than the work of a producer... on the one hand, they are the ones bringing in the money, on the other hand, they need to keep their eye on how the money is being spent... there will be days where you will love your producer for giving you what you want and days you can't stand them... but so far this week, my producer has been my friend, always coming back to me for my take on things and asking for my input on major decisions...

Having people catering to your every need is a humbling experience, to see how hard others are working makes me feel unworthy at times... those are the times that I need to reassure myself that I need to work just as hard to make sure their efforts don't go to waste... so I keep saying to myself... as long as you don't F*@# it all up, with these people by my side, the movie is gonna come out great...

almost 9 years ago 0 likes  3 comments  0 shares
Photo 281158
Wow!!! Very cool blog. Thanks for sharing such great info about the experience. I am planning out writing and directing a tv show in HK in the next few years and it gives me an idea of what to expect especially dealing with production outside of the US. I'm so used to dealing with indie projects and most recently guerrilla filmmaking, having a whole crew would be a breeze.
almost 9 years ago
Photo 40664
That's cool to hear man, keep the installments coming!
almost 9 years ago
Rottendoubt a4 patrick
nice. glad to hear you have such a good team together!
almost 9 years ago

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Languages Spoken
english, cantonese, mandarin
Location (City, Country)
Hong Kong
Gender
male
Member Since
September 21, 2007

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