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Lawrence Gray
Director , Producer , Screenwriter , Author
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Blog: Wednesday, Jun 24

Screenwriters' Newsletter 25 June 2009








    • "A Very Selfish Documentary"

If you wish to tell us about your Hong Kong film projects,

please send your information to lwgray@netvigator.com

About our publications

The HKWC has published four critically acclaimed anthologies of short stories - Haunting Tales,

Sweat & the City, Hong Kong Whodunnits and Love & Lust - which are available at selected

Dymocks bookstores and from our website. Read more at:



The first meeting of the Writers’ Circle’s Screenwriters Workshop took place the other week.

Lots of people attended and mostly they wanted to work in two areas, Feature scripts and

Internet Shorts.

The Internet Shorts are perhaps the most interesting areas to look at nowadays because of their

newness as a form and because of the extremely low budget that is required to make them. A five

minute sketch needs little more than a half a day to shoot and a couple of actors willing to give it a

go and work with you, the writer, director, producer and even performer! It is an area where one can

learn a lot about the whole production process very quickly with little pain and sometimes a lot of

glory. Which can help your credibility if you want to move into TV and/or Film.

The Feature Writers face an uphill struggle here in Hong Kong where there is simply no film industry

to speak of. However, we do have a burgeoning independent movement, fuelled by access to

relatively low cost high-end cameras. And I hope to encourage our writers to see themselves as

filmmakers and to bite the bullet and just go make their own damned movies. Writing to low budgets

is an art and some might say it spoils your chances of competing with those who can handle big

budget concepts. But I don’t think we have much of a choice here in Hong Kong.

Also, one might offer up a reality check here. The local market is Chinese speaking and so writing

scripts in Chinese is a better way of gaining a reasonably sized local market than writing in English.

However, if you write in Chinese, it’s also beneficial to write the script in English as well! The

international nature of even the lowest of low budget projects in Hong Kong means that having a

Chinese and English version of the script enhances the project.

Our next meetings will look at the projects that the current members are bringing in for people to

review and we will push rapidly forward to actually producing some of the web ideas.

All members of the Workshop must sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement so that we can talk freely

among ourselves about our projects and they must be members of the Writers Circle.

Those of you wishing to join, contact me and I shall send you the forms.

Lawrence Gray

Hong Kong (Screen)Writers' Circle



The “I Shot Hong Kong Film Festival” is on 6pm Wednesday July 1st and Thursday July 2nd, at The

Grand Cinema, Elements, followed by a party at the W Hotel. It will be HK$250 per person. You can

also go on the 2nd July.

“The quality of this year’s films is outstanding,” says Craig Leeson, the festival organizer, “It was

really tough to select finalists because all of the submissions were so good.”

And quoting Time Out’s article:

“The short film and music video categories have early audiences particularly excited. ‘Where do we

go’, a funny music video about the challenges of finding a decent flat in Hong Kong, directed by

Simon Tin for local multimedia collective: CB Fresh, is expected to be an audience favourite. And

another film generating early buzz is LAWRENCE GRAY’s Chinese language film, ‘Gong Neui’, about a

young starlet who has a surprise encounter with her biggest cyber fan.”

You can find a trailer at: http://vimeo.com/5302282

So I hope you will all pop along and of course vote for me!!! Go-Go-Go-Gong Neui!

And by the way, don’t forget to go to the party as well because all the cool people will be there.


I am often asked about copyright and whether one can “copyright” a screenplay and/or idea for a


The answer to this is yes and no. Ideas are not copyrightable. However, a Non-Disclosure Agreement

can be made overtly or even inferred from a confidential discussion, which may or may not give you

some moral leverage in the face of someone lifting your idea and running with it, if nothing else.

However, if you stand in front of an audience and proclaim your idea, or perhaps just paste it into

your Facebook site, then the idea is up for grabs and you have relatively little to complain about.

The only way to assure your idea is legally considered yours is to work on it! A substantial amount of

research, of paperwork, of story outlines, of scripts etc etc, all protect you from having your idea

stolen. And to help you prove the timing of the gestation of your idea, you can register your script or

treatment for a small fee with the Writers Guild of America. Just go to

www.wga.org and hit that link that says “REGISTER YOUR SCRIPT”.

Easy eh?

That said, after thirty years of hearing this, it does tend to be those with the worst scripts who are

particularly obsessed with others “stealing” their ideas. All I can say is that it is probably because

they know they don’t do enough work to make an idea really their own.


Other countries have government run film funds that are regarded as the first port of call for a

producer to find funding to develop the screenplay and then go putting the package together. Also

they run First Film funds and other concepts designed to support beginners and move them into the

professional arena. It is considered a cultural and political necessity to support local productions and

maintain a region’s international profile.

Although the Trade Development Council does a very good job in Hong Kong promoting what we

have, the film fund however is essentially for those who already have the first fifty per cent of their

investment in place and has nothing to offer first time producers or directors.

Go here to check out the requirements:


Here’s what you will find.

Your project needs to be commercially viable, as demonstrated by already having 50% of the budget.

It must have an experienced producer or director, as demonstrated by their having produced two

features that have been distributed locally in the past ten years. 50% of the crew and actors must

be permanent residents and the maximum budget must be HK$12m. It must also be capable of

passing the censors.

Very few people have applied for this money largely one suspects because of the restrictions on first

time producers and directors. Another problem with this is that in commercial terms HK$12m is a

very low budget movie and not really enough to pull in bankable stars. And ultimately, if you already

have fifty per cent of the budget, it is not that difficult to do a deal with any number of other sources

of finance to match that. Matching funds are easy. The first fifty per cent is where the hard work is.

In short, it’s the last place rather than the first place you go to. Which does make it a very odd sort

of government support for an indigenous film industry.





現招募: 18~22歲少男二位









Freelance Caucasian/Eurasian actors/actresses are needed for a Hong Kong movie.

Age Range: 25 to 35.

Interested parties please email their photos and contact information to

Stanley Lo

E-mail: stanleycasting@yahoo.com.hk

  • "A Very Selfish Documentary"

Adeline Kay is looking for people to interview and take part in her documentary about “Selfish

Behaviour” in Hong Kong.

Shooting period: mid-July to August 2009 (flexible)

“I am looking for some people who accept to be filmed to talk about their unique experience and

point of view of "selfish behaviours". As long as you live in Hong Kong, ALL AGES and ALL

NATIONALITIES are welcome. This documentary will be done in a relaxed tone (even funny at some

moments). I am not putting any judgment onto those behaviours. I simply need your point of view

and your personal experience. “

If you are interested, contact Edwin at adelineckayee@gmail.com


HK$490 per annum.

If you wish to join, download the membership form at http://www.hkwriterscircle.com/form.html

over 12 years ago 0 likes  0 comment  0 shares


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