It was nice to get so many people who had made an impact in my life involved in one project! Even Jason Ho, the guy who introduced me to Wong Kar Wai's Chungking Express came to help as Director of Photographer and brought his cool camera, his glide cam, some lights from the school he taught at and his professionalism working overseas in Japan and other parts of the USA. In addition Moua Lee, a veteran filmmaker offered to use his camera and help shoot some secondary action...it was all very exciting! I had seen how Ken and German the guys from Hit Hut arranged action sequences and I really wanted to see what I could come up with.
Real life Hong Kong and Canadian Sifu Simon Lui plays the Grandmaster observes his skilled student from a distance
All and all this was a great fun little project to get my feet wet again returning to Minnesota and it was a homage to all the martial artist and enthused out there! Check it out after the JUMP! Hope you like it as much as I enjoyed making it! Enjoy!
Des Isness Pictures & Team Chow Fa Productions
My Lord, a skilled and great fighter has challenged and defeated many other martial artist, tonight they return for revenge, when a young boy challenges My Lord's ego, the forces of nature show up to bring them all as one.
Directed by Pete K. Wong & Kang Vang
Short Screenplay by Pete K. Wong
Running time: 5 min 53 secs.
Coming back from Hong Kong, after awhile, it felt time to move on to another movie! I had been inspired to do a 70's era chop socky cool cop movie something like Gordon Park's Shaft! Something, cool, but more funny and not all about being badda##. I loved the recent hit Black Dynamyte "Dynamyte! Dynamyte!" I thought and though but couldn't come up with a story, then something else developed on it's own.
A couple of things came together at the same time: 1) My wife's interest in catastrophic end of the world nature destroy all movies (ex: 2012, Day After Tomorrow) 2) Some conversations I would overhear about the martial arts and which one was the best. Who was the best? 3) I wanted to make something for Alex Do, a martial artist, instructor, and enthused action movie guy.
At first I started thinking of the cool fight scene in Ip Man, where Ip Man (Donnie Yen) takes out like 13 Japanese martial artist - I just loved that! And that's how it began! I saw a first of many bodies flop into frame! Let's start the movie at it's highest point with a cool fight scene only it would be one man, highly skilled, taking on many! But his reasons where not evil just cocky or confident. I would write something that could showcase all the martial artist I had build relationships with through the years and some whom I had met recently. Thus became of Ego Claw. That's right...Ego not Eagle Claw!
I wanted to get back with my best friend and filmmaker Kang Vang who had just completed his latest feature Fallen City and who loves the martial arts, I showed him the script and he was very excited to co-direct it with me!
First was 2 Saturday's worth of rehearsing at Alex and his now instructor Sifu Simon Lui's clinic. A room full of martial artist playing together, man nothing could get better then that!
Alex needed to jot his notes of every movement he'd had to face with every fighter and there were many to face.
And this is what we came up with!
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0MyzqKPTTkDes Isness Pictures Presents
THE GOOD GUY
Written and Directed by Pete K. Wong
Running Time: 10 min. 58 secs.
Charles has made some poor decisions in his past that have hurt his relationships, particularly the one with his daughter. Tonight, he tries to win it all back, and fails. Trying to escape from the people he owes money, Charles is put to the test, and in one night proves that even people who make mistakes can still be a good person inside.
Charles (Charles Edwards) gets mic'd up by his co-actor/assistant director Francis Chan This was the first scene I ever wrote for The Good Guy and originally it took place outside of the Hong Kong Jockey Clubs, particularly the one I saw in Cheung Sha Wan. Lots of men, would have their newspapers ready, listening to the race on the radio, I thought what a great visual. All these grown men, desperate to make some money to turn their lives around. I thought for my main character Charles, putting all his hope on ever turning his life around from the life he used to live based on one night's bet was very possible. I didn't shoot it on the street like I had planned, because of all the cops and people who I knew would hastle us, but we got a great restaurant for our opening and it just happened the race was on the night we were filming, so we used this to our advantage. I remember calling Charles the day before the shoot telling him how I felt something was missing from the opening. I felt that I needed to show who his character was and I only had a small time frame to show it in before the action in the story truly takes place. We talked and I asked him for his thoughts about it. I wanted to show how he's made poor decisions and tonight he tries to redeem himself but I didn't know how. That's when Charles suggested the phone call to his wife or the mother of his daughter. Even up to the point before we rolled camera Charles and I were tweaking the dialogue, but one thing that is great about working with a professional, he knows how to show up!
Benny Wong was the third and final Director of Photographer on TGG and he was the one I originally had approached to helm this project. We had worked together on some freelance gigs with Patrick Kong, my brother in law and became good friends. I always admired his work and really saw it for TGG. Due to some unfinished editing projects he had going on he couldn't dedicate all three days, but loaned us all his equipment at no charge and finally got out on our last day of the shoot, we were more then happy to welcome him to our production.
All and all it was a real fun shoot. I was worried that all the food everybody was eating was going to charge my wife and me an arm and maybe a leg. I always joked that I'd be out back doing the dishes for Peter, the owner but hey anything for the movie...right?
I'm learning sometimes when you make your movie, things happen and just go with it, because it could turn to a great surprise. Like when Peter who was selling these great fine red wines from France offered to open up a few bottles for our movie! I was excited! My wife and I love wine and to see it put in our movie for him...heck why not! This is why I love making movies! Doing something you love and having lots of fun while doing it!
We finished up that night with the shots of Charles walking out of the restaurant and onto the streets. Oh boy! This was my dream come to life, shooting a film on the real streets of Hong Kong, the energy, all the people! I'll never forget this production, it was my signature before departing Hong Kong and returning back to the US!
The first night ended with a visit from the local Hong Kong Police Force, good thing we were finishing our last shot before they came and after they came out of their truck we politely told them we weren't fighting and just shooting a little movie. We got our shot anyway before the night ended.
The next day was shot just a block away from where we were the first night. Got to be honest here, after the night before with cops, I was not too thrilled to have to get out here again and this time wear a robber's mask and punch the crap out of a student, but once we got filming I just said hell with it, let's make our movie!
This scene involved Charles approaching Phillip the Businessman (Ben Eppel) about to jump him for his money but then both of them stop put when they witness an incident across the street!
Uh oh! This can't be good. A young student (Chanelle Tong, above) gets attacked and kidnapped by a robber! Chanelle was a young full of energy actress who I had met while doing some plays with schools...Grease and Cinderella, I always wanted to see what else she could do with a little work. She worked real hard and is so young, but just a great gal! Felt bad having to punch her in the gut over....and over again! But I figured who better to do it then me! The night before we had Albert Leung, and tonight we had the honor of working with Herbert Leung (below) the other half of Double Conflict Productions. Herbert much like his brother was talented all around. I really enjoyed working with him too! He's got cool hair too! Just look for yourselves!
Honey, looks like its gonna be a long night after all. .
When we finished that part, we moved on right away to the action scene! Just a few blocks over by the bus terminus, we found a seedy, low lit but great view location.
I did prepare that there might be a slight possibility for injury during this particular scene, but never thought that person would have been me!
All and all it was a great shoot! So many things happened that evening...the bottom of my shoe wore and tore off during my chasing Chanelle bit, got a nose bleed, we changed the ending, I learned a few things or two about choreographing a fight as to where the camera can go, and there was talk about a pizza Ben had ordered that gotten eaten before he or I could get a piece!
Just one more night and TGG would wrap!
Our first day of production was a night scene. We weren't able to shoot in So UK Estates like we had originally planned but we found an even more suitable spot just a few feet away.
Everything had been prepped and ready and still had not heard from some of the guys as to who was going to DP (Director of Photography) the shoot! When walking down the street was Albert Leung! Albert was in post production on his movie Time Stopper which I got to play a cop and I was so thrilled to see him here to help TGG.
Charles Edwards (left) and Francis Chan (Right) were two actors/directors whom I developed a very good friendship with over my course of living in HK. Charles was the lead in my first theatre performance Popcorn and a director of commercials, I was honored when he thought of me for a role in one of his commercials. When I initially wrote TGG I had thought of him as the lead and troubled father. I thought I can't get Charles he's super busy flying from Australia and back and working on his gigs, but to my surprise he was just as enthused as I was! And I knew with him as my lead, this was going to be a great film even if I didn't do my best...haha just kidding.
Francis Chan, is my brother of soul, he grew up in age when Bruce Lee was at his prime and eventually passed away, so Francis absolutely loved Bruce! I grew up in that time later, when Bruce had already passed and was becoming a legend! Francis and I met on an acting gig in Macau we just got along right away! We loved the same things and loved music and life and taking chances enjoying things! Francis grew up in Canada and Hong Kong so he could relate with how I saw things. The other cool thing about Francis is he's a Radio DJ! How cool is that!
We had always talked about doing something together but just never made it happen. I told him I had this movie I was going to make and asked him to join me! When I wasn't sure if I had a "Charles" character I thought Francis could be that guy, but I'm glad things turned out the way they did, as I think Francis fit Fred much better. Two professional actors playing against each other, I love it. Can't thank you guys enough!
Albert Leung, writer, director, actor, editor, martial artist, cinematographer, he's just great!
if was a great night, before our final shot, we did get the cops pulling up on us but we told them we were just wrapped for the night and we were. Great start, I think that night we ended up going to Mcdonalds afterwards to celebrate. Til, tomorrow when we would return to this location well a block away from there.
I still have not met an Art Director or Set Designer to work with, so in the meantime I pull together my own sources.
I'm not so keen when it comes to camera work and colors and lighting, but I like to watch a lot of movies and look at photographs to kind of narrow down a concept. These were some of the inspirations I used in the brainstorming process.
Loved tne cinematography and interesting set pieces showing the late night markets of Hong Kong without the neon lights of Mongkok or Nathan Road.
Another recent film Beast Stalker (證人) and Stool Pigeon (綫人) Directed by Dante Lam, the latter of which I still have not seen. Had an interesting look that I just liked, I wasn't sure if I wanted to replicate that, as it didn't seem to fit the same mood as TGG, but the characters were messed up and I liked that.
There Will Be Blood Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson - haven't seen the movie- still! But I have always loved the cinematography of PT Anderson's films done by Robert Elswit he rocks!
Just trying to find more creative ideas.
Alfonso Cuarón 's Children of Men is probably one of my favourite films because it's a great example of a good film, good story, good production. It feels on the outside like a very commercial product of within it as you watch it, how the story is told is such a stretch, it takes changes, risks, with story and content and cinematography, and it stretches boundaries of present, future, Europe, not Europe, it delves in history using the future, holy ^&*())! That's a Sci-Fi home run!
Anyways, I liked how things looked messy and almost like you could touch it and it would break in your hands. Like the characters they were extremely fragile...well most of all Clive Owen's character and that is what I wanted Charles to look and feel like. A good guy who has a life that has been very messy.
In TGG the school girl gets attacked and kidnapped by a man, this was the early concept of Guy the Robber.
Then Chang's sketch of Guy
It's interesting how when you actually start getting the things that you need to tell your story together how it all unfolds, sometimes for the worse sometimes for the better.
I had a couple of locations that I had passed by that I wondered what if I put it into the movie. One of them was always So Uk Estates in the Cheung Sha Wan district. It was one of the last old looking estates that still had character behind it, they had already started tearing it down part of it, so I knew this would be the best time to get it.
I'd start to picture the movie in my mind with these great locations, but then actually getting these locations was another story. One night we went out to do some test shoots to see how the lighting would look with the handheld battery operated lights we had and the already existing lights the estates had on. While we were doing so, a security guard approached us and told us we needed to have a permit to shoot here. The next day, we prepared a permission letter to shoot there, I even asked if I could speak with the person in charge of that, they told me they were away and that I should drop off this letter and wait for him to call back. This person finally did and they didn't want us to shoot in their estates. I had to start planning for other options.
My first year in Hong Kong, I worked as an English Drama teacher at a secondary school in Tai Wai. After class, I would walk down to catch the mini bus and it was tea-time so I was always hungry.
I usually had some noodles and meat and some cold milk tea for a late lunch or snack. I had always considered wanting to use the restaurant as a location, but never had a story that I could imagine it there. It was when I needed an opening for TGG (The Good Guy) that I remembered that restaurant I used to eat a
When I used to eat there, I also would share conversations with the owner, we shared the same name "Peter" so that was always kind of special thing I felt. He was very interested in hearing about how I was doing in Hong Kong and we would share different culture concepts about China about USA about things in general. I didn't know that he would allow us to shoot there, well least not without a heavy price to pay, but in the end, he was very supportive and helpful, it proved to me probably for the first time, if you can imagine it and work hard, anything is possible. We had our location for our opening of TGG. I was stoaked!
If you are ever in the neighborhood stop in and say hi to Mr. Peter! From the Tai Wai Train Station take Mini Bus 803K and before it goes up the hill, you'll see the restaurant. The Fu Kwai Restaurant in Tai Wai during the day
When I first got into Hong Kong in 2007 I worked at a school in Tai Wai. Everyday after teaching, I would walk around exploring the city, trying to purposely get lost so I can see parts of the city I normally wouldn't be able to. Wherever I went, as night grew I'd see these kids in school uniforms boys and girls out late.
They must have gone straight from school to these different places, but I was always surprised to see them out so late. What did their parents think of this? What was their family life like back home? I started writing a screenplay, inspired by David Fincher's Seven. About a serial killer who didn't exactly kill but kidnapped these school kids to make a statement about the city, a city that was always busy, so busy even to spend time with their own children.
I've been wanting to do some detective darker picture for quite sometime. I worked on it, then I had a problem with the story, what would this kidnapper do with all the kids?!! Two years past and I still wanted to make my Seven....but then I started writing another story, it was a combination of two things that had happened, 1) the movie After This Our Exhile (父子) directed by Patrick Tam, just one scene with Aaron Kwok when some thugs bully him over some $ outback of his workplace and 2) I had been having various conversations with good people who in the past had made poor decisions, sometimes drug related, sometimes gambling, but who were making changes in their lives. I started developing a story about a guy who had made poor decisions in his past and how in one night, he gets the chance to make the right one. Thus "The Good Guy" short screenplay was completed. It wasn't until Julia and i started to make plans to return to the USA that I felt like I had to get at least one movie project under my belt before I leave Hong Kong. I had to document the city and somehow capture some of the places I will remember forever.
At the time of filming photographs were not allowed on the set. I could see why this was necessary to protect members of the cast from the media and other outlets that were already lurking around.
Being on the beach was HOT!! On the first day of shooting on the beach I didn't really prepare well. That night I had a farmer tan in the shape of my tank top. A farmer tan in case some people were wondering is where you get a tan with markings of whatever shirt or shorts or whatever you were wearing at the time of being out in the sun. Later, I learned to wear sunblock and not suntan lotion haha! And not just a little a lot of it and every few hours too! I drank plenty of water and Pocari drink (one of the sponsors of the film!) Every day after I'd gone and got breakfast and coffee, I'd get a wet towel for both Bey and I. I found out later after wards that some people did not like this, but had we not we'd fry up like Fried Chicken.
It was fun to be on the beach. It was hot but it was an experience I'd never forget and yes it was hot but I was enjoying my job.
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