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Secondary students meet top filmmakers and get some tips about creating their own documentaries about Hong Kong, writes Wong Yat-hei

Hundreds of students met top Hong Kong filmmakers at a workshop this week at the launch of a movie-making competition run by National Geographic.

Leading movie personalities shared their experiences and gave valuable tips to 240 students from 31 schools on Tuesday.

Andrew Lau Wai-keung, who directed the blockbuster Infernal Affairs, advised students on how to choose a topic for a documentary. 'Any subject can be a topic. You can walk on the street, see something interesting, and that can turn out to be your topic. The most important thing is you like the topic,' he said.

Lau said a group must find a leader who can make decisions and delegate duties. 'It's great to have a group of friends working together on a project like this, but there has to be a leader who has a clear direction about what to do with the documentary. There is only a month-and-a-half before the deadline so you guys better focus on what you are doing.'

Eric Poon Tat-pui, executive producer at RTHK, has made more than 90 television documentaries.

He said: 'When we shoot a documentary, we often come across the problem of being able to see but not able to catch it on camera. The decision regarding when to turn the camera on and when to turn it off is extremely important.

'Things happen very quickly and there's no guarantee you will be able to record what you want. Thorough research will help you anticipate the right moments to turn your camera on and off.'

A successful documentary should make a deep impression on the audience, he said. 'Directors who made great movies are celebrated by audiences. In a documentary, you would want viewers to remember the clip instead of the director.'

Veteran filmmaker Victor Wong, who was involved in movies such as CJ7 and Infernal Affairs, talked about post-production skills.

If you have a unique insight into the city, here is your chance to share it with others. The Live Curious Documentary Awards 2010 is an inter-school competition to inspire young local filmmakers and broaden their horizons. It is organised by the National Geographic Channel.

The contest challenges secondary students to create an inspiring five-minute documentary about Hong Kong on the theme 'Forgotten Memories'.

School teams can join the competition by visiting www.livecuriousawards.com. Each group should consist of two to five members. Films may be in English, Cantonese or Mandarin.

The deadline is April 30, and the results will be announced in June. The winning entry will be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel.

For more details, visit www.livecuriousawards.com, call 2621 8777 or e-mail livecuriousawards@ngcasia.com

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