Action... and great, that's a wrap!

Action... and great, that's a wrap!

A young film director has learned to see the world through the prism of his own experiences

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Cheung Kwok-leung.
Cheung Kwok-leung.
Photo: May Tse
Adversity is the lifeblood of great art - and of great artists. It's what drives characters, just as it does their creators.

Cheung Kwok-leung can tell you a thing or two about that. Despite being only 16, the budding film director has had plenty of ups and downs in his life.

Kwok-leung is a Form Three student at QualiEd College. He went from being a child in a wealthy family that had everything but lost it all. He lost his father. He became a monk. And he went through the culture shock of moving to Hong Kong from Thailand, where he was raised.

"I grew up in a huge family in Thailand where we owned plots of land and numerous properties," he says. "The 1997 financial crisis and [financial troubles later] left us with nothing. My father passed away when I was 11. I lived as a monk for weeks to honour him. I spent 10 hours a day reading Buddhist texts and ate one meal a day."

His misfortunes made Kwok-leung more mature than many of his peers. He sees life in a different way. Unlike teens who spend their time playing video games and surfing the internet, Kwok-leung loves writing novels and developing film scripts.

"A movie should reflect life," he explains. "Every morning, I see students rushing to school without noticing the events taking place around them."

He does notice them, though.

"I like to leave home early to have time to observe people and happenings on the street on my way. I get so much inspiration from just watching," he says.

The young director's skills of observation have served him well in making his productions. One of his award-winning films is about a girl with a sore throat. His attention to detail helps him turn ordinary events into a humorous and entertaining take.

"Many of my videos are based on the short stories and scripts I have written," he says. "I write about the people and things around me and I will turn these into a video, if I can."

Video production has taught Kwok-leung the importance of being prepared and how to think on his feet.

"There are so many uncertainties when you're producing a video," he says.

"Certain actors may be absent, the weather may not match the required setting, all kinds of problems can happen. It is important to be prepared if things go wrong. A director has to come out with new solutions quickly."

Kwok-leung admits he is not a good actor. Yet one of his teachers has praised him for making sharp judgments as a director.

"To be a good director, you have to try your hand at all the jobs required during a production, like cameraman, actor, producer and artistic director. It's the director who makes the final judgment calls so he has to learn to see things from different points of view to make the best decisions," he says.

Kwok-leung's talent has caught the attention of Hollywood Plaza's Christmas television production academy. He was a guest speaker at an event for youngsters eager to get their own cameras rolling.

From now until December 26, Hong Kong director Ho Siu and veteran television host Joseph Yeung Shui-lun will give youngsters a taste of video production at the academy

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