Most people recognise "Turn off all electronic devices during examination" and "Stop writing when the invigilator says time is up". These are exam rules that local students, who have taken hundreds of examinations, know off by heart.
But when it comes to taking part in public examinations such as the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE), even veteran exam takers might panic and get into trouble for making rookie mistakes.
To help candidates remember exam rules, the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) decided to work with actual young people to make it easier to remember them. The authority worked with Higher Diploma film and television students at the Hong Kong Design Institute to produce the "DSE Up Up Up" series, three one-minute films explaining some essential DSE rules.
Four final-year students took part: Jacky Wong Cheuk-ki as director, Ian Fung Ho-wing as scriptwriter and assistant director, Julianna Yiu Yuk-kwun as film editor, and Long Lo Tsz-long as cameraman.
HKEAA had three goals for the young filmmakers. The first two were to remind students to turn off all electronic devices during the exam and stop writing when the time is up. The final message they wanted to share was to remind candidates to speak up about problems - for example, if the room is too dark, or the air conditioning is too cold - during, and not after, the exam.
"The production was a challenge for all of us," Wong says. "We've shot a lot of videos for assignments where the teacher and fellow classmates are the only people judging the video. But now we have to meet the expectations of our client and tens of thousands of DSE candidates. We knew that we needed to take things up a few notches."
Yiu, who did most of the post production, agrees. "I spent a lot of time talking to HKEAA and making changes. It has been a great learning experience to be dealing with clients in the business world," she says.
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"Our audience is the students. We wanted the production to be funny to appeal to them. But at the same time, we are dealing with exam regulations, which is a serious subject. The challenge is finding the right balance between being catchy and presenting the rules clearly," says Fung, who came up with the storylines.
Wong added that it is never easy getting a message across to a huge audience. "As a film producer, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking your work is easy to understand but actually it is not. I spent a lot of time finding ways to convey the message," he says.
As if trying to deliver an effective video wasn't hard enough, the team also had to deal with the unexpected while shooting. "A lens was accidentally smashed during the shoot, leaving us without a tool to do close-ups. I ended up using a regular camera to shoot close-ups from another angle, and to my surprise the director accepted it," Lo says.
"I guess filmmakers need to be able to think on their feet. It is important not to panic and to come up with alternatives."