We all love to watch movies, but Crosby Yip-hei actually went out and made his own. The 24-year-old tackled the topic of campus romance in his first feature film, To Love or not to Love.
Young Post caught up with the young director, to find out about his inspirations, and how he got started in the industry.
Crosby has been in love with cinema since he was a child. “I loved watching local movies, especially ones directed by Stephen Chow for his sense of humour,” he says.
It didn’t take long for him to decide that filmmaking was something he wanted to be a part of. “I enjoy arts, writing and creativity,” explains Crosby. “So when I was studying in secondary school, I was dreaming to become a scriptwriter.”
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In 2008, when Crosby finished Form Five, he took HK$6,000 he had saved from his red packets over the years, and used it to enrol in a script-writing programme. He hoped the experience would give him some exposure, and help him build connections in the industry.
Through the programme, which was held by veteran movie producer Stephen Shiu Yeuk-yuen (King of Beggars), Crosby got a glimpse of how to construct good storylines.
“During the course, I got a lot of chances to brainstorm with other students and with Shiu,” he says. “In the process we inspired each other a lot. Some ideas were really used in Shiu’s movies.”
Encouraged by the course, Crosby went on to study Creative Media in City University. But he admits that getting an education in film is not necessarily what leads to success. “For the movie industry, knowledge might not be as important as opportunities, and you can create those yourself,” he says.
“For me, directing a movie was the goal. To make that happen, I took part in a lot of different video competitions since high school to get exposure so people would know my name. Then my chance came.”
But shooting To Love or not to Love, his first feature-length movie, was far more complicated than filming a short video. “As the director of the movie, even though I am just a newbie, no one was there to show me what to do,” Crosby says. “To keep things running smoothly, I had to do a lot dealing with investors, the production team, post-production teams and everyone else. I didn’t have to do this in the past. Balancing all these different powers at the shooting site was also my responsibility.”
And being the director doesn’t just mean focusing on the creative part of the project, finances were an important consideration for Crosby.
“I needed to have a clear vision before we went to shoot. Every minute at the site costs money, and that put a lot of pressure on me,” he says. “There were a lot of struggles. The story was based on my own experiences back in school, like what was happening between boys and girls. But my investors saw the ideas through their adult eyes and challenged my ideas. So sometimes I had to make adjustments to fit my investors’ expectations.”
Crosby has finally tasted success as a real director – although that still hasn’t convinced his family.
“Even now, my family doesn’t support me, because they think that creativity isn’t worth any money,” he says. “And they are very confused because they have no clue of what I have been doing.”
But Crosby is used to this attitude, and he doesn’t let it stop him. For years he has faced objections from his family for his movie dreams, but he has never thought of giving up. “I set the movies as my goal, and I hope young people who want to become ‘movie people’ will never give up.”
For anyone who is dreaming of a career in film, Crosby offers this golden advice: “If you want to step into the industry, join some video competitions to get exposure, or do part-time work on some films. Then you might find your chance to succeed.”