This is somewhat of a follow up post to my earlier one about CTI’s upcoming series (read the original post here).
As new information continues to emerge (almost daily it seems) about CTI and Ricky Wong’s overall strategy once his license is issued, it will be very interesting to see how things are going to work out for all parties impacted (basically all the TV stations in HK).
Here are a few additional ‘tidbits’ about CTI that I gathered from ‘following’ the behind-the-scenes people and others on Weibo (these are the same comments that I posted on Asianfanatics as well):
.—Regarding Ricky Wong’s comment about currently having 500 staff on board with his company (200 artists and 300 behind-the-scenes people):
Up until this point, we have heard tidbits here and there about who was rumored to have been contacted by Ricky Wong versus who has actually joined, etc. As I mentioned in one of my other comments, the articles that have come out so far only ‘scratch the surface’ in terms of giving us an indication of who has joined CTI and who hasn’t – there are actually quite a few who joined CTI but were not mentioned in any of the recent articles, primarily because their series will not be filmed until later in the year (i.e. Maggie Cheung, Felix Wong, Frankie Lam, Yu Mo Lian, Rain Lau, etc.)
From what I understand based on what has come out via Weibo and such so far, there isn't a full list [of the artists that have joined CTI] out there because the names of some artists who joined can't be revealed yet (meaning their contracts with another TV station have not ended yet)....and with a few others, there are discussions going on but they have not signed yet. (When Felix Wong attended CTI's welcome dinner a couple weeks back, he had even said he saw alot of familiar faces there, some whom he didn't even know joined -- but he couldn't reveal who those people were because they were still tied down by contracts.)
I'm sure that in the next couple months, we will continue to hear information about artists (and BTS people) who have joined CTI -- though I would probably wait for the 'official word' from either CTI or the artists themselves, since there has been alot of 'speculation' and false information out there these past few months about who has joined and who has not....
.-- The other interesting thing too is that Ricky Wong is taking a whole different approach to filming TV series in terms of behind-the-scenes structure – in other words, there are distinct differences between the ‘CTI model’ of filming series versus the ‘TVB model’.
You’ll probably notice when you read the article that none of the new CTI series have 'producers' -- unlike traditional HK TV series, which usually have a producer overseeing everything, the director who shoots the series, and the scriptwriting team (aka the 'creative' team), CTI's series will only have a 'creative director' (aka the scriptwriter) and the 'main director' (the title speaks for itself)....both the creative director and the main director will work together to produce the series and will basically share in the responsibilities that a traditional 'producer' would have.
This is actually one of the biggest reasons why Ricky Wong was able to get so many scriptwriters and directors to join his company -- especially with the ages old complaint from TVB's scriptwriters that their creative talent is often stifled by the production team (aka the producers)....in the TVB model, the production team is more important than the creative team, so whatever the production team says trumps whatever the scriptwriters say (which is why all those complaints surfaced about producers interfering with scripts and such). It's also a reason why when a TVB series has a bad script, I'm usually reluctant to blame the scriptwriter(s) completely because there's no way of knowing whether the idea came from the scriptwriter or if it was a result of a producer doing his/her own thing (or possibly a result of TVB's politics)....
With the CTI model, both the scriptwriter and director share in the responsibility and get to be involved in making important decisions that affect production, such as casting (which was another big complaint from the TVB BTS people).
.—Another interesting thing to note about CTI’s strategy is that it looks like they are not afraid of being innovative and utilizing the newest technology as well as trends to their advantage. It’s obvious from the details of the 3 series that have been released so far that CTI wants to do things differently and are therefore experimenting with different genres (romance, sci-fi, horror, musical, etc.), which is not necessarily a bad thing given the ‘stagnancy’ that HK television is known for. Also, filming the series similar to a movie as well as using ‘real locations’ as much as possible will definitely give audiences a different, fresher feeling from what they have been used to seeing for decades.
Personally, I feel that CTI is heading in the right direction with some of the things it has been doing related to the production / artistic side of things (i.e. exploring different genres, waiting until the script is completed before filming, giving each artist a chance to voice their opinion about their roles, etc.). Of course, that’s not to say that I agree with everything they’re doing so far because honestly speaking, there are some things that don’t necessarily sit well with me (i.e. the whole poaching thing). With that said though, I’m willing to give CTI a chance to see what they are able to come up with and whether they will follow through with everything they had talked about earlier.
Whether CTI is going to be successful in the long run really remains to be seen (especially given how ‘sentimental’ the HK audiences can be)…it will definitely be very interesting to see how things turn out in the coming months as each of the TV stations reveal more and more of their strategy and structure in the face of the TV wars.
CTI Press Conference: Details on 3 new series being filmed
Source: ND Daily News
Even though HK’s new free-to-air television licenses have not been issued yet, that has not stopped City Telecom Ltd (CTI) – led by chairman Ricky Wong – from moving forward with its grand plans for creating a television empire!
Yesterday, CTI held a press conference to announce the details of the 3 TV series that are either in the process of filming or will start filming soon. Based on the details revealed so far, the 3 series cover 3 different genres: youth-oriented romance series “There’s Still Time to Love You Again” 《还来得及再爱你》[TN: this is the sci-fi / vampire-themed series] , horror / suspense –themed series “Frightful Century”《驚異世纪》, and musical song/dance series “Fairytale Love Song 201314”《童話戀曲201314》.
During the press conference, the cast and crew for all 3 series were led on stage by Ricky Wong and were asked to introduce their characters as well as pose for group photos. Out of the 40+ cast and crew present, many of them were ‘familiar faces’ – artists who formerly worked for TVB, such as Bernice Liu, Dominic Lam, Shek Sau, Felix Lok, etc. as well as behind-the-scenes creative personnel [scriptwriters & directors] such as Lam Siu Zi, Leung Man Wah, Ben Fong, etc. These ‘former TVB’ veterans all refer to CTI as ‘a new world’ and during our [ND Daily] coverage of the press conference, they shared with us some of the differences filming at the ‘new’ [CTI] versus ‘old’ [TVB] television stations.
Ricky Wong: License not issued yet, still continue with series
Amongst the more than 40 artists and behind the scenes crew who participated in the press conference, many ‘faces’ that most of us are familiar with from TVB series were present – it looks like the more than 6 months that Ricky Wong spent ‘recruiting’ artists and behind the scenes talents turned out to be a successful venture.
Even though CTI has an unwavering determination to break into the HK television industry and its leader Ricky Wong has taken swift action in starting up the production process for its first batch of series, the fact still remains that the government has not yet issued the additional free-to-air television licenses that have long been talked about. With filming already starting on his first 3 series, Ricky Wong was asked whether he is worried that the issue with the licenses will affect the anticipated airing of these series, to which he replied: “I have a lot of confidence in the government! Since the policy has already been set that the HK television market will be opened up and expanded, I believe that issuing the licenses won’t be a problem -- currently, the ‘hold up’ is mainly due to discussion of a few minor details. Our [CTI] goal is to make sure that when the licenses are issued, we have enough ‘inventory’ [series] in the warehouse to hit the floor running – we’re looking at having 8 to 10 series ready for release.”
Mr. Wong also revealed that currently, CTI has approximately 500 employees, with 200 of those being artists and 300 behind the scenes personnel – the plan is to increase the staffing to 700 by the end of the year: “We recently hired 100 additional people, many of them newcomers -- all of them are currently going through some type of training, whether it’s acting classes or scriptwriting and directing classes.”
Former TVB artists: “There’s a difference filming for a new TV station.”
At yesterday’s press conference, the cast and crew for each of the 3 series took turns going up on stage to introduce their series and characters. Each person in the cast and crew got the chance to speak, introducing their character and also sharing their feelings about filming in a new environment. Since many of the artists (and behind the scenes personnel) who attended the press conference were former TVB employees, it was inevitable that comparisons would be made to their ‘former employer’ -- some of the most common ‘sentiments’ expressed by most of those present include: “Finally, we no longer have worry about ‘flying papers’(飛纸仔)” [TN: this refers to the practice of having to film scenes ‘on the fly’ due to the lack of a complete script at the time of filming]; “First time using movie filming methods to film a TV series”; “The degree of freedom is greater than before”….
Veteran actor Shek Sau (who had worked for TVB since the 1970s) summarized for our reporters the 3 biggest differences he saw filming for his new employer CTI: “First, there is a lot more ‘real location’ filming [TN: meaning that the filming is done on location with real scenery rather than fake studio sets]; second, the filming style is very similar to that of a movie, so the standards when it comes to lighting, equipment, etc. are very high; and third, filming does not start until a complete script has been written, which gives us artists more time to prepare for our roles. In addition, the work hours for the entire cast and crew will not exceed 14 hours in a day.”
Another veteran actor, Dominic Lam, used to play supporting roles at TVB, however in his first series with CTI (horror / suspense series “Frightful Century”), he will take on the male lead role. Since the series will be comprised of 8 individual stories, he will portray 9 different characters in the series -- Dominic expressed that in his more than 30 years as an actor, he has never experience such a challenging role: “There’s a lot of opportunity for development with this role, so I am really looking forward to trying it.”
Details of the 3 series:
Youth-oriented romance series -- “There’s Still Time to Love You Again” 《还来得及再爱你》
.-- Creative Director [aka scriptwriter]: Lam Siu Zi (林少枝)
.-- Main Director: Ben Fong (方俊華)
.—Cast: Danson Tang, Michelle Wai, Terence Yin, Sherming Yiu, Charles Ying, Kathy Yuen, Chan On Ying, Carlos Chan, Sin Ho Ying, Bond Chan, Rachel Lam, Alex Wong
.—Former TVB scriptwriter Lam Siu Zi (whose works included “Armed Reaction”, “War of the Genders”, “My Family”) expressed: “In HK, there has not been a TV series that purely talks about romance – in this particular series, that is exactly what we will do! Also, with the cast, we’ve done something that hasn’t been done before either – having a Taiwan actor (Danson Tang) take on the role of first male lead in a HK series. The main focus [of the series] will be completely on young idols.”
Horror / suspense –themed series -- “Frightful Century”《驚異世纪》
.-- Creative Director [aka scriptwriter]: Yip Sai Hong (葉世康)
.-- Main Director: Au Yiu Hing (歐耀興)
.—Cast: Dominic Lam, Leila Tong, Lawrence Chau, Felix Lok, Samuel Kwok, Noelle Leung, Eddie Lee, Luk Chun Kwong, Emily Wong, Chow Chi Lung
.—Description: The series will be made up of 8 individual story arcs that will revolve around a hospital, a luxurious mansion, a college professor, a psychologist versus hypnotist, a mysterious elderly senior, a serial murder case, an old camera lense, and the opening of a new luxurious hotel. The series will be filmed in the style of a movie using ARRI equipment / technology.
Musical song/dance series -- “Fairytale Love Song 201314”《童話戀曲201314》
.-- Creative Director [aka scriptwriter]: Leung Man Wah (梁敏華)
.-- Main Director: Wong Kwok Keung (黄国强)
.—Cast: William So, Bernice Liu, Kelvin Kwan, Jason Chan, Kate Yeung, Evelyn Choi, Shek Sau, Lisa Lui, Mimi Kung, Wilson Tsui, Savio Tsang, Benji Chiang, Leslie Chiang, Zac Koo
.—Description: As the HK television industry’s very first musical, the series will include many singing and dancing sequences. The story will revolve around a young CEO played by Kelvin Kwan and his love relationship with the characters played by Evelyn Choi and Kate Yeung.