Airing outside series starting September, HKTV attempts to find new path to survival via ‘micro-movies’
Source: MingpaoWeekly, Issue 2427
Ever since it was denied a free-to-air broadcasting license, HKTV has found a way to survive by officially launching online as an Internet shopping network and television station. Despite the critical acclaim for their dramas, HKTV has essentially halted production of all TV series in the 6 months since its launch due to the licensing issue. In recent months however, Ricky Wong seems to have found a possible new direction for his station’s survival: filming ‘micro-movies’ (微電影) for the business partners selling products on HKTV’s Internet shopping platform, HKTV Mall [TN note: there are various translations of 微電影 currently being used in the industry, including ‘micro film’, and ‘short film’ – for the purposes of this article, I am using the translation ‘micro-movie’.] With this route, HKTV can still push out new productions while at the same time make more money to continue funding the TV station side of things. Earlier, HKTV had 2 of its contracted artists – Adrian Wong (黃芷晴) and Bryant Mak (麥子樂) – collaborate with the creative team behind hit series The Menu (導火新聞線) to film the station’s very first micro-movie La Couleur.
HKTV’s very first micro-movie La Couleur is actually a promotional piece for fashion brand EQ:IQ. At only 10 minutes long, the film is helmed by Ben Fong (方俊華), the chief director of HKTV’s hit drama The Menu, and stars Felix Wong’s (黃日華) daughter Adrian Wong partnered with actor Bryant Mak and child actor Oscar (左珀僑). In a story about love and family, Bryant plays a single father who encounters overseas-educated Adrian – originally strangers from opposite worlds, the 2 of them become acquainted over a painting and later on Adrian helps Bryant resolve a difficult issue with his son (Oscar); throughout the process, the 2 of them end up falling in love.
Felix Wong encourages his daughter to seize the opportunity
Despite its short length, the production of the film was taken very seriously – in addition to the actual filming taking place over the course of 3 days, the cast also spent 2 days rehearsing their scenes with the director and the rest of the production crew. With this being the first micro-movie of her career, Adrian Wong expressed that this was a new and different experience for her: “Even my mom asked me, ‘Adrian, isn’t this a commercial for a fashion brand? Why do you need to rehearse for it?’ I understand that the director (Ben Fong) has very high standards. This is my first time working with the crew of The Menu and I feel extremely honored, so I not only participated in the rehearsal, I also took the time to discuss my role with the director.” Since joining HKTV, Adrian has participated in the series Paranormal Mind (開腦儆探) and Incredible Mama (我阿媽係黑玫瑰), but this is her first time filming a micro-movie. Because of its length, the filming process for the micro-movie is more meticulous, so grasping the character accurately is very important: “Since I was born and raised in Hong Kong, having to portray a student educated overseas is a bit challenging, plus the story is about art, so some of the dialogue can be a little abstract.” Adrian expressed that one of the most memorable moments for her was filming a scene where she was wearing high heels and had to chase after Bryant Mak – after running back and forth nearly a dozen times, it was exhausting: “My mom and dad didn’t visit me on the set to watch the filming, but they gave me words of encouragement and told me it’s a great opportunity for me to polish my acting skills as well as collaborate with such a professional team – they told me to cherish the opportunity.”
Currently busy filming TV series As Long As Love is Forever Present (只有情永在) for Mainland China’s GDTV, Adrian revealed that her contract with HKTV will expire at the end of June. Asked about her plans after her contract ends, Adrian hopes to continue both her careers as an actress and designer [TN: Adrian has her own design business where she makes handmade accessories and sells them online – her brand is called Oh My Deer]: “I hope to get more acting opportunities, whether in movies, TV series, stage plays, micro-movies, commercials, etc. I’m currently in talks on a few outside TV series.”
As for fellow actor Bryant Mak, who has participated in many micro-movies throughout his career, he feels that HKTV going down the micro-movie path is a good thing: “I hope that the company will continue to film micro-movies and show audiences that they are willing to try different things. Also, I feel that the fast pace of micro-movies will give audiences a feeling of freshness.” Bryant revealed that in the micro-movie La Couleur, it was his first time playing a father and having to work so closely with a child actor: “A lot of people say that working with children is very difficult, but this particular child (Oscar) is very good-natured and very smart, plus he definitely knows how to act. Of course, sometimes he might fuss a little, since he’s a child after all, but he very rarely has outtakes when filming – it’s pretty amazing!”
Enough series to last through next year
Having halted the filming of new series since its license was denied more than a year ago, HKTV’s current inventory of completed series is slowly being depleted. With only the series Love in Time (還來得及再愛你), Doom+5 (末日+5), The Wicked League (惡毒老人同盟), Paranormal Mind (開腦儆探), P.4B (四年B班), Hidden Faces (三面形醫), and Night Shift (夜班) left to air, it is estimated that all of HKTV’s self-produced series will finish airing in September. After that, they will start airing outside-bought series, such as Mainland series Detective Di Renjie Prequel (神探狄仁傑前傳) and Home Temptation (回家的誘惑) as well as Korean series Twinkle, Twinkle (閃閃發亮), etc. – with the number of outside series they bought, it’s believed that HKTV will have enough series to air through next year (2016). As for the rumors that HKTV will resume new series production mid-2015, the station’s assistant director of corporate communications, Jessie Cheng (鄭靜雯) clarified that they need to resolve the judicial review decision handed down by the courts first, then they will make a decision on what direction to take in terms of future series: “Some of the series that HKTV already aired – such as To Be or Not To Be (來生不做香港人), The Menu (導火新聞線), The Election (選戰), etc. – were well-received by audiences. HKTV has gained valuable experience from these series and through audiences’ feedback, we’ve also learned a great deal about the market’s attitude toward our series’ content, pacing, overall production, etc. Based on all this, we feel that remaining solely an internet TV station is not plausible in the long term, as it limits the scope of broadcast and also potential impact. Also, advertising revenue from internet will always be far off from the advertising revenue gained from traditional media platforms – relying on that revenue alone is not enough to sustain the production of high quality programs. Even though the courts ruled in our favor with the judicial review, there is still no word on what will happen with our free TV license application. In addition, we’re still awaiting decision on the judicial review filed over the mobile television services issue – the court proceedings were already completed on November 26th of last year (2014), but still pending final outcome. After that, then we’ll be able to decide whether to resume production as well as next steps.”