The below article came out today from Mingpao in anticipation of Night Shift's premiere -- it's a nicely written article / short interview of the creative minds behind the series: Jimmy Luk and Alex Pau (yes, that's the same team that produced To Be or Not To Be, which is one of my favorite HKTV series so far). I've also included a link to the 'documentary clip' that the writer mentioned in the article -- I actually saw the clip on HKTV's Facebook a couple days ago and posted it up on AF....here's the 'blurb' I wrote about it (paraphrase of what HKTV put on their FB post):
As a prelude to next week's premiere, HKTV posted the following clip on their Facebook page. This is a special "documentary" clip that one of the professors and her student at Chinese University in HK put together documenting the last 2 weeks of filming Night Shift. According to the post, when the government made the announcement denying HKTV a license back in October 2013, Night Shift was in the middle of filming and was only 70% completed. Even after the announcement, the production team decided to finish filming anyway and this clip not only bears witness to how everyone felt at that time, it also shows the unity of the team and how much fire and passion they still had despite the imminent disbanding of the team....
The article is relatively short compared to MP's other interviews, but still a good article nonetheless.
HKTV series “Night Shift”: New style HK television series
Article originally published August 17, 2015
Sincere. For HKTV, that’s not a word that merely gets spoken – rather, they put that word into action through their productions. A television series produced with ‘sincerity’ is one that will definitely be felt by discerning audiences.
As the second to last of HKTV’s series to air, the ‘sincerity’ of the series Night Shift (夜班) can already be felt even prior to its broadcast. In October 2013, when the government’s decision to deny HKTV a license came down, Night Shift was still in the middle of filming – faced with the possibility that the series might never see the light of day, plus most of the production team members were on the list of employees to be laid off the next day, the group collectively decided that they still wanted to finish filming the series. Tomorrow (8/19), two years after it finished filming, Night Shift will finally get to face audiences.
Earlier, there was a short 7-minute clip posted on the Internet that documented the series’ last 2 weeks of filming. Watching the clip, the part that moved viewers the most was when Alan Luk (陸駿光) expressed during an interview segment that he felt the cast and crew of this series were like the orchestral band in the movie Titanic – even during the last moments of the ship sinking, they insisted on finishing their very last performance. For those who participated in the series, this was not merely a ‘project’ that they finish and move on to the next one -- rather, for everyone involved this was a ‘work of art’ in which they invested a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.
Three main story arcs
Interviewed for this article, Night Shift’s chief director Jimmy Luk (陸天華) and script supervisor Alex Pau (鮑偉聰) revealed that the concept for the series actually came from American TV series Third Watch, a story about people who worked at night. The 3 main story arcs revolve around the West Kowloon district’s E.U. team (衝鋒隊) headed by Frankie Lam (林文龍), the underworld triad led by Philip Keung (姜皓文), and a group of young women, led by Kathy Yuen (湯怡), who frequent seedy night arenas in the hopes of making a quick buck. Within these 3 main arcs, there are many sub-story arcs that involve a vendor selling fruit at his stand, a vegetable street market, a trash collector, an ambulance, and even a ridiculous murder case that occurs at a midnight fair. Jimmy Luk expressed: “Each sub-story arc will take up anywhere from ½ to 1 episode and will be interwoven throughout the 3 main story arcs. Because of this, audiences may feel that the plot is bit ‘scattered’, as the story will jump from one occupation to another – this is actually done on purpose, as the main focus is really on ‘night-time’. Things that people may not be willing to say or do during the day, all is let loose at night, people’s true sentiments are revealed, and the dark side of society is brought out.”
Laid off workers continue to participate in the series
Helmed by the same production team as HKTV’s earlier hit series To Be or Not To Be (來生不做香港人), Night Shift marks the second collaboration between director Jimmy Luk and scriptwriter Alex Pau. Recounting that fateful day in October 2013 when the government’s decision to deny HKTV a free-to-air TV license came down, Jimmy Luk revealed that his boss Ricky Wong (王維基) called him to his office and told him that he was planning on laying off 200 people the very next day. Given the circumstances, Jimmy was asked whether he wanted to continue filming the series. As someone who believed in finishing what was started, plus so many people had put their hearts and souls into the production, Jimmy did not hesitate in telling Ricky Wong that he wanted to continue filming the series -- with that, all of the workers who were already laid off immediately returned on a ‘free-lance’ basis to finish the production. The rare chance to work together again and the determination to ‘finish what they started’ united the team together – morale was especially high and the ‘fire’ in their hearts burned stronger ever. Jimmy expressed that working for HKTV was the most enjoyable experience of his career, as he got the chance to feel what it meant to truly have ‘complete creative freedom’, which is a concept virtually unheard of in the HK television industry. Without hesitation, Jimmy stated, “If one day Ricky Wong is issued a license and he asks me to go back and work for him, I would do it in a heartbeat!”
With Night Shift being scriptwriter Alex Pau’s very last collaboration with HKTV, he states that instead of feeling sad at having to leave the company, he decided to approach it with a heart of gratitude that he got the chance to explore different genres and filming methods at HKTV. “The concept for Night Shift came about after Ricky Wong declared that he wanted to take an ‘American series approach’ with all of his productions. This entirely ‘new’ style of filming was rare in the HK television industry and through it, we hoped to show audiences that it IS possible for HK production teams to film series this way. Actually, I need to specially thank director Jimmy Luk – at that time, Ricky Wong was very ambitious and upped the ante by having all the script supervisors ‘sell’ their story concepts to the group and gave the chief directors complete authority on whether they liked the stories enough to film. Some of the story concepts were actually rejected by the directors, so you can imagine the pressure that us script supervisors felt. During that presentation, when I brought up the premise for Night Shift, Jimmy Luk was the first one to raise his hand and say ‘I really want to film that!’ To this day, I am still extremely grateful for his recognition!”
Filmed entirely at night, no ‘main leads’ in the series
Alex Pau further expressed, “I would also like to thank the artists who participated in the series – it was hard enough that they all had to re-arrange their schedules for a month to film entirely at night, they also had to deal with a neurotic script supervisor such as myself! This series is unique in that everyone’s screen time is scattered and uneven and the main story line is fuzzy – to be honest, none of the artists in the series can be considered ‘leads’. This is an entirely new format and also a different way of storytelling that left the artists a bit perplexed when filming, but they persevered anyway. Lastly, I would like to thank the entire production team for selflessly giving so much of their time and effort to help me fulfill this crazy story concept!”