INTERVIEW | Film Maker MK Li
FROM | Hong Kong
Today we present to you our very first short film premiere on the website. The film that you are about to watch is a story created and shot by the man you see in the photo above – MK Li of Hong Kong. Having no idea what this movie was about except for the fact that it had SOMETHING to do with Hong Kong’s underground music community, we were intrigued to see what a young film maker could possibly create that depicted that mass (mess maybe more apt) that is the Hong Kong underground.
Upon pressing play and sitting back to watch a 15 minute short movie, we were simply blown away. Everyone has seen and heard the trials and tribulations of playing in a band – it is almost completely cliche to rehash the same damn story about a poor working class band that is barely able to scrape enough money by to buy equipment, record and head out on the road to chase their dream. Sounds great. But this story has been done to DEATH. To the point that this doesn’t stir the least bit of emotion in anyone anymore.
So MK’s story is completely different…it’s worth spending the next 15 minutes watching. Though the movie is shot in Cantonese it comes with English subtitles.
After you finish watching the short movie – please enjoy the interview we conducted with MK late last week.
Hey buddy – I just finished watching this video and it really is a beautifully shot and edited short movie. But what is more important is the story of not ever giving up no matter what’s in your way. How did you create this story? What was the inspiration?
Well, actually the story could be autobiographical. I was a drummer 2 years ago but we disbanded right before some of us had to sit our exams, which became a huge point of depression for me. I thought that was it – I was never going to be able to play music or in a band ever again. I realized that I couldn’t live without music…no matter what I was doing, like out eating with friends I would still somehow find things in my hands (like chopsticks) that I would use to bang on things to create music. This is what I used with the main protagonist in my short film. At the end of the day this whole experience from losing my band told me that I wasn’t going to give up on music.
After I started going to the Academy of Film, I had a chance to shoot a short film for my final year project and I started thinking why don’t I just shoot a short film about being in a band. By doing this I could show others what it takes to be in a band.
But your story is even deeper then the regular issues that bands all over the world face. Every band faces financial problems and issues with unsupportive parents or friends. But in your story your main protagonist’s main issue is with hearing loss. It really helps puts things in perspective for the rest of us who complain about this, and that, and whatever…at least we have our health and so we should do everything we can to pursue our dreams because there are people out there who can’t even do it physically.
So where did the idea come from to add that element into the story?
Well, as you know, a drummer must keep a constant beat for the other musicians. So this whole idea got me thinking about a character who was going deaf and I could use this storyline to spread a positive message. The character has to face the reality that in order for him to continue with his dream, he will need to accept the use of a hearing aid.
By the end of the story the character begins using it. Maybe the character can’t play the drums as well as he once used to however, the point is that it is more important to have a dream and chasing after it then simply giving up. This is the way I live my life now.
The pursuit of a dream is more important then actually achieving it!
What a strong message man! Perfect story to make me people think about being grateful for what they have.
Once you had the story ready – how long did the whole production process take? This is quite a professionally made movie! It doesn’t look it was easy to put together.
I first got word that I had to do a final year project in December of 2015 and I finished the whole project in May 2016 so it was a total of about half a year. It was actually an immense challenge for my schoolmates and myself because it was really difficult to find any references about bands or in particular the way we wanted to tell the story. In this regard it was really hard to prepare for the story and actual shooting. The other difficulty was the fact that we are all amateurs. I had no professional help in our crew therefore it makes me even more grateful to my entire crew for believing in me and this project.
This movie would’ve never been made.
How about the actors? How did you find the actors in the movie? Not all of them are ??? so how did you find them to act in the movie?
When I started looking for actors my only prerequisite was that they had to be familiar with bands, playing in bands and that whole world. If they weren’t familiar then there was no way this was going to be a genuine and authentic representation of that world. Luckily I met Jeff Yau, the main character, because first and foremost, he is the drummer of a band called Twisted Cycle. Secondly, he really enjoys acting. This made it an easy decision for me to choose because I could sense his commitment and inspiration throughout the casting process.
And the other actors were all former bandmates of mine who jumped at the chance to help me without a second thought. Again I thank all these people for their trust in me.
The most difficult actor to find was actually the violinist [Editor’s Note: The wonderful actor is a one-armed violinist who has a cameo in the film].
Wow – how did you approach the violin player?
Well, actually I met him because of a handicap video competition a couple years ago. I was the camera man of that project. He told me that he wanted to shoot more videos/movies as a way to encourage others because when he first lost his own arm he was incredibly down and depressed for a very long period of time.
That’s beautiful man! And you said the main actor is actually a drummer so he doesn’t have any formal training or experience in acting also?
Yea, he just got some simple acting tips from youtube videos! He has never done something like this before.
Cool! So what is the next step for you as a film maker?
Well, being a film director is always my dream but I also have a goal for myself: I want to promote indie bands to the world. The general Hong Kong public thinks “band” equals commercial acts like Supper Moment, Beyond, Mr. etc. But I want to let them know there are many many indie bands who work hard for their dreams every day. Trying to show the world the music of THESE bands is my goal and main dream.
Cool man! Any last words to encourage other young film makers?
Sometimes we may not always be what we want. However remember one thing, you got many many awesome buddies beside you. Pursuing the dream together but not abandon them! Thank you.
To contact MK Li: [email protected]