AMPHETAMINE 安非他命 Hong Kong Movie Part 2. “My PASSION is ONLY to make the FILMS that I really WANT to make.” – SCUD.
SCUD – Writer/Producer/Director of AMPHETAMINE
LAWRENCE LAU - Executive Director
A CANDID INTERVIEW WITH SCUD, FILM DIRECTOR
SCUD could be the kind of director whose works would be as profound and enduring as that of surrealism, or cubism on painting.
Or at least, this is how I feel.
He aspires for creative freedom fearlessly, without sanctions,
and he pursues his artistic vision with a relentless fervor.
“My MISSION is ONLY to make the FILMS that I really want to make, and to tell the kind of stories I want to tell, no less.”
Here’s SCUD – up, close and personal:
1. In working on a sensitivity-laced film such as AMPHETAMINE, you do know that you are treading on an almost taboo subject in ASIA. No film maker wants to be seen as if he is promoting drugs in a movie, right?
It is a question of value. Precisely because nobody is doing this, there is extra significance in my work.
The name could promote the drug, but the content would not, and we’re in the 21st century now. Drug is a taboo and drug users are conveniently stereotyped into evil persons, unfortunately and unreasonably. But even a soul that’s influenced by drug and abandoned by fate can be beautiful and loving, and that’s the story of “Amphetamine”. I am not that concerned with what I am seen as anyway.
My films have tremendous followers in mainland China but can never be released there. As such, there is no chance to reclaim the investment from Asia. My hope is in Europe and Americas and the door opens a little bit lately after Berlinale.
2. You have a co-DIRECTOR to help you with this movie? Or you helm AMPHETAMINE alone?
Lawrence Lau, who I co-directed “City without Baseball” with, is an executive director of “Amphetamine”.
3. Did the two lead characters in the film KAFKA and DANIEL resort to Amphetamine to enhance their love making, or it was KAFKA who introduced DANIEL to the world of drugs? How did the Amphetamine issue come about?
Kafka is the guy bothered by Amphetamine. Daniel has been quite clean but he jumps into it to understand Kafka’s world, out of love. Kafka took Amphetamine because he needed to work multiple jobs to try to sustain the ailing life of his mother, and the illusion also served to bring back memory of his childhood before his father was framed by a corrupted cop and took his life.
I apply drug in the film also as an analogy to love, therefore the catch line “There is no way to quit a fateful love”,
4. You have a competent Director of Photography in this film. Please say something about him?
Charlie Lam is probably the best in HK I’d say. He won the best cinematographer in San Sebastian a few years ago, and happens to be a classmate of my younger brother. We’ve always want to work together and Amphetamine is not going to be the last: my 5th film “Voyage” should be shot by him again.
We’ve spent a lot of time exchanging our views to the film before actually shooting, and reached a common consensus on how to make the film most poetic and operative, and I think somehow we make it.
5. How is your on-set working relationship with BYRON PANG and THOMAS PRICE when directing these actors? Who amongst the two appears to have the stronger potential?
The best you can think of between a director and his actors. I’ve known Thomas for 3 years and had a close relationship with Byron in the year preceding the shooting. They know the stories thoroughly and there are actually quite some of their past built into the script. I really can’t say who is better although Byron’s performance has been almost indisputable, but Thomas also surprises for a guy being so gorgeous and can act that well.
6. Do we detect a HIDDEN MESSAGE or MORAL that AMPHETAMINE is trying to say to the audience?
My films usually don’t carry any message. I am just trying to tell some stories that touched my heart. I do prefer to write and shoot stories about minorities though.
7. How are the box office takings of AMPHETAMINE in Hong Kong during the commercial screening in April? Are you happy with the results or it could have been much better? Can Hong Kong accept openly gay films?
We’re into the 4th week now (April 2010) and our seats per show are still the highest among films at the same time, continue to enjoy full house in prime time. Have I become rich? No, because I’ve got only 17 shows in the opening day and cut to 5 or 6 soon afterwards, less than one tenth of most mainstream releases, in spite of the fact that it is a Berlinale Panorama film and also the closing film of HKIFF (Hong Kong International Film Festival).
My film is not lack of audiences, but lack support of cinemas. The DVD of my previous film, “Permanent Residence” has been at the top 10 of HMV chart for over 6 months now, beating the so call major issues by miles.
It surprises me that HK accept gay films and topics less than Taiwan.
8. The Censorship Board in Hong Kong ordered several cuts to a male rape scene in AMPHETAMINE and finally allow these scenes to be blackened out …. what is your feeling about the whole matter?
In Germany, a common question to me was: “How’s your film received in China?”, and I had to take time to explain to them that Hong Kong is not the same as China, and then…
My friends have been telling me that HK censorship is moving backward. I believe it now as “Permanent Residence” passed without problem and “Amphetamine” runs into this.
I was so disappointed that I wrote an open letter to Donald Tsang, the first statement being: “We are born with eyes, with the natural right to watch the world”
And then in the closing ceremony of HKIFF, I open my speech with: “Penis gave us life, breast nurtured us, if those are deemed obscene, no parts of us is clean.”
Why would a small group of people have the right to limit what we can and can not see after all? Are they gods?
9. Have you gotten a worldwide distributor for AMPHETAMINE yet? When do you plan to release the DVD FORMAT and will there be a DIRECTOR’S CUT version?
Yes and my worldwide sales company, Media Luna is based in Germany. The film has been sold to quite a number of European countries such as Germany, France and Greece, and I’m looking forward to the theatrical release later this year. At least I’m confident that German audiences like my film as all 5 screenings in Berlin were sold out way before the festival, and I heard their response. The DVD will be out probably in autumn but the full uncut version may have to wait till the Taiwan release. I was told there that they will never cut any of my films, an encouraging message.
10. What is the LATEST PROJECT you are currently EMBARKING ON ….is it another GAY-GENRE type ?
It's called LOVE ACTUALLY .... SUCKS! and it's about 6 real, mostly court case love stories happened in recent years. They are not fairy tales and do not have happy ending, some even very dreadful. I made this film for the love not celebrated.
A groom had an affair with his best man, a married painter fell for a male life drawing model, brother and sister in love, dancing partners with 40 years in between, a lesbian couple of RPG (Role Play Paranoid) , and a fatal love triangle…you may say this is not a pure gay film but the GLBT is heavily weight.
- END of INTERVIEW -
There’s a BUDDHIST adage that says:
“If our life and conduct are ordered by our likes and dislikes, we are weaklings, puppets and bond slaves, apt to be overwhelmed by indolence and incompetence, ill-health and frustration.”
And in the search for artistic freedom in the 21st century, how far can a film maker go without being indicted about breaking taboos in religion or creed?
Every decade brings it own set of rules:
the world is undergoing a powerful wave of sweeping changes in ART.
Barriers are gradually disappearing with consumer behavior changing rapidly. New technologies are bridging new ways of evaluating the subject matter.
New markets, new audiences, each brings with it new information that will modify the old impression.