Thriller focuses on HK wheeler-dealing
The back-door deals of Hong Kong's rich and powerful get the cinematic treatment in a financial thriller by first-time writer Derek Ting - who researched the script by partying with bankers in Central.
Ting also befriended members of some of the city's wealthiest families to get an inside look at how they operate, behave and interact.
Called $upercapitalist, the 96-minute film pits wealthy expatriates against the city's most powerful tycoon families with a nod to the 'greed is good' mantra immortalised by fictional character Gordon Gecko in the 1980s film Wall Street.
'This movie is about perception. For example, my character has a perception of what happiness is,' said Ting, who produced the film and stars as lead character Conner Lee.
'It's about a search for identity, which is happening a lot as people return to their mother country.'
Ting, a New York-born actor and former marketing producer, moved to Hong Kong six years ago and spent a year penning the script in cafes in the evenings and during weekends.
'Part of my job was to go out, because a lot of the nightlife here involves people in the finance industry,' he said. 'I'd go out with friends and see what they say, to get a feel for how they talk, what they think, what their lifestyle is.'
Ting's character is a New York-based hedge-fund trader who moves to Hong Kong to co-ordinate a major deal for a wealthy family but becomes entangled in a corrupt billion-dollar deal that threatens his life.
'Typical Hong Kong movies show the triads, but I'm more interested in showing how sophisticated Hong Kong is,' Ting said. 'The city's very intricate, just the way they run things and the cultural values compared to how they do it in the US. It also gives a perspective of the finance industry in Hong Kong that not a lot of people have seen in movies.'
Filmed in Hong Kong, New York and Macau on a budget of less than US$1 million, the movie will be released in the US and Canada in August, with a Hong Kong premiere scheduled for October.
Directed by Simon Yin, the movie also stars British actor Linus Roache and veteran Hong Kong actors Richard Ng and Kenneth Tsang.
Yin said: 'It explores the theme of 'be careful what you wish for' because your dreams can be made here in Hong Kong. The world of capitalism and finance is just a backdrop to the story, which is about realising what's important in life.'
The film's locations include Sai Kung, Kowloon, Kwun Tong pier and the lobby of Grand Lisboa casino in Macau.
'Having a lot of money is like having a super power, literally, because you can fly, you can convince people to do things that they don't want to do. So with great power comes great responsibility,' Ting said, referring to a quote attributed to Voltaire and used in the movie Spider-Man.
'I don't think it's an anti-capitalist film. Everything is what you do with it. Like if you have a hammer and you smash a window, then you'll break it, but if you build a house with it, then it's useful.'