High-school fantasy fulfilled
Fresh out of school, Michael Chan Lut-ting had neither the experience nor the capital to launch his own business but he had a definite goal - to shoot videos. With three friends and all the savings they could summon, they rented a unit in a commercial building in Mongkok.
And so Still Fantasy Production was born. As in all businesses, the beginning was tough. In fact, business was so bad that Chan's partners left the enterprise, but Chan's own passion for video production inspired him to go on.
Today, Still Fantasy yields a steady income, a fact for which Chan gives back, offering students from his former school, the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE), practical working experience through internships.
Why does shooting film hold such fascination for you?
Some like to use words, photos, drawings or music to express themselves. I like to use video. It is a hobby I developed when in secondary school when I would shoot videos and present them as birthday gifts to my friends.
Why did you start your own business when you had zero working experience?
I love to do things my way - and having my own business is the only way I can do this. My friends and I each invested HK$10,000. Business was terrible, there was no income and we were struggling with the rent. I had to work part-time, teaching percussion just to make ends meet. Four months later, my partners quit. Three months after this, things finally changed for the better.
How did you make things turn round?
As a small company, there was no budget for advertising. All of our promotions were through word of mouth. I understood the importance of service and long-term relationships with clients and the service I provide is customised. We have no standard package because we want to create unique videos.
I started out with three to four clients. Now I have 12 and they provide me with a steady income.
How do you think video production culture has impacted your business?
The impact has been positive. Video shooting is no longer limited to television stations or production houses. Everyone can do it as long as they have a video recorder and computer. With more players in the field, there are more ideas.
Who or what inspires you?
I really want to say 'Thank you' to my teachers at IVE. They taught me the basics and gave me the chance to gain practical experience. I want to do the same by providing internship opportunities for IVE students.
My long-time client, Four Gig Head Percussion Group, also boosts me. They have been offering me projects since my student days.
What is your motto?
Don't be afraid to give more for less. Video production is not a nine-to-five job. I consider myself to work 24 hours a day, because like in all art forms, the videomaker gets inspiration from various sources. I can be on the street looking at something and be inspired.
What is your long-term goal?
I have long been working with performers such as orchestras and music groups. I hope my videos and the performers that I work with can develop together.
What is your advice for youngsters who wish to start their own business?
Don't think too big. The beginning is tough, so stop fantasising about having a luxurious office.
Do what you can with what you have got. Success is built on your passion and how far you are willing to go for perfection.
The hours in a day that Michael Chan 'works'. To him, creativity is a never-ending process, while inspiration can occur at any time or any place