My 30 Working Days: Diary of Shooting A Simple Life

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 April, 2012, 12:00am


My 30 Working Days: Diary of Shooting A Simple Life
by Andy Lau Tak-wah
Ming Pao Publications

Few hardcover books make it to Hong Kong's convenience stores. This one is an exception, and for only one reason: Andy Lau.

Extracted from the actor-singer's notes written during shooting of the award-winning A Simple Life, the book is not about the movie per se, but the making of it. Presented chronologically, it documents - with the help of behind-the-scene snapshots - the production, which is based on a heart-warming real-life story about the upbringing of Roger Lee (Roger Leung in the movie) by Tao Jie, his family's maid for more than half a century. Lau's brief notes contain his observations and thoughts about issues raised by the story, in particular appreciation of and care for the elderly.

Although Lau's notes are in Chinese, photographs he and his colleagues took make up the bulk of the book. Largely self-explanatory, these pictures supplement the movie and reveal Lau's inner world and what concerned him during the 30 days of shooting.

The collection starts with the ubiquitous tea set - a pineapple bun and Hong Kong-style milk tea - which Lau has during breaks. Next come shots of Lau and Deanie Ip Tak-han, Roger and Tao Jie, as well as director Ann Hui On-wah at work, all taken at the real Roger Lee's Mei Foo premises, where a good part of the movie was filmed.

The collection carries a whiff of nostalgia as it includes memorabilia from Lau's post-1960 generation, such as a Mid-Autumn Festival paper lantern, to pictures of his octogenarian fans at a home for the elderly. These pictures will appeal to the older generation, regardless of whether they have seen the movie.

For those fond of stars of the big screen or otherwise, this book has a wide range of celebrities to offer. There are snapshots of the star-studded supporting cast, including veterans Leung Tin and Chun Pui, comedians Jim Chim Sui-man and Chapman To Man-chak, actors Anthony Wong Chau-sang and Sammo Hung Kam-po, director Tsui Hark, and even Bruce Lee's film producer, Raymond Chow Man-wai.

A picture that truly captures the intensity of work is one taken on the 28th day, showing the serious looking Hung, Tsui and Lau listening to director Hui over the script during a working meal at a modest restaurant in Beijing.

The two English prefaces by Roger Lee and Hui make for worthwhile reading. The former fondly recalls the impact of filming at his residence - which appreciated in value thanks to the superstar's footprint. Hui provides more anecdotes about Lau and his discipline and willpower.

'I can say that after the shooting of A Simple Life, [Lau's] trust in me is even stronger than my trust in myself,' wrote the winner of the best director prize at last week's 31st Hong Kong Film Awards.