Film-makers demand action

GOVERNMENT officials have promised to meet representatives of the film industry soon to discuss the establishment of a film commission.

Film-makers who addressed the recreation and culture panel of the Legislative Council yesterday say such a body is badly needed to liaise between the industry and authorities, to resolve difficulties and to draw up long-term policy.

They accuse bureaucrats of placing hurdles in their way when they seek permission for location shooting or staging explosion scenes.

And they say that unless a commission is set up quickly, the film industry could soon fall behind strong international competition. The big losers would be the 20,000 film workers, along with Hong Kong's economy and international image.

The deputy Secretary for Recreation and Culture, Fred Ting Fook-cheung, has now promised to hold talks within three weeks.

Representatives from the industry told legislators that they were tired of intervention by authorities during location shooting. They said the Government had been reluctant to accept their suggestions.

They want authorities to follow competitors such as Australia, Canada, Singapore and China in setting up a statutory film council.

Film-makers, including Gordon Chan Kar-sheung, Michael Hui Koon-man and Alfred Cheung Kin-ting, said a commission was needed to liaise with the Government over location shooting and access to resources such as explosives.

'If there is anything an authority doesn't like during location shooting, it can intervene at any time,' Chan said. 'We have to invest a lot of money - often our own - into these shoots, and they can be cancelled at any time.' Peter Tsi Kar-kei, from the Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories Motion Picture Industry Association, cited the difficulty in gaining permission for explosion scenes.

'The Mines Department seems to have no policy for street explosions. They told us they have a code of practice, but would not reveal it to us.' The association believes that government's short-sightedness and lack of policy and laws meant the industry could not cope with increased global competition or new developments.

Harold Yau, from the Government Information Services, said officials were working on setting up a film liaison body to assist film-makers with government departments, 'but we have a problem with resources'.

Mr Ting said they also faced a lack of resources, but were happy to consider a commission. 'We promise the first discussions will be held in three weeks,' he said. 'Legislators and film-makers are welcome.'