The magic behind the cameras the cameras

MOST people who watch movies or television pay very little attention to the credits at the beginning or end of a programme - except perhaps to note the names of favourite actors who played a particular role.

Members of an audience respond to the performers and to the storyline which unfolds in front of them. They give very little thought to the many, many technical and artisan specialists who have created the magic which has captured their imagination.

A few directors or writers, or (more recently) a selected group of cinematographers and special effects wizards, are recognisable to those who watch the international telecasts of movie and television awards ceremonies, but the vast majority of even the most successful behind-the-scenes ''makers'' of film and television are unknown to millions of TV/film fans.

It is the nature of film and television work that achieving the best and highest technical standards should make the behind-the-camera artists invisible.

If the sound track or the editing or the special effects call attention to themselves and interrupt the story, then the filmmakers have actually not done their job properly, they have destroyed the magic of the illusion.

All of their effort is aimed at persuading the audience to suspend their disbelief during the programme and to participate vicariously in the events they are watching.


Filmmaking celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Television was born during the 1920s, but did not truly begin to be available as we know it today until the 1950s.

Each began as an experiment - a curiosity which was not taken seriously as a business, or as a means of communication and certainly not as a serious art form.

Today, film and television are two of the most important businesses in the world.

Many people know that Hongkong is famous for its textile, tourism, and manufacturing industries, but comparatively few realise that the territory is the third largest producer of feature films in the world, or that TVB, for example, employs several thousand people and sends its productions to many overseas markets, or that well over 50,000 people in Hongkong are directly employed by the motion picture and communications industry.


In Japan, the national television network (NHK) directly employs over 40,000 people. In the United States, many thousands are employees of television and film production companies, and thousands more depend on various kinds of sub-contract work as a substantial part of their business income.

Hongkong, with its movie production companies, broadcasting and satellite TV services, advertising and corporate film and video producers is one of the most important centres of media activity in Asia.


The competition for jobs is fierce and the costs of production require that even beginners must be willing to work long hours and give their very best effort towards achieving a high standard of skill and artistry.

For students with talent and imagination, the industry offers the broadcast possible range of opportunity for careers.

It can accommodate those with interest and skills in science, business, law, acting, music, painting, design, architecture, dance, sound, recording, cinematography, advertising, journalism, electronics, costumes, engineering, screenwriting, directing, marketing, catering, photography, translation, computer graphics, animation, construction, carpentry, acoustics, stunt work and many, many more.


As cable and satellite television develop in Hongkong and throughout Asia, many more trained professionals will be needed to meet the demand for personnel.

The next time you go to see a movie or watch a TV programme, make it a point to read the end-credits carefully. Somewhere in the long list of job titles of those who created the programme, you may discover your future career in an exciting and expanding profession.

Dr Elliot is Dean of Technical Arts (Television/Film), APA