Set change for restaurant king turned film producer

If you didn't see Allan Zeman socialising in one of his restaurants in Lan Kwai Fong this summer, don't worry - he's back in town and has a good excuse for his 2.5-month absence.

As executive producer of the US$35 million (HK$271 million) film, Dungeons and Dragons, due for release next summer, Allan adds another feather to his cap. This Hollywood sci-fi marks his first foray into film producing.

'Maybe I'm crazy, I don't know . . . but I've been involved in so many different kinds of businesses I thought why not give it a try? So when I was approached about investing in Dungeons and Dragons I said yes.' Allan is co-producing the film with Hollywood heavyweight Joel Silver of Lethal Weapon and The Matrix fame. The film stars Jeremy Irons and Justin Whalin.

Allan says the best people in special-effects and visual digital effects worked on the set, producing outstanding results.

Having sacrificed most of his summer - the film took 10 weeks to shoot in Prague - Allan says proudly that it only went five days over schedule.

Being a hands-on kind of guy, he made sure everything was under control and on target, but there were a number of difficult tasks.

'At the beginning I found it difficult because I had to deal with a lot of egos . . . everyone on the set from the tea lady to the lead actor wants to be treated like a star.

'Entertainers are generally highly strung because they are anxious to give their best performance all the time.

'When that is not possible, they become unhappy with themselves and so become moody.

'My main job on the set was trying to keep everyone up.' And although Allan admits film-making is significantly different from any other industry he has been involved in, he found it rewarding.

'Movie-making is a difficult business because it is high-risk . . . and you have to be business-minded yet creative, which isn't easy.' And how different is it from the restaurant business? 'If I had to compare it, I would joke that it's like trying to work with 100 chefs at one time.'