What people say is true. You, too, can be a film director. Simply get a hand-held digital video camera and set it rolling. Then download the film on to your computer and send it to your friends for fun. But if you think you are the next Wong Kar-wai, you could enter for the Arts Centre-run Hong Kong Independent Short Film & Video Awards 2001 or any of the 3,000 annual international film festivals. Who knows? If luck is on your side, you might become an overnight sensation. OK. We may be exaggerating a little, but it certainly is true that filmmaking is no longer exclusively for professionals. Sindy Lam Sin-hang, 23, a local frontline independent video producer, is first to agree. The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (APA) graduate tells Young Post : 'Making digital videos has become increasingly popular among teenagers over the past few years, not least because more and more families have digital cameras, and young people have much easier access to the technology. 'Young people have always been on the lookout for channels to express their feelings. In the past, many of them would do this by writing; but nowadays young people can do it by making their own visual production.' Video production is also catching on quickly among local teenagers, thanks to the introduction of handy video cameras and user-friendly editing software. While most of them are producing their own films for fun, many also send their work to local film festivals, hoping to convey their ideas to the public. Last year the Hong Kong Independent Short Film & Video Awards, organised by the Hong Kong Arts Centre and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, attracted more than 600 applications - the highest number of entries since the competition started in 1995. While some indie filmmakers still insist on using 16-millimetre film for their productions, a rising majority has turned to digital video mainly because it is a lot cheaper. 'Using 16 mm film to shoot entails a lot of work, let alone standard 35mm film,' explains Tony Wong Sze-ho, 29, a local indie film producer and APA graduate. 'For example, it takes a lot of time and work to set up the lighting on the spot and even more effort is required in post-production. However, for videos it is much easier, and above all, much cheaper. 'Let's say if you are producing a 30-minute film, it will cost you at least double if you are using 16mm film rather than digital video,' he adds. In most cases, money has been the overriding concern for indie filmmakers. However, making a good movie of your own does not necessarily mean you have to give away your last cent. Last year, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council allocated a total of $6.2 million for funding local indie filmmakers. Everybody can apply on condition that the production is not for commercial release. Wong says: 'As far as I know, many beginners like to shoot short dramas because it allows almost unlimited room for the imagination, which is exactly what most filmmakers are looking for. Less people will start off with documentaries because it may need a lot of time to do research, which, to some, may mean less fun.' Feeling inspired already? You can go to www.coolala.com for screenings of many of these indie productions or www.ifva.com to enter the seventh Hong Kong Independent Short Film & Video Awards 2001.