THESE are exciting times for film production talent. Wharf Cable's Entertainment Channel, one of the eight channels being launched on October 31, has commissioned 21 film projects from local film-makers and artists - a system to develop new genres andencourage creativity. Apart from a few prominent names such as Lau Dan, Fung Shui-fan and Lo Kin, many of the film-makers who took up the offer are producers, assistant directors and script-writers - all of whom welcome the break from directing films. But there is a catch, as some of the film-makers confided secretly. The shoe-string budget (about $800,000) provided for tele-features means most will have to do a lot of arm-twisting and string-pulling from casting to hiring locations to stay within budget. EVER the champion of the English language, RTHK's One Minute's English presenter, Josiah Lau Kar-kit (formerly a top TV emcee and now founder of his own language school), was quick to correct singer Helen Au, one of the guests at the show's first anniversary celebration, when he thought she was abusing the word ''cheap'', which often pops up in Cantonese slang. ''Cheap can also mean someone is shallow,'' pointed out Lau, the walking thesaurus, ''like the one who uses such an expression.'' Au duly heeded the advice. SHOW business eccentric Hau See-kit has dabbled in everything from film production to publishing, even though his projects often have a short life-span (the Taiwanese edition of City Magazine lasted only six months). Back in Hong Kong, Hau is making his directorial debut with The Complicated Raping Case, a low-risk Category III film about you-know-what. The low budget ($1 million) means it can't fail to recoup the investment after circuit release and overseas video sales. At a time when the dispute between the Hong Kong film industry and Taiwanese film buyers is still not resolved, such low-budget projects may be the recipe for survival when it comes to the minor-league movie-maker. Even before the release of the film (on a circuit which specialises in skin-flicks), the director is getting heady over his far more ambitious next project. ''I want to get Vanessa Ellen Chan and Lolitta Lee in the same film,'' he said. ''One of them will have to strip.'' Hazard a guess which one? FED up with Hong Kong cinema's antiquated, scratchy sound systems marring perfectly good films? Fear not, the solution may be at hand - and closer to home than you ever thought. George Lucas's THX sound system, which was introduced to locals here in the GH-Washington (then Washington Theatre) and later Mongkok Broadway cinemas, will soon be available for home use. It can be installed for little more than $20,000 - the sort of amount you'd feel embarrassed to brandish in a Bang & Olufsen showroom.