'Beg, borrow, or steal a camera,' is the advice of Hong Kong- based Australian filmmaker and journalist Craig Leeson to budding independent filmmakers. Leeson isn't trying to induce a photographic crime wave - he just wants to encourage more talent and allow it to flourish in a place where he feels independent filmmaking struggles. It's the vision behind I Shot Hong Kong, an annual film festival conceived by Leeson and fellow filmmaker Lindsay Robertson that's now in its second year. From 35 submissions, this year's festival has selected 20 short films, music videos and animated films. The only requirement is that Hong Kong is used as a backdrop. Robertson and Leeson began the festival last year with three films showcased at the Fringe. This year, it's a two-night event, starting at 8pm today and tomorrow, in the Agnes b. Cinema at the Hong Kong Arts Centre, Wan Chai. Robertson says the festival provides a badly needed outlet for indie films in a city where the industry could do with new blood. Although there are already events that promote independent films here - most notably the Hong Kong Arts Centre's annual Independent Short Film and Video Awards - Robertson says much needs to be done to nurture filmmakers outside the mainstream. 'I think there should be initiatives from the top down, from the government to fund independent filmmakers,' she says. 'There are some fantastic makers of short films here.' Among this year's showings are a couple about the former Star Ferry pier. But most of the filmmakers - aged from 18 to 50 and using technology ranging from digital video to Super 8 - have delivered work that's as eclectic as their own backgrounds. In Subtitle, a dark examination of Hong Kong's suicide rate, a young, disillusioned research analyst named Spencer Toogood spends his weekend trying to kill himself in different ways. Vickie Chan Tun-han's grainy Save Me adds a nostalgic poignancy to images of the Star Ferry and the protests against its demise by transferring footage shot on 8mm to digital video. Evolution has a mixture of Hong Kong Chinese and westerners explaining the source of life. 'Evolved creatures' with names like Gary and Eddie run around in seal, dinosaur and caveman outfits, against a backdrop of skyscrapers. With the festival, Leeson says he wants to keep the momentum of independent filmmaking going in Hong Kong year-round. 'The whole point of the exercise is to provide some sort of stimulus to find and develop new talent here,' he says. Although this year's festival has a couple of sponsors, Leeson says it's still struggling financially. That could change, however. Leeson says there's been 'a lot of interest from potential sponsors' during the past week - support that might be harnessed when next year's event comes around. Robertson says a version of the festival is likely to feature in Bangkok next year - thanks to the connections the pair have established through their filmmaking company, Ocean Vista Films. 'So we know people on the ground,' she says. 'But it's one step at a time.'