Two rail-thin Nepalese men in their thirties are slouching outside Chungking Mansions when filmmaker Paul Boyle arrives with his two-man crew. 'I've never, ever met addicts who were on time for these interviews,' the 38-year-old Canadian murmurs to his heavy-set Indian bodyguard, Sooch. Perhaps the Nepalese are curious about appearing in Coming Clean, Boyle's gritty 70-minute documentary about how far drug addicts in Hong Kong and New York City will go for a hit. Or perhaps they're just drawn to Boyle's offer of HK$200 each for three minutes of their time. But unlike the addled addicts Boyle previously filmed for US$40 apiece in Brooklyn, the Nepalese pair, aren't giving him much of a fix for his money on the horrors of Hong Kong's drug world, even though he has known them for a few years. One is the hollow-eyed 'Victor', with a ratty ponytail and a button-down shirt that reads 'Confidence' on the back. He tells Boyle he funds his 10-year heroin habit by selling bags to tourists. Victor says he's tried rehab, but seems to have relapsed and doesn't seem too bothered that he never leaves Tsim Sha Tsui. The thinner, more fierce-looking interviewee, who calls himself 'Jimmy Lai' shows his thin, needle-pocked tattooed arm and tells Boyle that he has spent HK$300 a day on heroin for the past 10 years, has to hustle constantly to feed his habit and is 'sick of this life'. He hasn't committed any violence for the drug, he says, 'but would if circumstances put me in that position'. The two-minute take is up. Boyle notes Jimmy's phone number, pats him on the back, and says: 'We're going to try to put you in rehab, okay buddy?' The film crew packs up for another shoot in Causeway Bay and the Nepalese wander off with enough cash, Boyle says, to buy them half a gram of heroin, or a six-minute high. Boyle knows the cost of drugs all too well. Coming Clean, he says, is his attempt to highlight the seedy underworld of dependency in two cities, and to point to his own Rake's Progress fall from white-collar respectability to the desperation of addiction. 'This is not your average tale of a poor boy that grows up in the ghettos, selling crack to support his family and trying to escape a life of hardship,' he says. 'This is the tale of a middle-class entrepreneur who successfully hid his addiction.' Boyle says he once had it all in pre-handover Hong Kong. He came to the city in 1993 from Vancouver 'for a girl', with whom he split after three years, and found lucrative work as a property agent and then a headhunter. Flush with cash, he experimented with drugs with fellow high-flyers, he says. 'I had the life. I had the nice cars, the nice apartment, I had money in the bank to fly anywhere I wanted. I could get drugs very, very easily,' says Boyle. And although Hong Kong addicts tend to network more than their American counterparts for their supply, drugs are still easily available here, he says. 'You can walk down Lan Kwai Fong and run into people muttering, 'hash-pot-Charlie-hash-pot-Charlie',' Boyle says. He moved to London in 2004, and it was his employers there who reported their suspicions of his drug use to the law and a judge forced him into rehab. 'I was so grateful,' he recalls. 'I was at my lowest point and didn't know how to get out.' Coming Clean might also highlight Boyle's search for redemption from the drugs that have dogged him for a decade. He says he decided to make his film during his 40-day stint at a London rehab centre in 2006. 'I've always loved movies,' he says. 'I didn't learn filmmaking from anyone, but I watch and read everything. Every addict loves movies ... they're distracting.' Boyle returned to Hong Kong in 2007 because 'you can get things done here quickly and cheaply' and called his old headhunting contacts for funding. 'The wealthiest guys couldn't put down the phone quickly enough,' he says. Most were ready to support a charity initiative, Boyle says, but as soon as he mentioned the word 'drugs' he heard doors slam. He says: 'The best excuse I got was from a guy I was talking to on the phone. He just said, 'Oh I'm going through a tunnel' and hung up. He wouldn't pick up my calls after that.' Boyle finally raised US$150,000 from three finance professionals. 'I got lucky,' he says. 'I found people who really liked the idea and were brave enough to help me make the film.' One investor, security broker Jason Boyer, declines to comment on Coming Clean until he has seen its final cut, but another, 'Helen', a Hong Kong real-estate investor, says she contributed to Boyle's project after she saw his New York takes. 'I was blown away by the first cut. I thought the message was so inspirational, especially the fact that Paul is a recovering addict himself,' she says. 'It shows that drugs are not just relegated to lower-income people. Paul himself was at the top of his game - even someone who was doing so well could still be so badly affected.' Later in 2007 Boyle started filming in New York. He had never lived there but was told by a former addict that 'New York was one of the few places in the world where people on the streets would talk to you' about the misery and squalor of their addiction. Police helped him find drug dens, but his production halted for several months when he relapsed. He went into a bar alone for a quiet drink, he says, and four drinks later, he was hell-bent on getting high. His mother, girlfriend and executive producer could not reach him for days, Boyle says. 'I wasn't as strong as I thought,' he recalls. 'It was really hard, I mean, I was surrounded by drugs and dealers all day.' And although he seems healthy now, Boyle still fights his old habit. 'You'll notice I don't wear any watches or jewellery. It's because I'd be too tempted to sell them for crack,' he says, adding that he once sold his watch and iPhone for HK$500 in a Wan Chai bar, then crossed Lockhart Road for a hit. 'All addicts feel an immense sense of guilt,' he says. 'When people told me their stories, I felt like they were lifting a huge burden with their confessions, which is why I called it Coming Clean.' Several addicts bare their souls in tears and profanities in the documentary, which Boyle plans to submit to the Toronto Film Festival next week. In a New York crackhouse a twitching, middle-aged woman talks about how she sold her body 'yesterday' for crack money, while in another den an angry interviewee puts a gun to Boyle's head just before Boyle's New York bodyguard flicks him aside. He tracks down 44-year-old Adelle Rainey, fresh out of a nine-year maximum prison sentence in upstate New York, who stabbed her boyfriend to death because he threatened to kill her during a blinding, crack-fuelled rage. And in a dilapidated flat, an overweight Hispanic man tells the crew how his 20-year 'on and off' habit has affected his family. 'I enjoy my crack,' he tells Boyle, preparing his pipe. He coolly discusses the robberies and petty crimes he has committed to pay for his habit, but later says: 'I want to get clean, I really do, I really do ... my mom passed away five years ago from a heart attack. Because of me.' Boyle says he wants to impart stark warnings to Hong Kong's young. He has hired a translator to add Chinese subtitles to the film and wants to donate a copy of Coming Clean to every school in Hong Kong, Boyle says. 'Kids need to see this. It isn't uplifting, but it's real,' he says. 'If one kid sees this and says 'I'm not touching this s***', I'll be happy.' Boyle plans to make another film, The Gweilo, a loose adaptation of the 1989 French comedy Le Diner de Cons (Dinner of Idiots), which he hopes to start filming in December. Meanwhile he hopes the Toronto Film Festival screens Coming Clean. 'If this film doesn't do well, everyone involved will just move on - they have their day jobs,' he says. 'But me, I'm f*****, because I've just done a film about how I'm a recovering drug addict. What job would I get after that?'