Speaking to the South China Morning Post at a retrospective of his work at the Film Archive in 2007, Wong Tin-lam said he had always made films with his paymasters in mind. 'My sense of satisfaction always stemmed from things like being able to finish a two-instalment piece in nine days,' he said. 'These things kept the boss happy, and they continued to look for me later on.' It was a typical comment from one of the Hong Kong film industry's most modest grandees. Wong, who died on Tuesday aged 82, directed 154 films - and a dozen more as uncredited helmsman - and 59 television series. In a career that began in the late 1940s, he was a trailblazer whose efforts in reinventing genres have left a lasting impact on local screens big and small. Driven by contemporary-sounding songs, his 1956 musical film Songs of the Peach Blossom River altered the convention of looking to Cantonese opera for musical inspiration. The trend culminated in Wong's most famous outing of the era, The Wild, Wild Rose, a 1960 adaptation of Carmen starring Grace Chang. Wong was also a pioneer in making Amoy-dialect films, a genre hugely successful in the late 1950s. His knack for reflecting - or exploiting - Hong Kong's multicultural ethos was made even more apparent in the 1960s, when he made the Nanpei (north-south) series, comedies about the conflicts of northern emigres and Hongkongers, which employed both Cantonese and Putonghua, sometimes even in the same scene. Born in Shanghai in 1928, Wong came to Hong Kong in 1941 but was forced to leave for Guilin in the face of the Japanese invasion. Ending up in Guiyang , he worked as a cinema usher - which exposed him to Western films. He returned to Hong Kong after the war and worked his way to directorial debut in 1950 with the Flying Sword Hero from Mount Emei. He won best director at the Asian Film Festival in 1959 with the comedy All in the Family, but by the late 1960s he was increasingly sidelined. Leaving Cathay Studios in 1970, he joined TVB in 1973 and enjoyed his 'second spring'. By introducing some of his filmmaking techniques into serials, he produced hits such as The Legend of the Book and the Sword, Yesterday's Glitter and The Shell Game. Wong retired from the channel in 1989, but in the past few years reinvented himself as a prominent actor. Mostly playing benign underworld patriarchs, Wong went to the Cannes Film Festival for the first time for his part in Johnnie To Kei-fung's Election - which also won him best supporting actor nominations at the Hong Kong Film Awards and Taiwan's Golden Horses. His last on-screen appearance was in Dennis Law Sau-yiu's Bad Blood this year. Wong was known for grooming proteges, among them To, Ringo Lam Ling-tung and David Lam Tak-luk. Then there is Wong's son, Wong Jing, who outgrew his Chinese literature degree to become a filmmaker known for the lowbrow adventures that triumphed at the box office in the 1980s and '90s. 'He's been improving bit by bit,' Wong Tin-lam said of his son's work in 2007. A show of modesty again, maybe, from the man who cast a long shadow over filmmakers. As well as Wong Jing, Wong Tin-lam is survived by four daughters. Wong Tin-lam, film and television director, producer and actor. Born October 23, 1928; died November 16.