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Hong Kong film industry’s fake money fears eased as monetary authority pledges to streamline application process on prop use

Six industry groups met Hong Kong Monetary Authority, which also promised to provide clearer guidelines for filmmakers to navigate red tape

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2018, 8:34pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 June, 2018, 11:20pm

Hong Kong banking authorities on Tuesday promised to streamline application procedures for the movie industry to use fake banknotes in films, industry representatives said, after anger over the recent conviction of two prop men for possession of counterfeit cash.

The pledge by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the city’s de facto central bank, came in a meeting with six industry groups in which officials also said they would provide clearer guidelines for filmmakers to navigate red tape.

Speaking after the meeting, Felix Chong Man-keung, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Film Directors’ Guild, said the monetary authority promised to release a “menu-like” application form with instructions in two weeks to speed up the process.

The authority also said that a set of samples would be attached to the guidelines to demonstrate the required size of the props and the distinguishing designs and features required to set them apart from genuine banknotes.

Monetary Authority to show how to make ‘proper’ counterfeit cash

A company producing fake banknotes is required by law to get approval from the authority and the props must either be at least 20 per cent smaller or larger than real ones.

Filmmakers had complained about the complicated procedure to produce and use fake money in films. Many had said they were unaware of the need to apply at all.

Alex Mok Siu-chung, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Film Arts Association, said: “The application process was rather vague in the past. We didn’t know which channel we could apply to [for the production of banknote props].

“But we have started to understand more of the criteria we need to meet to comply with the law.”

The props on best picture Trivisa were so good, they were criminal

Representatives from the police also attended the meeting and briefed the industry on the controls and requirements for storage and destruction of prop notes.

Concerns rose in the industry last month after two production crew members in charge of props were given suspended sentences for possessing counterfeit banknotes used in the award-winning 2016 film Trivisa.

Lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok of the sports, performing arts, culture and publication sector, believed that most young filmmakers did not know about the application procedures while the more experienced ones “chose not to apply” because of the lengthy process and the possibility they may not get what they wanted.

Tsui Siu-ming, president of the Hong Kong Televisioners Association, said the processing time in the past varied, and they hoped it could now be completed in seven to 10 working days.