Can Jackie Chan lead Hong Kong artistes in the fight for more showbiz roles in mainland China?
New association helmed by action star will push for opportunities and relaxed rules giving local crew and actors a bigger slice of the Chinese market
Hong Kong’s flagging film industry has been thrust into the spotlight at China’s ongoing parliamentary meetings, with the city’s delegates appealing for artistes and crew to get more opportunities in mainland productions.
To help Hong Kong talent fight for greater access, action superstar Jackie Chan will chair a new association, co-founded with singer-songwriter Nicholas Tse Ting-fung and actor Eric Tsang Chi-wai, to lobby authorities across the border.
Chan is among some 200 Hong Kong delegates to China’s top political advisory body – the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – who are now in Beijing to attend the lianghui or “two sessions”, the annual meetings of the CPPCC and the national legislature.
Film and TV drama executive producer Johnny Ng Kit-chong told the Post in an interview in Beijing: “We would like to gather forces in the local sector … and bargain with mainland authorities.” Ng is also a founding member and secretary general of the new association.
“National treatments are what we are calling for. Just treat us on par with others,” he said.
Once known as the Hollywood of Asia, Hong Kong’s film market has been on the decline since the 1990s.
In light of the economic crisis in 2003, the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement was forged between Hong Kong and the mainland, opening the door for co-productions between the two places to be distributed as domestic movies in mainland cities.
But the deal required at least a third of leading artistes in such projects to be from the mainland.
Ng said he believed the criteria led to most co-productions of this nature excluding new artistes from Hong Kong and starring only the city’s big names.
The restrictions for mainland TV dramas were even harsher, with no more than five people from Hong Kong and Macau allowed to be among the roles of leading artistes, director, screenwriter and cinematographer in a production.
Watch: The decline of Hong Kong’s film industry since the 1990s
Ng, a new CPPCC delegate from the youth sector, said the association would appeal for the relaxation or cancellation of such limits, adding that he had already included the requests in one of his proposals filed to the top political advisory body.
Ng said more relaxed rules could help young Hong Kong people grasp opportunities in national development as there were at least 400 Hongkongers working in the industry on the mainland.
While there were concerns that creative freedom would be stifled with scripts being screened by mainland authorities, Ng said such collaborations would allow Hongkongers to tap into a bigger market.
“Yes, you have to obey the rules of the game … like following the official theme and encouraging positive energy,” Ng said. “Yet, such productions can reach a wider audience.”
Ng also cited opportunities in the Greater Bay Area plan – a national scheme to link Hong Kong and Macau with nine other cities in Guangdong province.
He suggested scrapping the quota for Hong Kong productions screened in the region – which boasts a population of 66 million – and setting up a drama school within a “film city”.