Tracy Choi

Movie director, her documentary I’m Here won the Jury Award at the 2012 Macao International Film and Video Festival and was subsequently invited to various festivals in Asia and Europe. Choi received her MFA degree in Cinema Production from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Her graduation film Sometimes Naive was short-listed in the 2013 Hong Kong Asian Film Festival. The Farming on the Wasteland won the The Jury’s Commendation Award of the 2014 Macao International Film and Video Festival. Her latest production Sisterhood was selected in the competition section at the 1st International Film Festival & Awards‧Macao and won the Macao Audience Choice Award at the festival. In addition, Sisterhood got two nominations at the 36th Hong Kong Film Awards.

Gap in the Macao film production

06 2018 | Issue 27

The success of a movie is definitely not the personal contribution of director. Movie is a collective work. Only when people from different departments work together could they produce a good work. 

In the 90s, almost no one worked as full-time in film or television in Macao, people only used their leisure time to produce movie. Thus, many jobs could be done by only one or two people. Or the movies could be made on vacation when someone was available. Nowadays, more and more people are engaging in the film and television production. And more and more people give up the full-time job and choose to be a freelancer. The number of film talents is increasing; however, some positions are still vacant, which requires a lot more helpers when producing a movie, thus raising the budget and cost of local productions. 

The main problem is the lack of actors. Local actors are scarce in Macao. Obviously, it is because the number of televisions and films is not enough to support their living. Thus, they could not be the full-time actors. When there is filming, they could not participate due to the conflict of schedule, which is a vicious circle as time passes. Another reason might be that for those films with some funding, investors would hope to use some familiar faces to support the whole film and to guarantee the box office. However, when promoting the Macao movies, no adequate measures are taken to provide an appropriate exposure in or outside Macao for local actors, which makes actors get stuck. Like various types of performing arts, you can’t be the master of performing if you just read lines, read books or watch movies at home. It can’t be denied that the self-discipline of an actor is absolutely important, but the actual experience is equally important. Through cooperating with different directors and crews, the actors can grow faster. 

Most of the time, the halo of movie is always distortedly put on the actors and directors, other positions are always being neglected. Many youngsters who want to enter into this industry never consider about positions other than the two mentioned above. Like art director, boom operator, vice director, it is always in trouble in finding these professionals when forming a film crew in Macao. These professionals could only be served by few people. Once they have jobs in hand, the crew can only cry for help from other nearby districts. The art director actually controls the tone and style of the film. The texture of the picture is built by art director, cameraman and lighting crew. I once heard that some production teams considered that the job of boom operator is just putting the microphone there and need not be professional. The problem is that too many people don’t care about recording. In fact, if the live sound is recorded in bad quality, later it will need a lot of time to fix it and the quality could still not be guaranteed. Actually, boom operator should participate from location scouting, including judging whether the site has serious recording problem. Then, before filming, the boom operator should confirm the sound design with the director and later. They should handle with the recording of live sound and environment sound. All these could not be omitted. The vice director’s job might be the most underestimated one in Macao. Macao hasn’t developed the film industry, so people make their own film through various techniques. This kind of movie has its own advantage. But what I saw was the gap in the film market. Due to the lack of professional management talents, the low-budget movie always spent money on the wrong place and had inappropriate arrangements. For me, the management ability must be greater than creativity ability for the vice director. Although the pre-audition and the arrangements of actors might need creativity and talent, the most important function of vice director is to make the film proceed smoothly so the director could concentrate on producing. 

I am glad that when I film, I could always meet some great and professional crews. They all worked hard to finish making a movie. I hope in the near future, every movie made in Macao will have better working team to support the whole movie.