Lo is an experienced anime producer and began independent anime creation in 1977. His works won the first prize at the Hong Kong Independent Short Film Festival for four consecutive times and he was promoted as panel member. In the next year, he joined the Radio Television Hong Kong to work as cartoon producer until 1993. Over recent years, he spent efforts on promotion of the anime industry in Hong Kong and planning of anime exhibitions. Recently, he worked as the curator of the 50 Years of Hong Kong and Taiwanese Animation. He currently worked as Secretary General of the Hong Kong Animation and Culture Association.
The highly-anticipated made-in-HK animated feature film The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes: The Greatest Jail-Breaker has already hit the silver screens for some time. Although the film is not doing super well in the box office, it has received praises from the viewers, which really excites the production team.
As the production advisor, I would like to share more stories about the production of the film The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes: The Greatest Jail-Breaker, especially the special meaning this animation holds.
In July two years ago, Hong Kong organised the very first Hong Kong Kids International Film Festival, showing a number of new and old films for children, including McDull, Prince de la Bun, the second film of the McDull series. On the screening day, McDull’s director Toe Yuen bumped into the organiser of the event, Winnie Tsang from Golden Scene Company Limited. Yuen approached Tsang and asked her whether she would want to invest in his animation production. He got rejected. The reason was simple: she was not familiar with animation production. I was there at the scene and I told her that there was no film project that is absolutely undoable. A few days later I received a call from her, telling me that there was an animation adaptation project and asking me to arrange a project meeting as soon as possible.
During the film festival, Tsang happened to meet her previous colleague Lai Ho, who is the author of The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes series for children. Lai mentioned to her that the series had been a bestselling one for nearly ten years as each volume would achieve a sales record of several tens of thousands. Most importantly, he told Tsang that he wanted to adapt the series into animation films! It happened that the key figures involved in the production process are all my friends. The main production team was then formed because of me. Golden Scene Company was in charge of finding investors for the film project. We were lucky. It took us less than a month to find enough investment to cover our budget. The official production was then started!
The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes: The Greatest Jail-Breaker is co-directed by Toe Yuen and Matthew Chow and produced by Simage Animation and Media Ltd., the biggest animation production company in Hong Kong. Although it is the biggest company in the local industry, it actually has only less than 40 employees. The production team had to outsource some of the jobs to other animation companies, involving nearly 60 professional talents in the production process, all of whom are from Hong Kong. This makes The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes: The Greatest Jail-Breaker a truly made-in-HK animation film! According to statistics, since the launch of McDull, Prince de la Bun in 2003 all animated feature films from Hong Kong had to outsource some of the jobs to other animation companies due to the lack of talents, especially the companies from mainland China.
The over 80-minute long The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes: The Greatest Jail-Breaker, on the other hand, has a lot of action scenes, meaning that the animation is quite difficult to make in terms of technical aspects. But given that the production team was confident that they could complete the production on time because they were using animation techniques similar to those used for 2D films and that they were well prepared for the production. The production turned out to be successful. The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes: The Greatest Jail-Breaker was completed within 18 months, allowing the film to debut in Hong Kong on 1st August as scheduled.
The production cost of The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes: The Greatest Jail-Breaker was around HKD13 million. Judging from the quality of the final product, it has been a cost-effective investment. After all, it has been three years since Hong Kong last produced an animated feature film. In order to sustain the operation of the local animation industry and attract more investors to consider investing in animation, since the beginning of the project, low budget and high quality had been the very indicators for the production team. This is one of the reasons why The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes: The Greatest Jail-Breaker would be a great case study for the industry as a reference.
Besides its quality animation, the film also made amazing breakthroughs in its music. The film’s music was composed by famous Hong Kong film score composer Wong Kin-wai and performed by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra in Hungary. Compared with other Hong Kong animation films, The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes: The Greatest Jail-Breaker’s music is not only more dramatic but also helps present an exotic London in the late 19th century, in which the story was set. If you have the opportunity to appreciate the film in the cinema, I guarantee the viewing experience would be very unique!
As a low-budget production that was made by a local production team in Hong Kong, The Great Detective Sherlock Holmes: The Greatest Jail-Breaker showcases the production capacity of the animation industry in the city. It is exciting to see the film is receiving positive comments from the audience in Hong Kong. But I am more excited to see the comments and criticism coming from the viewers in other regions.