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Interview with 1st grade HK film producer Nansun Shi
Being Tsui Hark’s wife 1/1 - Page 2
Author(s) : Arnaud Lanuque
David Vivier
Thomas Podvin
Date : 15/10/2003
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Tsui Hark
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HKCinemagic : How did you get to know Tsui Hark?
N S : Oh it's a very long story. My best friend who I went to school with, she went to work and study in New York , and I went to England . And then we used to write to each others in Chinese, our Chinese is awful but once we left school, go overseas, you feel so bad. But we wanted to communicate a lot, so we said we'll write to each others in Chinese, that will force us to write Chinese. But we don't dare to write to anybody else because our language is so poor. So she used to write me these long letters about what she was doing and at the time is about the 60's, there's a lot of student movements. Eventually she married her husband, very good friends with Tsui and they were doing all kinds of performing art, and community work in the NY Chinatown. They founded the first Chinese cable TV, they did a lot of community theatre, street theatre, so she wrote to me that “I've met this really talented person, his name is Tsui”.

Because we were kind of telling what we were doing also to practice Chinese so she gave me great details: he can write, he can direct, he can act, he can do Chinese dance, and we started a new TV station, she would send me the programs and I would also be doing student movements in England, we were organizing a Chinese school, so I would write to her, she would write to me. This went on for years. Then I came back to Hong Kong to work, in 75, again about 77, she used to write me: “oh this person I talked to you about, he's coming back to Hong Kong , and work on TV, why don't you look for him?” But you know in Hong Kong , everybody is busy. Unless there's a reason, you don't look for somebody. So one day she came back to Hong Kong for holidays, and while we were eating in a Japanese restaurant, “Oh, you know what? We should have asked Tsui to join us” and as she said this, Tsui was there and just heard us. And that's how we met.

HKCinemagic : What opinion do you have on his work over the years? Have his work and method evolved a lot…
N S : I think he's always evolving. He's constantly evolving person, even mid-stream through his work, he would stop and say: “you know this is not what I want to do”. He's that kind of character, very multi-faceted, multi-layered, very rich personality. So he's always evolving, all the time.
HKCinemagic : You are Tsui Hark's wife and producer. How do you deal with it?
N S : With great difficulty. I have three relationships with him: best friend, business partner and lover you know. So I would prefer to pick just one role at a time. So you know we try to be professional when we work. There are times I don't work with him, I work outside with other people. It's something like that, he created many styles, many trends like for the martial arts. He doesn't know a single martial art, he's never studied one day of martial art but it's in his imagination. So he works with a martial art director or action director and he says: “Well I want this to happen”, so they will have to work out technically how to do it now but the choreography is in his mind. Then Tsui creates a lot of work with wirework, and then now he thinks that's too overused, so he's trying to create new stuff, he's always doing this you know.
Tsui Hark
Tsui Hark is working
HKCinemagic : Does this situation generate conflicts or is it an ideal situation for filmmaking?
N S : It depends on the people, it depends on the combination. For me, I would always prefer that there is another producer who would work with him, I think that for him. It gives him a distance. It's just finding the right producer, because I think we're just both very strong characters, so very often the producing director has to be complementary and yet have different angles at looking at things, so we can have a meeting discussing something until 8 o'clock and looking at opposite sides. I have to be concerned more about maybe the budget, the money, how to get it done. He‘s concerned creatively, how to achieve what he wants to achieve. And so 8 o'clock , we finish discussing, it's very difficult for us to put it down and say ok, 8:01 we hold hands and go and have dinner, emotionally you can't turn around. So I think if you find the right producer, it would work very well for him because somebody can really give him that support so that his imagination can be fulfilled.
HKCinemagic : Are you sometimes amazed or skeptical of Tsui Hark new ideas or improvisation on the set?
N S : I don't think anybody can be always right 100 % of the time. He's done experiments where he has been much more successful than he thought possible and some did not work. The important thing is that one recognizes it, and looks at it in the face instead of one of these: “Oh that was quite good.” “No, it's no good, it's ok”. Then you can move on. But there is sometimes a mistake, that's where you make your next correct move, if you don't have mistakes yourself or haven't done improvisation or things which didn't work. The reason something works is because you've already learnt from your experiences, you've collected a number of things which didn't work and now this one works you know. So it's a constant process, I think for creative minds it's most important part of the task, within reason, but to be constantly moving along aggregating your experiences.
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Page 3 : On Film Workshop

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