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Interview with 1st grade HK film producer Nansun Shi
On Film Workshop 1/1 - Page 3
Author(s) : Arnaud Lanuque
David Vivier
Thomas Podvin
Date : 15/10/2003
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Andrew Lau Wai Keung
Movies :
Initial D
Seven Swords
Companies :
Cinema City & Films Co.
Film Workshop
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Page 2 : Being Tsui Hark’s wife
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Page 4 : Media Asia Group

HKCinemagic : You are often credited as the co-founder of the Film Workshop Company with Tsui Hark. What was the purpose of creating such company?
N S : At the time we were working in Cinema City. Cinema City is a big company, we have certain mandates we have to fulfill, we might have 12 films a year, and we might have 3 summer films. So eventually they would say: “Oh well Shi, please do this, we really need to do this for the company”. So we don't own the company, we're just working there. The company is so big now, so I would like to be in this big garden, but I would like to build a little gazebo so if I like, I can come in the garden but if I don't like, I can stay in my gazebo. That's the whole point; maybe I should start a little unit of my own. Maybe something Cinema City wants to do, Tsui doesn't want to do, maybe something Tsui wants to do, and Cinema City doesn't want to do. So it's best to do that. And also it was a need, because he was teaching a class in the so-called Hong Kong Cultural Center . He started this place, he was filling these applications out for a workshop to do things. He wants to call it a “film workshop” so that filmmakers can come and work.
HKCinemagic : What has been your role in this company?
N S : Well, first we were both the owners of the company, two of us jointly, and then usually he does the more creative and the production sides and I'm more on the financial and distribution side of things.

Entrance to The Film Workshop company
HKCinemagic : How do you see the evolution of the company since its first productions?
N S : I think it's gone through many different stages. In the beginning it was just a small production company then because in the 80's the Hong Kong film industry was in his “Golden Age”, we were very busy making films without thinking, just constantly chasing our own tails. And then in the 90's, the people kept asking him to go and make American pictures, so the company was very slow, here we went to work overseas. We learned a lot from our Americans film experiences, good things and bad things. We came back and at the time Hong Kong was going through a bad slump. 1997, the film industry was really bad, the more you are away from Hong Kong, the more you feel attached to Hong Kong . And we felt that, because we are what we are because of what Hong Kong gave us, so we really want to come back and put what we learned back into the system. Because this is where our home is. We want to continue to contribute. We can work anywhere, but we felt that Hong Kong film business is going down so much, and we actually came from this industry, if we didn't contribute whatever we can to continue to keep it going… It's almost like a need for us to come and try and do that, not that we are necessarily doing it, but we try and contribute our knowledge, because the film industry is dying. We are the people that can make it up the industry, if we don't try, who will try? It's not going to be somebody from India . So we wanted to do that, so we came back. And after we came back, the whole film making scene changed a lot, the investment companies have changed, we are still trying to find what we want to do. The Chinese market has opened up, the international market is still quite uncertain actually. So we are still trying to find the combination of where we‘re going. Action films have been a traditional style in Hong Kong action films, with all it's special qualities, they have been over killed by the Americans, too much wirework, too much rigging. And we need to find new grounds, our budgets would never compare to the American budgets, yet we have to compete with them head on in many territories in the world, so we're still trying to find what to do among all this.
The Film Workshop office
HKCinemagic : What future do you see for the Film Workshop Company?
N S : I think that the Chinese heritage has a lot of stories. We're still trying to find the stories which would have success in our home market and also have success in international markets. We're working with a big action director and he's also looking for his new direction in action shooting. We are preparing some things now, early next year we shoot a mature base and a Japanese manga, called Initial D, it's about a kind of racing in the hills, drifter [the project was finally handed over to Andrew Lau]. So Tsui Hark's finding a star for that, and then later in the year, the second half of the year, we want to shoot another costume sword playing drama [Seven Swords]. So he's working a lot about the structure of story telling and the style of the shooting of the action.
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