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Interview Terence Yin: alive not dead artist
Heavenly Kings: revealing the entertainment industry 1/1 - Page 4
Author(s) : Arnaud Lanuque
Date : 28/12/2008
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Conroy Chan Chi Chung
Andrew Lin Hoi
Daniel Wu Yin Cho
Movies :
Heavenly Kings
< Previous
Page 3 : Breakthrough
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Page 5 : Alive but not dead

HKCinemagic: Where did you get the idea of this fake documentary format for Heavenly Kings?
Terence Yin: It all came from Andrew Lin actually. He wanted to make a movie about a boy band. We didn’t think about the documentary aspect at that point yet. But the idea was to make a movie about a boy band to illustrate the problem of the Hong Kong entertainment industry.
HKCinemagic: Was it aimed only at the music industry?
Terence Yin: The music industry was supposed to imply things about the film industry which are very interconnected here. We all thought it was a good idea but it was thrown during a party and so, a year later, nothing was done. We got back together and were wondering if we’d really do it or not. So a year after the idea was hatched, we decided to proceed. The project then changed a lot, it took us three years to develop it and it kept changing. At first, we were talking to potential scriptwriters, potential directors. We got a basic treatment from one of the scriptwriter but we didn’t like it, it was just like another Hong Kong movie. And quite frankly, it would not be that great because none of us are really singers, outside of myself. What do we know about the music industry to do a film about it? It is that which made us think maybe we have to do it for real but not telling anybody about it. So we decided to do the boy band for real and, to save cost, to shoot the drama within the real actual settings of us working as the boy band Alive. So that’s how the basis of the mockumentary idea came. Bit by bit, we put the things together. We started to take jobs for the group so we’d have money to pay for our music, music videos… We received very small endorsements to produce the movie. I was involved in all aspects and developed a lot of ideas for Daniel Wu. He went to Africa and wrote the script. I was in charge of the first alivenotdead website and then we launched. We filmed all the process and it took six months to edit it.
HKCinemagic: How did you decide what would be real and what would be fake?
Terence Yin: The bulk of the Alive story was shot during a one month and a half period where we did three shows for a TV channel, one in Hong Kong, one in Taiwan, one in Shanghai. It’s once we got that, we knew we had the basis of the story. We could use that to develop the rest of the story, to start creating the layers that would make up the film. Previously, we filmed a lot of stuffs like recording, making the MV so we already had a lot of footage. And we have those three shows to actually show people, to create that arch of the relationships in the band. And we also had the interviews which allowed singers to actually talk about aspects of the music industry.
HKCinemagic: Were all the people you interviewed aware of what you were doing?
Terence Yin: They were all aware. We asked them the same 30 questions. Me and Daniel had developed 30 questions we found were relevant.
HKCinemagic: The four of you are producers on the film, how did you share the production decisions?
Terence Yin: There were a lot people involved actually. Our management company really helped us a lot. Andrew was mainly our artistic director; he did a lot of stuffs that are not directly related to the film but related to the band. He designed our logo for example. Conroy Chan was also involved; we developed a lot of concepts and ideas together. Execution wise it was just a matter of who was the best person to execute. But it was definitely a team effort.
HKCinemagic: I’m really surprised to hear about the support of your company. The film is not a classical commercial tale and is even critical to the industry.
Terence Yin: Well, I think they realized we were very self aware, we were not kids anymore. We know what we are doing and are responsible. And they gave us that space. But even from a managerial point of view, Daniel won the best director prize for Heavenly Kings. So even if it wasn’t a huge commercial success, we didn’t end up losing money, it was in some ways a critical success and we are all very proud Daniel won the Best Director [HK Film Award] and therefore opened another path for himself in his career. He did a great job and I’d love to see him find another story when he has time and direct again.
HKCinemagic: The joke lasted for more than one year. Did you find it difficult to keep up with the original idea behind the creation of Alive, considering the excitement a real band can offer?
Terence Yin: No, but when our movie was released and the media realized we were fake, they weren’t terribly happy with us. But it wasn’t our intention to test them off; we were just depicting how the system works. And in Hong Kong, a lot of stories are not checked, you just tell them something and they will write it. What we were showing was that faking can be done by artists, to use the system. Every company does that. We were just the first and only group to do so and show people the way it is. But it was not the central point of the film, just one aspect we wanted to bring out. But media decided to focus on this small point and we are still suffering backslash from it.
HKCinemagic: Your character in the film is a kind of playboy which corresponds to the image the Hong Kong gossip papers have given you. Was it a reference to that?
Terence Yin: Yes. What Daniel did with a lot of our characters, and it was rather challenging, was that we were playing ourselves but twisted according to what the public think of us. The public thinks, because of the media, I have a lot of girlfriends and I party a lot and I’m not responsible. That’s the media-created perception. And we played with it. One difficulty I had with Heavenly Kings was that there are some past experiences I had I talk about in the film like when I recorded my CD. And I have to twist some of those facts for the sake of the film. And it was very difficult because I didn’t want people who were part of this past to misunderstand me. I was not happy to have to do this scene. I figured it out at the end but didn’t really like it. I had to explain it to the people around me after. Because I told you I didn’t like the promotion about the CD but I really enjoyed recording it and I have close friends to this day who were part of that process.
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