Mak Pui Tung: Even under unfavourable situations, seize every opportunity, and equip yourself wellActor Mak Pui Tung and director Ho Cheuk Tin were invited to attend Hong Kong Film Gala Presentation film forums and campus lectures in Singapore, where they shared with local students and audiences their valuable experiences of working in the Hong Kong film industry.
The Hong Kong Film Gala Presentation in Singapore is organized by the Asian Film Awards Academy (AFAA), co-organized by the Singapore Film Society, and supported by Create Hong Kong, the Film Development Fund and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Singapore. In addition to screening activities, AFAA and the Singapore Film Society, together with other partners, hosted three different film forums and lectures, including the “Stage to Screen: Regional New Actor’s Forum” where Mak Pui Tung and three Asian actors discussed the similarities and differences between stage actors and film actors.
The forum was held on September 30, 2023, at Shaw Theatres Paya Lebar Quarter, hosted by Adele Wong. It was a great honour to invite stage actors from various parts of Asia to participate, including Mak Pui Tung from Hong Kong, Season Chee from Malaysia, Ong Suan and Doreen Toh from Singapore. In the forum, they shared their journey of transforming their rich stage performance experience to the silver screen, as seasoned stage performers became newcomers in films.
Mak started with the discussion on a selected sequence of his performance in the film “The Sparring Partner” with the guests and audience, revealing the preparation work he did for the character. He then went on to talk in detail about his acting career, since graduation from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and working as a full-time stage actor for the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre, where he did his best in both small-scale and large-scale productions without fear of suffering losses. Mak said, “I told myself that I would be a full-time stage actor for five years at most, and then I must get out of my comfort zone and try in other positions.” Later, he started working on different short films until he got the lead role in “The Sparring Partner”. He added, “When I was doing stage plays, no one knew me; only after I shot my first film, everyone recognizes me and even asks to take photos with me on the street.” Mak encouraged the audience, “Don’t be afraid. Don’t give up on any opportunity”.
During the Q&A session, in response to enthusiastic feedback from the audience, Mak Pui Tung shared more about his thoughts on the differences between stage and film performances. He admitted that stage performance is an “art of regret” because actors perform live only at that specific moment, and the size of audience is limited. On the contrary, films can be more flexible to screen and distribute, reaching a wider audience. In terms of acting techniques, actors on stage need to deliver their lines and perform actions clearly for the audience to understand, while in films, they can be more subtle in their performances. Mak said, “After discussing the script with the director and immersing yourself in the character, you have to choose the best way to portray the character within the limited shooting time”.
Meanwhile, director Ho Cheuk Tin visited the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) to participate in a lecture on Hong Kong film production, where he shared the pre-production process of films, the experience of working with actors, and the feelings of creating films of different genres. Director Ho talked about how to help actors get a thorough understanding of their roles, for example, by isolating themselves from the crew and focusing on the character during intense scenes, while creating a relaxed and joyful atmosphere on set for comedy films. Ho hopes that the films he directs do not only relate with Hong Kong audience but also carry different meanings for viewers in other regions.
Director Ho was also invited to the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), where he attended a campus lecture titled “Cinema and the Youths in Hong Kong”. He participated in a roundtable discussion with professors and scholars from Singapore, discussing the impact of Hong Kong films on different aspects and talking about the differences between the new generation of Hong Kong films and in the past, including the Hong Kong New Wave and the Golden Age of Hong Kong cinema. The audience gained a better understanding of the new developments in the Hong Kong film industry.
The AFAA’s Hong Kong Film Gala Presentation has been held in various Asian countries since 2021. The event includes film screenings and related sharing sessions. The academy will continue to prepare for similar activities in Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Dubai, showcasing the charm of the Hong Kong film industry and its excellent talents, allowing audiences from different regions to continue exploring the new generation of Hong Kong films and promoting the continuous development of the Hong Kong film industry.
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