Published: Monday January 6, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday January 6, 2014 MYT 8:43:57 AM

All fired up for 'As The Light Goes Out'

Director Derek Kwok recalls the danger while shooting his new firefighting film.

Given that a firefighting movie Out Of Inferno came out recently from his compatriots Danny and Oxide Pang, you would think that writer-director Derek Kwok would be feeling the heat since As The Light Goes Out tackles the same topic.

Speaking over the telephone from Hong Kong, he says in Cantonese: “There’s always pressure but it doesn’t come from others. Rather, it’s because you always want to do a movie well.

“Anyway, there is plenty of space for different movies to bloom. Just look at the number of cops-and-robbers flicks out there.”

As The Light Goes Out stars Nicholas Tse, Shawn Yue, Simon Yam and Hu Jun as firefighters while Out Of Inferno featured Louis Koo and Sean Lau Ching Wan.

Kwok, 37, stresses that what is more important is whether the film in question has something new to offer - and he is confident on that score.

He was the one who came up with the idea for the film, after his firefighter friend had told him: “The greatest danger you face is thick smoke, not fire. When you enter a fire scene, all you hear is the sound of your own breathing and it is pitch black before you.”

It was a scenario that intrigued Kwok and one that he felt other fire flicks had not explored.

So before filming started, he spent half a year doing research on the different types of smoke and their characteristics.

And then the challenge was to present that on film.

He says: “Normally when you film smoke, you simply add some smoke to the scene. But here, I wanted smoke to be a feeling, an actor almost. It could be a monster, a ghost, be everywhere all at once, be weaselly or be forceful.”

It took a mix of real smoke and special effects to achieve that.

In addition, there were also fires and explosions added to the combustible mix.

The actors did most of the scenes themselves despite the challenging conditions.

Notes Kwok: “When you use stand-ins, it looks very fake, so the actors requested to do the dangerous scenes themselves.”

Some were hurt in the process. Yam had to run about while carrying an injured character and ended up pulling his pelvic muscle. It took him nine months to recover.

And Yue hurt his right hand carrying almost 36kg of equipment for a rescue effort.

Still, Kwok says: “I think it was all worth it because we all want it to be realistic when it comes out.”

Next up for him is an action thriller, Kowloon Walled City, with action star Donnie Yen.

And his goal each time he makes a film is the same.

“If I get $100 from investors, I hope to make a movie which looks like it cost $300. It’s a big challenge and makes it tough for me and the crew but it’s what we’re chasing after. The biggest hope is that audiences will like my works.”

Along with directors such as Pang Ho Cheung and Juno Mak, Kwok proves that there is still life in the Hong Kong film industry.

His low-budget action comedy Gallants (2010) was both a commercial and critical hit and it won the Best Movie accolade at the Hong Kong Film Awards.

And the bachelor remains passionate about Hong Kong films even as the lure of the China market has proved irresistible for many.

He says: “Regardless of where the audience is from, they all want to watch Hong Kong films which have a distinct Hong Kong flavour. Just make movies according to one’s conscience, works that are interesting and dignified, and they will find an audience.” – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

> As The Light Goes Out is showing in cinemas nationwide.

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment, Entertainment, Derek Kwok, Film, Hong Kong, Simon Yam, As The Light Goes Out


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