For decades, Hong Kong has been the film hub of Asia. It has the third largest film industry in the world (after the US and India) and is the second largest film exporter in the world after the US.
There are many reasons for this, but it is certain that Hong Kong has achieved what many other Asian countries have failed to do – produce films, actors and directors that are household names across the world. Names like John Woo, Andy Lau and Jackie Chan are just a small sample of the impact Hong Kong has had on the movie industry worldwide.
The Academy of Film at Hong Kong Baptist University has been educating and nurturing the talent that drives this success for over 40 years. Part of the University’s School of Communication, the Academy has been the leading centre for cinema and TV education in Hong Kong since 1970.
Through the years, graduates from the Academy’s programmes have gone on to accrue an excellent record by winning awards, accolades and scholarships in local and regional film competitions. For instance, Felix CHONG, scriptwriter of the film Infernal Affairs, won the Best Screenplay Award in the 22nd Annual Hong Kong Film Awards. Not only was it Hong Kong’s commercial box office champion for 2002, the film was remade as The Departed in Hollywood and directed by Martin Scorsese.
Last year, two HKBU film students scored significant successes scooping top awards at the prestigious Fresh Wave 2010 International Short Film Festival. Zhang Duanyang scooped the Best Film, Student Division award for A Tale of Two Cities. The Best Film, Open Division award went to Lia Yan Chi for his short film, 1+1.
The Academy offers a choice of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes designed to equip graduates for successful careers as writers, actors, directors, editors, presenters and more.
“Our programmes are not only focused on research and academics, but also on providing the best professional and practical training possible,” explains Director of the Academy of Film Professor Cheuk Pak Tong. “We have an internationally recognized Academy with many students coming from abroad, not only from Mainland China, but from countries like the US and the UK as well.”
The Academy prides itself on having very close ties with the film industry in Hong Kong and recognizes the ever-growing need to maintain and strengthen these ties. The world of film is changing fast, and the Academy of Film is committed to keeping its finger on the pulse.
“Our students learn from leaders in the Asian film industry. For example, we invited prestigious directors John Woo [Hong Kong], HOU Hsiao Hsien [Taiwan] and Tsai Ming-liang [Taiwan] to give ‘Master Lectures’ here. Each came for one week and gave five lectures to our MFA students. Three books were published on the lectures they gave, respectively. This was a real record breaker and was of great benefit to our students and our faculty,” says Professor Cheuk.
HKBU’s Film Academy’s resident faculty is equally impressive, with 35 lecturers from the film industry. Many of them are top award winners from the most respected film festivals in the region, including the Golden Horse Film Festival and the HK Golden Film Awards.
HKBU Academy of Film has an extensive suite of programmes suitable for anyone who wishes to work in the film industry in Asia or the West. In addition, 2012 will see the launch of a new programme – Creative Writing for Film, TV and New Media. Here is a brief overview of what is on offer at the Academy:
Professional Programme in Film (Higher Diploma) – This three-year full-time programme offers five separate courses: Script Writing and Directing; Film Production Management; Production Techniques (Cinematography, Lighting and Art Direction); Post-production (Editing and Sound Mixing); and Acting for Film and Television (Diploma/Higher Diploma). ‘Whole-person education’ is key here, with the stated aim of producing graduates who not only have the practical skills they need, but are nourished “in creativity, aesthetics, and cultural literacy”.
Undergraduate (BSSC Hon) – This three-year full-time programme provides an intensive theoretical and practical education in cinema and television. Areas of study include film, video, photography, cinematography, sound, editing, and animation. Intensive subject-work study is also available in a variety of areas, including directing, producing, and writing as well as in the craft and technical skills of film editing, video post-production, and sound recording and re-recording. Students also get valuable work experience in a Hong Kong film or television studio.
Postgraduate (MFA) – Established in 2004, the Master of Fine Arts in Film, TV and Digital Media is the Academy’s most sought after programme. Each year more than 200 hopefuls apply for a place on the MFA, and less than 50 succeed. Covering 19 subjects over three years, the MFA provides a broad grounding in film, TV and digital media in year one, with students honing their studies on a particular track in the following two years. The subjects are structured according to the University Film and Video Association, USA.
Beyond The Classroom
Being the leading and oldest TV and film educator in Hong Kong, HKBU’s Academy of Film plays an integral role in the development of creative talent and the future of the industry. While much of this occurs in the classroom, other activities such as festivals and events also play a key role.
“Each year we organize a film festival called the Global Chinese Universities Student Film and Television Festival. We invite film schools from eight countries and ask for one student to come with their best work. This allows our students to meet students from other countries and share their ideas and experiences. This is very good experience for our students and the visiting students too. The festival runs for one week and on the last day we have a presentation ceremony where we have actors and famous directors present awards to the students,” says Professor Cheuk.
The Academy is also committed to nurturing the film talent of tomorrow. Each year, in partnership with the Hong Kong government, it organizes workshops named INNO-Action!-HKBU Academy of Film Seeds Project, for the most talented students from over 200 high schools. This allows young talent to receive instruction from the best educators and gain access to the best film and TV training facilities available.
Living in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of Asia’s great metropolises, offering a blend of Eastern and Western culture that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Much like HKBU’s campus, the city of Hong Kong itself is a cosmopolitan hive of activity, and it abounds with attractions and things to do. And although it is home to some 7 million people, the city is surprisingly easy to get around. From taking in the stunning views from Victoria Peak to the bustling Ladies Market, this Eastern gem never fails to entertain and delight.
Because of its multi-cultural nature, it is easy for international students to settle in here, whether they are from nearby Asian countries, or halfway across the world. Hong Kong’s colonial past means there is something to suit everyone in this bustling metropolis.