Stupid Questions

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In Asia
Humility was an important part of making good work, Doyle claimed more than once: the humility to allow others to contribute what they had, and to distil everything down to its essence. That essence could be a lot of things, however.

“I’ve shot 10 films in one square kilometre of Hong Kong,” he noted. “They all look very different.”

Asked if he found he had to make any accommodations when moving between projects in Hong Kong or China and elsewhere, he noted, “It’s the Western films I struggle with. I learned to make films in Hong Kong and don’t really know film English, the jargon and the technical terms. In Putonghua or Cantonese I’m fine.”

Happy Together

Happy Together

Doyle also discussed broader differences between Asian and European or Hollywood films. Asian titles, he reckoned, were not conceived to suit the same structures – especially the three act structure of “meet, fight, resolve” – but were more akin to a mandala, a continuum that could be viewed from many angles. “You contemplate and find understanding.”

That shouldn’t imply any lack of rigour in Asian filmmaking. In answer to a question at the end of his second session, Doyle praised regularly-awarded Hong Kong designer and editor William Chang, citing a title where Chang had completely cut from a film a $100,000 set he’d designed and built because he decided during the edit that it didn’t serve the story. Admittedly the film was Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster, from which an awful lot of material was cut, but Doyle cited it as an example of Chang’s humility, his willingness to subsume his own achievements for the greater good.

Doyle worked with Wong on eight films and said, “They were all the same film. We just took away and took away until we got to In the Mood for Love.”

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