A week before heading off to Israel for the second time, I’m
already a nervous wreck with anxiety attacks concerning
everything that could go wrong shooting in a volatile war zone.
The bombings have started up again or maybe it has only started
up to me but it’s everyday reality in Israel.
Yet I still manage to commit Cheuk and I to talk about the doc
on a Cantonese TV show. What was I thinking? I can manage
ordering dim sum and maybe a few feeble pick up lines here and
there, but I was gonna have to resort to Chinglish if I was to
carry a reasonably intelligent cinematic discussion on air.
“Kwoi is my eye,” Cheuk said when asked about our working
relationship on air. Sometimes that’s a challenge. Sometimes
it’s an encouragement. For the most part, it’s a huge
The way I work with Cheuk, the way I light, the way I see, the
reason I dare to handhold every shot is all about “choices”. My
purpose is to make intuitive choices for myself as much as for
Cheuk, for the subjects and all that I’m working for. I forget
who, but someone once said “a great filmmaker cannot make bad
films... just bad choices” -- which more or less sums up our
Cheuk’s doc is structured like a “fat man’s feet”. They more or
less get him from place to place but he can’t see them till the
end of the day when he bends over to undo his shoes in the edit!
No, Cheuk, I’m not making fun of your Buddha belly… it’s just a
We got back from Israel in one piece and the “fat man’s feet”
showed itself tonight. Our editor Zinka screened the fine cut of
Israel before she leaves for England tomorrow. They say that a
man can only fake a woman’s sense of rhythm on editing. I’m gonna miss her cool sense of rhythm and big beautiful smile.
We start to see what the film is about. It is surprisingly
coherent and lyrical. My intuition tells me that it’s in the
edit that Cheuk finds the meaning in much of what I have shot. I
never intellectualize over what certain details, colours or
actions mean at the time of shooting. I like to think that the
images take on a life of their own and anticipate where the film
would take us. They’re like images from the future at the time
of shooting and then they arrive in our “virtual reality”.