Udine FEFF Panel with director Herman Yau and screenwriter Erica Li

Herman Yau
Herman Yau

Director and screenwriter of Ip Man: The Final Fight Herman Yau and Erica Li talked about Ip Man and Hong Kong film in a panel at Udine Far East Film Festival on Wednesday 24th April 2013.

Ip Man: The Final Fight is the latest instalment of the popular Ip Man franchise and Herman Yau is a world famous director. He answered questions along with screenwriter of Ip Man: The Final Fight at the panel the day after the film was screened at Udine FEFF. As well as talking about the film itself he talked about Hong Kong film in general and how martial arts films and particularly Ip Man represent societal issues in Hong Kong past and present.

When posed a question about audience, Yau said :

“I’m not so smart to know what the audience want, and that’s why I make movies that can be watched easily.”

It interested me because it’s unusual to think that a veteran filmmaker like Yau, who’s been in the industry for over thirty years and has gained worldwide success, wouldn’t know what the audience wanted. However thinking about it I think that might be true for

Ip Man: The Final Fight
Ip Man: The Final Fight

many directors. It’s interesting to me that he chooses to make films that can be accessed easily by the audience and enjoyed by all, and particularly in terms of Ip Man he makes films that interest him and that he’s passionate about, and makes films that can be enjoyed rather than try to think of what the audience wants him to make. Perhaps too many directors, writers and producers try too hard to overanalyse what the audience wants and forgets the importance of a good, enjoyable and easy to watch script.

He also said:

“No film can be genuinely authentically realistic” 

When he and Erica Li were asked about their research. Li commented that her research as the screenwriter was very intense because Ip Man is based on a true story. Ip Man: The Final Fight is told from the point of view of Ip Man’s son, and Li said she spoke to his son for research before representing his father a certain way. It intrigued me that the screenwriter for a martial arts film was female because it tends to be a very male oriented genre, but she spoke about her passion for the film and the fact that more than being a film about violence, she was interested in representing Hong Kong society and its difficulties in the past. Research is obviously very important when making a film, particularly when it’s based on real people, and although the extent of their research prior to

Herman Yau at today's panel
Herman Yau at today’s panel

making the film was huge, Yau talked about how it’s impossible to make a film that’s completely true and authentic.

It was a real insight into filmmaking to sit and listen to a veteran filmmaker, and even more interesting was how down to earth he was. He ended the panel by saying that he felt like as a veteran filmmaker with thirty years experience he feels it’s his duty to pass on his knowledge and help young, emerging Hong Kong filmmakers, and he voiced his concern about film investors and their desire to only fund things that will make money, rather than try and help launch fresh talent.

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