I am a one-film director. In the history of cinema, there have been many one-time directors, including the great actors Charles Laughton and Marlon Brando. No director ever set out to have a one-film career. Laughton’s directorial career ended when The Night of the Hunter (1955) bombed at the box office. But now this gem of a film is recognized for its impressive use of German Expressionist motifs. For Oneeyed Jacks (1961), Brando had his crew set up and waited for the “right” wave off the coast—seemingly undeterred by the production cost of $50,000 per day.
Pale Passion cannot be compared to the excellent work of the one-time directors mentioned above. The film could have been more complete if the ending had the male protagonist holding the dying female protagonist in sorrow instead of killing off all the main characters. As a director’s debut film, I think it is passable. Almost thirty years have passed since it was initially released. Retelling these behind-the-scene stories, I’m not trying to whine. I just want to advise aspiring filmmakers not to focus too much on trivial matters; focusing instead on pouring your passion and ideas into filmmaking itself.
Film critic and director Kam Ping-hing was born in 1937 and was raised and educated in Hong Kong. After finishing college in Taiwan, he became the editor of the influential 1960s publication Chinese Student Weekly. Kam was active in writing film reviews, columns and poetry. In 1968, he went to study at Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome, which he applied but was not officially admitted. Returning to Hong Kong in 1971, he became a lecturer for film studies at the Department of Extramural Studies of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. In 1973, along with friends and students, Kam was one of the founding members of the Phoenix Cine Club, which was first chaired by Freddie Wong.
Kam joined Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) as a script editor and was involved with the development of several serial dramas. Meanwhile, he contributed to the screenplay of The System (1979), which was based on writer-director Peter Yung Wai-Chuen’s meticulous research on the drug trade. In 1981, Kam was named creative director at Century Motion Picture & Distribution Company, for which he co-wrote The Imp (1981) with Lee Tang and Cheung Kam-moon. He was also one of the six writers who worked on the screenplay for Patrick Tam’s Nomad (1982), a key work of the Hong Kong New Wave.
Kam’s chance at the director’s chair came when he signed a contract with the Shaw Brothers Studio in 1982. The next year, he wrote and directed his feature debut Pale Passion (1983), starring Eddie Chan and Agnes Cheung.
In 2000, a collection of Kam’s reviews was published by the Hong Kong Film Critics Society. He currently lives in Toronto, Canada and remains active in writing.
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