17th October 2013
Learning from US’s Production – Abolishing Maudlin Style TV Drama
Ricky Wong is determined to reform the local TV production mentality. His target is to reference the US production style and set his mind on abolishing the maudlin style TV drama. Choi Suk-yin, HKTV’s Creative Director, said that the company has completed the filming of eight drama series, and their subjects are relatively new. Although the series are not aired, she said, audiences have already been looking forward to them. Wong, however, is still not satisfied, and believes that they have yet to completely escaped from the old Hong Kong drama style.
March 2013, Wong decided to call off all production and asked the creative team and production team to join US drama workshops. At the workshops, the teams will study US dramas and study their structures and the success elements of them. They have eventually decided to reference the production style of US series, “Wong demanded all scripts to minimise the eating and family gathering around scenes, that is different from TVB’s dramas.”
Trailers of the series HKTV completed have enjoyed substantial positive feedback. The whole series of Police Boundaries, one of HKTV’s production, was uploaded onto Youtube. Over 700,000 views are recorded so far. Choi, however, thinks that the eight series HKTV produced so far are not “perfect”. The series produced after the teams have finished the workshops are much better. She described that Wong often comes up with new ideas, “Some of them work, some don’t. Hence, we often have conflicts. However, his goal is shared by all the staff, which is to make good products.” Wong also sponsored staff to join outward bounds and Enneagram training, in order to help fully use their talents at work.
Many HKTV employees came from TVB. However, when the lay off was announced by HKTV, many employees would not want to leave. Lau Shun-on, former Chairman of TVB Staff Union and director of HKTV’s Brain Opening Detective, said that even though the lay off plan has been announced, no one has thought about “returning” to TVB, “one treated us like works, and the other one treats us assets. One is a pure business, the other is an investor that is dedicated to the industry.” This is the key to the staff’s devotion.
Some former TVB staff at HKTV said that HKTV is a brand new world, Lau said “the old world is just following old steps, and the new world is all about creation. They are as different as chalk and cheese.” He said that joining HKTV from TVB is a gamble, “only because I had dreams”. HKTV values training for staff, “I never thought about how US series were filmed. But now I can tell you how they were done, what scene they’d use and what angle they’d film each scene. All I have gained in the past year and a bit is improvements.” Commenting on the license denial, Lau said, “how is Hong Kong going to continue? The hostage Philippines incident has already demoralized Hong Kong people, and the license issuance essentially set Ricky Wong up, how can we trust the government?”
Some background about Ricky Wong:
Ricky Wong Wai-lay set up CTI (1992) and Hong Kong Broadband (1999) years ago which broke the monopoly of the Hong Kong telecommunications industry, introduce competition into the IDD (international direct dial) and broadband markets, offering cheaper services to the people of Hong Kong. Four years ago, he decided to enter the television industry to challenge TVB’s monopoly.
The launch of IDD 1666 and various famous advertising campaigns, CTI did not only break PCCW’s monopoly in the industry, but forced it to enter a price war, so the people of Hong Kong no longer need to pay extremely expensive IDD fees. After he founded Hong Kong Broadband in 1999, the company began to lay out optic fiber network to provide 100Mbs broadband service, and managed to strike a fair market share with PCCW. End of 2008, Wong joint ATV as the CEO, and announced his plan for a major reform. However, he resigned 12 days later because of disagreement with Linus Cheung Wing-lam, former Chairman of ATV.
Abstract from one of the reports submitted by the consultant appointed by the HKSAR government to advise on TV license issuance: