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Visionary touch

By Raymond Zhou | China Daily | Updated: 2013-12-11 07:07

Visionary touch

Hong Kong film producer Bill Kong believes in not following the herd while selecting projects. Tony Zhao / China Daily

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In recent years, Kong's uncanny ability to spot new talents has achieved legendary status. Secret (2007)was Jay Chou's directorial debut whose brilliance surprised many. "He's a smart kid and learns very fast," Kong says. Most of the films he produced lately have been by first-time directors. "But do you know how long these people spent honing on their scripts? Xue Xiaolu had worked on Ocean Heaven for seven years before it got made."

Kong's gut feelings toward potential hits sometimes encompass work he was not involved in, such as Lost in Thailand, whose success he predicted. But he is not shy about those he missed. "Comedy is hard because it rarely travels from region to region. I was offered Love Is Not Blind (a runaway hit made with a small budget), but I passed it on because I, as a Hong Konger, could not understand the humor inherent in it."

However, Kong bankrolled Finding Mr. Right, a romantic comedy set in Seattle and serving as an homage to Sleepless in Seattle. The original idea was to remake the American classic, but he and writer-director Xue realized that this kind of love story would not resonate with the local audience, who are in a different developmental stage psychologically. The end result is a love story totally in touch with the national psyche, incorporating strong elements of a gilded age, even though much of the plot takes place across the Pacific Ocean.

One would imagine that Kong must be flooded with scripts from newcomers seeking a break, but he says, "No, people would not take the time and write the script. They say they're talented but they don't want to prove it by working hard. They don't even want to spend a month and do a first draft."

Unlike talent scouts who insure their investments with long-term contracts, Kong has made it a rule not to bind his new discoveries with any contracts. "Mine is not a big company and does not have projects for everyone," he says, adding that they are all willing to come back and work with him when the right project turns up. He seems to have more trust in the Chinese notion of human relationship than in a legally binding document. "Luk and Leung have offered to make a sequel of Cold War for me," he says.

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