Virgin Media Shorts Awards: Interview with Chris Chung

chrischungLast week I attended the Virgin Media Shorts awards and had a grand old time.  The star-studded awards ceremony was held at the BFI IMax down in London which was a great venue for this type of award. I have to admit that when I settled down with my glass of bubbly and tub of popcorn to watch all the nominated shorts on the giant Imax screen I was expecting to just enjoy a few of them but was surprised at the sheer range and talent on display. Although not all of the nominees were my cup of tea I could still appreciate and get something from every single film that was on the shortlist.

My fave film  out of the shortlist, which sadly did not win was Handuken by Chris Chung. This short is a brilliant send up of Hong Kong Action films (think Hard Boiled meets Naked Gun) and I can’t recommend it enough. After the event  I caught up with  Chris and after managing to convince him that I was not a cyber stalker we were able to have a chat about the project.

Geek Syndicate: So people who haven’t seen Handuken give us the lowdown?

Chris Chung: Handuken is a tongue in cheek homage to Hong Kong action cinema, which follows some key themes and elements that inspired me as a filmmaker. From Tequila’s personality (Hard Boiled) to the shooting style of Grandmasters right through to Bruce Lee’s one inch punch!

GS: How punishing did you find working to the time limit?

CG: It wasn’t too harsh on us, again I celebrate the amazing team behind me on screen, behind the camera and in the edit. The film was made specifically for the Virgin Media 2:20 duration, however we do have a slightly longer version for festivals!

GS: Where did the idea for the film come from?

CG: I originally had the idea for last year’s Virgin Media Shorts competition, however the idea wasn’t quite there yet for production and neither did I meet the on screen talent until early this year.

But the rock, paper, scissors and thumb war sequence, I have to thank Virgin for! As I couldn’t be violent in the action sequences due to the PG rating I had to improvise the action which essentially made the film.

GS: The film definitely felt like the opening scene or climax to film…so can we expect more from Handuken?

CG: Thanks! It was certainly a labour of love from everyone on the film. I like to think of Handuken as an introduction to the team who made it, I’m sure we’ll get back together and make another action project somewhere down the line!

GS:If you had won what would you have done with the prize money?

CG: A nice long holiday! kidding! I have a short in mind which highlights cultural differences, and how in harsh conditions foes can be forced to befriend each other. It’s a bit of a beefy idea which features some action elements, perhaps it should be a feature?

GS: What are you working on at the moment?

CG: I have two short films in development at the moment, each with fantastic actors both focusing on different subject matters.

GS: Action is clearly something that is important in your filmmaking what have been some of the films or action scenes you feel have the most impact on you?

CG: I’ve grown up with action cinema and have seen some absolutely stunning sequences, I’d say the most memorable ones to date are:

  • Flash Point (Donnie Yen VS Collin Chou) A great showcase of MMA
  • Fearless (Jet Li) A perfect combination of Jet Li and Yuen Woo Pings action direction, Jet Li has probably the most amazing and fluid fight sequences in this film.
  • The Matrix Reloaded (Burly Brawl) Yuen Woo Ping again action directs one of the most iconic action sequences of cinema.
  • An infinite list of Jackie Chan’s early stunts.
  • House of Flying Daggers (Echo game).

GS: What do you think are some of the key ingredients to a good action scene?

CG: I’d say context, giving your character reason to get into a brawl evokes your audiences to root for your heroes. I think ‘Taken’ does this masterfully, Liam Neeson delivers a hell of a beat down. What was his kill count again?

Another I’d say is having trained fighters/stunt men, they will know how to sell an action sequence and deliver strikes with bad intentions!

GS: Of course comedy plays a big part of the film how hard was it blending the action and comedy?

CG: I don’t think there was much difficulty the vision was clear amongst the whole team, and being lovers of the genre it pretty much happened organically as we rolled.

GS: Do you think being a part of the Virgin Media Shorts has improved your filmmaking?

CG: It’s has certainly made me more hungry, I’ve had a taste now and want more!

GS: Where can folks see your other work? – There will be more to come in the new year!

GS: How did it feel seeing Handuken on that big IMAX screen?

CG: It was an unbelievable experience, seeing my film on a screen of that size and in the BFI IMAX! I mean how many indie filmmakers can say their film has been shown in an IMAX? Also just sitting in with an audience of almost 500 people was exhilarating, again I thank the Virgin media shorts team for making this all possible.

Big thanks to Chris for taking the time to speak with me about Handuken and I’m looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next.

Have a watch of all the finalists on the list below…

The shortlist, which consists of successful entries from all over the UK, were:

Big congrats to Nimer Rashed whose film Touch picked up the grand prize that included £30,000 worth of funding for his next film. was presented to him by Shane Meadows (This is England, Dead Man’s Shoes, Made of Stone). It is a great film and I would recommend people check out (especially if you loved the opening five minutes of Disney’s ‘UP’).

Reporter: Nuge

Source: Virgin Media Shorts / Chris Chung 

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