Workshop 2: Interview with Mr. Second Chan


1) What are some of the characteristics you learned from the architectural school that contributed to building these dramatic sets; and

2) I noticed that in your films, for example, in Kungfu Hustle, the dilapidated tenement of Pigsty Alley is very dramatic, unlike the Kowloon City from which the name is derived, what is the preparation process for coming up with such brilliant ideas?

Answer from Mr. Second Chan:

“[As an art director] in the movie industry, my ultimate goal is to tell the story. That’s the very reason why we are needed: to deliver the story. When we first read the 200-page script in black letter, we use[d] our imagination to create the movie in color. We are the ones who will be determining what it will look like in that bigger picture. We will be going through each scene in details: what the tone and flow of this particular scene are.

For Sophie’s Revenge, we wanted to do an imaginary fairytale, a dramatic love story. The best way to exaggerate the emotions is to use a lot of bright and contrasting colors; For Push, we wanted to make Hong Kong not so ‘Hong Kong’, so we adopted a lot of surreal texture and materials; For Kungfu Hustle, we have to recreate a small community of 1950s Southern China. We did a lot of researches; Mr. Chow, who held strong preference, showed us some of what he has in mind. So, we are able to deliver the story thanks to his imagination and our cooperation.

At the end of the day, we are able to tell each story based on each script. There is no specific rule that we would follow. Every time we start a new movie, we start a new life.

For your first question, [I would say that] a lot of art directors did not have an architectural background. Many of them are unable to design the set or, let’s say, set the tone of the movie. Some of the art directors did not even know how to draw the set plan. Though I am not suggesting that you guys should all work in the movie industry, the architectural study experience will help a lot in your future career. Take the Kungfu Hustle as an example: for this kind of four-story-height building, the safety issue is always important. As all the major work would be conducting in the first or second story, we were extremely concerned about how to make this fixed set not collapse. With limited financial resources, we are bound to make sure that we make a proper building.

You never know when your architectural studies may come to aid you, but it will one day: I survive in this industry because I have this architectural background.”


The workshop with Second provided me insights regarding inter-disciplinary studies and set-production. I realized that the rule of thumb in this creative industry is indeed that follow no stringent rules, and use your imagination to deliver the story.

By Dong Yuqi Kiki (UID: 3035447879)

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