As a vessel of popular culture and collective expression, a film can carry the consciousness of a society and its makers at a particular point of time. From behind-the-scenes preparation to on-set performance, filming and production, image makers assume, whether consciously or subconsciously, the role of a ‘medium’ or ‘mediator’ — capturing images, messages, or thoughts, and conveying them to the audience.
Fong Ho Yuen, colloquially known as Yuen Gor, was once an apprentice of in-house production photographer Chan Yuk, and has worked from the 1970s studio system through to Hollywood productions in the digital age. Exploring Fong’s large quantity of film stills, we can witness a number of milestones in the development of Hong Kong cinema, and also sense the industry’s relentless work ethics and dedication, as well as the social attitudes of the times.
The revered City Entertainment Magazine (formerly Film Bi-weekly) and its column Exposure gave one of its founders Lo Yuk Ying great freedom, on and off the set. Reporting on industry figures in the 1970s and 80s just as she documented the streets, Lo made expressive black-and-whites of people in settings with an all-encompassing 28mm lens: a reveal of characteristics or states of mind otherwise unseen on screen.
Later on, in the early 1990s, Louie Wong also served as a staff photographer with City Entertainment Magazine. In Wong’s folders overflowing with 30 years of work, article cutouts, and filmstrips and contact prints with frame after frame of unedited images, we see not only cultural icons of Hong Kong cinema’s golden age, but also the sense of freedom and possibilities burgeoning at the turn of the century.