Watch “Revolution Trilogy” 睇「革命三部曲」

Director/producer/independent reporter Kempton Lam has made three full-length documentaries from 2004 – 2015. (Cantonese with English subtitles 廣東話、英文字幕) Collectively, the three documentaries are known as his “Revolution Trilogy「革命三部曲」. Kempton’s debut documentary Long Hair Revolution 「長毛革命 has been collected by the Canadian national archive since 2009. You can watch the three films at this YouTube Playlist (projected on your big screen HD TV or on your computer here). Enjoy!

Long Hair Revolution 「長毛革命」 (full-length 2005) (read film & Canadian national archive info)

HKtv Revolution 「香港電視革命」 (full-length 2015) (read Director’s Statement)

Umbrella Revolution: History as Mirror Reflection 「雨傘革命實錄:以史為鏡」 (full-length 2015) (read Director’s Statement)

Documenting Umbrella Revolution – part 1

As a documentarian that has made a film about Umbrella Revolution (see my director’s statement), I want to do my small part in documenting the events in Umbrella Revolution. Tonight, I came across a few great films made by the filmmakers at Lianain Films (website). I want to share these films with you so more people may find and watch them. I consider this a “part 1” as I hope to add more in the future.

Note: These films are all made by the filmmakers at Lianain Films and NOT by me.

First Umbrella – September 26, 2014 from Lianain Films on Vimeo. [HT HKFP]

“Panic, panic, absolute panic.” – September 27, 2014

Lung Wo Road – Scenes from the evening of October 14, 2014 from Lianain Films on Vimeo. Continue reading

Recharge and restart

After taking a short break to recharge myself by reading A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer (the famous producer of A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, Splash, 24), I feel ready to take a fresh look at the second part of our documentary Umbrella Revolution. I always know that Umbrella Revolution will be harder to make. While I have some great footage  and photos, but they are not enough to sustain a feature-length documentary. Sure, there are many great footage and some shocking footage out there, I feel I don’t have enough of a comprehensive view to use some of them unless I have more angles, etc.

By the way, as a short film with necessary many parts of the events NOT covered, I don’t feel I can call our film Umbrella Revolution so I’ve started brainstorming better names for our short documentary.

NOTE: While I’ve spent days (a lot of hours) setting the awesome giant painting by Cuson to music, given the film is a short film, I will unlikely be able to include it in the film as  it is. I really like it very much so it would have been an item that I love enough to have included in a bonus “delete” item in a DVD.

Umbrella Revolution art (雨傘上河圖) & song (ver 2.0)

A documentarian’s note – In memories of David Carr and Bob Simon

(Feb 13th, 2015):
Bob Simon and David Carr, reporters many people and I admired, died suddenly this week on Wednesday and Thursday (Feb 11th & 12th) respectively. It was so sudden that David tweeted about the sad passing of Bob in a car crash on Wednesday and then he himself collapsed and died at the NYT office the day after. Lives are sometimes unfairly shortened and taken away from us without warnings.

On the day of his passing, David was moderating a panel about the documentary Citizenfour with Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald in person, and Edward Snowden via video from Russia. I won’t be surprised if David ensured Edward could participate smoothly live via video and made that panel discussions especially insightful.

I’ve seen many great award-winning documentaries so I’m keenly aware of my own limited skills and resources. But good filmmakers don’t make excuses. Yes, I worry that I will f*ck up the two documentaries on HKTV and Umbrella Revolution. I worry I won’t meet your expectations nor mine. But life is short and fragile. The more I worry, the more I will procrastinate. I can only do the best I can and try to make two documentaries “watchable”. As the character Fran said in Strictly Ballroom, “A life lived in fear is a life half lived.”

I will do the best I can and keep trying to improve. I will try to be inspired by better documentarians and not to be intimidated by them.

P.S. If I were a betting man, I would bet Citizenfour would win Oscar Best Doc this year!

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In memories of David Carr (1956 – 2015) and Bob Simon (1941 – 2015). In their own words via videos.
*) Last panel moderated by David Carr
Citizenfour: Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, with Edward Snowden (via G+ Hangout video).
*) David Carr Commencement Address to the Class of 2014


*) “WATCH: Scott Pelley Delivers Classy Tribute to CBS’ Bob Simon
*) In Search of the Jaguar by Bob Simon (posted by CBS 60 Minutes on 2011)

Creative Inspirations

In the film’s official Facebook page HKtvUmbrellaRevolution I’ve talked about getting inspiration from different sources. The following video inspired and reminded me that there are many ways to tell interesting stories even with impossibly awful equipment. The ability to tell interesting stories is always in the hands of the creative minds behind the work.

Philip Bloom, Barbie Camera Challenge

I am inspired a little to may be try a little of colour grading on the film(s) will see.

By the way, for aspiring photographers, this is a good reminder that you don’t have to have expensive camera gears to do creative work.

Lara Jade, Cheap Camera Challenge

Umbrella Revolution de facto theme song 撐起雨傘 Lyrics English Translation

Today I came across YouTube user Ms. Alice Tong’s wonderful English translation of the Umbrella Revolution de facto theme song 撐起雨傘. I know I need to translate the song into English some how so it was “lucky” for me to come across Alice’s version. And I’ve put some time to build upon it and made a few words adjustments to fit my needs. As Alice wrote in the YouTube description, she translated the whole song within a day and don’t see the translation as “perfect”. So I hope Alice and other readers will see my changes as trying to share my insights and give my own take to the translation. Ultimately, I don’t believe there is a “perfect” translation just different translations.

Alice’s version with her English translation

Official 撐起雨傘 version at Umbrella Revolution with full song creative credits.

Song translation credit: YouTube user Ms. Alice Tong
with changes made by Kempton Lam for my documentary
more info here: https://www.facebook.com/HKtvUmbrellaRevolution

Lyrics of 撐起雨傘 and English translations (Alice version, some lines followed with my takes):

靜坐人海 你我非不怕
Sitting among the crowd
we are not unafraid

my take/version:
Sitting quietly in the crowd
we are not unafraid

會畏懼這樣下去怎辦
For fear of what might happen next

my take:
We fear what may happen next

但是人生 到了這一晚
But our lives have reached a tipping point
note: wonderful translation/use re “tipping point”

更怕未表白內心呼喊
Keeping silent is more terrifying

my take:
Staying silent is more terrifying

站在前方 勇氣驅不散
Standing in the frontline
Our courage cannot be dispersed
note: I quite like the use of “dispersed”

卻信越怕命運更黯淡
Fear will only lead us to a bleaker future Continue reading

Many Umbrella Revolution documentaries and I am not “worried”

I expect there will be many documentaries made about Umbrella Revolution (UR) and I’m not “worried”. In fact, it is a good thing to see many documentaries made about UR because it is important and we need more perspectives and eyes on UR. Different documentary filmmakers will see and choose to tell different stories through their creative minds. Now we work with very limited resources here but I’ve promised to make the best film I can. And I will try my best to make as good a film I can given the limited resources and time we have. Will see.

In the mean time, I welcome different documentary filmmakers’ takes and I’m going to share a few particularly good ones I’ve seen so far here with you.

1a) VICE News is making a piece about Umbrella Revolution. Worth watching the trailer and checking out the video when it is out. [HT @Warmwaterfrog for sharing]

(1b) The short documentary series “Clearing Mong Kok” (16:17) (part 3/3) by freelance videographer Nathan Mauger is just breathtakingly awesome! Highly recommended. [HT Kam for sharing]

The above is third (3/3) in a series about the clashes in Mong Kok during Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement. The following are part 1 & 2.

20 Meters in Mong Kok (05:22)

The Battle for Mong Kok (05:23)

Note: VICE Network is one of the new media companies that gets a lot of my respect. In 2013 at Banff, I had the pleasure of meeting VICE co-founders Suroosh Alvi & Shane Smith. And interviewing Shane Smith was a cool experience. Imagine they started VICE, originally a punk magazine, out of Montreal, Canada! #GoCanadaGo