Incubation Programme 23/24- In Search of Asian Talents
孵化計劃23/24- 尋找「亞洲之光」回顧

Eye Catcher Incubation Programme 2023/24

Date: 6 January, 2024 (Sat)
Shan Zuo Long | Producer

Looking back at the book Tales of Honey: A Collection of Interviews with Post–80s Directors from the Greater China  published in 2015 and written by Eric Tsang. Zuo Long, being one of the interviewees in the book, talked about the time when he worked as a documentary filmmaker on Song of the Mulberries, as well as his 5 years’ experiences in curating the Hangzhou Asian Youth Film Festival (HAFF)… Over the years, Shan Zuo Long has worked as a producer for the films Kaili Blues, Long Day’s Journey into Night and Love Is a Gun. As a producer, what was his experience participating in numerous international film festivals like? What has Zuo Long observed about Chinese-language films and directors from his experience? 

“It’s a place where challenges and opportunities exist together” Facing all the challenges and opportunities over the years since he worked as a producer, Zuo Long appeared to be very sincere and honest. With the awareness of the system within the industry, HAFF was shut down after 5 years of mission of nurturing a group of cinema fans. Zuo Long then joined Dangmai Films, where he shifted his focus to collaborate on 2 films together with director Bi Gan.

A lot of producers went on to become directors, but Zuo Long was the opposite. The works of a producer shall delicately balance the desire and ego of the creations of the directors, while giving careful consideration to all their working partners, digesting the good and bad news from all sides before communicating them with the director, etc. It’s a constant challenge – because the producer is always the first to be notified of the news. “It’s always failure rather than success”. From the pandemic, to the resulting changes in the industry, Zuo Long has been working with new directors in recent years, which allowed him to better understand the different approaches and marketing strategies for films on big scales and small scales. 

During the season of the Cannes Film Festival, Zuo Long occasionally felt like a secret agent: gathering and analysing all kinds of information, figuring out what the festival committee jury want; starting with emails and also asking film critics etc. to convince programmers. From the very beginning as a producer in Kaili Blues, to Love is a Gun (2023), Zuo Long has often used non-narrative concepts, with perspective and values on what he saw from those film projects, trying to convince them directly and with sincerity.

“The local market is very important, but stepping out of that is also very important.” Referring to the post-pandemic state of the film industry in Hong Kong and Taiwan, where he noted that it’s almost like a vacuum in the film industry. We might as well be more daring, and tap into the styles and mentalities that the international film market will be interested in; to tap into the things we want to accomplish even if we have to fund them by ourselves.