Art and Experience: Kinson Tsang is the founder of MBS Studios. Prior to that, he was sound engineer at Hong Kong Television Broadcasts Limited from 1980-1989 and project engineer at HKTVB’s Clear Water Bay Studios. He is on the Advisory Committee for the Film and Television School of The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts; Vice-Chairman of the Course Validation Panel for the “Higher Diploma in Digital Music and Audio Technology” from the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI); Technical Committee Consultant for Star TV and Broadcasting Facilities Consultant for the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC).
You had a workshop focusing on sound design, it’s so technical. So what aspects of it did you concentrate on?
I tried to be non-technical in a way. I mean what was covered in my workshop was what’s happening out there and the future trend; because in terms of sound design, we need to know what is required. You have to present your work according to some standards or some format. Without knowing that you’re still doing things in your own way and the world is heading east and you’re heading west. So that competitiveness helps you to show your people to the world. That is why I wanted to cover that in my workshop. Doing sound design is one thing. Sound design is creative and technical, a melting process. So you melt your creative ideas into technical power. And without knowing how to prepare your power, even though you are super-creative in the world, people are not going to hear you. You’ll be only heard in your studio or in your country. But that is not very competitive in the film industry. I wanted to talk about that to your people.
How do you see the quality of the festival and the market?
At this point of time, you did a pretty good job. Although it’s not really up to international standards, I see a promising future for that. As this festival is becoming more important, there is more participation from all over the world and this will make the festival even better, I would say.
What do you think about the film screenings and premiers, which is a new event at Fajr Festival?
For the screenings, well, that’s necessary for any film festival to show content. That’s very important in a way, but I suppose the venue is not really up to the technical standards of most prominent film festivals. They would send technical representatives to the screening rooms to make sure they are up to the technical standards, before the film is screened. That’s to assure the potential buyers that they are seeing the real content. It is what we need to improve in terms of how the film is presented like in Cannes. You need to go in there, check the rooms, see everything is up to technical standards and then screen the film. I think that will enhance the image of the festival.
To what extent do you know the Iranian cinema?
I did post-production for Iranian films such as The Silk Road and The Kingdom of Solomon. So I kind of know what to expect from Iranians.
Where does the Iranian cinema stand in terms of sound design?
If you’re asking whether the Iranian cinema is up to the international standards, well, it may not be; however, I see a lot of reasons that caused that. It’s not until recently that Iran has been totally open to the world and to let technology come in, so prior to that Iran stayed in the 80s, maybe 90s. But the films I have seen recently were very good in terms of sound. But you still need to be more creative, and I think it’s going to happen. I’m more than hopeful in that regard. I have some good friends, active in the industry, with whom I share a lot of ideas. Yeah, with the Iranian mentality you could do it easily, but you need a governing body to look at the market; what do we need, and then to define that format to know how comparable we should be with the rest of the world? By importing their movies or exporting the Iranian ones. Once you define your goals and then technically you follow that to match with it, and then the rest of the industry to match the standards and then you are doing something good. Otherwise, it’s almost like chicken without head. You run around, you bump into a wall and you go, “Oh, I hit the wall”, and you get sad, but that wall could just be a corner starting.
What are the potential fields of cooperation and possibilities for coproduction between Iran and Hong Kong?
There is almost no problem, but it’s a matter of cultural difference and the religious differences. After all, a film needs investment. Form our end, a lot of investors look for more than art. They want to know how they can make their money back. So they implement some commercial elements and each production should be in accordance with them. So it’s a bit difficult to make it work in both sides, but it still can be done. We need to look for ways and it takes a bit of study, I would say. The Iranian box office is not in a level that you need to invest a lot. And it’s all about investment. For technical advancement you need money as well. Without that sustaining market or box office, no matter what you do, it is not going to happen. You can lose money for one year, two years, what about the third year? And I think that’s very similar to Honk Kong’s pervious experiences. It’s difficult to cover, but once you know what to do, for example, in terms of coproduction, let’s say, we coproduced with China. We shot scenes in there which were not being shown in here, but you got the Chinese market. We tried to make it that way. And there may be other ways too, but you need to start doing that, to find a way that works for everybody.
What do you think about the themes the Iranian cinema focuses on?
To me, a film is all about letting the audience have 90 minutes, 120 minutes of get away so they can relax. So if you keep giving them the agony they’re already associated with that won’t help. It might be very artfully presented, but the audience sometimes needs sadness, sometimes they need to laugh. Why can’t we give them variety? Like action films, like Cameron. I admire him, because he made The Total Recall, he made lots of action films and then he did this Titanic, a love story. From age 6 to 80, they all love it. It gets into your heart and then his animated film Avatar, which gives a new dimension rather than focusing on the problems you’re facing every day.
The 34th edition of Fajr International Film Festival is being held from April 20th to April 25th, 2016 in Charsou Cineplex, under the supervision of the well-known Iranian filmmaker, Mr. Reza Mirkarimi, who is also the Managing Director of Khaneh Cinema.