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Stuart Smith

Si nous aimons rire d'un certain cinéma déviant, nous sommes très loin de mépriser les hommes et les femmes qui s'y sont impliqués ou compromis. Il nous a ainsi paru enrichissant de faire raconter le nanar et son univers par les gens qui l'ont vécu de l'intérieur. La diversité des intervenants et de leurs réponses nous a rendu encore plus proches du cinéma que nous aimons : vous découvrirez, au fil des entretiens que ces différentes vedettes ont bien voulu nous accorder, des informations précieuses pour le cinéphile et le cinéphage, des anecdotes cocasses et, en esquisse, le portrait attachant de personnages souvent hauts en couleur.
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Stuart Smith (page 3)

Mike Abbott told us that at that time, the policy was "if you work for IFD, don't work for Filmark" and "if you work with Filmark, you don't work with IFD". You did movies for "both" companies though. You can be seen (masked and uncredited) in “Code name Ninja” and (playing the lead) in “Ninja in the killing fields”, which were apparently directed by

Godfrey Ho under various aliases (“Victor Sears”, “York Lam”...Was he IFD and Filmark’s only director at the time? ) In fact, we believe those "2" companies were just one and pretending to be rivals. We know they had their offices in the same building. Or maybe the 2 split after some grudge : would you have some background info about that? Did you hear about the 1996 fire in which Tomas Tang is said to have died? Do you know if Filmark "stole" that brilliant filmmaking technique from IFD?

Yes, Mike is correct, there was an unwritten rule in the business that if you worked for one Company then you couldn’t work for the other. I’m not really sure how I managed to move between the two. My theory at the time was that if you were prepared to pay my salary then I would work. Simple as that. They both wanted me, and so I ended up working for both. There was no exclusivity as far as I was concerned.

They were certainly two separate Companies’ and I think that your supposition that they may have been one company, at one time, may be correct. People were always falling out in the Hong Kong film business and going off to start their own production houses.

I can't remember Godfrey ever directing Filmark movies to be honest with you.

Tomas Tang was normally on the set, but with someone else directing from memory. Unsure who this exactly was. There was alot of copying going on in the Hong Kong film industry in general and I would guess that this is what happened with the "technique" from IFD. At the end of the day it was a way of making money rather than creating anything authentic or creative.

I did hear about the fire, after the fact, but have no knowledge as to what actually went on.

Nothing would surprise me however!

Bruce Baron told us “the Triads were heavily infiltrated into the HK movie industry” and that on IFD films, “the crews were among the roughest and most dangerous [he has] ever had the ill fortune to work with, with a lot of low level triad thugs moonlighting as grips”. Would you have any comment about the possible links between IFD / Filmark companies and Hong Kong syndicates?

Triad member’s have always proliferated in the Hong Kong film industry to my knowledge.

IFD was, I guess, no different. I had met a lot of these people both inside and outside the film industry and had always got along with them. I have a healthy respect for organised crime figures, be it in Asia or the West. There’s a certain camaraderie amongst them, and once you knew the rules and the position of people you were dealing with, then everything was fairly straight forward.

Having said that, I was in a very scary confrontation with some low level members when I first arrived in Hong Kong, so I learnt pretty quickly!

You appeared as an extra or did have bit parts in movies like Ronny Yu's “Legacy of Rage“ (1986), with Brandon Lee, Michael Wong and Bolo Yeung, "Bloodfight" (1989) with Simon Yam and Bolo Yeung again or Ringo Lam's “Undeclared War” (1990), with notably Danny Lee. That is to say directors and actors incarnating the golden era of the HK film industry. The shooting conditions and the way / methods of working – not to say the level of the fight choreographies, stunts, acting and directing – must have been quite different from what you have experienced with Godfrey Ho. Could you elaborate? Is there any reason why “Undeclared war” is the only movie for which you are credited under your full name?

Stuart Smith in "Legacy of Rage"

Well it’s true to say that working on bigger budget movies meant a better quality of movie, but still far short of what I had been doing back in Australia. It was a pleasure to work and hang out with Brandon Lee and his friends from L.A. on the set of “Legacy”. He was struggling with the expectations of him, as his fathers’ son. I mean who could compete with Bruce Lee!

Brandon was a fine young actor with a lot of martial arts experience, but could never be, and never wanted to be, his father. That was my impression of him anyway. The tragedy of his death on set just reinforced that for me, and like the deaths of many fine young actors before him, it’s a case of what he might have become that lingers.

The role in “Bloodfight” I picked up by chance, and filming all over Hong Kong with some well-recognised stars was pretty cool.

At the time I filmed “Undeclared War” I thought of it as my first “decent” Asian film so I used my full name on the credits. Unfortunately it didn’t live up to expectations.

One trivial question : did you or the credits shorten your name for anonimity's sake of for another reason? In some films you are credited as "Stuart Steen" or even "Stuart Smita". Is there a reason for that?

Well my “arrangement” with both Godfrey and Tomas was that my full name was never to be used on any credits in any film, and I thank them both for that !

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