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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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21

Transformations and Tactics

The Production Culture of the Hong Kong Film Industry

Sylvia J. Martin

ABSTRACT

This chapter examines the production culture of the film industry of Hong Kong after its 1997 return to China. Drawing from anthropological fieldwork, I posit that the production culture cannot be separated from the larger cultural practices and social formations in which it occurs. Three recurring themes within the film community are examined: decline, flexibility, and marginal social status. The reasons for the industry's decline are explicated through an analysis of how flexibility is employed as a tactic by industry members, particularly for Chinese co-productions. I argue that the vaunted flexibility of the film industry is influenced by colonial and postcolonial discourse about entrepreneurship and neoliberalism and has in fact fragmented the collective power of Hong Kong film labor. Finally, I explore the industry's socially marginal status and illustrate the tactics deployed to transform the industry. These three themes illustrate the Hong Kong film industry's changing context within East Asia.

Across the Pacific Ocean from Hollywood, which is sprawled across Los Angeles, lies another film industry that also boasts a century-long history of commercial films and famous movie stars. That film industry – based in Hong Kong – came to be known, to industry insiders and film scholars, as the “Hollywood of the East,” on account of its high output of films, both for ...

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