7 iconic shooting locations to establish Hong Kong in your story
So many films have shaped our imaginary Hong Kong. Blade Runner, Ridley’s Scott’s vision for a dystopian urban future, was so impactful that our subconscious keeps looking for these rainy street food markets with neon lit umbrellas and towering hologrammed skyscrapers. Geisha cherries anyone?
It does not stop there. We grew up with Bruce Lee’s Kung fu movies, Batman and Lara Croft both flew over the famous skyline, Wong Kar Wai’s Chunking Express gave us blurry chases in the local Babel. And let’s not forget Ghost in the Shell for which Hong Kong’s dark city, the Kowloon Walled city, was an inspiration for Masamune Shirow.
Hong Kong truly is a destination favoured by film crews, and for good reasons. The one thousand square kilometres territory has a wealth of awesome locations: urban monster houses, skyscrapers and innovative architecture, but also, that is not said enough, beautiful natural landscapes. Shoot on a beach: yes can do.
One of our secret pleasures when we recce Hong Kong with camera crews is the sense of wonder we witness in their eyes and compulsion to reach for the lens. For these kids in a candy store, we call that “Visual orgasms”!
We know that establishing where we are is crucial to any film, TV show, TVC or documentary. So here are seven iconic locations that will scream Hong Kong to your audience to consider for your next shoot with our teams here at The Hong Kong Fixer.
1. Tsim Sha Tsui promenade
Ahh, the famous, awesome, Hong Kong skyline. Yes, it’s a bit cliché and, in many ways, it’s HK’s Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, Big Ben…. However, there is something special to that impressive view: it constantly morphs and evolves.
We’ve been in the city for 25 years and never tire of contemplating the waterfront harbouring the highest density of skyscrapers in the world (as of today, the whole territory counts 353 of them!). Hong Kong is without a doubt the “tallest city on earth”. Talk about a vertical horizon! And at night, it’s official, your DOP will not need any HMI or an Airstar… seen from space, TST is the brightest spot on earth.
2. The Victoria Peak
This is the reverse shot. From the top of the mountain of the great peace (Tai Ping Shan), one has an impressive feeling of concentration. Right there, below the jungle lies this amazing city, concrete and glass sticks stuck ad-nauseam, a pin-cushion of concentrated humanity slashed by the harbour, constantly crisscrossed by tiny vessels. If the classic awesome viewpoint feels too crowded for your video production team, why not ask The Hong Kong Fixer to take you around to an even more impressive and ideal sunrise shot?
3. Nathan Road
Also called the golden mile for its endless string of jewellery and luxury watch stores, catering to an endless stream of Chinese buyers, Kowloon’s Nathan Road is the gateway to what remains of the Neon city. True, most of the classic neon signs have given way to LEDs. However, there are still spots in and around where we will happily take you for a blue, pink and yellow glow on your protagonists’ faces. Plus, Nathan Road is home to the Peninsula hotel, Chungking Mansions and many other fascinating locations in the “dark side of Hong Kong”, as local expats use to call Kowloon.
4. The Star Ferry
A film shot in Hong Kong is incomplete without a ride on the iconic Star Ferry, which has taken Hong Kongers across Victoria harbour for over a century. We love the lower deck for it brings you closer to the waters of the Victoria harbour and the breathing, living diesel engine in the machine room below deck. Although we are very confident that a run-and-gun configuration is possible, but should the project require a larger shoot footprint, we at The Hong Kong Fixer are happy to help with the obtention of a proper filming permit. Simply ask one of our producers.
5. Statue Square
Central is the center of business life in Hong Kong, gathering the “feng-shui” energy flowing like the dragon down from the mountain towards the sea. No wonder bank towers surround Statue Square at its heart. Glass architecture sits next to history embodied by the 19th century neo-greco styled Court of Final Appeal. And the statues? No, they are not the bankers and office ladies crowding the streets at rush hour. All but one have been moved, most notably Queen Victoria’s now in Causeway Bay’s park named after her. Here in Central now only stands Sir Thomas Jackson, third manager of HSBC, or the “Black Man”, as he is known to the floods of Philippinas making this space theirs on Sundays. From pin stripes suits to colourful singing ladies, from kids hailing passers by for charity stickers to strings of red taxis, the area is sure to provide your video crew a harvest of establishing shots.
6. Sai Yeung Choi Street
Its Cantonese name evokes its long disappeared watercress fields, now replaced by a sea of shops and malls providing the throngs coming from Kowloon and the New Territories with their shopping fix. Here one can find everything: electronics, trinkets, books, vintage cameras, shoes… What our visiting DOPs always say is this: you’ll find plenty of light and you should plan for ND filters as at night this zone truly feels like daytime. Fancy a frame with full crowd, look no further than this location considered to have the highest human density on earth: 130,000 people per square kilometre!
7. Kick ass view point
This one is kind of a secret… contact our producers here to know more!