Midnight Producers Part 5: Daniel Yu - The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman

This is the fifth in the ongoing series, Meet the Producers of Midnight Madness 2010

Let me introduce you to Daniel Yu, producer of The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman.

Daniel Yu is a well known producer and active member of Hong Kong's film and entertainment industry. In 1990, Daniel co-founded Team Work Productions with renowned actor Andy Lau. The company’s debut film Saviour of The Soul was commercially successful across Asia, and was awarded Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography at the 1992 Hong Kong Film Awards.

From 2004 to 2006, Daniel was Chief Operating Officer for Andy Lau’s Focus Films Limited. There he oversaw all films in which Andy Lau starred, invested and produced. The year 2005 was particularly fruitful for Daniel. He wrote and directed one of the Hong Kong box office’s top 10 of that year: All About Love, starring Andy Lau.

That same year, Daniel spearheaded and produced a series of films which achieved tremendous success at various Asian & International film festivals. Particularly notable was Crazy Stone by chinese director Ning Hao, which was praised as the most creative commercially successful film in China's history. Currently, Daniel holds the position of Senior Vice President for UnionVoole Technology, as well as Chief Executive Officer for Voole Pictures.

1) How much has the business of funding films in HK/China changed since the handover in 1997?
The climate of funding and financing in HK has changed significantly since the traditional markets for HK films has somewhat been taken over by the growing dominance of local films. After China granted HK films a status of local films that could be released in china outside of the quota system, it presented itself as a new key territory for HK filmmakers to show their films. Now with the increased number of screens and investors in China, China is a key territory not just for HK films but also major Hollywood films. In China, previously, most filmmakers focused on making art house films with the possibilities of winning awards as the exhibition sector was not mature but and the handful of filmmakers making commercial films, collaborated with HK film crews/ cast to make commercially more viable films. Now, filmmakers in china are reaping the success of the china economy by having investments, audience and cast to match those of the rest of the world.
2) Are films primarily funded by the government or are private investors approached?

In Asia (with the exception of Taiwan and Singapore), films are generally funded by film companies, private investors and commercial sponsors. In China, now city governments are coming on board to support film production but that is an exception and not the norm for most filmmakers. For art house auteur directors, a number of them still work closely with Europe to receive funding grants from European funds.
3) What were some of the difficulties in getting the film The Butcher, The Chef and The Swordsman made?

Wuershan being a very successful commercial director was one of the few directors that didn't have a track record yet to investors and distributors. The film he wanted to make is also is kinda fresh in approach and people are not sure if the vision he wanted to create would be achieved within the budget the producers were comfortable would recoup. Yet, though the shoot and budget kinda went beyond what was planned, things worked out well. We are happy to collaborate with a good team of cast and crew and now finally we are collaborating with fox international productions and Doug Liman on the film which is very exciting for all of us in the production to bring the film beyond Chinese audiences.

Here is the trailer:

The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman screens:
Thursday, Sept 16 11:59PM RYERSON
Friday, September 17 6:30PM AMC 6
Saturday September 18th 3:30PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 2

You can purchase tickets from the official TIFF website.

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