This book's publication originated from Jupiter's photo exhibition, while the exhibition originated from a photo series of some spirits running around town (film stills from Ann Hui's Visible Secret). By now, the image of Jo Kuk dressed up like a ghost sitting alone behind the glass window of a MTR cabinet has become a classic photo of Jupiter's. However, it's the colour of some other pictures in the same series that hit my heart most. Later I found out that such strong and captivating colours were done by developing positive films as negatives. Anthony Lau's horrible face in strange colours and Hui Ying-hung's ghostly face were magnified by such strong colours - scary, but attractive!.
As a result, organising Ann Hui's small retrospective programme brought me into Jupiter's photo world and soon I was inviting him to let me see his many others. I did not imagine that the ride could last 10 months long, and even more unexpected are the many interesting encounters and sweet surprises that follow.
Jupiter Resembles a Cat
Keeto Lam says Jupiter is a strange person, that he always has problems communicating with others. He notices that in the course of communication, Jupiter would sometimes treat him as a cat, and when he feels like it, he might even give you a squeeze on the neck.
I am lucky not to have such privileged treatment, but I did find some 'cat traits' of Jupiter while he was working. On the set of One Nite in Mongkok, I found that he was constantly switching in between two modes: 'split second movements' and 'serious concentration'. Like a big cat, he would climb up and jump down, he would move in a quick pace from here to there, snapping his shots as if in a big hunt. And if you saw him waiting with patience, he's all tense with energy, like a panther waiting for the rabbit to appear.
Jupiter knows that to make good takes he got to be 'drastic' and 'quick', so on a set you often see him running in lightning pace. As I always said, his stills did not come by without blood and sweat.
Each Photo is a Statement
Director Tsui Hark says each of Jupiter's picture is a statement; producer Tang Yat-ming says his photos not only record a film and its shooting location, but also embed Jupiter's mood at that time and space. Director Fruit Chan is even more direct, he says with a camera in hand, Jupiter would think of himself as a film director and his pictures are actually his own directorial creation. All the above observations crystallise into one remark: 'Jupiter is totally in love with film'. Such passion can be found in all his film images.
Be it a director, a star, a crewmember or a stunt man in his pictures, there is always something happening around his focus point. I particularly enjoy watching the eyes he captures on some stills - be they melancholic, passionate, worried, excited, happy or sad, there is always a story to tell from those eyes.
The Jupiter Travelogue
Maybe due to his unstable and mobile working schedules, and also because of the limited space in his apartment, the mission of watching all his photos seem impossible. His home is of course the primary station, but I soon found out that his photos were spread all over film studios in Kowloon and Hong Kong, depending on their sizes and in what way Jupiter wants them to be developed. Some big ones got stocked in other people's studios because he had no money to 'claim' them back; others need to be sent back from Japan (from previous exhibition) and mainland (because it's cheaper to develop photos there).
He got no bookshelves at home, but the big and small boxes plus his videotapes and books all stocked up into an amazing matrix in his home. I termed it 'an installation with characteristics of Jupiter'. There were 2R, 3R, F5R, 8R and up to 16x20, 20x30, 30x40 photos, some coloured, some black and white. At the beginning I used my notebook and my brain to try organising them, but soon I had to bring in DV cameras, digital cameras, photo scanner, and computer external hard disks to help.
Now that the book is ready to go to the print, I might have watched a few thousands of his works, but surely not all of his hidden treasures. Jupiter has selected a few hundreds for the exhibition, which is now divided into four areas: 'Behind the Scene', 'Fame in Frames', 'Catch That Moment' and 'Black, Grey, White'. The show will last for about 2 months in the Hong Kong Film Archive's Exhibition Hall. This photo album that accompany the show will actually release more photos than the exhibition, hoping to get a more comprehensive glimpse of Jupiter's creative works in the past eight years. I have invited a total of four writers to contribute articles to this album, and incorporated a full filmography of Jupiter's movie involvement. This task is real harsh since many crucial time and space are somehow lost down Jupiter's memory lane.
Heart Touching Moments
During the course of organising Jupiter's exhibition, there were some precious experiences that touched my heart. First is to be able to watch Jupiter's dynamic movements on the set; second is the chance to view so many passionate photos; third is the luck to meet and chat with many charming filmmakers and stars that help build our movie industry; last but not least, it's so touching to feel the love for Jupiter by all involved parties.
On behalf of the Hong Kong Film Archive, I would like to thank the following personalities who have allotted their precious time for me to conduct interviews: Ann Hui, Lai Ho, Shu Kei, Keeto Lam and Bryan Chang, who shared their views on Jupiter as a friend and working partner; directors Tsui Hark, Derek Yee, Fruit Chan and Cheung Chi-sing who had offered different approaches of looking at Jupiter's film stills; producer Fong Ping, Tang Yat-ming, Peter Chan and distribution manager Winnie Tsang who offered their views on the role of film stills as a promotional tool. I was also indebted to starlets like Cecilia Cheung, Karena Lam, Zhou Xun and Huang Jue for sharing their experience of having Jupiter on location. Special thanks go to art director Elbert Poon and Jupiter's photographer friend Wong Hung-fei, who gave me a lot of hint on Jupiter's way of taking pictures and how to appreciate his works.
I must also thank all the film companies who kindly provide the right to show and publish Jupiter's photos, exhibition design house I Concept Design Studio, the book's design house TomSenga Design, designers Steven Lo and Bede Leung, the printing company Friendship Printing Co Ltd and its boss Sung Shee-wu. Of course I owed a lot to our Archive colleagues, especially Law Kar, Ainling Wong, Bede Cheng, Cass Wong, Daphne Chan, Chan Wing-hang, Amy Kong, Candice Cheong, Jim Lau, Hung Yuen and Cheung Yu-ping.
The images of Jupiter, which have been haunting my dreams for some months now, would permanently occupy a portion of my memory. I'm very glad to have realised this project and to have some very good images in stock to download from my memory when desired.... So now, let me take this chance to say: Jupiter, my hearty thanks to you!