Movie Talk – Tomy Wai


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Life of the Film Music Composer New!


For the first time since 'Movie Talk' was launched in 2013, the Hong Kong Film Archive is shining a spotlight on a film music composer. His name is Tomy Wai.

Every piece of music has a prelude. Tomy Wai's musical life began with a cassette tape of music by Japanese musician Kitaro. The experimental new-age music led secondary student-aged Wai into a realm beyond reality. After graduating from school, Wai worked at a large chain music store (so he could freely play instruments when there were no customers around). What he did not expect was that he would become friends with his musician customers, form bands and participate in multiple major music festivals.

Like a variation in a piece of music, Wai had his encounter with films in 1993, composing the original score for Crazy Hong Kong (1993). Afterwards, he collaborated with Tats Lau on Temptation of a Monk (1993). It was a film set in the Tang dynasty, where culture of the East and West clashed. There was even Central Asian and Russian music at that time. 'The Tang dynasty was so much fun, so we shouldn't be so conservative, either.' They boldly avoided the usual musical style used in period war films, going as far as using primitive human screams during the Xuanwu Gate Incident scene. The astounding result earned them the Best Original Film Score prize at the 13th Hong Kong Film Awards.

Wai has now been in the industry for nearly three decades and worked on over 150 films. In 2011, he once again won Best Original Film Score at the Hong Kong Film Awards, for the score he co-wrote for Gallants (2010) with Teddy Robin. He is also the Chairman of the Hong Kong Film Composers' Association, an organisation that promotes exchanges with the film industry, protects intellectual property rights of film scores, and nurtures future generations of film composers. A composer who insists on remaining 'canned music-free', Wai refuses to use existing compositions or others' original compositions. He believes that 'original music composer is absolutely not music editor', working hard to uphold the proper status of 'original score'.

Wai once said that film directors do not necessarily have to use musical vocabulary when explaining a film, but they must know the emotions being conveyed by every actor and in every shot. His job, in turn, is to translate them into music.

In January's 'Movie Talk', Wai and his close friends will visit the Hong Kong Film Archive to talk about the films he chose to showcase, and share with audiences the masterpieces that inspired him.

The contents of the programme do not represent the views of the presenter. The presenter reserves the right to change the programme should unavoidable circumstances make it necessary.

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