Interview Mei Ah

Interview HKVidÚo


You have recently acquired the rights for all the Chinastar and Ocean Shore movies. Will you re-release the movies that are alrady released by them?

It depends, Mei Ah has over 1000 titles and we need to review which ones we're going to re-release.

Some of your recent DVDs seem to have collaborations with Chinastar (like ROOT2, its cover has Chinastar logo). Did you work with Chinastar DVD team releasing new titles?

Actually we didn't have such collaborations. It's just that Mei Ah is the distributor and Chinastar is the filmmaker. We put Chinastar's logo there because of our respect to the filmmaker.

Will the 16/9 anamorphic image format become the standard for all your new products? And same question for double layer?

Mei Ah will try its best to enhance the quality of images in DVD, because of the keen competition and market expectation for good DVDs with reasonable prices. So we will go on making 16/9 format. But for the double layer, it really depends on the length of the film and its menu. We won't compulsorily make all DVDs having double layer.

Will you keep pairing 5.1 tracks with stereo ones?

I think 5.1 is the minimum standard for the recent market products. So we will keep using that.

What is the policy of Mei Ah about DTS tracks? Do you think it's a real advantage to have one on your DVDs Or do you think this added-value feature is not important enough yet?

Whether having DTS on DVDS or not, it really depends on the films themselves. For those with excellent sound effects like having scenes of explosions and thrillers, the addition of DTS is definitely an advantage, so Mei Ah will do it. But for non-action films, we don't see there's a need for having DTS added, because there're not much sound effects on them.

There are more bonuses on your recent DVDs. Will you keep adding as many bonuses for all your future releases?

We will try our best to add the special features, if we have the materials to make. But we also hope to focus the point to the film itself.

Will you re-release some old titles with new image, sound and some bonus?

We will try to re-release some old titles, but we have to sort them out from over 1000 titles. Every film has the possibility to be re-released, it depends on the sorting process.

Do you export a lot of DVDs? Are Europe, USA, Japan and Korea important markets to Mei Ah?

Actually Mei Ah doesn't export many DVDs, because we usually only have the distribution right of the films in Macau and HK, and the growth of DVD of other countries is not as fast as HK. The common way is to sell the licence right to other distributors of the countries. The reason for this is, for countries where English is not a common language, the movies have to be localized (making subtitles or dialogues), and it would be better for local distributors to do so because of the budget cost. Mei Ah has a greater export share in US/Canada market because our DVDs usually have Sino-English dialogues as well as English subtitles.

What do you think is the future of DVD for an HK company? An average selling price with few bonus (around 70-80 HK$), or an higher selling price (around 150-200HK$) with better technical quality and more bonuses (typically double DVD, special edition, etc...) ? Did you ever consider torelease 2 versions for some movies, with a cheap single DVD (for the HK market) and a more expensive double one (for export)?

For DVD in HK, the quality is good actually, and the price difference of DVD and VCD has gradually decreased. So I think DVD will replace VCD in HK in the future. But now the HK economy is not good, and the consumption is low. So VCD is still quite popular in HK.

But DVD is more desirable to audiences because of its better sound and image quality. Few years ago, the techniques of making DVD in HK were immature and we got very limited time for DVD productions. So DVDs before were like LDs in terms of quality. So Mei Ah would re-release some movies with enhanced technology and quality. And for DVDs since 2001, we have upgraded the quality and added special features. The selling price of a DVD in HK is below $10 USD. This price is very reasonable that actually it doesn't have a room to further lower the price.

Most of the bonuses on HK DVDs lack english subtitles. What will be the policy of Mei Ah about that? Will you add more english subs, or is the interest too small for it to be economic?

Mei Ah will try the best to do the english subtitles for all movies, but this depends on the distribution rights and the budget. For movie that we have the worldwide distribution rights, we will try to do make the english subs. But for those with the licence rights sold to other countries, the making of subtitles will be other distributors' job. Actually in the early stage, Mei Ah did invest 7 subtitles of different languages.

How long does it take to produce a DVD (average value from design to sale) ? Do you have a team per DVD, or do people share their time between several products?

The production time of a DVD depends on the menu and the amount of special features added. Normally it takes 2 weeks to complete the whole production cycle. But there's also exceptions, like the special edition of "In the Mood for Love", it took us 3-4 weeks to finish.

We have several people working on DVDs at the same time, like the design department does the menu part, technical teams do the quality enhancement, etc.

Did it happen already that the director or producer of a movie participate in the production of a DVD? Eg propose some bonuses, check if the image and sound are ok, etc... Do you think that later, it will become a common practice?

Actually it's quite a bizarre situation in making DVDs with the participation of HK directors/producers -- they don't usually take part in that with few exceptions. Some directors are co-operative in giving opinions or materials for special features (like Wong Ka Wai, he has participated in the making of special edition DVD of "In the Mood of Love"), but many of them don't involve in that at all. But since Mei Ah also acts as filmmaker, so now we would ask directors/producers of our movies to prepare materials for the DVD bonus. Otherwise, for films which are not produced by our company, we try any sources to get the extra materials for the features.

I think there would be an increase of such participation because of the increasing share of revenue from DVD sales. So we have to have more special features on DVDs and I believe directors/producers will involve more as a result

A lot of special editions propose audio commentaries of directors, actors, etc... Do you think it will become a common practice in HK also later ? Did you ever consider it and asked to some persons to record one for your DVDs?

There will be increasing importance for special features, as I have mentioned above. Actually, we did this in making the special edition DVD of "In the Mood for Love", as we have planned before. We will continue to do so in the future if the movies are our own productions, or we have the requests from the filmmaking companies and with the co-operations of the movie owners.

  • July 2002