|Casual fans of Hong Kong cinema may not know of Dora Ng (Ng
Lei-Lo) and what she does. Even I didn't notice it at first
except that she kept popping up in every movie's credits and
awards list. Costume/Make-up Designer is her choosen profession
and through movies such as Comrades, Almost A Love Story, Golden Chicken, Peace Hotel, Purple Storm and Gorgeous, Dora has established herself as one of
the top names in her field.
First, tell the readers a little about yourself and what made you embark on a career as Costume/Make Up Designer on Hong Kong movies?
I studied Fashion Design and Clothing Technology at Hong Kong Polytechic University. Upon graduation, like all graduates at the time I wanted to land a job as a fashion designer at some fashion company. However, I heard of a movie production company called Golden Harvest seeking a Costume Designer and that marked the beginning of my career in the entertainment business.
Has this interest always been in you or in your family, this is what you set out to do?
My interest has always been the trends in fashion and to make everyone look their best. That thought process led me to choose my major at HKPU. However, being a Costume Designer, as I described, in the movie business is not something I set out to do.
(actress Josie Ho in one of the cool hood jackets created for Purple Storm)
Anyone in particular you can cite as an inspiration during your first steps and along the way?
Mr. Yee Chung Man, who directed Anna Magdalena, is someone who always inspires me as I grow in this career.
Credits for movies you've worked on sometimes credit you as Costume/Make-up Designer and other times only mentioning the Costume responsibilities. Does does two duties go hand in hand or were you taking on less workload on some films?
The responsibilities do go hand in hand. The on-screen credit may differ from movie to movie though.
What would you consider to be good costume design? For someone not very knowledgeable about this aspect of moviemaking, spontaneously I think that the best one you don't fully notice. I.e. that you're very involved in a story and not staring at costumes for the entire running time. Obviously period movies are going to be admired for the wear but it's important, in my mind, to at least strike a balance between story and the visuals that include costumes.
I would agree with your statement.
(Takeshi Kaneshiro and Kelly Chen in Anna Magdalena)
You've obviously had the opportunity to work on smaller and big projects (everything from Love Is Not A Game, But A Joke to Gorgeous) in a variety of genres but what truly is the most exciting and rewarding genre to work on in your opinion?
The most exciting and rewarding genre is the big drama projects.
How much during a production does a Costume designer work with the director?
100% of the production because we are both creating the characters throughout the entire production.
How's the availability of people of your profession in Hong Kong? Seeing as your name pops up in every other film I review, one might think you're the only one!
The availability of costume designers are plenty in the movie business in Hong Kong. However, you've only seemed to come across the films I've worked on so far!
How much of a film fan are you yourself? Any particular genre, directors and actors you admire, both in Hong Kong and in World cinema?
I am a more of an average film fan. The directors I admire are Wong Kar-Wai and Peter Chan and in foreign cinema, Pedro Almodóvar.
(perfect example from Comrades of being immersed in characters rather than their appearance in clothes and make-up)
The film where your talents finally sunk in for me was Peter Chan's Comrades, Almost A Love Story. Again, going back to design that doesn't draw attention to itself, I think the film is effectively subtle in that regard. 10 years of aging in appearance and clothes doesn't seem to require much but I'm sure there was much thought put into the decisions made. How was your experience on that particular film and did it present a greater challenge because of the aging aspect?
My experience with this film was a challenge in a sense that we really did not want to have a particular time constraint for the movie as a love story. The director Peter Chan, art director Yee Chung Man and myself wanted this to be a soft flowing all time love story and , as you described, subtle. Therefore, thoughts into clothing decisions didn't seem to require much.
The team behind Comrades also got reunited in the Peter Chan directed segment of Three, Going Home. What was it like reuniting with that very creative team of people? Only thing missing to make it fully like the Comrades set would be Christopher Doyle acting and Maggie Cheung playing Leon Lai's wife (not to take anything away from Eugenia Yuan).
It is a close and warm feeling working together as a team again. All of our creative juice really flow well together which makes it so much more fun to work together again.
(Eugenia Yuan as the dead wife in Three: Going Home)
It's hard not to notice the various awards and nominations you've received. How much does that recognition mean to you?
Everytime when I got nominated or received an award, it gave me a landmark and a desire. A desire to push myself to work even harder and improve my work.
We certainly look forward to seeing and appreciating more of that work. Good luck in the future and Thank you for your time!
So Good... would like to thank Dora Ng for being kind enough to take time out of her busy scheudle for this interview.