Hong Kong filmmakers and post-production professionals discussed the challenges that the territory faces in embracing 3D production at a Filmart conference on Tuesday (March 23).

In his opening speech, leading Hong Kong director Andrew Lau (Infernal Affairs) warned that Hong Kong needs to explore the technology to remain competitive, but that more expertise is needed and 3D production costs are three times those of a normal film.

“Everyone needs to take on this responsibility from scriptwriters and art directors to the special effects coordinators – we need to gain experience at both the production and post-production stages,” said Lau. “The question is whether we can make 3D films on a shoe-string budget – if we’re innovative and have good ideas, then perhaps we can.”

The two-day conference, “Hong Kong 3D Film New Action”, organised by Hong Kong post-production association AMP4 and various government agencies, includes panel discussions, workshops and presentations of upcoming 3D films.

A slew of 3D projects are in various stages of production in Hong Kong and mainland China, despite the fact that Avatar has set the bar extremely high. These include Lam Wah-chuen’s China Idol Boys, which is billed as the first Chinese-language live-action 3D stereoscopic film.

Lam described the film, which was released in China last year and flopped at the box office, as an experiment. “We’re on a learning curve – not only in the production stages, but distribution is also different for 3D.”

Other upcoming 3D projects, which are bigger budget and are expected to show improvements in local use of the technology, include the Pang Brothers horror film The Child’s Eye, produced by Universe Entertainment, and Filmko Holdings’ adaptation of Don Quixote, directed by Ah Gan and starring Karena Lam.

In addition, Hong Kongdirector and DoP Peter Pau is planning to direct a 3D action adventure White Snake, based on the Chinese legend, to be produced by Chui Po-chu (Kung-fu Hustle). John Woo and Terence Chang are also lining up a 3D project based on an ancient Chinese novel, Legend Of The Magic Bell, to be directed byKorea’s Kim Jonghak.