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Siuyea Lo

Hong Kong is known as one of the most fast-paced cities in the world. Sitting across from us, LO Chun-yip (Siuyea), alumnus of Lingnan University, paused and thought for a moment, described himself in this way: " I am now calmer and moving at a slightly slower pace, which may have been my personality for a long time. For me, this lag is good. It gives me some space to think, especially in such a fast-paced place like Hong Kong."

Majored in film art in City University of Hong Kong, he acquired skills in craftsmanship and learned how to create films, however he delved into contemplating the deeper connotations and meanings behind films. As a result, he made the decision to pursue a Master's degree in Cultural Studies at Lingnan University. After gaining ten years of industry experience and directing multiple projects, he has recently turned his attention towards pursuing an acting career. As his film Time Still Turns the Pages is being released lately, Alumni Relations Team arranged a meeting with Siuyea at his studio to discuss his filmmaking experiences and his studies at Lingnan University.

Nurturing a Habit of Questioning Everything
It is crucial to possess an unwavering curiosity and a strong eagerness to explore new roles as an actor. The Master of Cultural Studies program at the University offers a comprehensive exploration of various humanities subjects. With core courses ranging from Perspectives in Cultural Studies to Critical Thinking through Popular Culture, Pedagogy and Cultural Studies, and Methods in Cultural Research, the program enhances Siuyea's innate curiosity. He pointed out that the program inspired him to consider different perspectives and fostered a habit of questioning everything. Whenever he encounters something new, he asks himself, "why?" "During classes, we learned many theories and discussed current social issues. This process taught me to continuously seek connections The learning experience during those years instilled in me a habit of seeking connections in social situations I come across in the news or on social media," he explained. He highlighted the importance of curiosity for actors to explore the world and, also embrace its diversity. This principle also applies to directors, who need an open mind to discover which aspects of the world are worth transforming into film works. He believed that this curiosity is beneficial for teaching as well. In September of this year, he returned to teaching and started instructing film courses at a higher education institution, reflecting on the teaching methods he learned during his Cultural Studies program.
Looking back on his time at the University, he expresses regret for not investing enough effort during his program. As a twenty-something, he juggled postgraduate studies, filmmaking, and multiple responsibilities right after completing his undergraduate studies. This period was overwhelming, and he even contemplated giving up his academic studies. However, he has kept the notes and articles from the program, intending to revisit them when time allows.
When discussing the renowned professors of the program, including Mr. Benjamin MA, Prof. HUI Po Keung, Prof. IP lam Chong, Prof. LO Wing Sang, Prof. HUI Shiu Lun, Prof. Lisa LEUNG, and Prof. DAI Jinhua etc., he proudly shares their names. "The newspaper columns during that era were dynamic, and our professors actively contributed to them. I hold a strong impression of our professors because they were a dedicated group of scholars deeply engaged with the society, serving as inspiring role models for our generation.”

Embracing New Possibilities on the Actor's Path
After graduating, he directed several independent films. In recent years, he has shifted his focus to acting and approaches any role with an open mindset. Unfortunately, a few years ago, the film industry, along with many others, was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This resulted in a substantial decrease in his workload, with only two films, namely Suk Suk and Time Still Turns the Pages, on his schedule. "In the past few years, my career path hasn't been particularly active in films or television. Even when I did participate, though people recognized me, I wouldn't consider myself truly active. During the pandemic, I was fortunate enough to be involved in several music videos, which were valuable learning experiences to me. I am delighted to have the opportunity to engage in performances across different mediums, whether it be television, music videos, or films."

After the release of Time Still Turns the Pages, Siuyea began reflecting on his past performances and discovered that he truly enjoys acting. He looks forward to exploring various characters in the future, aiming to avoid limiting himself. Each role is viewed as a fresh opportunity for experimentation. "A couple of years ago, after being nominated for 'Best Supporting Actor' for my role in the film Suk Suk, I was often asked about the roles I wanted to try. I actually wanted to portray the character of a young father. Although the characters in Suk Suk can be considered young fathers, due to the nature and length of the film, I didn't have much opportunity. I have been wanting to play the role of a young father because I feel that stage of life has passed for me (in reality). However, in the world of film, I can play characters in their late twenties or thirties and really experience that." When discussing demanding roles that diverge from his own personality, he expressed that this thinking is different from when he worked behind the scenes. "When I worked as a director and conducted casting, I would search for actors who shared similarities with the characters. However, as an actor myself, the approach is somewhat distinct. There are occasions when I find myself playing ten similar roles in terms of personality or backgrounds, and that may not always be advantageous for an actor. Actors need a variety of roles to fully engage in life experiences and explore the possibilities."

Encouraging Juniors to Find Their Path
Studying film courses involves exploring diverse roles within the film production industry, including those of lighting designer, cameraman, director, screenwriter, production designer, gaffer, and many others. The industry offers a multitude of career paths to pursue. He believes that for positions like director, cameraman, and editor, which require a specific skill set, it is essential to genuinely enjoy the work in order to sustain a long-term commitment to it. He encourages young aspirants eager to enter the film industry to take the opportunity to try it out during their studies or within the first one or two years after graduation. After all, this industry is not renowned for its financial rewards, and if individuals cannot derive enjoyment from it, they may endure significant emotional hardship. He emphasizes that studying film or a related field opens up broader career prospects. As a result, he urges youngsters who engaged in the creative industry to consistently remind themselves to pursue their true passions and find what aligns best with their interests and abilities.

"Do you think that after studying directing for four years, you have to be a director for the rest of your life? Of course not. You have only studied it for four years, but you still have three or four decades in your life, during which you may likely engage in something related to it, and that something can truly have infinite possibilities." During certain events, he sometimes comes across youngsters studying film, and he responds warmly by saying "See you in the studio!" He believes that this simple gesture can provide them with encouragement and support.

Finding the "Right" Audience
When discussing the currently showing film in which he stars, he portarys Mr. CHENG, a class teacher of a high school who faced marital crisis while simultaneously attempting to support his students. The role demanded extensive preparation, as it required him to depict Mr. CHENG’s various internal struggles.

He stated, "When I first encountered the script, I really wanted to give Mr. CHENG a warm and big hug. Before filming commenced, I had numerous imagined conversations with Mr. CHENG, during which we exchanged personal experiences. These exchanges fostered a deeper understanding of ourselves. Right from the start, I could sense Mr. CHENG's emotional turmoil and the complex factors that shaped his character. There was his childhood regret, a burden he's been evading since the age of nine. He's sidestepped it for so long it has rendered him an emotional hollow. Then, during high school, he met Sherry, who later becomes his wife in the story. This relationship provided a pivotal emotional connection in his thirties, a time when he genuinely felt the warmth of being alive. Yet, he repeatedly missed opportunities with her. His job, too, presented its own challenges. As a teacher, he was expected to juggle various responsibilities with passion and dedication. However, his emotional wounds often left Mr. CHENG lacking the strength to fully meet these demands. Still, he had to maintain the facade of a caring teacher, despite his inability to engage genuinely with his students due to his overwhelming sense of powerlessness." He emphasized that truly portraying Mr. CHENG required him to deeply connect with the character's significant relationships and experiences. Even after filming, he had to gradually let go of these connections to fully detach himself from the character.

Time Still Turns the Pages leaves a profound sense of heaviness with most viewers. It seeks not only to find the right audience but also to encourage viewers to tend to their own emotions before caring for others. "In recent months, there has been a disturbing rise in student suicide rates. The release of this movie coincides with this pressing issue, and it aims to reach an audience that needs its message. It's not only for those contemplating suicide but also for parents, teachers, and students who are content with their studies." He hopes that after watching the movie, viewers will pay more attention to their mental health and the well-being of those around them.

Behind the Interview:
Alumni Relations Team first reached out to Siuyea in September of this year for inviting him to give a sharing session for the Department of Digital Arts and Creative Industries. We sent an invitation email to his representative and soon received a personal response from Siuyea himself. He graciously accepted the invitation and provide us his personal contact. Some time later, as the release of Time Still Turns the Pages approached, we thought it would be a great opportunity to invite him for an alumni interview. Despite his hectic promotional schedule, we asked if he could spare an hour for us. To our surprise, we received a prompt response from him that very evening, and the interview date was quickly confirmed!

On the interview day, although Siuyea had a cold, he was very gracious. He calmly and thoughtfully answered the questions. As in his previous interviews, he employed words with precision, and his answers were intriguing. We hope that in this tense and stressful life in Hong Kong, the movie's message will resonate with the audience, inspiring them to prioritize their own mental health as well as that of others. It reminds us a quote from Mr. CHENG in the movie: "I might not be able to help, but I will stay by your side."