OCTOBER 28, 2022
CHN | 19 minutes | 2021
Sci-fi short film directed by Kent S. Leung
Starring Kent S. Leung, Kimberley Wong
Chinese title: 死刑犯
It’s the year 2025 and Max aka Inmate 0713, one of the greatest drug kingpins of the decade, is about to be served his last meal moments before he must serve his death sentence. But Max, a brilliant criminal mastermind, has got one last ace up his sleeve.
CineAsian Films (CAF): What was the inspiration behind Death Row?
Kent S. Leung: The dialogue is adapted from a very long monologue originally from a classic Chinese TV show called Black Ice, which I came across while looking for mandarin study material during the first covid lockdown. I quickly fell in love with it because, although not absolving a criminal from guilt, provided a new perspective on the psychology of criminals. Coming from a background in psychology it was right up my alley. I also love science fiction so when I decided I wanted to adapt it into a short film, it was only natural for me to design and adjust the narrative to the one I depicted. Personally, I think technology similar to that in the Matrix will be invented in just a matter of time, and I find it fascinating how such technology could be applied to other industries or aspects of our daily lives.
CAF: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced during production?
Leung: This was 100% a film shot during Covid. But since I’m sure we’re all tired of hearing about THAT stuff nowadays, I’ll skip over it. Our crew was tiny meaning we all had to “man” multiple positions. Although I have had experience as an auteur filmmaker, this was for sure the biggest workload I’ve taken on yet. Directing a film while acting is hard enough without needing to worry about all your dialogue being in your 3rd language, not to mention while no one in your crew spoke any of it.
CAF: What do you hope people can take away from watching this film?
Leung: I’d be lying if I said I had some profound and inspirational message I wanted to share or some noble cause I wanted to raise awareness for. I made this film to test myself and grow as a filmmaker. And considering in order to make this film I had to learn new skills and do things I’ve personally never done before, and in that vain, I feel I succeeded. But not without some regrets and key learning moments. For example, the structure is flawed and the film is an abject sinner of the “show, don’t tell” rule of good filmmaking. All that being said I just hope people enjoy the film! I hope I did the original writing justice in my performance as well as my filmmaking and that like me, people enjoy the new perspective taken on the subject of, “Why do people become criminals” and how our environment has a direct connection with the person we become.
CAF: Are you working on anything new?
Leung: Well about a month ago I wrapped up a collaboration with YSL for a Qixi festival promotion. Putting much of the lessons learned from Death Row to immediate use as I wrote, directed, acted in and edited that project. The full short film is currently available on my Youtube channel as well as my Instagram.
At the time of writing, I’m actually hosting a Discovery Channel travel documentary that will have me shooting until November. It’s an absolute blessing I get to see so many special places in China through this gig, especially considering much of China I have yet to travel to as a result of being born in and lived most of my life in Canada.
As for my next project, it is definitely brewing in my brain. Now with Death Row near the end of its run, I’ve already started brainstorming the next story I wish to tell. Although I don’t have anything concrete yet, I’m sure it will be science fiction in nature!
Death Row is one of the many great projects shared with CineAsian Films through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them, submit your project.
Director, Writer, Executive Producer, Editor: Kent S. Leung
Producer, Cinematographer: Milton Ng
Associate Producers: William Leung, Chris Cho
Music: David Diao Su
Also featuring: Ray Tat