Filmmaker Uncovers Hong Kong’s Hidden Beauty in 7-Minute Trip Through the City

American filmmaker Brandon Li’s short film Hong Kong Strong is a not only a masterclass in filmmaking, the 7-minute feature also melds the art of drone photography with traditional handheld shots to create a dynamic sense of flow.

The film captures the madness and beauty of the city leading up to Chinese New Year and was shot over the course of a month when Li came to visit family and explore his own Chinese heritage.

Li wanted to convey the energy of living in a cramped city by incorporating hyperlapse footage, fast cuts, and a digitally engineered dolly zoom effect to disorientate viewers within the first minute of the movie.

“I thought it was really fascinating to see the different layers of the city, how it’s just so stacked together, how people are so compressed and how they find a way to exploit every single nook and cranny of space to their advantage.”

A lot of gear was utilised during the shoot, including the Sony a7R II, Sony a7S II, Sony a6000, Beholder DS1 gimbal, DJI Phantom 3, and DJI Inspire 1 + X5 camera. The final footage was edited entirely in Final Cut Pro.

The visual journey is split into a three act structure; Act 1 establishes the ride, Act 2 ventures into the city, and Act 3 centers around the traditional intricacies of the people and its culture.

Li ended up filming approximately 2 – 5 hours of footage each day, resulting in a staggering 1.7 terabytes of RAW footage. The final outcome is a visual love letter to Hong Kong combining the frenetic pacing of Vincent Urban’s In Japan – 2015 with the drone filming prowess of Tim Sessler and Brandon Bray’s Balance.

Li is a nomadic traveller and freelance commercial filmmaker for tourism and travel companies. To see more of Li’s inspiring video voyages, visit his profile page here.