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.
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.