Filmmakers angry over Hong Kong prop note crackdown
- Published: Jun 25, 2018, 6 AM
Hong Kong is being criticized for the conviction, albeit with suspended sentences, of two film industry employees for the crime of preserving “counterfeit banknotes,” or movie prop money used in a recent movie.
Variety, the New York Times, and Hong Kong’s Free Press and Apple Daily each reported the May 31 court decision. The prop money was used during the filming in 2015 of Trivisa, a crime thriller that won five awards, including for best picture at the 2017 Hong Kong Film Awards. The film’s plot line includes smuggling and the bribery of corrupt Chinese officials.
The two men, both well known in the industry, were found in 2015 with over 230,000 prop notes in Hong Kong and U.S. dollars and other currencies. One of them, Cheung Wai-chuen, is the owner of the prop firm.
Apple Daily said that although the notes had the words “props” printed on them in English and Chinese, the magistrate ruled that they looked too good. She said that “nobody could rule out the risk of people stealing these fakes and using them as real money,” and ruled that the defendants did not secure the required permits for storage and transportation.
The Federation of Hong Kong filmmakers said on May 31 that the conviction was unprecedented in the history of the global film industry, and that it questioned the future of the film industry in Hong Kong.
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On Monday, June 18, the South China Morning Post reported that an official of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority could provide samples of replica bank notes that can be used as props in the future and could “help production crews navigate red tape when applying to use counterfeit cash in films.” Monetary Authority deputy chief executive Howard Lee said he was working “to facilitate the operation of the film industry.”
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