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Wong Kar Wai favors Project House

Jet Tone manages director's favorite actors

HONG KONG — Wong Kar Wai has all his favorite actors in one house — Project House.

The talent management division of Jet Tone opened its doors in 1997 and has amassed an impressive roster.

“The idea was to create a boutique-style agency to source and develop projects for artists that we’ve had a long-standing working relationship with, such as Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Chang Chen and Carina Lau,” says Jacky Pang Yee-wah, COO and producer for Jet Tone.

The Project House roster ranges from new talent to stars as well as directors.

“We’ve been working with established actors like Chi Lam-cheung (“Kidnap”) and looking out for new talent in our region, such as Wing Fan (“The Best of Times”), who is starring in Wong Kar Wai’s new short film at Cannes, and Dong Jie (“Happy Times”),” Pang says.

The unit’s directing talent includes action helmer Stephen Tung Wei, who was martial arts choreographer for “Hero” and also worked as stunt coordinator on “2046.”

“In the last few years, we’ve brought some of the most exciting and ambitious projects in the region to our talent, such as ‘Infernal Affairs,’ Zhang Yimou’s ‘Hero’ and Ang Lee’s ‘Lust, Caution’ for Tony,” Pang says. “In addition, we’ve also sourced non-Chinese-language projects, like Kim Ki-duk’s ‘Breath’ for Chang Chen … which is premiering at Cannes.”

“Lust, Caution” has just wrapped, Pang says. Leung now is busy as the lead in John Woo’s megaproduction “Red Cliff,” which also will star Chang.

Leung is undoubtedly the star of Project House: He was the lead in Wong’s most celebrated films: “2046,” “In the Mood for Love,” “Happy Together” and “Ashes of Time” along with “Chungking Express.”

“In a way, we’ve shaped each other,” Leung says of Wong. “Our working relationship is a very collaborative process, so we’re constantly learning from one another. After working with him, I feel like I’m ready for anything.”

Parallels can even be seen in the personalities of director and actor. Leung is fiercely private and isn’t a man of many words when not in front of a camera. You can even sense he feels discomfort when making public appearances, just by his posture.

With the expansion of the Chinese market, Jet Tone is developing various projects, such as “Miao Miao,” which will star Wing Fan and be produced by Stanley Kwan and Pang.

The teenage-lesbian romance will be financed by China’s J.A. Media. New Taiwanese director Cheng Hsiao-tse is set to direct with a $770,000 budget.

Jet Tone also is developing other projects through its three-picture deal with Fox Searchlight; some of Project House’s talent is attached to those films, Pang says.

“We’re hoping these films can be their introduction into the English-language market,” Pang says. “At the same time, we’re also developing numerous projects along with our Asian partners for the Asian market.”

While Wong isn’t involved in the day-to-day operations of the agency, he does make himself available for input, Pang says.

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