Josie Ho vows to master the art of calculated risk in the year 2019. As an actress and film producer, she is conscious of the choices of projects she makes: appearing in the new film by Japanese hotshot director Shinichiro Ueda, producing a new documentary feature while developing some 10 titles in the pipeline of 852Films, the company she co-founded and chairs. She wants the world to know that she dares to take risks for projects she believes in, but she is not to be taken advantage of, again.
She tells her story with new catchy rock tune “Shui Yu”, released just ahead of her band Josie & the Uni Boys’ April 6 concert The Classic Purple Psycho Experience. The song’s title, which literally means softshell turtle, is the Cantonese slang for people who always get taken advantage of, particularly financially. “It’s about me. It happens to me all the time,” Ho says.
“I’m the biggest gambler, yes,” says the actress-producer-singer, who, ironically is the daughter of Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho. “But I don’t gamble at the casino. I want to take risks, finding new projects and concepts that work. I’m still learning to become a producer from being an actress. But I hate to admit that these risks need to be calculated risks.”
Ho has produced acclaimed projects, such as slasher “Dream Home” (2010) directed by Pang Ho-cheung, which also won her best actress award at the 43rd Sitges Film Festival in Spain, and John Cameron Mitchell’s “How to Talk To Girls At Parties” (2017), which she said was an odd thing to do because she “only contributed to the project economically”. She wants to develop original stories and pursue projects that are independent and alternative to the mainstream, falling within a relatively small budget of HK$8 million ($1 million) to HK$15 million ($1.9 million).
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“Finding Bliss: Fire and Ice”, the first documentary feature film she is producing, certainly one of them. Shot last year in Iceland, the film trails Ho and her music friends’ journey of finding happiness following a course inspired by French theater legend Philippe Gaulier’s teaching. The film is in post-production and Ho is hoping to sell the project at FilMart.
Among the 10 titles Ho is developing, one is an alternative horror revolving around the Taoist rituals, which once dominated Hong Kong cinema back in the 1980s. “People in the west always ask me why we are not making films about these old Chinese rituals any more,” she says, aiming to create a ghost film for a global audience.