Good Lab interview: Rija Ménagé on making good tools for film makers

Rija is a software developer who works on building tools to simplify film maker’s life. He joined Good Lab after quitting his job at BBC earlier this year and has been focusing on tool development ever since. Here comes the interview. Enjoy 🙂

保持一份好奇心

GL:先簡單介紹一下你自己啦。

Rija: 我其實經常將自己看成是世界公民(citizen of the world)。我在馬達加斯加出生,在法國長大,其後又到英國工作了九年,現在又來到了香港。 其實中間我也有去過很多地方旅行, 每次其實都是在嘗試走出舒適圈, 把自己放在一個與平時的經歷非常不一樣的世界去體驗他者的生活和文化。 很多時候我們以爲他者與我們非常不一樣, 但事實上只要我們敢於跳過那道屏障, 就可以看到魔術一樣美麗的世界。

GL: 是什麼樣的魔術把你帶到了香港?

Rija: 我大學讀的是計算機, 90年代末的時候, 我加入了一家做在線視頻直播的公司, 但是由於當時的寬頻速度有線, 公司沒有太大的發展。 再後來我去了英國, 加入了BBC, 爲Creative Archive這個項目做技術開發。 這個項目的構想在當時是非常前衛的, 我們把BBC的檔案影像和音頻放到網上, 讓所有人得以基於此進行二次創作。 後來, Creative Archive也成爲了Creative Commons的創始會員。 我在BBC一共呆了九年, 後來因爲我發現自己對影像製作的興趣大於對已經製作好的視頻進行推廣(distribution)的興趣。 正好在那個時候我來香港旅行, 並且在這裏認識了一位電影導演, 進而瞭解到電影製作人所面臨的種種難題。 於是我想到也許我可以開發一套工具, 幫助電影製作人簡化他們的工作。 於是我決定辭去BBC的工作, 搬到香港, 並且全職專注於這樣一個工具的開發。

電影製作可以再簡單一些嗎

GL: 目前你是只有一個人在做開發嗎?

Rija: 是, 目前只有我一個。 這個是做軟件開發的好處, 你可以一個人就完成所有的事情。 不過這也是壞事。 因爲我擅長的是軟件開發, 而不是各種行政方面的雜務。

GL: 你是怎麼瞭解到電影製作人的需求的?

Rija: 我跟很多香港本地的電影製作人交談過, 他們很多時候也是希望能夠有個工具, 幫助他們更好更方便的將電影製作所需的各種材料匯集到一起, 以更直觀的方式呈現出來。 另外就是我嘗試在這個正在開發的系統裏加入一個按鈕, 讓年輕的製片人可以非常容易將自己製作好的影片提交到不同的電影節。 這個過程其實我花了很多時間去參加不同的電影節和電影社羣的交流活動, 跟行內人交流了很多, 也因此而越來越清楚他們最需要的是什麼。

天台種菜尋快樂

GL: 你一個人在香港創業會遇到什麼困難嗎?

Rija: 主要的困難還是在於我自己一個人要處理一家公司的所有事情。 另外語言也是一個難題, 我幾年前學過普通話, 不過來到香港還要學廣東話。 而因爲不會本地語言, 很多以廣東話爲主的電影活動我都無法參加。 不過幸運的是有像Good Lab這樣的地方, 讓我可以有一個非常漂亮和舒適的環境可以工作, 也有機會認識很多不同領域的人, 甚至是在這裏辦活動。

GL: 我知道你10月底在Good Lab辦了一次都市農耕工作坊, 可以分享一些這次活動的故事嗎?

Rija: 事緣我最近開始迷上了都市農耕(urban farming), 主要是希望可以吃得到沒有毒, 同時又不需要額外的包裝以及帶來最低碳排放的食品。 而都市農耕可以說是實現此目的的一個最佳辦法。 上週日的活動有17人參加, 大家對此的興趣讓我非常興奮。

always curious

GL: Please introduce yourself first.

Rija: I am Rija and I am a citizen of the world. I was born in Madagaskar, grown up in France and then worked in UK for nine years before coming to Hong Kong. I travelled a lot, and each time I travelled, it was like going out of my comfort zone to see the life and culture of people in the world. Many people see a barrier between themselves and other culture, but as soon as you go out and embrace it, it would be like magic that gives you a whole new interesting world.

GL: And what was the magic that brought you to Hong Kong?

Rija: I did computer science in college, after graduation, I joined a company which specialized in online streaming. But it was early days of the Internet and bandwith was quite a limit. The company failed, and I moved to UK and joined BBC. I became part of the Creative Archive team in BBC, which was an initiative to put BBC archives online for people to watch and to remix. That was before the Creativecommons. I worked there for nine years, and then I realized that I have a bigger passion for film production than distribution. In 2011, I travelled in Hong Kong and got to know a film producer here, through the conversations with her, I learned about all the difficulties they face. It inspired me to start my current project, which when realized would be a project management tool for film producers to make their life simpler. In June this year, I quit my job at BBC and moved to Hong Kong to start focusing fulltime on the development of this platform.

Film production is too complex, let’s fix that

GL: Are you alone for this project?

Rija: Yes, I am by myself now. But as with any software project, you could do it even if you are just one person, but the challenge is to manage all the other miscanllenous tasks which i do not like.

GL: How do you learn what film producers want?

Rija: I’ve talked to many local film producers in Hong Kong. Many of them hope that there could be a tool to help them manage the process of production better, and that is what I am tackling. The other thing is to introduce a button in the system so young producers could just click and submit their films to different film festivals. I learned about these things from participating in many different film events and talk to people who are doing it.

GL: Are there any challenges running your startup in Hong Kong?

Rija: The main challenge is to manage all this by myself, which I’ve mentioned. And language is also an issue. I learned Mandarin while I was still in UK, but I believe I need to pick up on Cantonese as well, now that I live here. Being unable to speak the local lanagueg is a huge barrier for me, because I could not attend those film workshops conducted in Cantonese. But fortunately, I could work in a space like the Good Lab and get to know people from different backgrounds and even organize my own events here.

urban gardening in Hong Kong

GL: So I know that you are organizing an Urban Farming Workshop at Good Lab. Tell us more.

Rija: Oh yes, I became interested in urban gardening more recently, because I want to have food that is safe, does not need unnecessary package and carries zero or low carbon footprint. And urban gardening is a very promising solution, I was surprised and happy to see 17 people at our event last Sunday.

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