An actuary turned actor, Derek Ting had the guts to push himself out of his comfort zone five years ago when he created what is now known as “Supercapitalist”, a Hong Kong based financial thriller with an all-star cast. Shot in New York, Hong Kong, and Macau with a modest budget, the story revolves around an unconventional New York hedge fund trader who gets posted in Hong Kong for an assignment that swirls out of his control. Through this interview, Derek clues us in on how he transformed an idea into reality, and also shares his secret hideaways around Hong Kong.
Written by Gillian Chu Photography by Joyce Yung
RAW: What made you decide to produce a movie? DT: The thought did take a while to grow on me. I had a pretty standard upbringing—I grew up in the suburbs near New York and studied actuarial science at Cornell. Working as an IT Manager in New York during 9/11 got me redefining my priorities, so I decided to pursue my college dreams and went off to become an actor. Initially I began producing martial arts films, which was way harder than I would have ever imagined. But everything has its reasons and through that experience I gained a better grasp of film editing and even found myself rubbing shoulders with other filmmakers in the city. I never lived in Hong Kong before and I was totally intrigued by how the expats and the wealthy families here lived—I would say that this curiosity formed the blueprint of Supercapitalist. I worked with CNN as a producer here for several years, where I fine-tuned my writing skills as well as gained my local media connections.
A year before the global financial crisis caught on, I was inspired by Matt Damon, who as an actor wrote “Good Will Hunting”, and I began writing the script for Supercapitalist. I would say that each step I took basically led to another. If I never began pursuing my dreams as an actor, I would never be where I am now. If there is one take home message from this interview, it would be to follow your heart and turn your dreams into a reality. RAW: How much of the script reflects the reality of the financial profession? DT: I hang out with bankers a lot so I got to know their interests and lifestyles pretty well. I visited hedge funds back in New York and enlisted Young Cho, a college friend who also happens to be an ex-Citibank trader, to help construct an accurate financial plot that is complicated enough so that even bankers would have a hard time following the twists and turns. After all, it is those who work in the financial industry who is usually most interested in watching financial thrillers,