Friday, May 2, 2014

Noble House (Mini series) - Pierce Brosnan (1988) - Stanley Bay, Hong Kong

This next location initially had me completely stumped because I just could not place it anywhere. Then along came my good friend Thomas to the rescue and identified it as Stanley Bay before the redevelopment works that removed the shanty town and moved the seafront several metres down the beach.

Anyone who is familiar with Stanley today would be astonished to see that Stanley Bay actually had a sandy beach at all - these days the promenade and playground by Stanley Main Street has encroached on pretty much all that was there and left a rather stony, rocky cove. In fact, pretty much all of those buildings you can lining the seafront are still there - it's just that they now have the Stanley Waterfront Playground in front of them.

The lower picture is looking west towards a shanty town called Ma Hang Village. Ma Hang occupied the coastal area that is now taken up by the *ahem* "reconstructed" Murray Barrack building and Blake Pier.

One of the great comments that came out of this original post over on my old Wordpress blog post was left by a former (anonymous) Policeman Inspector who was in charge of Stanley the day the film crew arrived. I've copy/pasted his comments below because they're worth preserving.

Stanley Boy Says:
Hi there. 
I was a Police Inspector in charge of Stanley Sub-division in the mid-1980′s. I was required to live in a quarter within the station during my term of office. I will never forget the day that the film company responsible for the making of Noble House “descended” on Stanley early one morning, with all their vehicles, and effectively took over the waterfront on Stanley Main Street. 
My people called me at the station and I remember rushing down to the location, getting hold of whoever was in charge from the film company, and giving them 10 minutes to get all their vehicles out of Stanley village. Many of the Stanley villagers were not best-pleased at having the whole street taken over by such vehicles as Pierce Brosnan’s trailer and goodness knows what. The film company were not happy but complied with my instruction. 
Incidentally the beach at that location, at that time, was NOT attractive. It was little more than an open sewer. It was very rocky and bore no resemblance to the rather more attractive Stanley Main Beach or St. Stephen’s Beach nearby. The “gentrification” of Stanley Main Street, including the pedestrianisation of the bar/restaurant area, and the elimination of the ghastly Ma Hang Squatter Area, (with its pig breeding activities), are some of the finer achievements of the HK Government. The reconstruction of Murray House and Blake Pier at that location is also commendable, in my opinion.
My memories (particularly of that period) were very happy ones! Obviously it wasn’t every day that we had an international film company descend on our peaceful little village and take it over, but it certainly livened up the place when it did happen. Problems involving filming at various public locations in Stanley were not uncommon, to the best of my recollection, and I often had to respond to complaints from the public regarding location filming.
The question of filming in Hong Kong is covered in detail on the following website: - website also covers the contentious issue of triad involvement in location filming.
To add some icing on the cake, Neil MacDonald, who regular readers will know from a while back and the great comments he left on this blog (worthy of their own post) was, coincidentally, a location manager for Salon Films, who helped produce the Noble House series and was also a policeman for a time. Here are his comments as well:

Neil MacDonald says:
Interesting comments from Stanley Boy… I probably know him as his time in the force would appear to coincide roughly with mine.  
I don’t know if anyone managed for the filming of Noble House, but I always informed the police when we were going to film in particular locations. But we would often deal with what was known as the Police Public Relations Bureau (PPRB) who were ‘supposed’ to let the relevant regions/districts/divisions know – as I knew they didn’t always bother, I would often seek out the appropriate divisional commander and inform them personally.
Also, I’d like to reply to Stanley Boy’s comments regarding people complaining about film units, though I can only speak for my film crews and shoots I was involved with.
We never parked in places where it obstructed people from going about their legitimate business; and if we did require a location which might affect their business we would ALWAYS negotiate with, and often paid them, beforehand. The people who complained the loudest and most often fell into two camps; either one, they were people who had tried to extort money from us by placing themselves in front of camera unless we paid them not to (I made it a matter of course that we refused), or two, they were hawkers, street vendors without licenses who felt their trade had been affected by our presence. I would say yes, we did sometimes cause traffic problems because of the number of vehicles we often needed, but that was often the reason we spoke to both the traffic police and PPRB beforehand.
With regard to triads – with some locations they were a problem, in the vast majority they were not. Though as is always the way with the Chinese, it’s really only ever about business. 
Many of the hawkers, street vendors etc. had ‘protection’ from supposed triad members – basically, they just paid the tough guys so they could conduct their illegal businesses uninterrupted. If we were filming street scenes, it would sometimes behove us to speak with the triads (and pay them) to ensure the street trades under their protection didn’t kick up a fuss or try to stop us filming. Rarely, if ever, did we put ourselves in a location which was DIRECTLY involved with a triad activity – prostitution and brothels, drugs and the dealers, that sort of thing. 
Only once did I have a serious problem with the gangs and that was when I was filming ‘Cracker’ for Granada TV. We were in and around Lockhart Road, on the streets, at night. All the bars were open. One of my HK-resident but American-born stunt guys became a bit of a dick and confronted a local triad who’d got in the face of Robbie Coltrane. 
I was shortly approached by two senior triad members who told me we were not going to be prevented from filming any longer and that it was better we stopped before they stopped us. I offered them HK$50k to carry on, which they declined; they weren’t holding out for money, they simply decided they didn’t want us there. So I wrapped the unit after just four or five hours filming. The British producers were livid, but then of course they didn’t understand… 
I spoke to the senior triad guys the following day, and arranged for us to return to complete the scenes the next day. No problems. And then he told me what the issue had been....That night had been a long-earmarked night in the triad calendar. Two top gangs had agreed to meet in a Wanchai restaurant to discuss who was going to have control over what area – and they were concerned an altercation between our film unit and low level ‘enforcers’ would attract the police to the area and they didn’t want that. So they shut us down. It was, after all, only business.
So there you go, a great bit of behind-the-scenes info and many thanks to everyone who participated. 


  1. Hello

    Stanley Boy here again...not sure what made me come back to this site, but if you are interested in hearing a few of my other reminiscences regarding filming in Stanley during the mid-1980's, please let me know!

    1. Hi Stanley Boy - everyone comes back eventually ;-), I (and many others, I suspect) would love to hear of anything you can share - it all adds to the colour and memories of these things.
      Many thanks