As a freelance writer I am asked to write “free samples” a lot. Even though sometimes prospective clients are legit, and they end up offering me wonderful writing opportunities, a scarily large number isn’t. Quite often, scammers take my work for free and disappear.
This morning I was asked to pass a 2-day test to be considered for a writing job. The “test” was in 3 stages and, amongst other writing tasks, asked me to read a 200-page academic book on Philosophy, and then write a 5-page summary of the book. For the life of me I can’t imagine why a Marketing agency would ask writers for such a long, academic article.
Below is a sample I wrote a while ago for a travel and lifestyle blog. This sample landed me a gig for the Culture Trip, which was an overall positive experience. So, I guess not everyone who asks for a free sample is a fraudster.
But still, it makes me sad how vulnerable and susceptible to exploitation freelance writers are .
In the early 80s and throughout the 90s, in the dawn of major political changes, the Hong Kong film industry experienced unprecedented cultural proliferation.
This change was part of the wider “East Asian Miracle” which brought about increased cultural production in the region, divulging the need to define Hong Kong identity. In the decade heralding the 1997 handover to China, came an increased interest in the colony’s affairs, as well as the Cantonese language and distinct culture.
A new wave of triad films were made in Hong Kong featuring fast-paced action scenes in the city’s busy streets. The following three films bring together gangster narratives and Hong Kong urban imagery, while they are inextricably intertwined with the city’s colourful cultural identity.
Young and Dangerous (1996): A true 90s classic, Young and Dangerous and its five wholesome sequels became a popular tv series. A mishmash of action and comedy, the film follows the lives and adventures of young and hip Triad members that dream big in the streets of Hong Kong. Andrew Lau’s Young and Dangerous is an entertaining film which nonetheless does not go overboard with gangster violence. It gave birth to the “Triad Youth” genre which stylized “Triad boys” lifestyle, and made youth around the world dream about Hong Kong adventures.
Election (2005): On a different tone, Johny To’s Election has been dubbed “the Godfather” of Asian cinema. A true gangster film for those who love the original genre, Election, peruses the Triad hierarchy, and examines its customs and laws with crude bluntness. Hong Kong triad members are summoned to elect a new chairman through a “democratic” election, which sparks lethal rivalries between its two main contestants, Lok and Big D. This is a film that scrutinizes the conflicting elements of ancient religious beliefs and traditions with modern Triad lawlessness and raw violence. A fascinating contradiction, just like the city of Hong Kong.
Infernal Affairs (2002) Tony Leung’s Infernal Affairs narrates the heart-rending story of an idealistic police cadet who infiltrates a triad with the purpose of exposing its secret dealings with the police. The brave man risks his life to nose out the “mole” in the Hong Kong police department.
Does the story ring some bells? That’s right, Martin Scorcese’s “the Departed” bears a chilling resemblance to the original Hong Kong film. Tony Leung’s 2002 film (it took two sequels to tell the whole story) is a fast-paced, stylish cop drama that delivers great performances by its main characters. But unlike Scorcese’s version, most of the action takes place out on Hong Kong’s busy streets, crammed shops, vertigo inducing high-rises and cramped Tsim Sha Tsui blocks. A real treat to watch for those who love the city.