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No bubbles to burst

By Zhao Xu (China Daily)

09:21, August 28, 2012

Filmmaker Jay Hubert and actress Karen Mok have a profession - and perhaps great legs - in common. (Provided to China Daily)

American sees beyond the glamor in Chinese filmmaking, he tells Zhao Xu.

Ask Jay Hubert, a 34-year-old American who had previously studied cinematography at the Beijing Film Academy, about his most memorable experience working with a Chinese film crew, and the answer is well beyond any stretch of imagination.

"To be Karen Mok's nudity substitute," he says in his studio-home in northwestern Beijing, referring to the wide-smiling, long-legged Hong Kong beauty with whom he was on set during the making of the 2007 movie Lost Indulgence.

"There's this one scene of her in the bathroom sitting on a stool and bathing. The camera would be zooming in on her sensual, foam-covered long legs. So they wanted someone who's not only tall but also very white," he says. "The director looked around, looked at me, and called out 'Hubert!'"

"That was my greatest moment because I sacrificed for the sake of art," he says, in his typical joking, self-deprecating way.

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But how about the, um, leg hair?

"The scene was shot through an opaque glass door, so it didn't matter," he says.

However, that doesn't mean being "a hairy foreigner" hasn't cost him, well, more than a few hairs.

"My job title for that movie is 'film loader', which means, quite literally, opening the canister, taking out the film and taping it up onto the movie camera," he says. "Nothing hard, except that you've got to put your hands inside a bag and do it in the dark, because the film is light-sensitive."

One day, about a week after the first batch of films had been sent to Beijing for developing, Hubert was told that a couple of hairs had been detected on the initial few shots of the film. "They said to me 'Be careful'."

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