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Korean director Jong-Chul Park and producer Yeun-Hee Chang

Monday 7 March 2011, by Abla Kandalaft

Jong-Chul Park is the director of the superb Unfunny game, which featured amongst the competition at this year’s Clermont Ferrand Short Film Festival.

Tell us a little about yourself

I have always wanted to make my own film and thus went to the cinema frequently. I started off as a runner at film productions in my early 20s, and wrote and directed my first short film which was screened at Spain Bilbao International Short Film Festival.

I work as a cinematographer in Korea of which my feature filmography
includes and . At the moment I am working on a period action feature (English title to be confirmed)

What films and what directors influenced you?

When I first started making films, I suppose I was deeply affected by the Taiwanese New Wave films such as by Tsai Ming-liang or by Edward Yang. I am a huge fan of the Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0327944/> for his works , <21 Grams>, and . He is great at showing how frightening and painful it can be when small everyday troubles collide with each other.

What motivated to direct Unfunny game? Is it based on someone real?

Normally people overlook a small problem even if it makes them feel angry. I feel strongly about all concerns whether small or big, and I believe small issues add up to make up the big picture.

is based on what I have actually experienced. I ordered a pair of jeans online and paid to get them adjusted, but it was done terribly. I fought with the tailor and wandered around from places to places and asked myself what I did wrong to deserve it. I suddenly felt sorry for myself when looking for a new place to go with yet another pair of jeans in my hands. Feeling enraged and irritated, I wrote the first draft in a day and went into production.

How did you cast the main actor?

I had originally casted Sam-Dong Song, who played the main part in the Korean feature , as the hero in . But due to personal reasons he had to pull out and Seong-Il Park who was to play the role of the Friend stepped in two days before shooting. Sam-Dong ended up playing the Friend instead.

We had rehearsed many times before that it was easy for Seong-Il to play the character. I want to thank him again for being so brilliant.

How did you go about finding a producer?

I have previously worked with Producers Soo-Yeop Oh and Moon-Seok Hwang on many occasions and they offered to help me out on this project.

They managed everything so smoothly from location hunting to script reading, catering and accommodation that the film would not exist without their full support.

The film has a dark humour that drew laughs from its festival audience. Would you say this is a typical Korean humour?

I don’t think it’s a frequent type of humour in Korean film or in Korea.
Those heroes are not often bad guys, probably nicer than the main character in . I was hoping that the audience would feel bad watching the film when he regularly makes rude remarks about Koreans. On the contrary, I think people empathized and enjoyed the film – I actually had no intention of making them laugh.

What other projects do you have in the pipeline? Any other genres you would like to tackle?

I am contemplating whether I should make a short film called ‘Dog Meat’; the upper class gathered deep in the forest to cook dog meat from scratch. I don’t think it will have any dialogue whatsoever whereas was wordy.

Also I am writing another script called which questions people believing what they find is true love. I am also working on the script based on my personal experience on happiness and pain of love. I want to make a film like ‘Amores Perros’ where people are emotions intertwine, and make the audience speechless with sentiment.

Head of distribution at a’muse films and producer Yeun-Hee Chang was also on hand to answer a few questions.

What made you take on the production of Unfunny game?

Director Park of Unfunny Game and we have known each other for sometime now. We have distributed his previous short films, and he informed us of the production of Unfunny Game. Naturally when he had completed the film he showed it to us, and we loved it!

What other films are you presenting in festivals at the moment?

We have around 150 Korean short films in our catalogue most of which have been successful at various film festivals in and outside Korea. Now Clermont-Ferrand is over, we will be presenting the clay animation film A Purpleman at Tampere International Short Film Festival in Finland in March.

Tell us a little about the history of the company a’muse.

We are a really young company set up in March 2009. We aim to promote Korean short films within and outside Korea through film festivals and various platforms. We hope to familiarize the public with quality short films and in return encourage talents to keep working on their next projects.

Do you get any public or private funding?

There is not much funding available for short films in Korea as there is not a big demand or market for the shorts contents yet. However, KOFIC (Korean Film Institute) pays for our Clermont-Ferrand stand as well as partly subsidising the marketing cost (tapes, leaflets, posters) and the market screening. It’s not a lot but it certainly helps us to promote our films in the international market.

What is your view on the evolution of the Korean film industry?

Korean films are now more widely recognized throughout the world and I am sure it owes a lot to the fresh and motivated talents. As a distributor we watch a lot of Korean short films, especially from film schools, and every time we are surprised by the quality of work. I am sure this will ensure the prosperity of Korean film for many years to come given the appropriate support.

More info at www.amusefilm.com. If you wish to get in touch with either director or producer drop us a line at abla@mydylarama.org.uk

Any message or comments?


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