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Features

A Dancing Camera Crisscrossing Hollywood

Dec 20, 2021
  • Writerby Choi Junwoo
  • View501

Director of Photography, Chung Chunghoon

 

 

 

Last Night in Soho, released on December 1 in Korea, is a deadly beautiful to be called a horror movie and an intense horror movie to be called a dreamy drama. Starting with the Venice International Film Festival, Director Edgar Wright's Last Night in Soho, a new film released in 2021, excited film festivals around the world from Toronto to Busan. The film was highly praised by critics as ‘attractive, ecstatic, and stylish itself.’ The original style of the film was completed by Chung Chunghoon’s dancing camera, a Korean director of photography. Falling in love with Chung’s beautiful mise-en-scene and detailed camera work while watching Park Chanwook's The Handmaiden (2016), Edgar Wright sent a love call to Chung Chunghoon.

  

 

What is a 'cinematic experience'

 

"He is a director of photography who is outstanding at camera moving. In the film Last Night in Soho, his camera is very modern while recreating the atmosphere of the 1960s. While moving with the flow like water constantly, he uses a style that seems to float in the film. It is completely different from the style Chung has shown until now." It is the analysis of Director Park Chanwook, who created 7 films with Chung Chunghoon, including Old Boy (2003), which won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, Thirst (2009), Hollywood entry film Stoker (2013), and The Handmaiden, the winner of the Best Foreign Language Film at the British Academy Film Awards. Showy London in the 1960s and the modern times in the 21st century in Last Night in Soho is connected and separated by Chung Chunghoon’s camera. In the process, the audience can realize what a 'cinematic experience' is.

 

"Chung Chunghoon is the world's most talented director of photography. Even when I was under tremendous stress on the set, I was able to laugh thanks to him. I'll be grateful to Chung forever, and I love him." Not only Director Edgar Wright, but Director Park Chanwook may have to compete with famous Hollywood directors for his long-time partner Chung Chunghoon in the future.

 

 

 

‘Magic Touch’ That Fascinated Hollywood

 

Director Park Chanwook's first English film and Hollywood entry film Stoker gave Chung Chunghoon a global experience for the first time. In Stoker, a girl's coming-of-age story mixed with a strange thriller and fairy tale elements, Chung Chunghoon’s camera created intense tension as it traveled like air between the Gothic mansion and the three characters. Director Chung did not approach this process 'technically'. He said, “Director Park Chanwook and I, as always, thoroughly analyzed the scenario before discussing filming techniques. I felt the characters’ relationships were like playing hide-and-seek. Thanks to the limited space, I understood the characters better and used the camera angles more effectively using the corners of the house. Moving the actors inside and outside the frame as if playing hide-and-seek with the audience, I expressed their relationships, which were chasing and being chased each other." Hollywood Report evaluated Chung Chunghoon’s camera work like this: "Chung Chungshoon’s restless and precise camera work adds tension to the relationships among the three characters who hide something and are wary of each other." More and more Hollywood movies have begun to want a ‘magic touch’ by Chung Chunghoon, who adds magical power to films.

 

Director Chung Chunghoon’s Hollywood filmography continues without stopping from Boulevard (2015), one of Robin Williams' last films. Except for Director Park Chanwook's The Handmaiden in 2016, Chung Chunghoon’s main stage was completely moved to Hollywood.

 

The film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, a teenager’s coming-of-age story directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, won the Grand Prize at the 31st Sundance Film Festival and the Audience Award. Director Andrés Muschietti's It (2017), which is now a masterpiece of modern horror movies, is also Chung’s filming work. The opening sequence, which rekindled ‘clown phobia’ in the U.S., became a representative scene of Chung Chunghoon. “It is not a horror movie. It is close to a coming-of-age movie in that children grow up through horrific events. In fact, I think all the movies I made with Director Park Chanwook are related to growth, from Old Boy to The Handmaiden.”

  

 

The Camera Defining Emotions & Relationships

 

Top actors in Hollywood are also getting used to entrusting themselves to Chung Chunghoon’s camera. Benedict Cumberbatch, the main character of The Current War (2019), in which Chung met Alfonso Gomez-Rejon again, said, "Director Chung’s camera angle is surprisingly fresh. All the details of the filming were the process of building storytelling." In Hotel Artemis (2018), directed by Drew Pearce, Chung captured an ensemble of Hollywood's leading new and old actors, including Jodie Foster, Jeff Goldblum, Sofia Boutella, Dave Bautista, and Zachary Quinto, etc. In this work, the unique action scene unfolding in a unique place called ‘Criminals' hideout hospital’ is also considered Director Chung’s trademark.

 

For the next movie, Chung chose Zombieland: Double Tap (2019), a comic zombie action, starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, Emma Stone, and Bill Murray. "As a big fan of the previous film, I was happy to participate in its sequel made in 10 years," said Director Chung, showing bold action catharsis in the film. Director Ruben Fleischer also claimed to be Director Chung’s fan. "Director Chung Chunghoon is an unrivaled artist who has established his own style in every work he participated in Hollywood."

 

Director of photography Chung Chunghoon's Hollywood project is becoming more and more surprising. He has been confirmed as the filming director of OTT platform Disney Plus's new Star Wars series Obi-Wan Kenobi. Wonka, starring Timothée Hal Chalamet, the prequel of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is also Director Chung’s next film. From a teenager’s coming-of-age film, horror movies, films based on real stories, SF action movies, zombie comic actions, horror movies crossing dreams and reality, legendary SF series, to the world's most beloved fairy tales, Chung Chunghoon’s camera is gradually expanding to the big stage.

 

However, he will stand in front of the camera with the same mindset when filming Old Boy or the Star Wars series. "Only when I fully understand the stories and characters can I capture the exact scene I want. I believe that if you understand the character accurately, you can create a scene that anyone can relate to in any genre." From the beginning to the present, Director Chung Chunghoon's camera has been looking at ‘universal emotions and relationships that we can all empathize with.’ The results were uniquely stylish.

 

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