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Ko - production in Busan
  • Beyond the Limits of Low-Budget: JUHN Jai-hong, Director of GIFTED
  • by Ha Sung-tae /  Aug 06, 2015
  • “I Was Able to Face Reality after Making My Third Film”
    JUHN Jai-hong debuted via Beautiful in 2008 in his early 30s. Director KIM Ki-duk, a mentor of JUHN produced the film which was invited to the prestigious film festivals including the 58th Berlin International Film Festival. KIM also wrote the screenplay of Poongsan, JUHN’s next work. Even though the film was produced with a low budget, YOON Kye-sang and KIM Gyu-ri famous and popular in Korea starred in the film and JUHN’s production ability was widely recognized.
    Four years later, JUHN returned with Gifted. In Gifted, a young man who strives to overcome his tough situations happens to commit serial killings. JUHN exceeded the limits of a low-budget film not only by directing it but also by taking charge of its script, cinematography and music. JUHN who showed amazing imagination already began at horror film project for a summer release in 2016.   
    You came back with a new film after four years. How do you feel about it?
    In the meantime, a big-budget film project was aborted. But that experience was not so bad. However a bad thing happens, in the long run, it will do me good. I have become bold. The thought of a failure made me worry that I would be offered a directing job no longer. Directors have little choice but to be sensitive to box-office scores since their next projects hinge on box-office performances. I suffered a great dread of seeing my films flop but various experiences dramatically allay the dread.    
    You went through film festivals with a low-budget art film and became involved in a big-budget film. You have a wide spectrum.   
    I liked quick-tempo films. But now, I think otherwise. Regardless of its size, I want to make an attractive film for which I myself would like to pay. In other words, I want to make a film that shows my style and cinematic philosophy. Finally, unless a film shows them, the film is meaningless. 
    You directed, shot Gifted and even worked on the music of the film.   
    In the first place, I did not plan to shoot the film on my own. But the budget problem forced me to work as a main cinematographer. Plus, originally, I had desire to shoot films. From directors’ viewpoint, such experiences come in handy, I think. Whatever they may be, they belong to filmmaking. As for music, I took singing lessons when I was a little boy. I thought of inserting my voice into my films. It was my idea to put Robert Alexander Schumann’s Die Lotosblume in Poongsan. Music, in particular, classical music, is also the source of my creation. I repeatedly listen to the same classical music a hundred or thousand times.  
    It is said that your situation was reflected in that of Minsu where he became a jobless man.   
    Many people called me when I was preparing a big film project. But when the situation came to an end, nobody called me. That made me think that that’s the cookie crumbles. But since Poongsan, I have never had a hiatus. Meanwhile, in 2013, director KIM Ki-duk invited me to the Busan International Film Festival. That experience greatly stimulated me. The sight of young directors eager to make good films despite small budgets stimulated me to face reality.
    The mass media carries some stories about KIM Ki-duk and his men. It seems that you have been very influenced by KIM, cinematically and personally.  
    I think it was natural. I have never thought of the escape from his influence. I learned many things from KIM such as writing scripts. It was taking private lessons from the internationally acclaimed director. I have no thoughts of excelling KIM but now I have a mind to take my way.
    Maybe or maybe not, Beautiful and Poongsan show some characteristics of KIM’s films. But Gifted has a different style. 
    Obviously, a change was made in Gifted. The film has a special meaning as my third film. The film let me know something about the job of directing films. Before, I did not have enough social experiences. Closing to turning 40, I am more experienced. I think that I will ponder social problems together with audiences.  

    Gifted strikes viewers as unique as the film tells a story about a jobless man who becomes a serial killer. 
    I did not want to paint him as a typical psychopath. Society may change human beings. In addition, addiction is a really tough issue. I wanted to show less gore scenes from a calm angle. In my opinion, it is a director’s duty to create an original character which was never seen before. I want to tell new stories and create new characters all the time.  
    Did the completion of the third film make any change in what you think about as a director?  
    I debuted earlier than other directors. At that time, there were many things that I could not understand. “You will know after finishing your third film,” KIM told me. At that time, I ignored what KIM said. I think I now know it a little. I think that I have ruminated more on filmmaking and broadened my view of society. Anyway, I want to make films based on my character and identity. 
    Your next project is a horror film. It is unexpected. 
    The film is based on the webtoon 0.0mkz. When I was offered the work first, I turned it down. But after reading the original, I immediately accepted it. I got a feeling that the film would match me very well. I am a big fan of Alien 2. Like Alien 2, my next film will be a horror film with the director’s color which deals with the world after death. I love this project to the extent that I already inserted images which I like into the film. I want viewers to watch this film not with stereotypes about horror films but as an adventure thriller.   
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