Jun 2016 VOL.62


  • by JI Yong-jin / 10.29.2012
  • Director Back Seung-kee
    - What made you make this film? How did you get started? 
    In fact, I majored in painting. I’ve liked painting since childhood and I studied it in university. As I learned about painting more and more, I realized that expression could be very restricted. After I put in a lot of effort to paint a picture, I found it very difficult to have an opportunity to show it to people. Then I started looking for something else I could enjoy and decided to try making a film, which I also wanted to do as a child. I collected money from several part time jobs to buy a small home video camcorder. I immediately started shooting films with my friends and we made many parodies of films I like, I think as many as 200. I uploaded them on my blog and reveled in the delight of creation. My varied experiences in making very cheap and short films about people I know, with things around me and in places near me finally motivated me to make a feature film. This is how I made this film, Super Virgin.
    - How did you come up with the story of Super Virgin?
    I didn’t make the film because I had something to talk about. I simply decided to make a film, then thought what it should be about. After considering many items, I finally picked a story very close to myself. I blended what bothers me the most (complexes) and what I’m most interested in (love, relationship and sex) honestly and humorously to make the storyline. The word ‘Avatar’ is mentioned quite often in the film. I intended to make a parody of James CAMERON’s Avatar (2009), which was new and the most influential film around during my planning stage. I wanted to see if I could boil the incredibly expensive film made with cutting edge technology down into an extremely low budget film focused on a daily routine. It was really exciting to shoot a supposedly super expensive scene in an almost zero-budget film.
    - How did you get the money to do this movie?
    When I started, the balance of my bank account was KRW 2 million (USD 1,800), which was the entirety of the production cost. Once you watch the film, you will clearly see that there aren’t any scenes that cost very much. So basically all the money was spent on food for actors and staff. I used a small digital camera (SONY A 55) which I didn’t need film for. There was no lighting and actors did what staff members usually do at times. I played a three-fold role as the director, an actor and a staff member as well. Most of the production cost was spent on meals for the 5 people for a month. Later, more people helped us (with money, location and food), so the total cost is estimated to be KRW 5 million (USD 4,500). The production was made possible with the money from my back account, help from people around me and the passion and effort of the actors and staff. 
    - Did you think from the beginning to play the main character? Do you have a previous experience as an actor?
    At first, I looked for other actors. But the staff suggested that I do it because I suited the role better than anyone else. I was also confident because I wrote the story based on my personal experiences. I didn’t really need to act. All I had to do was just behave as myself, so it was not very difficult. I had often acted in my short films for fun, so I was not against acting, but it was far different to act in a feature film and give directions at the same time because the schedule was so tight. I sometimes thought it would have been better to focus only on filmmaking as a director. But after all, there were more advantages than disadvantages because I could save on production costs and I needed to give fewer directions to actors than normal. 
    - Super Virgin is a comedy, but it’s also really sad at times. How did you balance this? 
    Sad yet funny and funny yet sad: for me this is the best mix of joy and sorrow. So I tried to mix the two feelings rather than makings scenes that were exclusively sad or happy. 
    - Can you tell us what you are influenced by? For example, did any director or film, or even anything other than film inspire you?
    What affects me the most is ‘what’s around me’. I usually have people I know act in my films and use objects around me as props. Locations are not far from where I live. I don’t write a story and then search for items or people I need for the story. It’s the other way around. I form a story based on what’s within my reach. I think this is a very efficient way to save on production costs and the time needed to cast actors as everything and everyone is always right there. My favorite type of film is a very imaginative fantasy story with a backdrop where everything is ordinary, so nothing strange seems to happen. I like the Hong Kong director Stephen CHOW, the Japanese director MIKI Satoshi and Korean directors JANG Joon-hwan and JANG Jin.
    - What’s your next project? If you have any, can you tell us about it?
    I’m planning on several fantasy films about small events that happen during everyday life. One of them is a Sci-fi film with a number of psychic characters in it like X-men. The people with super powers will be very ordinary people in my film unlike the fancy heroes in X-men. I will think of various and interesting skills for them.
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