Jun 2016 VOL.62


  • Producer J.K. YOUN
  • by JU Sung Chul / 10.07.2011

    Hit director/producer J.K. Youn talks to JU Sung Chul
    about Quick, Sector 7 and his upcoming Hollywood co-production Temple Stay
    Director of the megahit Haeundae, J.K. Youn has been even more prolific this year as a producer leading his company J.K. Film. His Quick, set against the backdrop of downtown Seoul, drew more than 3 million admissions. His Sector 7, despite being the year’s most costly Korean film - in the KW10 billion (US$8.6m) range, didn’t do as well as initially expected, but it opened up possibilities for the future of 3D action films. Everyone expected 2011 to be a momentous time for Youn and his J.K. Film after Haeundae. It may be too early to judge if that has been the case, but Youn is already getting ready for another new start, preparing for his latest directorial effort Temple Stay. Between his busy travels between Korea and the U.S., Youn took some time out to talk with Korean Cinema Today.
    - The box office failure of Sector 7 must be painful for you.
    = Personally, I can’t really accept the criticism about the CG technology. The Hollywood firms specializing in the field expressed their satisfaction. The headquarters of IMAX gave a seal of approval for the technology in the film and that’s why we were able to screen it in 3D with the IMAX approval, which was a first for a Korean film. I also think highly of the monster that was created with technology developed solely here in Korea, mostly by MOFAC Studio. People keep referring to the monster in BONG Joon-ho’s The Host but if you look at the burning monster in the last scene in his film, it looks awkward now. Compared to that, the monster MOFAC created for Sector 7 is much more advanced. Of course, I think critics might not be talking only about the quality of the technology itself, but when I think of the hard work MOFAC put in, there is some unfairness to it.
    - Moving on to Quick, director JO Bum-gu has gone around saying that he relied heavily on you. It seems that there was no real boundary between director and producer.
    = I was also involved with Quick from the script development stage, and director Jo Bum-gu kept putting his hand out like a younger brother to me. You could call it the sort of wisdom that a commercially-minded director needs. What he doesn’t know, he’ll say he doesn’t know, and ours wasn’t really a typical producer-director relationship, but more him taking from me as much as possible. (laughs) At the same time, he was stubborn about what he knew he wanted. It’s true that I influenced almost all of the comedic elements.
    - After Haeundae, you’ve spent a lot of time as a producer. Is there anything you’ve learned while moving back and forth between the roles of director and producer?
    = To be honest, I’m confident about creating commercial films. Whether comedies or not, I believe I can make films that bring in audiences. On the other hand, while being recognized for that sort of thing, I also have a complex about artistic quality. So I have a wish to always have those two things in harmony. Actually, when I did All for Love (2005) with MIN Kyu-dong, I had the happy experience of having those two things mix. So I’m very much looking forward to Mr. K, which is currently in preparation. Director LEE Myung-se has been thirsty for a box office hit, so in that respect, he’s very open.
    - What comes to mind when you reflect on J.K. Film’s present and future?
    = No matter how much younger the director may be compared to you, I believe the producer is, at the end of the day, a member of the crew. I originally started out in the industry as a scriptwriter so I think of myself as the film’s writer and assistant. Also, I think of myself as a shield for the film against the outside world. So I tend to provide most of the things that the director asks for. And my wish is to give both audiences and investors a sense of trust that “J.K. Film movies are fun”.
    - How far have you gotten with Temple Stay, the film that you’ll be directing?
    = I’ve just had the last script meeting with the Hageman brothers. Temple Stay is an English-language film and, in this sense, a new challenge for me. I’ll do my best in this arena not to disappoint. It’s a film that will face off in the world market, so I’m very curious about what the results will be. It’s being co-produced by CJ and 1492 Pictures of Hollywood and I’m literally just in charge of the creative content so I feel like a rookie director. You’ll see how much of a Hollywood kid I used to be when you see the film. My aim is to make a family adventure film of the kind that has never been seen anywhere else in the world.
    - What’s Temple Stay about?
    = The film centers on an American family who comes to Korea for a temple stay. They touch something they never should have touched and as a result, get trapped inside a mysterious temple. It depicts their adventures to try to get out of there. 1492 Pictures expressed a great interest in this concept of an American family coming to the unknown land of Korea for a temple stay. They also suggested that instead of the strategy of just having kids as main characters, we should have an adult male lead with box office drawing power in the role of a guardian. I thought it was a good idea and work on casting is underway as we speak.
    Photo by SON Hong-joo
    Oct. 7, 2011
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