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Director YOO Ji-tae and Actor BAE Soo-bin of MAI RATIMA

by JI Yong-jin   06.19.2013
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Mai Ratima is the first feature film directed by actor YOO Ji-tae. The original draft was written 15 years ago, but he has revised it over and over. He was very careful with the cast as well. The lead actor BAE Soo-bin greatly matched the ‘naive and persistent’ character that YOO imagined. Both the same age, they get along very well.
 
- Mai Ratima is the first film you two worked together on. Was there a reason for this?

YOO I accidentally saw him at DMZ Docs three years ago. He was checking the screening schedule to watch documentaries. He seemed very naive and passionate. When I talked with him, I could realize he was thirsty for acting, so I asked him to read my scenario. He gladly said he wanted to be in it. The main character in the scenario was actually a 19-year-old boy, but I had to change it as BAE decided to take the role.
 
- What was charming about Soo-young?

BAE I thought Soo-young was confused about his identity but also he had a great desire for sex although he was only 19. But I didn’t think I had to be 19 to act the role because some grownups are like him. Besides, I saw a lot of things in common between his life and mine.
 
- I heard you referred to many other films. Can you name them?

YOO I first hit upon Bad Lieutenant (1992) directed by Abel Ferrara, In the film is a morally corrupt man, which inspired me when I made the character. I also wanted to take the dangerous emotions in The Adventure (1960) directed by Michelangelo Antonioni and refer to the unique character in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love (2002).
 
 
- Mai Ratima seems like a social drama dealing with social problems like immigrant workers, youth unemployment and drug dealing. Didn’t you want to make it as a documentary?

YOO I personally like documentaries. But I’m the type of person who would stick to the work without doing anything else to make a documentary, so I decided to make a drama. Jean-Pierre Dardenne once said, “Drama films are more real than documentaries.” and I agree with him. I believe I can definitely make realistic drama films that criticize society.
 
 
- Because of violent scenes and scenes with nudity, it looks like a ‘tough film’. What was your intention?

YOO I persuaded actors saying, “Even top actors took off clothes in LEE Sang-il’s Villain (2010).” (Smiles) I like tough films because such films catch the attention of the audience.

BAE There’s a scene where I punch a guy directly in the face. I actually did it. Since I had been hit while acting, I knew how to hit others. I think it was the most realistic scene I could act. As for nudity, I didn’t have any difficulties because it was necessary because of the context of the story and emotions. Sensual eroticism is not the main point of this film.
 
- What ideals and process did you have while shooting?

YOO I didn’t shoot more than 25 cuts a day. One thing I realized as an actor is that shooting many cuts doesn’t necessarily guarantee the quality of the film. I made sure to return 70% of the share to the staff. I don’t think it is right to consider the work as a form of talent donation because it is a low budget film. The lower the budget is, the more I have to take care of the conditions for the staff and the work environment.
 
- I heard you went through a lot of ups and downs.

YOO A production company liked my scenario, but they delayed the project for three years. I didn’t see any possibility that they would embark on it, so I thought it would better that I start it myself. I attracted investment from investment companies, my friends and my agency. This made me decide to make films on my own from now on instead of looking to production companies for help.

BAE Some actors go by on animal instinct. I envy them. I don’t have natural talent but I learn from trial and error. I did the same thing for this film. I put all my passion into it and experienced another chance to progress by working with a director who was in good harmony with me.
 
 
Photographed by KANG Jung-hyun
  
   

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